A Call Or A Calling?

god channelThanks to my car having BlueTooth and my aversion to driving “alone”, I call my mother a lot. I would call her regardless, because she’s my mother and you keep in touch with people who have done awesome things for you like give you life and raise you right. But lately, I call her almost daily, usually on my drive home from work. We talk about anything and everything. Sometimes we talk about plans for future visits, since I recently moved back into a reasonable visiting radius, and other times we talk about what’s going on in our lives or the lives of our family.

Let me give you a little background about my mother. When I was a teenager, she worked in a religious goods store, now she’s a Business Manager at a local Catholic church. Growing up, my mother was my religious education teacher about every other year (the other years, she taught my brother’s class). I know all of her tricks, and when my brother and I were both done with religious education and she picked the years she liked best and started teaching them again, I continued to stay on as her assistant while I was still in the area.

My parents were always advocates of education extending beyond the classroom and living up to their responsibilities as our primary educators. We were a roadtrip family, making two cross-country moves by car during my childhood, and a large number of other trips to visit family every year. We rarely listened to the radio on these trips because my parents considered this prime family time and a great opportunity for education. My mother used to sit in the passenger seat and read to us from an educational book series by E.D. Hirsch, that is until I took over for her and read from the back seat, eventually replacing the grade-specific information of E.D. Hirsch with the fantasies of J.K. Rowling. During one of the two moves, my brother and I spent an extended time out of school (a month or so) and my mother stepped in with the things she could teach best: handwriting and language roots. My brother was in first grade, I was in fifth, so she worked on his print and my cursive, and we both studies Greek and Latin roots for the duration of our time out of school. I still attribute her with the fact that my cursive is neater than my print (especially since many of my peers don’t use cursive anymore at all, and most people younger than me don’t even know how to use it beyond signing their name) and with my SAT literature scores. Continue reading

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Making My Heart a Garden

It seems that January is the month of diets.  People all over the world are grabbing onto the spark of life and hope that comes with the new year and deciding to take better care of ourselves.  Whether we are trying to lose weight, lower cholesterol or just be healthier, we pay very close attention to what we put into our bodies.  Is our food good for us?  Is it full of preservatives?  Is it organic?

Food is not all we put into our bodies, however, and maybe in this new year, we should also focus on what sounds we are putting into our bodies.  We hear so much noise every day, so much talk and so much music.  How attentive are you to what you listen to?  Do you notice when your music influences your mood?

As a youth minister, I hear all kinds of Christian music.  No matter what your musical tastes are, some Christian artist

somewhere has tried to appeal to them.  Ancient Latin chant, 70s folk, early American hymnody, pop, opera, Celtic, rap, metal… whether it’s meant for liturgy or not, there is Christian music out there for you.

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What Happens When You Think Your Prayers Haven’t Been Answered or a Notre Dame Fan Handling Sound Defeat at the National Championship…

Ok – So I normally prefer to focus on more spiritual aspects than football. I even had this incredible idea to write about raising Catholic young men based on observations of my sons this fall, and I will write about that later. But, when one goes to Miami to follow a beloved football team that plays for the Lady on the Dome, well… you have to acknowledge it.

 We are flying home from the game and I have to say this is the first time I have walked away from any large defeat with simple disappointment. I was not disappointed in the team, they were (and this sticks in my craw to say it) rolled by “The Tide”, a true force issued by some large players. I was not disappointed in our fans, although the blue and green of the Irish dwindled towards the end of the game while our boys were still out on that field committed to every moment. I was simply disappointed in the outcome. I will admit, I prayed a Rosary that first half after we went down by 14. But I wasn’t praying for a win. I was praying that whatever God has in mind for this team, they can have the courage to face the moments they were in and to work hard to keep going.

How do we handle petition, intention? Should we pray for victory? If we pray for victory is it not inevitable we will be disappointed? What is “right” prayer? Now I’m an amateur theologian at best, but I do feel that having insight into the core of our petitions is as much a gift as faith itself. I have had brief moments of clarity, when I know praying for healing for some one with cancer may not mean physical healing; when it is more important to pray for perseverance which may result in the better grade, or victory. Yet, there are those other times (can’t help it) where a petition for 4 more yards or that some one executes a play better just pops into my heart. Does it help? Well, I think prayer is not going to alter our team’s ability to choose (or not choose) to act and some one else’s ability to make a bad call, oh wait, I mean call the play as they see it. These are the interesting consequences of the interactions of free will.

I know some people struggle with competition. It is fascinating that human beings compete. We have done so for eons – whether in battle or games. We enjoy the Olympics and sporting contests; we are hardwired to compete. Competition pushes us towards excellence. What is the gain spiritually? Mystical theologians talk about being completely present in God in order to experience him. Athletes talk about “the zone”, that place of focus where you are completely in the moment, where your whole being is completely present. We attempt to grow closer to God by using our talents. If some of those gifts are athletic, then shouldn’t we honor those gifts by developing them? Plato often spoke of human beings as a fusion of body, mind and spirit. If we are all three, then shouldn’t we determine the best way to employ our entire being – body, mind and soul – in order to fulfill God’s will?

What endeared Manti Te’o to us this year was a combination of factors. Yet he points to the challenge from his father to deepen his spirituality this year. He faced the loss of his grandmother and, tragically, his young girlfriend, with faith. He took the desire to honor their memory and channeled that into developing his talents, dedicating his whole being to where he was at that moment. In doing so, he inspired his teammates, and they worked unselfishly to get to the opportunity to play for the Championship. One game does not erase that.

What are we doing to challenge ourselves fully to honor our gifts and be part of creation, part of the team that is our community? Do we take for granted our body and prevent ourselves from being hands that can do good things because we are sick, unhealthy and tired? Do we ignore our mind and just survive our days instead of using our imagination and intelligence to work to bring God into our lives and into lives around us? Do we take advantage of all the opportunities we have to worship and take even small moments during the day to pray so as to include our Creator in everything we take on in the day? “We are not defeated in the attempting, we are only defeated if we never choose to try.”

Fight Irish! – Honor the gifts you have and persevere. Make your perseverance in all things your prayer. If thwarted in this moment, fight on in the many moments to come! 

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Marian Feast Day Mass | Presentation of Our Lady | Wednesday, November 21 @ 6:30 AM

Marian Feast Day Mass |  Presentation of Our Lady | Wednesday, November 21 @ 6:30 AM

Church of the Risen Christ, 3060 S. Monaco Parkway

  • Ladies of Our Lady invite both men and women to join them for a mass to honor Mary. Please join us in the Spirit of Notre Dame when attending another Mass wherever you are.
  • Meet near the Holy Family side chapel on the left and wear blue.
  • Following Mass, you’re invited to join us for coffee at Starbucks (inside Safeway, Yale & Monaco), hosted by DawnMarie Murdy Schwappach ’91.
  • Please register!
  • Contact: DawnMarie, DawnMarie.Schwappach@comcast.net
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Marian Feast Day: Our Lady of Fatima

Marian Feast Day Mass | Saturday, October 13 @ 8:30 AM
Church of the Risen Christ, 3060 S. Monaco Parkway

  • Ladies of Our Lady invite both men and women to join them for a mass to honor Mary, Our Lady of Fatima. This is the 95th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, which was officially accepted as a miracle on October 13, 1930. Please join us in the Spirit of Notre Dame when attending another Mass wherever you are.
  • We’ll meet near the Holy Family side chapel on the left. Wear blue!
  • Following Mass, you’re invited to join us for refreshments and fellowship in the Emmaus Center. DawnMarie Murdy Schwappach ‘91 will host.
  • Please register!
  • Contact: DawnMarie Murdy Schwappach ’91, DawnMarie.Schwappach@comcast.net
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