Monday, August 27, 2012

On Joy and Her Faith

Last night, my Uncle Alan posted on Facebook some of his reflections on the faith of his wife, Joy, who passed away last January.   With his permission, I'm sharing them here:

I apologize that I do not have a Blog because an experience at Mass this morning caused me to have heavy reflections on the humble faith possessed by the beloved spouse I lost some six months ago, and I feel the need to take a few paragraphs to share her monumental witness. I hope and pray you will bear with me as I share in the only venue I possess.

At Mass to
day, we had a visiting Priest, and in his homily, he shared his consternation with the casual manner in which most Catholics receive the Eucharist. We Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharistic Host, but as the Priest observed, you wouldn’t know that by observing the nonchalance of Catholics in the reception of Communion. Joy, on the contrary, quite visibly telegraphed her belief in the Real Presence, without demonstrating any overtones of pretension. This was in spite of the fact that she was a convert. Her humble, yet fervent faith would put that of any “cradle Catholic” to shame.

A testament to the awe we should display at the prospect of receiving the true Body and Blood of Christ was exhibited by the angel that appeared to the three children of Fatima. Before offering the Eucharist to the children, the Angel suspended the Chalice and Host in the air, and prostrated himself before the Blessed Sacrament and had the children recite a prayer three times before giving them the host. Consider that an angel lives in the Beatific Presence of Christ eternally, thus this show of devotion to the Host truly exhibits the significance of what many non-believers consider only a symbol.

This story brought Joy’s devotion home powerfully! I remember that when Joy attended Eucharistic Adoration, (This is when a large host is displayed in a monstrance for prayer and adoration of the faithful), instead of making the customary genuflection, or kneeling before entering the pew, she would prostrate herself flat on the floor for a period of time. I must admit that on those times I was with her, I found this mildly embarrassing, and I even tried to get her to stop, especially as she persisted in this practice even when her back and knees were beginning to weaken. I told her she was going to find herself down and not able to get up. But she felt it was something she had to do and she kept the practice until she simply could not physically will her back, knees and joints to do it any longer.

As Joy’s physical condition continued to deteriorate, she found it increasingly difficult to even kneel at Mass, a practice she refused to cease, even when she needed all my strength to assist her in getting up and down. She tried so hard to mask the pain she was obviously feeling. Finally, things got so bad that I actually had to order her not to kneel anymore, but to simply be seated. She reluctantly accepted this, but there were tears that would well up in her eyes in the realization that she could not show the depth of humility in posture she felt was due our Blessed Savior.

When she was still ambulatory, Joy took pride in being able to assist in the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament. Just in case I, or anyone else, would even think to question the depth of Joy’s faith in the Real Presence, please consider this testimony from a parishioner at St. Peter’s. In this woman’s own words: “I loved receiving the Blessed Sacrament from Joy. When she held up the Host before me and said the words; ‘The Body of Christ’, I would look into her eyes and see Jesus!”

While these memories are a bit painful for me personally, I take great solace in the certainty that Joy is now pain free and reaping the rewards for her unbridled faith in the Real Presence of our Savior! She is now basking in that Real Presence together with Jesus and his beautiful mother!

Sam's Baptism

Yesterday my nephew, Samuel James (who happens to be the second son of Maggie Crawford of From The Heart fame and Ryan Crawford), was baptized by Fr. Vince Rogers at St. Andrew the Apostle in Gladstone.  Conner Crawford is his godfather and Michelle Hughes from Endless Strength.   Afterwards, we went and had dinner at Smokehouse Bar-B-Q and finally some Yogurtini to celebrate my daughter Emma's 17th birthday.

I thought I'd share some photos.  

First, of the Church:

The sanctuary

 The crucifix over the tabernacle.  The crucifix has several first class relics in it

The Virgin Mary and baby Jesus

St. Joseph

St. Therese of Lisiux

St. Michael the Archangel

Washing away all original sin
Ryan, Maggie, Fr. Rogers and Sam

My family--my mom, my son Max, my wife Abby, me, my daughter Emma, Maggie and Sam, Ryan holding Joe and my daughter Molly.
I have lots more photos but I don't want to steal Maggie's thunder too much so keep an eye on her blog.  I'm sure she will post some more soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rape and Abortion

By now, it does not appear that Todd Akins is going to remove himself from the Missouri Senate race.   I find that unfortunate because, in my opinion--despite his stupid comments about "legitimate" rapes and the rate of conception--he would be a better senator for the State of Missouri and for the country.  Unfortunately, because of his comments and the uproar, I don't think he stands a chance at unseating the incumbent and Obama underling, Claire McCaskill.

What it has done, is challenge the popular notion that abortion is okay in situations where the baby was conceived during a rape, even among many people who would otherwise believe that abortion is wrong.     It has brought the idea into the light that abortion kills a baby whose only crime was being conceived because of a crime.  

Some people may be aghast that I am saying that abortion is wrong even in the case of abortion saying that it is causing the rape victim to be victimized twice by having to carry the child to term and give birth to it.   By no means am I belittling rape and what the victim goes through.   Sex is supposed to be a beautiful act of love, selflessness and of giving and rape, instead is a horrible act of hate, selfishness and taking.   But, abortion is killing an innocent child.

Timothy Carney posted an interested article in the Washington Examiner titled, "When a Horrific Rape Leads to an Innocent Life" that highlights two young women and a child who were conceived because of rape.  Three women who would not be alive today if their mother's had not shown courage and kept their child.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Top Ten Things That I Like to See in a Parish

I love my faith.  I love the fullness of faith and the truth that the Roman Catholic Church gives.   There is also a lot of "variety" when it comes to parishes though.  There are some parishes that are very ultra conservative and then there are some that are very liberal.   I was thinking it over the other day and came up with ten things I like to see in a Catholic parish

1) For the church to look like a Catholic Church---I like to see statues reminding me of the saints in heaven.  I like to see a crucifix. I like seeing the tabernacle right up front so I don't have to look around for it.  I like walking into a church and having no doubt that I am in a Catholic church.

2) Catechisis in the Homily--I used to think that Catholics were poorly educated about their faith because the priest only has about ten minutes to give a sermon as opposed to protestant ministers who may preach for an hour or so.   But over the years, I've seen priests who are able to teach during the homily.  I've discovered that it's not too difficult.  They simply quote from the catechism.  They quote the saints and popes.  They provide the teaching of the church is a simple way.

3) Honesty from the pulpit--I've heard many feel good homilies but that's not what we always need to hear.  Sometimes we need to hear that our actions are wrong and why.  Sometimes we need to hear that hell is real and that Satan is a liar.  We don't always need fire and brimstone preached to us but we need to hear the truth.   After all, our goal is to get to Heaven and sometimes we need to be reminded what the alternative is.

4) Prayers to end abortion--why this isn't a petetion at every mass I don't know

5) Prayers for the souls in purgatory--very basic, very Catholic.  I was especially touched once when I heard during the prayers of the faithful, "and especially for those who don't have anyone to pray for them."

6) Latin--I believe that the mass should be said in the vernacular but it is very nice to hear the Holy, Holy, Holy or the Lamb of God in Latin to remind us of the language of the church and that the church is universal.

7) Kneelers--how awesome it is to be able to kneel in prayer, or to kneel during the consecration.  If we truly believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus then why wouldn't we be kneeling?  

8) Purification of the vessels--we don't see this at a lot of places---when the priest carefully cleanses the sacred vessels that contain the Eucharist and clears the table.  This only takes a couple of minutes, but I think it is a subtle reminder that the Euscharist is special and that these items that have contained the Eucharist must be treated with respect and not just set aside like dirty dishes to be cleaned later.

9) Loyalty to the Magisterium and her teachings---this one should be obvious but you don't always see it.  The parish is a Catholic parish and it should not be embarrassed of the Church's teachings.  The parish and it's members should be ready to defend them.  They should show respect to her bishops, archbishops or cardinals.

10) Ample Times for Confession---Anyone who has read my blog knows I'm a big fan of confession.  I think it should be offered daily.  I heard once that any parish that only offers it once a month or once a week really doesn't offer it.

Those are my top ten---off the top of my head.  What are things you like to see in a parish??

Monday, August 20, 2012


Some couples have pet names or other terms of endearment for each other. My wife, Abby, and I have a couple. For instance, for the last twenty years, whenever she tells me that she loves me, I respond with, "I love you more" because---well, because I do. For our tenth wedding anniversary we went to a Kansas City Royals baseball game and I had "Abby, I love you more" put on the score board.

Recently, we have started a new saying we share with each other. We will tell each other, "I love you madly, passionately, and extraordinarily." We are crazy for each other. We are passionate for each other. And our love for each other is extraordinary.

What does that mean though---"extraordinary." I figure, too often in today's culture, "love" is tossed around too easily. Everyone loves something. Some people love pizza. Some people love the Kansas Jayhawks (losers) or the West Virginia Mountaineers (what else is there to love in that state) Some people fall in love and get married in Las Vegas marriage chapels only to get an annulment the next day. Some people fall in love and get married in great big weddings--only to get divorced 72 days later. Those examples of love---if they truly are love---are plain and ordinary.

But the love that Abby and I have for each other, is EXTRAordinary. It's a love that has been tested by fire. It's a love that has been proven. It's a love that's been through three kids, several dogs, many houses and a few jobs. It's a love that doesn't quit even when the going gets tough. Sadly, in today's world--where over 50% of marriages end in divorce---that is extraordinary.

So, you'll excuse me when I take offense that the word "extraordinary" gets maligned and changed and misused. Many of your are probably thinking, "I rarely hear the word much less see it misused." Well, the specific example I'm thinking about happens in the Catholic Church when the laity is put into the position of "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion." Many places will call them "Eucharistic Ministers" but the correct term is "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion."

You see, the use of the laity in the position is supposed to be exactly that---extraordinary. It's not supposed to be an common every day occurrence. The ORDINARY Minister of Holy Communion is supposed to be a priest or a deacon. Yet, you will see 7-10 extraordinary ministers at every Sunday mass so that the lay people can "feel more involved." At some parishes---there is a down right infestation of extraordinary ministers. During the "Lamb of God" they are coming from every where.

I believe that this takes away the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament in many people's eyes. If anyone can dispense it, I don't think people appreciate what/who they are receiving. If we need all these people so that we can quickly get through communion then I don't think people will appreciate why they are there. I think if people have to wait an extra 5 minutes to receive Our Lord and then to receive Him from a priest that they will better will understand that what they are experiencing is a sacred, holy moment and have an extraordinary love for the Eucharist.