The Catholic Weekly

I so imperfect

resentful

You can start over even if you’re not sure God loves you. You can start oven even if you’re not sure He should.

And you don’t have to run. You can shamble over resentfully. You can sidle in doubtfully. You can skulk in with fear, doubt, despair, or even rage. As long as you go because you’re acknowledging that things are not good as they are, then that is good enough. It may not feel like it is enough, but that is what Christ has promised.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image: photo credit: trepelu toes (detail) via photopin (license)

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Your friendly last-minute Advent reminder!

Somehow, even though Advent is as long as it can possibly be this year, I didn’t make it to confession. I don’t absolutely have to go, having (thanks be to God) no mortal sins on my soul. But it’s such a basic way to prepare for Christmas. I’ve said it myself several times: If I manage to have an advent wreath in the house and get to confession, I’ll call it a good advent. Well, we do have a wreath, anyway.

When I realized that I was missing my last reasonable chance (and no, it doesn’t seem reasonable to call up our unbelievably overworked priests and make a special appointment, when it’s not a spiritual emergency), I started casting around in my mind for something else I could do, something that would be almost as good as going to confession.

I had a chat with God about my sins, of course, and that was pretty good. I thought about some penitential things I could do. I even briefly considered cleaning the kitchen without complaining. And I remembered one more time: There is no substitute for the sacraments.

Of course there isn’t. I mean, we can make do in an emergency. If I were in an airplane that was spiraling toward the ground, I could make an act of perfect contrition, and I would be all set. If I were someone who had never heard of Jesus, I could regret the things that even a pagan knows are wrong, and I would be welcomed into my unknown father’s kingdom, right alongside the elderly priest who had the seven precepts of the Church memorized before he was weaned.

But those aren’t substitutions, so much as accommodations. There’s nothing better than the real thing, which is why Jesus gave the sacraments to the Church to give to us. I felt so stupid for missing my shot, but feeling stupid made me feel so grateful that there will be a next time. No need to invent anything, or figure out on my own how to wallow my way back to God.

So, don’t be stupid, be a smarty! If you still have a chance to get to confession, why not take a load off and be really ready for Christmas? And if you’re in a state of grace right now, don’t squander it! You’ve got an open line set up right to the Father, so talk talk talk. And put in a good word for me while you’re at it.

 

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Thanks, Mom.

twopenny starvers

Does she cook and clean for us and do our laundry? Oh, yes, she does. She feeds us with grace, with the Word of God, and with Eucharist, and she invites us to throw our smelly old sins down the chute and — okay, here the analogy breaks down. I guess she washes, dries, and folds our consciences for us, and leaves them in a tidy stack on our bed? She bustles around, caring for our needs, even anticipating our needs, telling us what we need and making sure we have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of what she has to offer us, from birth to maturity to death.

She knows us intimately, cares for us personally, never stops thinking about us, never stops loving us, never stops desiring everything good for us. But the Church is about more than us — and she’s about more than giving us stuff, too. Mother Church isn’t just a sacrament dispenser, who fades into existence for an hour here and there, whenever we need something; and we should be careful not to treat her that way.

Read the rest at the Register.

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image by Paul Townsend

(And I realize it’s some obscure Anglican tradition in the photo, but I found this image so charming, I couldn’t bring myself to find something else.)

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This and that, baby pics, and a baptism!

Today, I hope to get caught up on emails. I’m sorry to say I pretty much gave up responding to anyone sometime in the third trimester, and Corrie is now 9 weeks old, so that’s . . . a lot of emails.  So if you wrote to me, thanks for being patient!

corrie and dora 1

Who’s a patient email correspondent?

Who's a patient email correspondent? You are! Oh yes, you are!

You are! Oh yes, you are!

We’re right in the middle of “something every weekend” season — confirmation, baptism, birthday parties galore, graduations, concerts, and a bunch of things I’m forgetting.

corrie tmnt

and other important pursuits

Thank goodness we have no athletic ability in this family. We did a few months of T-ball one year, and now we’re all fine, thanks.

We told everyone the baptism was after the 11:15 Mass, so our families left early and rushed around to get there in time (some are several hours away). So 12:15 comes and goes, the church empties out, and I’m sitting there with the baby in her gown, thinking, “If I got the day wrong, I’m going to sink into the ground.” My sister-in-law already took an extra day off a few weeks ago because we told her the wrong date, and the week after that, we told my mother-in-law the wrong location for our daughter’s confirmation!

So I grab the pastor, and he doesn’t know, but he says he thinks there’s first communion practice, but baptisms are usually at 1:00. He texts the deacon, then leaves on an emergency call. The kids go out to the the playground, the first communion class wanders in, I get even more nervous, not least because there is about forty pounds of lasagna slowly drying out at home, and who will eat it if there’s no baptism?  Then the deacon rushes up and I grab him, and he says yes, there is are four baptisms, today, but who are all these other people? I tell him about the first communion class. He works out an arrangement with the DRE, and I marvel that they are able to coordinate everything.

He says darkly, “Sometimes, it doesn’t get coordinated.” So the upshot is, pray for our deacons and priests and catechists! Even if they had an easy job spiritually, which they don’t, the sheer logistics of getting everybody sacramented up is going to kill them.

Here are a few pics of the baptism and one of Uncle Joey and the cousin jubilee on the trampoline afterward. Sorry they’re stuck together! I’m gonna leave them like this, rather than fight with the computer for another forty minutes.  Happy rebirth day, dear baby!

corrie baptism 1corrie baptism 2corrie baptism 3corrie baptism 4

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Grace is free, but not all fees are simony

Abbé_pratiquant_la_simonie

The expense of obtaining a decree of nullity makes it difficult for some people to come into full communion with the Church. When annulments are expensive, there is also the risk that outsiders (or even Catholics) perceive that annulment is just “Catholic divorce,” for sale to parishioners with enough ready cash. But here’s the problem: it really does cost money to do it right.

Read the rest at the Register.

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Nobody told me!

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This isn’t about Communion in the hand vs. Communion on the tongue. This is about the casual abuses we allow ourselves to commit — we faithful ones, we educated ones, we who have been told. We who should know better. Somebody told us. The one up there, hanging over the altar with His arms spread out, open to be abused, open to be misunderstood, open to be ignored — what has He done but tell us, over and over again, that He is here, giving Himself to us, because we don’t care?

Read the rest at the Register.