Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rejoice Not When Thine Enemy Falleth

The car radio was set to the BBC when I left work, and it was a few minutes before the announcer repeated the headline, "Osama bin Laden is dead."  The news was so unexpected and shocking that I'm surprised I stayed on the road.

"Bittersweet" isn't quite the word to describe my reaction to the announcement.

I remember well that Tuesday morning.  All of America shared in the horror of that dark day.  But ten years later, this jubilation over one man's death disturbs me, too--even a man as hate-filled or destructive as Bin Laden.

Whooping crowds gathered outside the White House and at Ground Zero in New York chanting "USA! USA!" at the news.  A friend on Facebook posted that Bin Laden's body should have been dragged in the streets.  A morning news anchor wished that, rather than having been burial at sea, his body had been thrown off a high building.

This is not the Christian reaction.  In fact, to me these celebrations are eerily reminiscent of the sight of Muslims shrieking with joy over the American deaths of 9/11.

Worse, this man’s death and the following elation came on the very day we celebrated the beatification of the great John Paul II who publicly forgave the man who tried to murder him.  In these days when politicians and citizens are saying, "You don't pick a fight with America!  We will hunt you down and bring you to justice!  There is a sense of unity again!" perhaps it would be good for America to remember the blessed pope's words:  "Do not think that courage and strength are proved by killing and destruction.  True courage lies in working for peace."

There is only one man whose death we should rejoice over:  the God-Man Jesus Christ.  What would this world look like if, coming out of the Easter Octave, people were even half as exultant over the death and resurrection of the Savior of Heaven and Earth?

Scripture instructs me not to rejoice or be glad when my enemy falls (cf Prov 24:17).  My Lord calls me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me (cf Mt 5:44).  This is a hard saying, but I must accept it.  So this is why I am so uncomfortable with the reaction of my countrymen--many of whom insist America is a Christian nation--at the death of Osama Bin Laden.

May God have mercy on his soul.

May Christ's grace remake us all in His Image.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Holy Cross is My Light

For months I've been looking for a crucifix lapel pin to add to the cowbell and sundry bling affixed to my Y name tag lanyard.  (You will remember that I had been given a papal crucifix pin but it was stolen right off my jacket a few years ago. )  I'd been checking local Catholic stores to no avail, but finally found a nice one online which arrived in the mail a few days ago.

It is a St. Benedict crucifix, which contains St. Benedict's Medal at its intersection.  St. Benedict's Medal is a well-known sacramental used to invoke God's protection from evil, especially the Evil One.  The pin came with a little card, explaining the letters on the medal--abbreviations of Latin prayers of deprecatory exorcism.

I'd put that card in the drawer of my dresser valet, where I keep my Miraculous Medal blessed by John Paul II, my decade rosary blessed by Benedict XVI, some other small religious items and scraps of paper.

Earlier this afternoon I came into the bedroom to find this startling sight:

The drawer was cracked open and the St. Benedict card was sticking out.

I had not touched the valet since emptying my pockets last night.  I had been nowhere near my dresser today.  I had not even opened that drawer since putting the card inside a few days ago. And I've been alone here all day.

I snapped a quick picture, and sprinkled holy water after praying the prayer on the card:
The Holy Cross is my light
The devil won't be my guide
Be gone devil
You won't persuade me to do evil
What you show me is evil
Drink your own poison yourself
It is Tuesday of Holy Week, where in today's Gospel Jesus gives the morsel to his betrayer and "after Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him."  The devil is very real and so is spiritual warfare  And it can be unnerving to encounter it.

Today is also the sixth anniversary of the election of Joseph Ratzinger as pope, who took the name Benedict.

Very eerie.

St. Benedict, pray for me.  St. Michael the Archangel, protect me in battle.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

During its final few months, 2010 picked up speed and then barreled right past me. You will remember that at the beginning of last year, I mentioned four goals I set for myself to accomplish. I made them public in order to hold myself accountable. I also mentioned that I would report back on my progress.

I am sorry to say that I am a failure.

Well, maybe not a complete failure.

I did fairly well reading the Scriptures for half the year, although I regularly fell behind on the reading schedule. Sometime in August I got so far behind that I couldn't catch up. In retrospect, this goal was probably much too ambitious for someone as notoriously lazy as myself.

I did lose some weight, although it wasn't quite 30 pounds, but at least now the number on my driver's license is correct again. However, I didn't hike Longs Peak.

I didn't get a fiddle.  I got a book and a CD for fiddle self-instruction, but no instrument.

I'm not much closer to sainthood.  As of now, I will turn out the lights in Purgatory, if I'm blessed to even make it there.

Thankfully, there were things I accomplished this past year that weren't on any list.  For starters, I changed jobs and ran my first 5K (both of which happened in September--a productive month).  I also went to my first Latin Mass, my first Sweet Sixteen game, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Look for me to repeat my unattained goals in 2011, when I hope to achieve them.

And when I hope to smoke that pipe.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Death Comes for the Layman

November is a bleak month. Trees have lost their leaves, darkness comes earlier and earlier, the liturgical year comes to a close and the secular calendar isn't far behind.

I think about death fairly regularly, especially in November, when this feast of St. Andrew is the fourth anniversary of my brush with death.

Reflection upon mortality isn't a morbid thing to do, but rather the most practical thing to do. In the industrial world, many of us plan for retirement (though inadequately, financial experts tell us); fewer still probably plan for eternity. So meditation on and preparation for death—which the Catechism calls “the Christian's last Passover”—is one of the most important things to do in life. It is, after all, the one event I can be certain of happening to me (unless, of course, Christ comes in glory before I'm buried, but I'm not holding my breath).

In college, my friend Tonia made a will in order to execute the transfer of her vast estate, planned a luau in lieu of finger sandwiches in a church basement and informed all her family and friends of her wishes. In the same vein, there are a few things regarding my own death and funeral that I'd like to be public knowledge. So I'm posting them here.

First of all, when I'm dead, please don't refer to me as having "passed on," or say that I am "no longer with us." I hate these colloquial phrases. Don't mince words; I will be dead, period. And whatever you do, do not say that I'm "in a better place" or “with God in heaven.” Do not canonize me. Whether I behold God in His glory face to face following my death is something you cannot know, unless the Church formally declares me a saint.

Besides, if I do make it to Heaven, it will only be after a long period in Purgatory. I'm in the midst of Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages and Warnings from Purgatory, which has helped impress upon me the reality of Purgatory, where God's justice and mercy meet to purge the effects of sin from a soul before it enters Heaven. So please offer Masses and pray for me often when I am dead.

You may have an “Irish wake” for me; that is, following the viewing and vigil service, you may sing my praises, curse my failings and generally reminisce over drinks and conviviality.

My funeral Mass should be used as an evangelization tool. The homily at my funeral Mass should hardly mention me. Rather, I'd prefer that the priest exhort those in attendance to more closely follow Christ, receive His Sacraments, especially Eucharist and Confession, and regularly pray and read Scripture.

Some other things I'd like to see happen at the funeral Mass (fair warning: I haven't ruled out an Extraordinary Form requiem Mass):
  • Use lots of incense
  • Sing the whole Mass
  • All ordinary choral Mass parts in Greek or Latin (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc.)
  • Use the Roman Canon (First Eucharistic Prayer) and invoke all the saints in brackets
  • A beautiful Eucharistic hymn such as Adoro te Devote at communion would be nice
  • Sing Salve Regina

Under no circumstances should Be Not Afraid or On Eagle's Wings be sung. And if, like at my aunt Jean's funeral, one of the altar servers should wear pink Crocs, so help me, I will leap out of that casket.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Moving On

During my past five years in the working world, I have been in Housekeeping at the Y.  Starting next week I will report to a different department.

I have accepted a position as Guest Registration Supervisor.  This move will include several changes:

  • I will have closer and more frequent contact with guests
  • I will be doing some accounting work in regard to reservations
  • I will no longer be in charge of Lost and Found
  • I will work evenings

This last point is the biggest change for me.  I am widely regarded as an Old Man (to be discussed further in a future post).  Not only do Old Men not take kindly to changes in routine,  but we also like our sleep.  Most nights I will probably not arrive home until after 11pm, thus going to bed even later, which will in turn necessitate a later wake-time the following morning.

So essentially, the whole pattern of my day will change.  I don't see this as too much of a problem, however, especially going into winter.

  • More hours of daylight will be available to me each day
  • Everything in Estes will still be open while during the day
  • I will have plenty of time to pray, exercise and groom myself after waking up and before going to work

The biggest downside, other than no longer working with my good friends in Housekeeping (or going to Friday night happy hour) will be that I will not be able to regularly attend Sunday evening Mass at St. Malo.

Believe me; that will be the greatest cross to bear.