Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Than Just a Cop

A few weeks ago, my department came out with a new social media policy.  It is a typical social media policy that any professional organization would put into place to protect itself and to protect it's employees.  One part of the policy may be a little different than your employer because it suggests not identifying yourself as a police officer.   Now, this may seem ironic sense I have a blog titled, "Roman Catholic COP" but I really do not have a problem with that suggestion because I do not necessarily like to be seen as a cop.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my profession and I'm proud of all of my fellow officers throughout the world who are professional and dedicated.   I would be proud to have my badge etched into my tombstone when I die.    At the same time, I do not normally volunteer that I'm a police officer.    It always seems to turn awkward.  

It never fails---once someone find's out I'm a police officer the questions start.  "Have you ever shot anyone?"  "How many people have you shot?"  "Aren't you scared?" "What's the worst thing you've seen?" "What's the weirdest thing you've seen?"  "What's the scariest thing you've seen?" "Do you know my cousin, Joe--I forget his last name, but he works for [insert some other agency 100 miles away]"

A lot of these questions are questions that, unless I'm close to you, I may not really feel like opening up about.   Some stories are ones that I may not want to have dragged up and rehashed.   I do have some canned stories that I use just to satisfy people's curiosity and to shut them up.  But, I'm very good at compartmentalizing things and when I'm not at work, I don't want to think about work.

I'm proud of my profession but I don't want to necessarily be put into that box.   I would be much happier to be labeled by my vocation of husband and father.    At the end of my life, if no one remembers me as a police officer it will not be that big of a deal.  In fact, I realized a long time ago that I won't change the world as a police officer and I probably will never realize the lives that I do touch.   But it is much more important that I am a good husband and a good father but I will know how I impact the lives of my wife and my children.    It is much more important to me that they know that I love them and that I do everything I possible do to lead them to God.

Both my profession and my vocation have had negative effects on the other.    I work a lot of overtime and off duty jobs that take me away from family time but it's to provide for my family so they are never wanting.    And on the other hand, I have never put in for any specialized units and I have remained on the overnight shift for most of my 15 year career so that I can see my family during the evenings, take my kids to and from school and not have my schedule messed up.      It's a delicate balance and I think I do a reasonably good job.

Yes, I'm a police officer.  I'm proud to be a police officer.   But if I had to be labeled----I'd rather that label be "husband" or "dad."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Loving and Honoring

Today is Valentine's Day--or more specifically, "St. Valentine's Day."   It's a day of looooooooove!!!   Hearts and roses, chocolate candy, pink and red.   Really, a bunch of fluff.  I think there is something more important to look at when you are thinking of your significant other.  Something that is normally thought of, at least in my mind, in a military manner.  And that is "honor."

In a Catholic wedding, the couple makes several vows, among them are that they are there "freely and without reservation to give [them]selves to each other," and to "honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives" and finally to "accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church."

What does it mean to "honor each other" though?   Honor is to regard with great respect.   I think more marriages would survive if more people worked on honoring their spouse instead of whatever their idea of "loving" is.   In today's society, "love" is thrown around too much and too easily.   People love certain foods or businesses or even celebrities and it's easy to take that mindset into a relationship.   When that happens then love is just a trend.   A tattoo today only to be lasered off tomorrow.

But to honor your spouse means to respect them.  It means to treat them better than you would treat yourself.  It means to want the best for the other person.  It means sacrifice.   It means to go that extra mile to express that love that you claim for them and doing what makes them happy, even if it is something that you may not want to do.

Honor your spouse by not treating them as a lesser person.  Don't talk bad about them in the lunch room to your fellow workers.   Treat them special.

I am very good at loving my wife.  I'm not always good at honoring my wife.  I get lazy.  I get selfish.  It's easy to love.  It's not so easy to honor.

So, this Valentine's Day, don't limit yourself at just loving that person that you are spending the rest of your day with but work on honoring them too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Prayer, not Performance

There has always been something that bothers me when people choose where they go to church because of the music.   I understand why it bothers me---there is much more to consider than the music.   But at the same time, I understand why someone would take music into consideration, especially when you take into account the saying that goes something along the lines of, "He who sings, prays twice."

Music is important in worship and in fact, it is one of the reasons I take into consideration as to why I go to the mass that I do.   I realize that may sound conflicting because I started off by saying that it bothers me when people do that so let me explain.  I enjoy the music at all of the masses at my parish because the music supplements the liturgy while not overwhelming and taking it over.

 The particular mass I go to has a group of young adults leading the music. I wouldn't call it a "choir" nor would I call it a band.   They have an acoustical guitar and a bass guitar as musical instruments but they are so subtle that in reality they could go without them and you wouldn't notice.   They sing contemporary music while at the same time sing traditional Catholic hymns with a nice mix of Latin hymns such as Tantum Ergo.  And by contemporary, I mean songs that might be sung by Matt Maher for Pope Francis and not any songs taken from the Glory and Praise hymnal.

I believe these young musicians at this mass do such a wonderful job in being reverent which in turn makes the music more prayerful and therefore more vertical.  What I mean by being "more vertical" is that the music makes you focus upwards towards God in a form of worship as opposed to going vertical and being all about how great we are in the congregation.   The music isn't about "I" or "we."  The only time I've heard "me" being sung is when the request for God to "consume me" or "transform me."

The best way I can describe the music and the reason I believe that it fits in so well in the mass is because it is "prayerful." I get the sense that I am praying while singing.   It does not feel like a perfomance is going on during the mass.   There is no stage director cuing people in.   There are no props.    

And wouldn't you know it--the congregation is still "fully, actively, participating in the liturgy."