Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Off-Line

I'm off to the Religious Education Congress sponsored by the diocese of Los Angeles.  See you next week.


The Pope Teaches the Children

I hope the pope doesn't give up his day job.  See if you agree.


Pope’s Chat With Children, Other Groups at St. Mary Josephine of Heart of Jesus Parish on Outskirts of Rome
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Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ chat with children and other groups during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature. The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome:
***
Pope Francis: I’ll ask question and you all answer. How many “Gods” are there? [“One”]. But … I know three! [“The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”]. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: one and two and three. They are three. What do you answer to this? Who can answer? [Someone says: They are three”] Are there three Gods or one?  [Someone says: [There is only one divided in three parts”] — in three parts? No, God is one [“He is only one but who represents more things”]. It doesn’t work … How many “Gods are there? [“Three”]. Three “Gods” or one? [“One”]. But if there is one … I ask you this question: Is the Father God? [“Yes”] Is the Son God? [Yes … No …”]. So, He’s not God? [Yes, He is God”] Is the Holy Spirit God? [“Yes”]. They are three, but this is something that’s not easy to understand: they are three Persons, have you understood this? They are three Persons, but the three Persons make only one God. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Aren’t you convinced? So, what three things are they? Three [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. Three … [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. And is Our Lady God? [“No’] What is Our Lady? [“The Mother …”]. The Mother of God. Why is she the Mother of God? Because she is the one who brought Jesus to the world. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Yes. And Joseph truly helped Our Lady. Is the Father God? Yes. Is the Son God? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Three Persons, agreed? How many Persons? [“Three”]. How many “Gods”? [“One”]. Is Our Lady God? [“No”]. Our Lady is …? The Mother of God.. This is clear. Never forget this.  All right.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Posterity


My neighborhood once was a haven for families.  When my children were young gangs roamed our backyards and walked in and out of our kitchens.  Literally, there was a path in the hedges between the house next door and mine.  The voices of children echoed in the air.  Bus stops had lines of children queuing.  My children had a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in.  They and I have good memories.  That was then; this is now.

For a long time, I've wondered where the children went.  I see plenty of young people jogging.  I also see many couples, also singles, walking dogs.  The thought has occurred to me that people aren't having children nowadays, but rather they're pet owners.  Pets are satisfying the human need to love and nurture.

My thoughts were reinforced today by the article, "Fur Babies," in Breakpoint.  John Stonestreet articulates what I've long thought.  He calls it "pet parenthood," or "fur babies."  Young people today opt to care for pets because it's less an investment than a child.  With a pet, life is still focused on them.

Kind of selfish, heh?

I enjoy the thought that when I die, I still live on, in my children and grandchildren.


The Hidden Power of Holy Water

 Holy Water Font from Royal Tara Fine Bone China, Galway, Ireland.
I hope to come home with this when I visit Galway, next month.

The Hidden Power of Holy Water: Many people have forgotten about holy water.  I haven't.  I love to sprinkle it upon each bed in my home.  I have a small font of holy water on my kitchen window sill.  (No my cooking isn't that bad!)  I bless myself often during the day.  This reminds me of my baptism.  I am a child of God.  I need Him.  To quote this article in Aleteia:



In theological terms, holy water is a sacramental. It is a mixture of blessed salt and blessed water, and, although, by its use, sanctifying grace is not conferred, actual grace is obtained. 



Every church has a container of holy water.  Most people don't even notice it.  Every time I fill my bottle with holy water from St. Mary's container, I see people look at me quizzically.  One time a lady asked me after Mass, "What were you doing?"  I jokingly quipped, "Worshipping the radiator."  Don't worry; I laughingly explained that I was getting holy water out of the little tank.  This was an opportunity to evangelize to that segment of the population who need it the most--Catholics.  She learned more than she ever wanted to know about holy water.



She learned something that day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ibero-American Congress of Theology

Theologians gather at Boston College for Ibero-American Congress of Theology: CHESTNUT HILLs week long Ibero-American Conference of Theology: a public forum on the Theology of Liberation. 



I was introduced to Liberation Theology in a round about way.  In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake.  Somewhere in my readings about Haiti, I came across Dr. Paul Farmer in the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.


From then on, Dr. Farmer kept popping up.  First, because he's local (Boston) and then because of his humanitarian exploits.  Lastly, he lives in Rwanda.  Ever since Immaculee, I've been paying attention to Rwanda.  


One of the last books I read, In the Company of the Poor: conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, plunged me into understanding Liberation Theology.  So when I saw that Boston College was hosting a public forum on Liberation Theology, I signed up.


Ibero-American Theology is a theology that puts a preferential option on the lives of the poor in Central and South America.  This is known as Liberation Theology because the faith of Ibero-Americans struggles in poverty but always hopes their faith will save them.


I was not disappointed in the forum, even though Father Gutierrez was ill and couldn't attend.  The other speakers,  Father Juan Carlos Scannone of Argentina, Olga Consuelo Velez Caro of Colombia, and Father Roberto Tomicha of Bolivia related stories of their beginnings, their involvement, and their struggles.


Their commitment to the people inspired me, also.  May their work continue to touch the lives of their people.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Penal Cross

This image is from Google Images
if it is subject to copyright please
tell me and I will delete it.
I'm sinning as I post this.  I'm coveting penal crosses.  My friend, Marie was showing me her pictures from Belfast, Ireland.  I happened to say that the only souvenir I want is St. Brigid's cross.  She told me that she brought home a penal cross.

"What's that?"

Marie explained that it was a cross made out of wood because that's the only material prisoners had.

My ears perked up at the noun "prisoners." Prisoners made a cross?  You better believe, that once I got home, I googled "Penal Cross."

Marie was wrong.  They are called penal crosses because of the Penal Laws enacted in 1695.  These laws oppressed all religions except the Anglican Church, or as it was known in Ireland--Church of Ireland.

Well, you know what happens when religion is oppressed.

It flourishes all the more.

Catholics just went underground.  They surreptitiously worshiped.  Priests celebrated Masses in safe homes and people hid their devotional objects.  The penal cross was a cross carved out of wood with short arms to allow it to be quickly hid up a sleeve.

Being a Catholic cross, the corpus is carved on top.  Also are symbols, letters, and words depicting the crucifixion.

I still want one.  It represents the history of an era.  I'm humbled by the piety of the Irish people in the seventeenth century.  Imagine practicing your religion when it's forbidden. Would I have the courage to be so devoted?  I shiver at that thought.

Lord, don't ever stop holding my hand!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Super Bowl Lessons for TOPS

As I posted on February 12th, Do Your Job, I'm presenting a program in TOPS on the subject of the lessons learned from Super Bowl LI

5   Lessons I want you to learn for the Super Bowl


First: Always be mindful.  Don’t relax and forget.
The Atlanta Falcons learned this one the hard way — but we can’t forget what we’re trying to do.
The Falcons  were ahead.  At no time did the Patriots lead.  I repeat. The Patriots never were in the lead; they were always losing.  Keep making the right choices.
Second: Never give up.
Everyone fails.  It’s part of being human.  Copy what Tom Brady did. 
First, he got a touchdown with no extra point.  That’s our equivalent of staying the same weight at “weigh in.”  So we didn’t lose.  We’re still OK.
Next the Patriots got a touchdown with a two-point conversion.  That our equivalent of losing a pound.
The following week we lose another pound like another touchdown with another two-pound conversion.
And finally, we’re excited.  We’re on a roll and continue with half a pound to a pound loss the next week.  We’re winning!
Third, don’t blame.
For the first 2 and a half quarters of the game, the Patriots were losing. People who were supposed to catch balls dropped them. People who were supposed to stop the offense let them by. And Tom Brady threw a couple of duds.  It would have been easy to start the blame game. But they didn’t. They patted each other on the back and said, “It’s all right. Move on.”
It shouldn’t matter that it was your birthday, you’re on vacation, etc., you know that.  You have the same birthday, every year!  Vacations are planned ahead.  Plan your days and meals to reflect eating healthy.  No excuses!
Fourth, do it for your mom.
Many thought Tom Brady wanted to win to show up Roger Goodell.  That was sweet.  But the real reason was that he wanted to win for his mother.  His mother is fighting cancer and hadn’t been to any of Tom’s games at all, this year.  This one was for his mother.
If we aren’t trying to lose weight and get healthy for ourselves, then we need to think of our loved ones.  We want to be around for them, so keep making good choices for them.
Fifth, keep your eye on the goal.

You have a weight goal.  Keep at it.  It’s not a race.  Speed doesn’t win.  Perseverance does.  Persevere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ignorance of Catholicism

 face·palm

ˈfāspä(l)m/  noun
  1. 1.
    a gesture in which the palm of one's hand is brought to one's face, as an expression of disbelief, shame, or exasperation.


This was my reaction to this story from a Facebook friend, Michael Liccione:
"My favorite reporter story is from when I was communications director for the Diocese of San Diego. A reporter heard about the (then) new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Her opening salvo was: "What can you tell me about the latest cataclysm of the Catholic Church?" "Which one?" I replied."


Monday, February 13, 2017

Rumpelstiltskin for Adults

Twisted by Bonnie M. Hennessy is an adult fairy tale.  Remember Rumpelstiltskin?  Now the little man will dance in your adult dreams.  It’s not your kiddie’s sweet dreams.  It’s a haunting horror.
Twisted is a gothic romance.  And it is twisted.  Aoife is the major character who keeps her family’s farm and her family, for that matter, together.  Her father is a drunk and womanizer, who’s hobby is visiting the local brothel.  Aoife has pulled her father out of there to come home, so often, that she’s best friends with the house’s madam. Her mother is an enabler.  Aoife is a good manager of her family’s farm.  Because of her shrewd business sense the family has just about enough money to get by.  There is a constant concern, however.  Tara, Aoife’s sister has asthma, or something like that.  She is constantly sick and has a hard time breathing.  Doctor’s visits and medicine take a chunk out of the family’s budget.

To recharge herself, Aoife has turned to the forest.  Here she finds refuge from all the cares, burdens and anxieties that weigh on her.  She walks under the cool forest heaven.  She swims in the forest’s refreshing pond. She breathes in the cleansing pine and healing flora and befriends the woodland creatures.

Then the Duke came along.

Here come the twists.  The Duke is the bad guy, at first.  Then he’s the good guy.  Her savior in the forest, her protector from the Duke, her life’s guardian, turns out not to be such a good guy. 

Bad turns into good and good into bad.  Your mind is trying to think back to the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin.  Does this plot follow the fairy tale, parallel it, or morph into its own denouement?  It’s close enough but it has matured.  Or have you matured? 

You can’t have matured, because here you are a grown up reading a fairy tale.  That alone tells you that this is a good book.  You will be enthralled.  It not only holds your interest; it’s a page turner. 
Although I was given the book to review, I was not required to write a favorable review.  This review is my own honest assessment. 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Genre: 
Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
Pages: 
306
Release:
 November 11, 2016
Publisher: 
self-published
ISBN: 
9781539753421


Amazon buy link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3MC1K4?&tag=tributebooks-20



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Protestors



It's nice to know.  I'm going to the Religious Education Congress sponsored by the Diocese of Los Angeles.  In the instructions that are sent out, I noticed this little note:

If there are protesters at Congress, please do not engage in conversation with them. Ignoring them is the best way of responding. We have developed a plan with Convention Center staff to handle any potential protests.

 I do ignore them mostly because I'm rushing to get to the event.  Besides, there's more of them than little ole me.  They have a bullhorn, too.  But I've encountered them when the pope came to the USA, Eucharistic Congress and last year at the religious congress.  I never thought much about it.  I always thought they were just trying to save my soul, according to their beliefs.

But you think they'd get the idea when their conversion rate                                                                      from these events is "0".

Behaving Like God



Lectio:

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


Reading 1LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD."
Studium:
This book is named "Leviticus" because a lot of the book deals with priests, and the priests were from the tribe of Levi.  The book of Leviticus parallels the Ten Commandments but aimed for the Levite priests.  Although these particularly chosen verses are for us people, too.  We are all to strive towards holiness as God is holy. 
We are to revere God, and we should respect each other as God reveres us. My favorite priest, Father Aniello, says, "Thank you, Jesus, for making me your # 1.  Help me to love others as # 1, as You instruct me to."  Loving others like God loves us, will make us holy.  This type of love forbids inner hatred.  Inner hatred breeds grudges and vengeance.  God's love has no room for hate.  
Being holy is behaving like God.  "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Meditatio:
I remember when Troy, a catechumenate in RCIA got up and ostentatiously left Mass during the Prayers of the faithful. He didn't come back to the Mass but he did attend the next RCIA class.  I asked him the reason for his rude departure from Mass.  Troy responded something to the effect that Father had asked everyone to pray for terrorists and he'd be damned before he would pray for terrorists.
But "we're not praying for their success; we're praying for their hearts to be converted!"  Troy knew that.  He actually didn't want their conversion.  Troy wanted them to go to hell!
Oratio:
Oh boy!  Lord, what can I do?  Where do I begin?  How do I explain that You want us to love our enemies?  This does not make sense to people like Troy.  How did You convert the Israelites who were obligated to exact revenge by Mosaic law?  I need the Holy Spirit, desperately.
People like Troy did not receive much love in their youth.  Their homes didn't foster forgiveness and love.  I understand that.
Maybe if I began with that premise--parents, homes, and backgrounds. If you grew up in the home of a terrorist family, you'd be a terrorist, yourself.  You would want to kill your enemy.  But we are Christians and are taught differently.  This is RCIA, after all.
Contemplatio:
Holy Spirit come open the hearts of Troy and others who struggle with the concept of God's love.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pray for Him

Leslie Ray Charping needs prayers.  He recently died and from the brutal, mean obituary that was reported in the newspapers, no one will miss him, let alone pray for him.

Sometimes the people who need love the most, and the hardest to love.

 Requiescat in pace Leslie Ray Charping.

Contractors

First Things had a poem that resonated with me.  It might with you, too.

Prop Tools

My friend the carpenter (no, not that one) 
Told me about a trick some workmen use.
They leave some tools around if they’re not done—
Nothing that they can’t afford to lose—

As if they’ve gone for coffee or a snack,
Or an emergency—a roof with leaks.
They want to keep us thinking, “They’ll be back,”
Despite the fact that days stretch into weeks.

But even if they do this to deceive,
They do it. They need us to think that they’re 
Decent, the kind of men who wouldn’t leave. 
That Skilsaw on the ground shows wear and tear,
A lot like faith. We need it. So do they.
A promise to believe in anyway.

—Midge Goldberg
The first time was 45 years ago!  We were having a new roof installed. Hubby had to leave and he was waiting and waiting for the roofer to finish.  Finally, he couldn't wait any longer.  The roofer only had about a foot wide length across the roof to do.  Hubby told the roofer he had to leave and paid him.
         When hubby came back, the roofer was gone, but he left a large pail with goo, a stack of shingles, and a spreading tool, on the roof.  Who would do that?  Why did he do that?  Surely, he'll come back and finish the job.
         We waited a year!!!  We telephoned and left messages, with no response.  We asked around; the man had disappeared!
         I won't belabor the point, but the first time wasn't the last time.  As Midge Goldberg says, we need to believe.  We always have hope.  We never lose faith.

Do Your Job!

Aleteia hits the nail on the head, again!  Today there's an article by Tom Hoopes on 5 Lessons he wants his sons to learn from the Patriots win in Super Bowl LI.

He's highlighting spiritual lessons:
Don't coast.
Never give up.
Never turn against your own.
When it's hard to do, do it for your Mom.
Do your job!

I think I'll use this in my next TOPS meeting.      

Don't slack.
Keep trying.
Don't get down on yourself.
Do it for your family.
Do it for your health!


The Big Game

The Big Game: I'm not sure there were many people at the 6 p.m. Mass on Super Bowl Sunday. Actually, I think I can say without too much reservation that the congregation was most assuredly smaller than usual. That's because everyone was preparing to watch the Super Bowl game.



Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, the author compares this particular game's result to the spiritual life.  I like this and agree.  Super Bowl LI was unique.  The Patriots, who won, never led in the entire game, yet they won.  Let this be a lesson to everyone.  Persevere.



The same is true in our spiritual lives.  How many times do we sin?  How often do we doubt?  Isn't easier to just relax and join the cultural decline of moral values?  Aren't we tired?



Well, don't.  No matter what, take a lesson from the Patriots and persevere.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come




What do you think?  Come join.  Why not?
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost (May 25 - June 4) for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. What started out as an invitation from the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.
The hope is that:
People will commit to pray with other Christians around the world- as a church, individually or as a family;�
Churches will hold prayer events, such as 24-7 prayer, prayer stations and prayer walks, across the UK and in other parts of the world;�
People will be empowered through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.   

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, says it so clearly.  In her article, "Catholic Social Media: Why Its Important to our bishops and pope," she lays the reasons why we need authoritative voices and as such, respect is due them. I've often bemoaned the false news and the angry tone often portrayed on social media.  Sister gives us these criteria to help us judge whether or not what we are looking or reading will really help us.

1. Does this article/writer/website give other people in society (lay leaders, politicians, Catholic organizations) more benefit of the doubt than the bishops or the pope?
2. Does this article either subtly or overtly make personal attacks?
  • Name calling or the use of disrespectful nicknames.
  • Attacks against a person’s character (i.e. judgments about a person’s inner life based on outward actions).
  • Negative judgments about a person that communicate condescension, bitterness, or contempt.
3. Is this article opinion or fact based? If an opinion, does the writer share his thoughts humbly while giving the people involved the benefit of the doubt? Or does the writer share his opinion as if it is fact while assuming the worst of those involved?
4. Does this article unfairly assume intention, make conjectures about a person’s inner life, and base analyses on guesses rather than facts?
5. Does this article present itself as sharing objective information in a journalistic style while subtly adding in phrases of opinion that sow doubt and direct the reader to make certain conclusions?
6. Does this article/writer/website hold up certain Church teachings with reverence and respect while dismissing other teaching as non-essential or simply wrong? Or does this article/writer/website gloss over certain Church teachings or subtly subvert them because they are seen as unpopular or uncharitable in the secular world?
7. Is this article’s headline sensational? Does it suggest something scandalous without clear evidence? What would a non-Catholic think upon reading this headline? Does this headline portray events in the worst possible interpretive sense?
8. Does this article use scare quotes to suggest intention and to manipulate readers to absorb the information or a person’s words in a certain way rather than allowing the reader to make his or her own judgments about what was said?
9. Does this article use logical fallacies? (Uncharitable articles are often full of bad arguments.)
10. Does this article/writer/website set itself up against the hierarchy as a “guardian of orthodoxy” or as a de facto alternate Magisterium? Or does this website set itself up against the hierarchy as a prophetic voice of correction and worldly common sense?
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/2017/02/07/catholic-social-media-why-its-important-to-respect-our-bishops-and-pope/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en#sthash.kPMBfawp.dpuf

Zeke Weeks

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, is the author of The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. She blogs at Pursued by Truth.
- See more at: http://aleteia.org/2017/02/07/catholic-social-media-why-its-important-to-respect-our-bishops-and-pope/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en#sthash.kPMBfawp.dpuf

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Women Speak for Themselves


                       Are you interested?  Sign up for the WSFT Gatherings materials at our website.

Pop Quiz

Can you identify these objects?


Litany Against Fear

This morning I was reading Nicole Cliff's journey from atheist to Christian.  I'm a fan of Nicole
Cliff's written expressions.  I use "written expressions," because I like the way she writes.  I don't know if she's written any books because I've never searched for them.  I've just run across her articles, now and then, here and there.  Somewhere, I remembered reading that she used Buffy's Litany Against Fear during her childbirth labor.  Buffy prayed a litany?

Today, I had the time to google.  I can't find Buffy's litany.  I surmise she used the famous litany from Bene Gesserit, who wrote the Dune series of novels in the 1960's.  Reciting this litany became "camp."     It caught on and morphed into a socially acceptable bona fide prayer.                      

The Litany Against Fear
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

What do you think of it?  Much speculation has been expressed.  My take is that it is telling you to "wait it out."  "Be still" and let the fear pass by, because everything eventually passes by.


Whatever.  It's too long.  My "go to" litany is Psalm 27: 7-14.  But being Catholic, I haven't got the verses memorized.  I use a mantra instead:

All is passing.  (Picture your arm sweeping across your body towards the right side.)
God alone abiding. (Picture taking that arm and bringing it back to cover your heart.)

This mantra works--especially during childbirth labor.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Sacrament Game

Back in the day, my friends and I used to play "Dictionary."  All we needed was a dictionary.  We'd open the pages at random and pick out a word.  We'd give a choice of definitions with the correct one mixed in with others.

My RCIA class plays something like this, but they call it the Sacrament Game.  You need a catechism and a score card.  Questions are asked from the catechism.  If you answer correctly, you are Baptised. Answer another one correctly, and you reach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, etc.  The first one to have attained seven sacraments wins.

The Demise of Flat Stanley

All week Flat Stanley hung around the Senior Center.  He had his picture taken with the Cribbage Club, eating in the cafeteria and in the writers' group.  Flat Stanley gets around.  That’s the point.  Flat Stanley is a community project.  A student whose class has undertaken the project will send Flat Stanley to someone far away.  That person will take a picture with Flat Stanley and write down what the picture depicts.  It’s fun and easy and we seniors enjoyed having our pictures taken with Flat Stanley.

But something terrible happened when a Grandma and Grandpa took Flat Stanley hiking.  The group is called The Trail Hikers.  On this particular ominous day, The Trail Hikers were just finished walking the Warner Trail, in Foxborough.  We congratulated ourselves for completing 3.3 miles in less than two hours.  The Trail Hikers laughed as we took our picture with Flat Stanley.  We balanced him on a boulder and put a twig in his hand, to look like a hiking stick.  The picture came out fine.  

That’s Flat Stanley’s last picture.

As Grandma and Grandpa said goodbye through our car window we playfully shook Flat Stanley’s flat hand.  Ooops!  He fell.  Grandma bent down to pick him up, but he wasn’t on the ground.  She bent down to look under the car.  Did he fall in the car?  No, we looked.  Where else?

Did the wind blow him somewhere?

Common sense said he fell under the car.  But he wasn’t there!  We decided to move the car in order to see the ground better.

As the car was backing up, Flat Stanley appeared on the rear tire—just as he turned around and down—face down on the bottom of the tire. 

If he wasn’t flat before, he certainly is now.  Grandpa tried to pull him out but ripped off a leg. 
Well, that’s nothing a little tape couldn’t fix.

We moved the car back just a little—right into a pothole—a pothole full of water.  We moved the car again.  Unfortunately, however, Flat Stanley wasn’t on the tire, anymore.  He must be in the water.

Ick!  What to do?

Grandpa rolled up his sleeve, stuck his hand in the cold, dark, muck, and fished around.  He pulled out a leaf.  He pulled out a twig.  The third time, he pulled out Flat Stanley’s head.  Grandpa tried again—and again.  There was nothing else.  He scooped out the water.  He splashed all the water out.  No sign of the rest of Flat Stanley.  He must have decomposed. 

We all gathered around and looked down at the muck.  What could we do?  What were Grandma and Grandpa going to tell their grandchild?  We didn’t know what to say.  We were all complicit in the demise of Flat Stanley.

Maybe we could make a copy and the grandchild would never know. 

Now we had a deep moral question.  Is it better to lie and draw another, to protect the ugly truth from the grandchild?  Or should we just tell the truth and say “Sorree?”

Do two wrongs make a right?

Oh for heaven sake, this is just a child’s project, not a philosophical dissertation!

Still.

Our solution: we didn’t lie.  We sent this letter to the grandchild.  It was an obituary.

Flat Stanley died suddenly while hiking the Warner Trail in Foxborough, Massachusetts on February 2, 2017.  He was born in 1964 in a book by Jeff Brown.  He was a proud friend to all and enjoyed being mailed all around the globe.  He will be missed by everyone, especially, young readers in the first grade.
      A funeral mass was held at St. Mary’s on Saturday, February 4 at 11 AM.  His interment was private.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Literacy Project.
      The family business project will be continued by his sister, Pancake Patti.

And we included a paper cutout of Pancake Patti. 


It was the least we could do.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Art of Listening

http://aleteia.org/2017/02/02/listening-is-pastoral-care-and-even-you-can-do-it/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en     Listening is hard for me.  I always want to jump in with advice. I have heard and understand that isn't what's needed.  Affirmation is called for and the easy way is to spend all the time that the person needs, with him, listening intently--without interruption.