Tuesday, March 29, 2011

coughing makes bad posting

...so here's a replay from I forget when...

Bill Clinton is Right

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was right when he stated this past week  at a UCLA rally, "When we care about something in America that's really important to us, like football, we know the facts." Of course, he was speaking about politics skewed to his particular leanings. I'd like to explore the meaning of his quotation from a different standpoint.

Is spirituality important to us? Is religion important to us? Is the Catholic faith important to us? Is God important to us? Do we know the facts?
Are Moses and Jesus contemporaries, or do they come from different eras? Why are we constantly crossing ourselves in church? Why do we stand up for a blessing? What does the Church teach about artificial birth control and why? What is the difference between discipline and dogma,  between small 't' tradition and big 'T' Tradition?

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the New York Times that he wants Starbucks to become a “third place” in people's lives. People have home, work and then a coffee house or bar as the three places that they focus most of their life's activities.

I'd like to think that we humans can handle a bit more than three important places in our lives. Perhaps a life is like a stove with  four burners. Two burners are in the front for top priorities, and two are in the back for important aspects of life that get less play day to day. I contend that for every believer, the Church should be on one of those burners. How can we be sure that God and the Church are priorities in our lives? 

Random Practical Ideas- Some from Mom and Dad
  • Go to church on Sundays and feast days. Discuss the Gospel and the homily with family over coffee and donuts. Many Catholics are hit and miss on Sundays- let's start there.
  • Don't shop on Sundays. Make the Sabbath day holy by going to Mass and then spending time with family at home, the park or somewhere besides the 'cathedral of conspicuous consumption.' This might seem impossible, but in most of Europe (edit: in small towns), shops close early Friday and don't open again until Monday. Everyone prepares ahead of time for the weekend. 
  • Listen to only classical or Christian music on Sundays. My parents insisted on this during my childhood. It really helps set the day apart from the rest of the week.
  • Say grace before eating a meal- even in a restaurant!  
  • Educate yourself about God and the Church through the Bible and other books. Watch religious videos occasionally.  Catholic school is not necessarily the best way to do this (sorry Mom and Dad- sometimes I think you wasted your hard earned money....but that's another post).
  • Print an easy morning and evening prayer card, place it on your bedside table, and say a prayer when you go to sleep and wake up. Nightmares averted!
  • Subscribe to a good Catholic magazine and buy The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Place both in the bathroom. Eventually, everyone will read these and learn!
  • Go meatless every Friday. Why not? Many people are vegans every day of the year. It is such a beautiful reminder of Jesus' sacrifice. And there is something a little bit....gross...about eating meat when we are remembering Jesus' death on the cross.
  • Get some holy water and use it.  Sprinkle it on squabbling siblings if you are so inclined (thanks, Mom).
  • Decide if you and your family are going to make God and church a priority. There is only so much time in the day.  Church needs to be on one of the four burners to be a priority.  --- What if the marriage is mixed? Hopefully, the kids can go to church with you. Then, come home and build a nice family atmosphere. Still refrain from shopping and try to have a sabbath.  Have a popcorn and DVD afternoon together when you get back from church on Sunday. Ask your non-Catholic spouse to participate in some 'corporal works of mercy activities' with the family- mow the lawn of an older neighbor, collect food for the food bank,  write letters to our servicemen overseas. The talents of your family will determine activities that will be interesting and meaningful to you.
 So- Clinton was right in saying that we make things a priority if it is important to us. It would be a shame if we know more about the latest celebrity scandal or sports stats instead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.


  1. Nice replay! Thanks for the beautiful ideas and suggestions. Feel better.

  2. Preoteasa,

    while agree with many of the suggestions here, there is one that I could never bring myself to accept:

    Listen to only classical or Christian music on Sundays.

    For reasons of aesthetics I avoid listening to "Christian" music on any day of the week - it is usually badly done, over-produced soft pop/rock.

    I also do not understand the privileging of Western Art Music (or "Classical" music).

    I understand that one should avoid excessively secular, and immoral music: so AC/DC songs about venereal disease and violence should be avoided (perhaps one should avoid these more often).

    However, Western Art Music is often not any better - if one considers Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte" (The Magic Flute), this is probably worse than modern bands like AC/DC because it attacks the Faith directly. We could include many other examples, such as Wagner and other anti-Christian composers.

    There are many other categories of music that are excluded by the rubric of only "Christian" or Western Art Music - such as various forms of ethnic music, Jazz &c.

    I am also not entirely comfortable with listening to Sacred Music for entertainment. There is something missing and rather inappropriate about it.

    -- Bear

  3. Yes, yes, yes/ I love everything about this post! Doable, reachable, effective ways to make a positive difference in my family's spiritual life!

  4. Bear- I see where you are coming from- what do you think the solution is? I think my parents would have been fine with any instrumental music (so "ethnic" and jazz probably would have been fine)- they just didn't want their teenagers singing the words to questionable songs- but yes, probably to be perfect, one must say no at all times to Simon & Garfunkl and the like. It is hard to be a parent- we want our kids to be perfect Christians, I am also wary of rebellion if I am too strict

  5. Wonderful post - great suggestions! I especially want to be more aware of not going to the store or restaurants on Sundays. When I was growing up back in the day, stores, gas stations and such were all closed (I grew up in NJ in a small town). We had to plan on Saturday to get us through to Monday. I don't remember it ever being an inconvenience or a problem. We never ran out of milk or gas. It frustrates me that I don't make this a priority.

    Pray for me and my family to be able to embrace these ideas...And then do it. :)

  6. We live in Munich, Germany, and all stores are closed on Sundays, (here in the heart of German Catholicism, I think it is by law). I remember the same was true in Lyon, France, Hamburg, Germany (non-Catholic, mind you), and many other European cities in which we have spent time. It is true. You have to plan ahead of time or have nothing to eat, unless you go out to a restaurant (most of which which remain open). I also try not to do too much cooking on a Sunday, if I can help it, or things like laundry and house cleaning (that I should have done on the other 6 days of the week!).

    We have a little tradition of going to a cafe after church on Sunday and enjoying each other's company. My husband works late and rarely gets to see the kids during the week, so it is nice to set aside time when we can, simply, be together, and rest.

    @ Bear, have you ever tried Byzantine church music? Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil (aka Vespers) is a beautiful, and very well-done religious choral arrangement. Stuff like that is what we usually listen to on Sundays, but we have been known to enjoy the soft Christian pop as well!

  7. Awesome. This is a nice simple list. I am happy to say that we do almost all...We are really bad Sunday lunch :-( It's a bad habit. We offer this as a reward for good behavior in church.

    Both my husband and had Catholic education during our early years in school. We found it invaluable. I think in the early formative years when faith is simple, its important...but, we are going to home school at least for the early years. We cannot afford private education. Our priest is emphatic that your children will be okay if you cannot afford private school education, but you must take care of there Catholic education at home.

  8. Every time my morning bus goes by the local Mormon church, I can't help but think of this post. It's 7:30 in the morning, and their parking lot is full of cars, with people inside studying and prioritizing their lives. It's really been inspiring me to make Daily Mass more of a priority.


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