Sunday, October 30, 2005

My "Weekend Wondering" Thoughts

Some cool thoughts came through on this one. Andrea raised the issue of the "jealous God" and I found myself struck by a new way of viewing that. Generally, the word "jealous" has such negative connotations. But in reading Andrea's comment, I realized that it's more in the selfish sense, out of love ... wanting us all for himself, wanting to be the focus of our attentions. Kinda like how I relish my role as "favorite aunt."

Seeking_Something and Lorna both seem to go with the idea that our choice is made for eternity -- Seeking b/c once you stand before God and still say no, odds are you won't change your mind; Lorna allows the possibility of an escape clause but doesn't want to bank on it. Andrea initially agreed as well, saying that without "the option to say no in a final way" the idea of free will is negated. But, once I devil's-advocatedly asked about changing one's mind .... she then said Hmmmmm.

I liked Lorem's very concrete and definitive "Yes, there is a hell. It is a state of mind." The piece about making the choice to crawl out and the difficulty involved in staying in the rediscovered light reminded me of Madeleine L'Engle's reflections on the post-crucifixion Judas -- a beautiful legend that describes the thousands of years before Judas finally hauls himself out of the pit ... and what happens on his ultimate emergence.

To quote my teacher-self: "In my mind I believe ..." I'm kinda with Jo(e) on this. I find it hard to reconcile the all-loving all-merciful God with the God who will smiteth me to Hell if when I screw up too many times. The way I put it with the kids, I can't see God sending me to hell. At the same time ... it's my choice. The way I see it, I can choose to go towards God, or choose to turn away from God. But, if God has the unlimited unreserved love that I'm telling the kids that he has ... I've gotta believe that God will be right there waiting, the moment I turn back around towards him. Yeah, sure, there's the story of Lazarus and the rich man. But what about the Prodigal Son (or, as some say, the Prodigal Father) -- "While he was still a far way off, his father saw him and ran to meet him" ... looking out the window, watching, waiting for that moment of return, of "coming to [our] senses."

How many of us faulty and flawed human parents would continue to support and love our children despite their errors in judgment? And so how much more would our heavenly father do so? (Another cool L'Engle snippet on this thought, too.) Our book mentions that the presence of evil is our doing, that it is we who reject God, not vice versa. Like the kid who runs away from home, and then calls their parents from the bus station -- yeah, sure, the mom'll be mad, but I'm thinking that the relief at the kid's safety and the joy at their return would far outweigh the wrath and anger of that immediate moment. Not to say that there wouldn't (or shouldn't) be consequences, but love is ultimately the overriding feature (theoretically, anyway -- as I said, we are all faulty and flawed and less-than-perfect human beings).

With the turning away from God ... how many kids stay on the streets or in other "bad" situations out of fear of going back home -- and how many of those worst nightmares end up being realized? I think we are our own harshest judges, and give ourselves our own worst punishments. Again with kids -- I've found that if I ask the kids what they feel the consequences should be for their actions, they are generally far more extensive than what I would have even thought of assigning them. Think of The Mission, the scene where Mendoza climbs the cliff with all his weapons and chains, and the response of the priest who is frustrated by their slow progress up the mountain. If we, when we feel worthy enough to turn back to God ... we will have already done far more penance than God would require. After all, just the simple act of turning back is all he asks.

And, again, from my perspective ... I think the choice to turn towards or away from God can be made even by those who don't openly subscribe to the idea of "God." I ask the kids what's more important -- where they are for one hour Sunday morning, or how they live the other 6 days and 23 hours of the week? How well are they living out their Christian message if they are in the front pew at church and singing in the choir, and then getting a case of massive road rage in the slow-moving parking lot after Mass? I know people who insist that they have not a single spiritual bone in their body that are more Christ-like than those who are in church every evening. Look at Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, run by the Reverend Fred Phelps. I won't dignify their actions by a link, but I will let the record show that lists them as a "hate group" alongside the Klan, neo-nazis, and racist skinheads. You can't tell me that Fred Phelps has more of a "right" to be in heaven than Abraham Joshua Heschel.

But, of course, do any of us have a "right" to be in heaven? After all, do my previous comments about Westboro Baptist make me any more Christian than Phelps himself? We say the Lord's Prayer ... but how much do we realize what we're truly requesting when we ask God to forgive us in the same manner that we forgive others? We are ALL flawed and faulty human beings, but we were still made that way by God, "who saw that it was good." In my mind, perseverence has to count for something ... and so all I can do is try, try again. And fall flat on my face, and try, try again. And fall flat on my face once more and try ....

Although ... I may have mentioned this before, but ... this has all been what I think, but we can't know -- because it's an attitude that grows out of your own individual view and image and understanding of God ......
..... And that's different for everyone.

Who am I?

You're A Prayer for Owen Meany!

by John Irving

Despite humble and perhaps literally small beginnings, you inspire faith in almost everyone you know. You are an agent of higher powers, and you manifest this fact in mysterious and loud ways. A sense of destiny pervades your every waking moment, and you prepare with great detail for destiny fulfilled. When you speak, IT SOUNDS LIKE THIS!

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I've never read this book, but I guess now I hafta .... at least the blurb seems kinda cool .... and if by "sense of destiny" they mean "seeing the finger of God in absolutely everything" then I guess that fits too!

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Pioneer, Even in Death

Washington Post article ... Capitol May Host Vigil for Rosa Parks, an honor reserved for statesmen or warriors. The Senate has approved the measure, the House will receive it today, and the logistics are already being worked out. She will become the first woman, the second African-American, and one of the very few non-elected citizens to lie in honor in the Rotunda.

And thus her legacy continues.

Weekend Wonderings, Round Two

OK, so I'm talking to my kids about the Kingdom of God, and how Jesus wasn't so much eliminating the Jewish ideas of God and love as much as he was broadening and deepening their understanding. Our textbook explains that Jesus presents us with the image of a "passionately caring parent [with] tireless, healing, unlimited, and unreserved love." Which, of course, gets us thoroughly off-topic onto a discussion of sin and hell and forgiveness and all that other stuff that, as I explain once more, is something that is shaped by your personal image of God. This, of course, then leads us into World of the What-If, with all their scenarios of salvation and damnation, of forgiveness and justice, of punishment and pardon. To which, again, I explain that "In my mind I believe ____, but it's different for each person." (Notice a theme?)

Of course, there are lots of questions hiding in there, so perhaps we'll just start with an easy one:
Is there a Hell?
If so, how do we get there?
Once we're there, can we leave?
All according to you, of course, :-)

(I'm feeling a bit like the Dread Pirate Roberts and crew plotting Buttercup's rescue!)

So ..... Whaddya think?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shameless Toady-ing

I suppose one of the things that comes of people visiting and commenting on my blog is the need to acknowledge said comments, especially when said feedback was explicitly requested. Sigh. By now I figure it's too late to go back and add comments, because I'm sure the commenters are long-past looking at them. So, I've decided to make it up to you all with a post of your very own!
First off, we have my Faith-Filled Agnosticism, which, I'm so ashamed to admit that I never noticed that the quiz title was misspelled ... so a BIG-TIME shout goes out to Anna at All Manner of Things, for not only noticing the typo, but pointing out its appropriateness. Thanks too to Lorem, for sending other people my way ... glad to know that someone out there admits to knowing me. Not that you know me know me, but .... oh wait, maybe that's why you're not embarassed to be associated with me .... huh .... sigh. Seriously, though, glad to give you an official nunly "It's all good." Susan Rose and Natty -- see, this is the kind of work that us cool kid Benedictines can produce! heehee Thanks also to my fellow RevGal Sue at Inner Dorothy -- hey, she's published in this very cool book, you should buy it! And to Ian and Keturah ... I have no clue how you found me, but I'm glad you did -- compliments from the unknown lurkers mean far more than from the friends who feel obligated to reply. Oh, and speaking of obligated friends, there is Jeana, who doesn't even have a Blogger profile, and the BustedHalo article I would direct you to instead has disappeared in their site redesign. Not to worry, though -- I've sent evil-eye e-mails and will post the link once they rediscover it.

Seriously, though ... I had felt kind of heathenisticly iffy about whether this kind of stuff was appropriate for a "nun" to be posting (yeah, like all my other posts are pious and holy -- sheesh!). But I sometimes feel like the perfect example of a non-nun and wonder not only how I've managed to still stay, but even how I ever got in in the first place. Especially since now anything contraversial (in whoever's opinion) I say might not just be chalked up to "Steph's an idiot" but potentially could reflect on my community, Benedictines, or religious life in general. Hence my downplaying of it as my just BS-ing it. (Plus, if people decided to say that I am an idiot, then I can play along and say that I was just joking, that it was all just BS and not really what I thought. The whole "Reject Before Rejected" thing still rears its ugly head sometimes!) So thanks to you all for your encouragement!

And with my Weekend Wonderings ... thanks to you all for throwing your two cents in and adding a few more pieces to my puzzle that is God. Some very touching and impressive thoughts -- thank you so much for sharing. Lots of material for meditations. (Of course, leave it to Jeana to add a few notches to her dork belt through her use of the obsolete skill of Latin). Martha, Martha posed the question to her readership as well (thank you), so be sure to check it out for more food for thought.

In terms of my answer ... I have a photo that best fits my image, but it'll have to wait until I get it scanned in. So, in the meantime ....
God is utterly indefinable and infinitely present.
At least, that's what comes to mind right at this moment .... it changes often, so I'll keep you posted.

So, now that I've done my schmoozing for the evening .... may you all have a restful sleep.

Oh yeah ... and buy the book!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More of a wonderful world

I had wanted to post on this article earlier today along with the Death Penalty Enhancement, but figured I had soapboxed enough. Susan Rose, however, has a great post on it at Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, so I figured I'd just point you all there. Check it out.
Putting Children Last

WAY Too Cool

Check it out, folks ....

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Proceeds to benefit Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief, especially our own RevGals

And I think to myself ... what a wonderful world ...

Or maybe it's just wishful thinking ....

A Washington Post article today on the New Improved Patriot Act explains some of the death penalty revisions that have been added on by the House in the past couple months. On the plus side, the Senate believes that these provisions are "extraneous" and should not be passed without further debate. However, they were overwhelmingly approved by the House, so who knows what will happen.

As a big surprise, the amendment was added on by a Representative John Carter from Texas, who originally was calling it the "Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act" because, as his spokeswoman put it, "The congressman believes capital punishment is a deterrent for all kinds of crimes, including terrorism."

Oh, I get it, I see. He really does have a good point there. After all, the possibility of being executed would be a sure-fire deterrent from my wanting to be a suicide bomber. Oh wait .... if I was a suicide bomber, they couldn't kill me .... hmmmmm .....

Right now, there are 20 acts of terrorism that "qualify" for the death penalty. This would add 41 more acts --- which would triple the number of possibilities. This includes situations where the individual does not even have the intent to kill. If their money is used, even unknowingly, to perform acts of violence .... well, there you go.

Hmmmm .... I wonder how that fits with the money we pay into our governments to kill people in such situations as war, executions, etc.....

Oh yeah, one other thing .... if a jury can't agree on assigning the death penalty as the punishment, no more of this mamby-pamby "life sentence." Nah, let's just get another jury and re-try the whole thing. Eventually we'll get to kill them.

Of course, what about the money spent in the multiple retrials that is being taken out of the social service system? Cuz couldn't that lead to unnecessary deaths? Which could possibly be labelled as acts of violence?

David Bruck, death penalty expert at Washington & Lee University Law School points out: "The chances are that if a jury disagrees the first time, they'll disagree the next time and the next time, no matter how much time and how many millions of dollars you waste on it. If you can't get a unanimous jury to decide that a particular case is one of the worst of the worst, that tells you something. "

Nah. If at first you don't succeed, keep stepping on toes till you get things your way.

Hey, it's just like Burger King!

I still just love the title of the Death Penalty Enhancement Act. Because really, truly, the best way to enhance our system is definitely to upgrade our ability to kill people. After all, those people have killed people. And we think killing is just plain wrong. So let's just kill them all.

But, the bell is about to ring. Time to go teach my kids Jesus' understanding of the Kingdom of God -- loving our enemies, forgiving, turning the other cheek, etc. You know, all that Christian stuff that our nation is based on.

Peace out, folks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why I LOVE My Job ...

Below is a series of e-mails that circulated the school building between the hours of 7:00 and 11:00 this morning, involving over ten different faculty member's contributions. (One teacher was saying after school that she wanted to send one that said "You all have too much time on your hands" ... but she didn't have time to!).

[FYI: The e-mail subject line was "Sad News" .... SACS is the school accreditation board that was here for its visit today .... I contributed the condolence note and the scriptural allusion]

So, without further ado, may I present to you, for your reading enjoyment:

The Sorrow of
The Spoon

We are very saddened by the loss of the coffee measuring spoon that resides in any current open can of coffee. It is my hope that someone wanted the empty coffee can (generally they are saved for me so that I can recycle them) and took it with the spoon inside. If this is the case, coffee lovers school wide will rejoice at its return. I just hope no one threw the old can away with the spoon in it. Recycling is one way for us to show reverence for God's gift of our beautiful world.

I would like to extend my deepest condolences to all who are affected by this terrible loss. I, myself, would be more directly impacted by a hot chocolate spoon, but I can only imagine the sadness this must evoke for those more involved than I. Although I am sure the spoon can never be replaced, I hope that there is some way to adapt and carry on.

Thank you.

I, for one, am all for bringing in a Senseo single cup/double cup coffee maker into the kitchen. It makes great coffee, only when you need it, takes 30 seconds, and does not sit, burn, and become bitter throughout the day (no, wait, that describes me too…aaaahhhh). If anyone wants to chip in and help buy one, I’ll get it at Target. They run about $50 or so. People can then choose the strength coffee they want, and it will be fresh all the time. Yummmy. Would also save me from spending way too much at Heine Brothers.

Should we not have a memorial liturgy for the coffee spoon? It just seems that something that meant so much to our faculty should be properly mourned.

I just overheard that some "fruit juice drinking group" which detests the coffee contingency is holding the spoon for ransom. I'm not sure what they want. More to follow...

It sounds like a terrorist organization to me. Should we call the Office of Homeland Security?

Wonderful news! The coffee measuring spoon has returned!!! It apparently went on a brief vacation but decided this was not the weather for it. It is back in the coffee can helping us to make drinkable coffee.

As a religion teacher, I feel immediately struck by the parallels to Luke 15:11-32 ... The Return of the Prodigal Spoon. We should pull some cream from the fatted calf to celebrate!

For the feast table, be sure to bring some lilies of the field for they neither toil nor I'm sure they weren't involved.

Hey diddle, diddle, Administration’s in the middle
But SACS will be over soon
The faculty is laughing to see such sport
Because Amy ran away with the spoon

I find it interesting that as soon as Homeland Security is mentioned, the errant spoon returns. The plot (and obviously the pot) thickens.

I have never heard so much fuss over a spoon in my life!!!!

Even a silver one?

Evidently we're not the only folks to make a big fuss over a spoon
--- Spoon Bridge Walker Art Center Minneapolis

This concludes today's episode of "Life in the Faculty Room." Tune in next week to hear Principal B. notice the fridge and gasp: "It's ... it's ... it's alive!!!!!"

Monday, October 24, 2005


Got stopped by the principal on my way into school this morning -- "Can I speak to you a moment?" Of course, paranoid me is afraid of getting in trouble for not returning a parent's phone call quickly enough. "I saw two of our parents with their daughters over the weekend [paranoia gets stronger], and they just gushed about how wonderful you are. One in particular said that she had been really concerned about this year, because her daughter has been kind of pulling away from the faith, it seems ... you know how it is at that age. Anyway, having you as her teacher ... it's just an answer to prayers."


I guess my Agonistic Openness really isn't gonna get me into the trouble I was afraid of. That's not to say that some parents aren't scandalized, but as long as I've got the support of some as well .... it's all good!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Which Muppet Am I?

statler jpeg
You are Statler or Waldorf.You have a high opinion of yourself, as do others.
But only because you are in the balcony seats.
ALSO KNOWN AS:Those two old guys in the box.SPECIAL TALENTS:Heckling, complaining, being cantankerous
QUOTE:"Get off the stage, you bum!"
LAST BOOKS READ:"The Art of Insult" and "How To
Insult Art"

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is fun, if just to bring back the memories .....

Friday, October 21, 2005

Weekend Wonderings

Hey Folks ~

After writing that last post of mine, I was thinking about the assignment I had given my kids, and thought, "Gee, I wonder what the folks out in BlogLand would say?" So, I decided to ask the question.

Who is your God?
Answer in ten words or less; "God is" doesn't count in your ten word limit.

Any takers?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Faith-Filled Agnosticism

You are Agonistic

You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you can control - your own life.
And you tend to resent when others "sell" religion to you.

Though at first glance this might cause some scandal, I don't think it should. Often agnosticism gets mixed up with atheism, but they're very different things. Or perhaps maybe it's just my interpretation of the word ....

The thing of it is, at least the way I see it .... maybe it's just me hooking into the second line of the description .... but I don't think you can figure out the divine. We just did an activity yesterday in some of my classes about "Who Is Your God" -- it listed maybe 15 or 20 different possibilities or definitions or images of God, and then I had the kids come up with one for their small group and create a new one for them, in 10 words or less.

This then took us into a whole discussion about how God is so far beyond any image, word, concept, thought, or anything else that we could concoct. Those all give us a taste, yes, but it's only a taste. Think of the little tiny sample spoon at Baskin-Robbins as opposed to the whole big ol' container behind the window --- doesn't even come close.

The whole idea of "faith" comes out of the fact that we can't "figure out the divine." If we could figure God out, if we could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt what God is like, there would be no need for faith. The Letter to the Hebrews (11:1) states that "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"; Romans (8:24-25) follows with "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." By definition, faith is a "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." If we knew God, what happens to the mystery? If we can prove, show, explain -- what happens to the journey, the quest, the search?

Earlier, in the first version of this post (not that I'm bitter -- GRRRRRR!!!), I found this very cool analogy, but none of my searching can bring it back to give the link. Anyway, it was along the lines of "Fear is to courage what doubt is to faith." Fear is not the opposite of courage, nor is doubt the opposite of faith. Courage requires us to face our fears just as faith requires us to face our doubts, but neither courage nor faith eliminate our fears or doubts. I think it was Anne Lamott who said that "Courage is fear that's said its prayers." It might reshape our fears, clarify, readjust our stance, but despite all the courage in the world, we'll still have some level of fear. If you've got doubt .... that means you're asking the question.

According to Fredrick Beuchner, "Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. It is on-again-off-again, rather than once-and-for-all. Faith is not being sure where you're going but going anyway. A journey without maps. Tillich said that doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith ... If you don't have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving."

I feel like every answer I give my kids in class ends up beginning with those three little words: "We can't know." We can't know our purpose in life, or what heaven will be like, or how if Jesus is God than how is he his own son. So many of my comments start off with something along the lines of "The way I see it is ..." and then I explain my own perspective on sin, or free will, or God, or whatever else, always ending it with the disclaimer that "that's just how I see it, but it's different for everyone." All of which, I'm sure, is insanely frustrating for some of them, but it's the best truth I have to offer them. "So what am I supposed to believe?" ~ "There is no 'supposed to.' You have to figure that out for you. And that's how you make your faith your own."

"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

Yeah, I teach religion. But I don't care whether the kids agree with what I'm presenting them or not. They do need to be able to tell me what the Catholic Church believes about Jesus and the gospels and whatever else, but they don't have to subscribe to it. Wherever they are is where they are, and that's completely, utterly, and totally fine by me. My only requirement is that they remain open to the journey, ask the questions, and explore for themselves.

After all, isn't that what it's all about? The journey, the quest, the search?

In opening his book God Hunger with segments from C.S. Lewis on "Longing" and Thomas Merton on "Looking," John Kirvan reminds me that the hidden nature of God is hidden for a reason. Speaking only for myself and my awareness of my slacker-esque tendencies .... I can pretty well guess that if I felt that I knew God completely, then I'd stop wondering. If I could always find God, no problem, I'd stop looking. If there was nothing left to figure out, I'd stop thinking about it. There has to be some mystery, some question, some unknown to provoke the exploration, the search, the delving ever-deeper into the depths. Otherwise, it runs the risk of falling the monotonous way of summer-time reruns.

Besides, as Junior Asparagus and Bob so wisely put it ... if "God is bigger than the boogie-man, he's bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV" ... well gosh, that's pretty big, isn't it? A lot bigger than any words that I could come up with. God for me (see, there I go again, just like in class) is so big broad abstract that there's no word, definition, image, or anything else that can do God justice. As we were talking about that worksheet in class, I was reminded of that old story about the blind men and the elephant ... six blind men are "shown" an elephant and they each describe it based on what they feel. Each man's comments are fully accurate -- based on what they experience -- but no comment really does the elephant any bit of justice.

One of my kids said that God is a puzzle, but we can't see the picture because we are all pieces.

Madeleine L'Engle was once asked: "Mrs. Franklin, do you really and truly believe in God with no doubts at all?" "Oh, Una, I really and truly believe in God with all kinds of doubts." But I base my life on this belief.

So, no, I can't know absolutely positively without a doubt if God exists ... but the way I see it, there's definitely something bigger than me working things out for me. I don't care if I can prove it or not ... I take it on faith. There's no true way to figure out the divine ... so I'll just keep right on asking those questions. I'll focus on what I can control -- my life ... and continue with the trust that things will happen the way they're meant to happen, and as long as I'm trying, perseverence has to count for something -- but that's just how I see it. And just as I resent having religion "sold" to me ... I'm not gonna sell it to my kids. I'll just open the door, throw out a couple questions, a little devil's advocate, and some unique ways of viewing things, and let them work it out for themselves.

'Cause it's different for everyone.

Once again ....

.... I've lost a post. This time I just accidentally hit "Page Down" and the whole darn thing disappeared. And this time I was being rather theologically profound. And now it's time for dinner and I'll probably lose all my trains of thought by then.


Anyone know how to autosave every five minutes or anything like that?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stop .... breathe .... it's all good .....

Following Susan Rose's lead .... I thought I'd share my Inner DJ thoughts of this morning. Let's see, it was about 7:19, and I was heading rather quickly into the school building ... when what to my wondering ears should appear but ......
The Mission Impossible Theme
It made me laugh .... kind of .... ok, not really at all. Because, while I still officially had 41 minutes before grades were due, I still had some grades to get pulled together .... and then keyed in .... and then figure out how in the world I'm supposed to get them exported when I can't find the Report that looks like the one on our handout ..... not to mention that I discovered at, oh I don't know, 6:15 this morning that two of my precious little angels decided to share their writings with one another (which, I just remembered, I totally lost track of --- need to remember to check in with someone about that) ..... In the midst of my Religion Office frenzy, a student comes in and wants to know what she'll miss today b/c she'll be on retreat. Ended up not sending them in until probably 8:10 (when I was finally able to get someone to show me what to do); then spent another 10-15 minutes (in between getting my class started on their worksheets) trying to figure out how to get the printout I'm supposed to also turn in. Checking off the checklist (of course, after I sent the grades in) I realized that I had three grades that were above 100 and therefore technically not allowed --- Oops! Went down at the change of classes to turn in the hard copies and sign off on the sheet and it was all gone already. But, put it in the appropriate person's box, and I guess I'm good to go ..... at least until she chases me down to give the litany of all the ways I goofed!
Of course, I still have to make the rubrics for the last set of papers presentable (as opposed to my last-minute frenzied and illegible scribblings) so I can return them .... and post the grades online .... and plan for tomorrow's classes (so I can crash tonight) ....
Oh yeah .... and (hopefully) remember that I have just been assigned Lunch Duty for this second quarter .....
Must .... remember ..... academic dishonesty ..... consult ..... principal .....
A pox on my procrastinating self!

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Bible Book

Courtesy of Natty .... actually kinda fits (might make more sense once I get around to posting my vocation story and approach towards teaching religion) ..... and I do like Romans .....

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


OK, so a fun weekend meeting Natty .... and a nice chilled-out fall break just spending some time with my religious community without having to run off to this, that, or the other ..... but grades are due in sixteen hours (man, it sounds WAY worse that way than just 8:00 tomorrow morning), and I still have that stupid stack of papers to read. Not that it's a problem to read them, but how in the world do I assign a number to them? I made a list of things they needed to include, but some did more in depth than others. I was an engineering major (for 2.5 years, anyway) .... I was a math teacher (for a year). The answer's either right or wrong. What's with all this subjective silliness?

And what the heck was I thinking when I assigned this?!?!??!?!?

Any help, advice, guidance, words of wisdom, chocolate? Please?!?!?

Friday, October 14, 2005

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

1. The weather in your location: A beautifully magnificant sunshiney autumn day.

2. Where you are typing this: The middle computer on the Formation Floor at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana.

3. Where you might like to be sitting if you could be anywhere: Well, right now, this feels like the perfect place for me. I'm on fall break; I've had three days to be back at the monastery, time to just hang with folks here without having to run off to this, that, or the other meeting, event, funeral, church thing, class, or anything else. Of course, it might be nice to be sitting somewhere that's not having salmon patties for lunch ..... huzzah for cinnamon toast!

4. A chore you have to do this weekend: Read 78 papers on the Catholic understanding of the Gospels, and 12 papers on the scriptural basis for Catholic social teaching .... none of which has been done in these last few days of fall break, and grades are due 8AM Tuesday morning .... and I'm not gonna have any time to do them this weekend. But the sun is shining and it's all good .....

5. Something delightful you will do or would like to do this weekend: Well, I'm planning to do the first one relatively shortly, in terms of sitting outside and [not] grading papers (maybe try another feeble attempt at arty-type stuff), just enjoying the sunshine. Then tonight begins our Benedictine Life Weekend, for which I am on the team with a couple other good friends, and at which point I will get to meet the Great-and-Wonderful Natty, and help her realize her true calling as a Benedictine.

What wonders a little sleep and sunshine can do to one's outlook on life!

Oh yeah, almost forgot .... somewhere in there today I have to cause some chaos in a couple offices around here, to welcome some of my favorite nuns back from a month-long trip to Australia. Hmmmmm ..... what kind of trouble shall I cause ...... {evil grin}

Happy sunshine, folks, and may your pet elephant never develop a peanut allergy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The More "Real" Me

So ... perhaps this is a more appropriate version of me. Although some might question the halo ... and angel wings ... and heavenly background .... I'm sure all will agree that I'm all about my ice cream and teddy bears. Oh yeah, I guess some might agree about the big mouth, too.

Make your own at South Park Studios.

Ora et Labora

.... et labora et labora et labora et labora .... at least, if you're in a Germanic monastery .....

Anyway, I was having lots of fun with LegoMe (as pointed out by Susan Rose), but I figured I should at least present the stereotypical "nun" .... if for no other reason than to show you all exactly what I'm not!

So, for what it's worth, here's my "Ora et Labora" me. Minus the habit, broom, Rule/Bible (could be either one), dress, and cross tattoo -- that's exactly what I look like. Of course, around here I should have the broom, Rule/Bible, occasional "grown-up clothes" --- someone once told us when we were new that if you always carry a mop around with you, people will think you're so diligent and therefore a good novice. Note that they said to carry it around -- didn't say a thing about actually using it!

Hmmmm ..... maybe I should title this post "Lego my Ego" .... mmmmmm, eggos ....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Scriptural Curiousities

So .... my teaching methodology often consists of the highly esteemed system of "Talk off the top of your head, make stuff up, and hope that it's right" .... which, in my case, fortunately enough, is generally coming from pretty good instinct, so I tend to surprise myself with how not off-base I am much of the time.

Anyway, two things in the last couple days struck me as a "Hmmm" -- after, of course, I said, "It's kinda like ____" and so I'm wondering if any of the more educated RevGals could help me out in my clueless conjecturing.

The first came out of a question from one of my kids about Jesus getting lost in the Temple; when I went to read the story to them, I was struck by the fact that Jesus was lost for three days ..... any significance to that, parallels to his time in the tomb, etc.? Parents looking for him, disciples looking for him .... his seeing absolutely nothing wrong with where he is and what he's doing when they finally find him ..... being about "my father's business" ....

The other one occurred when I was talking about John the Baptist and asked the kids what John's response was to Jesus' request for baptism. As I was then explaining it to them -- how John didn't feel worthy to baptize Jesus, that Jesus should be baptizing him, etc. -- I then said: "It's kind of like at the Last Supper, when Jesus was washing the disciples' feet, and Peter argues with Jesus saying that it should work the other way around." After letting those words escape my mouth, I immediately thought, "Hmmm .... I wonder if there is any connection to those two stories."

Maybe a handing-on of the legacy? John the Baptist was seen by some as the Messiah; he was proclaiming the coming of Christ; he then serves Christ. Christ delievers his message to the world, then serves Peter, who is seen to be the father of the church, who carries the message of Jesus to the world?

Or am I just making things up? I have to admit, I'm usually pretty talented at making stuff up that sounds really good .... but on some occasions, I'd like to have some basis for what I'm saying. Although the kids are getting used to me starting off an answer with, "I might be making this up, but I seem to remember hearing something about ....."

So ..... anyone got some wisdom to offer?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

For my friend Jeana ....

She used to have a hedgehog when she was little .... and a boa constrictor .... and a pony .... and a bird ..... and kitties .... and an iguana .... and a hamster .... and a salamander ... and fish .... and chickens ..... and ducks .... and a horse .... and geese .... and rabbits .... and dogs .... and little brothers .... She says it's because her mom helped at the museum, but I don't totally buy that. Of course, there was the minor incident of Snakely disappearing, and them having to be careful that their grandmother didn't find out while she was visiting --- there's still suspicions that he's living somewhere in the basement, waiting to eat the next person who shows up. (But she'll deny it all, I guarantee it!)

Anyway, after seeing Susan's puppy, I decided to get me a Winston, for Jeana's benefit. What's even more cool is if you click on him a couple times .... he'll have some fun!

adopt your own virtual pet!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Back at the Monastery .....

Got back a couple hours ago to the monastery, since we have someone making perpetual profession tomorrow. It's a really odd feeling. One end of the dining room had a family in mourning, awaiting a funeral; the other end had a family joyously awaiting the celebration. Lots of hugs among the sisters, lots of "how are you holding up," lots of people taking a couple days off work to be home for a bit. One person was saying that tomorrow will be good, that the community needs it; but all I've been thinking about is the fact that Tess should be the one up there during the ceremony tomorrow. Loss on top of loss on top of loss --- there's no time to grieve before another one gets thrown at you. And between work and classes and meetings and professions and funerals .... there's no time to stop and realize what's happening.

Realized yesterday .... it's a really good thing I like my job. With my biggest thoughts around Tess' death involving my feeling disconnected from the monastery -- if I didn't like my job, I'd probably say "forget it, I quit" and move back home (although I'm too much of a goody-two-shoes to do something like that). But the school is wonderful, the faculty are awesome, and the kids are just amazing. The day after Elaine's wake two weeks ago, I had "Life Lessons with Sr. Stephanie" in my classes -- I told them how I had neices and nephews come up to me after I told a story about Elaine, when they told me just how much it had meant to her (when I had thought I was just being stupid), so Lesson Number One was that "You never know what kind of an effect you have on people." That was the same night that we found out how bad Tess really was, so Life Lesson Number Two was that "You never know how long you'll have someone." But my awesome wonderful caring kids ..... last week they were asking how Tess was, had her family arrived yet, etc. Yesterday, when I told them that she had died, they were asking how her brother (who is beginning treatment for the same kind of cancer) was doing. So they're good kids, and I love my job.

But I worry about us. How much can we take? Another sister who had finished her chemo a couple months back just had to start back up again last week ... and then had a heart cath yesterday. Yeah, yeah, "Keep death daily before your eyes." One of Saint Benedict's lines. We've got it, OK? Can't we move on to the teachings about the order of the psalmody, or how monks should sleep, or the reception of guests, or the tools for good works, or something like that?

So prayers, please, for my community. That we get and/or stay healthy. That the losses stop for a while. That we get some happiness to celebrate for a bit. That this heaviness might dissipate for a bit. That we stop dreading e-mails from the prioress.

Benedict says that our lives should be a perpetual Lent (in terms of continual conversion) .... did he really mean a perpetual Good Friday? Cuz that's what it's beginning to feel like.

Stay safe and healthy, folks. Remember, you have no idea what kind of impact you have on people, and you have no idea how long you'll have them around.

Peace out, and blessings on your journeys.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bruno & Elmer

I was in the middle of typing up the other sacramental post when we got the phone call about Tess, so I did a save as draft .... didn't realize it kept the same time stamp!

Anyway, I just went to pull out my stuff from the Sacraments class I took at a local School of Theology last year to see what Father HotShot (who wrote the book) had to say about sacraments and grace, because I vaguely remembered that concept coming up. And, amazingly enough, I found a couple interesting things jotted down in my notes .....

*** Sacraments belong to/are property of the Church; minister is steward NOT owner
*** Res Tantum ~ grace; sacraments confer/offer/hand over grace (not really "give")
*** Grace is God's love, at God's initiative, is gift, unmerited; conversion; omnipresent; restores us as children of God/true self
*** Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting. (CCC1584)

So ..... how come the minister administering the sacrament isn't affected by his worthiness or not, but the individual receiving the sacrament has to prove him/herself worthy?

Wait a second .... that's right, I remember now ..... They're following the mission and ministry laid out by that little known apostle named Bruno. What, you don't remember him? Jesus' bouncer? He's that tough guy at the door, checking his list and making sure guests know the secret password ("I am the perfection of piety") before they're allowed in to dine with the boss.

Oh no, that's right .... that was the Pharisees and Sadducees I'm thinking of who had that bouncer. Jesus' bouncer was Elmer, that weeny little four-eyes, and his secret password was "I won't even consider claiming to be worthy enough to even look at the door, let alone come in. But ... could I maybe, please, you think, I mean, if it's ok with you, possibly ... come anyway?"

I wonder whatever happened to John 8:7-11 ......

Thursday, October 06, 2005

And it continues ....

As I mentioned in a previous post, cancer seems to have been flooding our community. We just received a phone call that the formation director described in that post died a few hours ago. 47 years old, in the prime of her health, ate all the right things, did all the right stuff, chosen a year ago to form the future of our community .... withered away to a skeleton last Sunday when I saw her, but still wanting to give me a blessing before I left her room ..... oldest child in a family of several kids ..... family having to both cope with her death as well as the diagnosis her brother received three weeks ago of the same kind of cancer, so for the past week they've been juggling who would be here with her and who would be in California with him as he begins treatment ....

When I posted the link to our Benedictine Life Weekend, the picture online is from 1.5 years ago, when she was one of the vocation directors .... it's not until you see pictures of how she was that it fully sinks in how bad she's gotten .... and yet it's still not real. Terence, Elaine, and now Tess .... none of them fully hit yet. With Tess and Terence, they were so sick for so long that we hadn't seen them much anyway, so in some respects I don't notice the absence (that sounds really bad but hopefully you understand what I mean). Elaine was very sudden, and I think her's just still hasn't happened in my mind. I cried briefly when I first heard, but I didn't hear in the best way and then had to get back to class, so that was it. Seeing her at the wake .... I kept expecting her to sit up, throw back her head, laughing, "Why, you ..."

I think it's from moving off the hill, and I don't like that. I'm not at the monastery anymore. And true, while I'm only about an hour away and I'm back every weekend, it's not the same. When I'm back, it's for meetings or classes, and I don't get to interact with the community as a whole as much as I used to. And I don't get to stick my head in on those I love nearly enough, and I don't get the opportunity to sit with them, or join the circle of sisters when we realize the end is near. I don't get to hear us toll the bells. I think that's what helps keep it distant for me. It's just something that I hear about, not something that I experience. But then I don't realize, then I don't mourn, then I lose the importance of those connections I've been forming. Detachment is a well-ingrained habit for me, and I don't need things like this to reinforce it.

But ..... I gotta get ready for school now. Gotta figure out how to make things real. Gotta figure out how to make sure I love the people I love while I still can.

Peace out, folks .... stay good.

Yes, but a gift from whom???

A Washington Post article yesterday reporting on the Bishops' Synod in Rome (Controversial Issues Coming to Fore at Bishops' Gathering) ....

Apparently, among other things, they discussed the issue of Eucharist for divorced and remarried Catholics. Now, I didn't realize that this was something that was actively being practiced until I was getting things going with my students this year, asking them about their faith backgrounds, and several were saying how they don't go to church anymore because their mom has been refused communion, or they ask me why that is. And my sense, from how they've described it, is that it's not just a case of Mom knowing the rules and thus not approaching communion, but that it's something that's been enforced from the outside.

I just can't imagine approaching the Eucharistic Minister and them saying, nope, sorry, you're not good enough. For one thing, don't they have better things to do than memorize the cool/fool list? I remember being so proud of my hometown cardinals at election time when they both said that it's not for us to determine where someone is in relationship with God, that communion is not the place for sanctions. Of course, I had my own issues with the withholding because someone allowed the possibility of an unborn child's death, but the governors who actually decide on someone's death are completely cool to receive ... but I've posted that before.

From the end of the article:
Bishops also took up the issue of letting Catholics who divorce and remarry take communion, the briefers said Tuesday. Under Catholic teaching, those who remarry can receive communion only if their first marriages have been annulled by the church. Pierre-Antoine Paulo, bishop of Haiti, said, "We have to ask ourselves whether in particular cases, as already happens for certain sinners," communion "could not be given to remarried divorcees."
Archbishop John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, said, "There are those whose first marriages ended in sadness; they have never abandoned the church but are currently excluded from the Eucharist."
[Venice Archbishop Angelo Scola, who functions as a kind of master of ceremonies at the synod] did not respond directly but noted that communion was a "gift" and not a "right."

Yes, of course communion is a gift. But, silly me, I thought it was God's gift. What was I thinking?!?!?

Monday, October 03, 2005

And really getting back to work now ....

Hmmmm, let's see ..... I love Italian food .... never get real meatballs anymore, it seems ..... "meatballs" is often a word used for craziness ..... yup, I think I'm batting three for three tonight!

Meatball Pizza

Unusual and uncompromising.
You're usually the first to discover a new trend.
You appreciate a good meal and good company.
You're an interesting blend of traditional and modern.

Brain Patterns

Truth of this one? Although there were three patterns that jumped out at me, all of which fit different aspects of me .... but this was the first one, so here it is. Besides, that last line is perfect for the egotistic tendencies that I've expressed in my shameless plugs!

Your Brain's Pattern

Structured and organized, you have a knack for thinking clearly.
You are very logical - and you don't let your thoughts get polluted with emotions.
And while your thoughts are pretty serious, they're anything from boring.
It's minds like yours that have built the great cities of the world!

What Does Your Birthdate Mean?

You who know me .... is this true? {sheepish shrug}

Your Birthdate: November 7
Born on the 7th day of month gives you a tendency to be something of a perfectionist and makes you more individualistic in many ways. Your mind is good at deep mental analysis and complicated reasoning. You are very psychic and sensitive, and you should usually follow your hunches.
You may not take orders too well, so you may want to work alone or in a situation where you can be the boss. This birthday gives a tendency to be somewhat self-centered and a little stubborn.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Shameless Plug, Part II

In case you need some added motivation .... click here (monastery shots) for shots of our newly-restored monastery church. The Louisville Courier-Journal had an amazing shot, but since I'm not sure of the legality of posting their photo, I'll just link to it here (Courier-Journal shot), with the article here. Plus, an aerial shot of our grounds and a model of our "Castle on the Hill." I'm just posting links right now .... I'd rather reserve posted photos to the ones that I've taken myself (not that I'm biased), so they'll have to wait until I'm around a scanner and thinking about it.

So come on .... all the cool kids are doing it .... we won't be your friends if you don't do it ......
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