Monday, December 28, 2009


It was a Saturday morning last Christmastime, about 10:30, when I was driving home from a local music store when I came upon a hitchiker. This was a pretty crappy side of town--you know, that side of every town that looks like a bomb was dropped on it and left to bleed to death. She was skinny, stumbling, and underdressed for the chilly weather.

When she got in my car, I thought for a second that I was looking at a ghost. She told me she was 35, but appeared much older--about 50. She had an open can of Miller in her hand. She began babbling on, thanking me for picking her up and expressing her shock that a woman picked her up rather than a man.

I said, "I couldn't let a sister walk through a horrible neighborhood without a winter coat--how far are you going?"

"To the west side," she replied.

"Oh, that's too far for you to walk. You would be walking all morning."

"I know it! But it's not that cold out." She continued to talk, slurring a little. I tried not to let the smell of her breath bother me as she unloaded. She talked about the boyfriend on whom she just that morning walked out, how she thanked him for giving her kids a Christmas. She has 4 kids, one a 16-month old. The baby doesn't know any better, she told herself, but then again, the baby will grow up and know. She did, she said. Santa didn't come visit her as a child much, either.

I said very little during the entire ride, asking the occasional question to keep her talking.

"I can't take the kids, anyway. Always wanting me, always calling for me. 'Mom! Mom!' They piss me off. Did I tell you I have four? One's just a baby."

"Where's the baby?" I asked.

"With my mom. She stole her from me. Stole, hmph. Actually, I don't blame her. I can't deal with kids. She was right to take her from me." She paused for a second and looked around my car at the rosary beads, cross and pictures of the Good Shephard and Our Lady of Guadalupe hanging from my rear view mirror. "Hey, are you some kind of a Christian or something?"


"Oh." She paused for a few seconds. "Jesus hasn't done much for me. But then again, I can't kick this shit," she said, referring to the beer in her hand. "I can't stop smoking pot, either. Or other things..." she trailed off and looked out the window for a second. "They say you can quit if you really want to quit."

"Yes, and if you work on one thing at a time," I replied, "you're much more successful."

"And there's always rehab," we both said together with a knowing laugh.

I replied, "Yeah, but if you don't have a group of people around you to love you and help you through it, it's even hard to quit through rehab."

"My family thinks I'm a loser," she said to me. "They call me a drunk, a lost cause, they tell me that I'm a waste. They don't love me." She went on to talk about a rehab facility in the area that will allow people to bring their children. As I pulled into the driveway, she looked in my backseat. "Oh, man. Look at all this Christian stuff in this car. Wow. I gotta get outta here." I didn't preach at her. She didn't need to hear it. She already knows. But before she bolted into the house, I took her hand and held it for a minute. I caught her eyes and squeezed her hand before I let go.

I wrote down her address before I left the driveway. I never did catch her name.

I still pray for her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Venerable John Paul II

If you ever wondered what it takes for the Church to officially declare a person a saint, watch the following video.

From Rome Reports: "John Paul II road to sainthood, is perhaps one of the shortest on record. It started just one month after he died."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Walking the Talk

Today's reflection from The Magnificat Advent Companion, titled Talk Is Cheap, touched on a topic that truly separates the cultural Christian from the true believer:

"Big talkers are everywhere. We run into them all the time. They make bold promises, grandiose statements, and elaborate plans, often with no intention whatsoever of following through on their empty words. For some, it's merely the sound of those words—not the action, the reaction, or even the betrayal that follows—that is important."

I can think of several instances just in the last year when I've been disappointed by a few big talkers in my life. Now, everyone drops the ball periodically; but there's a world of difference between dropping the ball and dodging the ball after saying, "Hey, throw the ball here!" The irritation, disappointment, and often extra work really get old fast. My big talkers are probably reading this right now, reciting right now a litany of excuses and issues ranging from allegedly lost emails to hectic schedules, forgetting that I, too, have a juggling act of my own.

Granted, I'm guilty of having done this myself; the damage to my reputation, and the hurt feelings experienced by those affected by my lack of action, were a real life lesson for me.

It brings to mind the Parable of the two sons:

"A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today. He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" Mt. 21:28-32

May we always strive to be the one who does the will of The Father.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And a great sign appeared in the sky...

...After seeing the big massive circus made over stains that look like the Virgin Mary...

...why wouldn't this 'painting' of Our Lady be front page news?

... In any case, we give praise to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas,


Friday, December 11, 2009

Behind the Screen or Face to Face?

It's a question I have considered for years. I always thought that face-to-face was an opportunity to get personal spiritual direction from a priest who knows that it's me in the room with him. Today, though, I confessed at a church with no option for face-to-face confession, and I gotta admit, the screen picked up a few votes today.

First, Father was able to give me extraordinary spiritual direction that was far more relevant than I expected. It was right on, actually-exactly what I needed for my spiritual growth at this point in my life. At first I was totally surprised at this; but as I thought about it, it dawned on me that sin is sin: one act isn't any different committed by me than by someone else. A priest doesn't have to know who I am to know that sin is damaging my soul.

Second, I didn't feel the need to "clean it up" for Father. The screen completely took away any desire to hang onto vanity or pride by withholding things from a man who might think less of me after I've confessed. Granted, I've been told by several priests that they instantly forget what they hear in the confessional; but that doesn't exactly make the process of telling a holy man to his face that I've done something sinful.

Fr. Ed (a priest I know fairly well) has said that we've done our children a great disservice with face-to-face confession. When children are small, their sins are small; but as they get older, it's harder for them to admit the harder sins. Encouraging a face-to-face confession as the better option can further burden us and keep us from the sacrament. Remember, deliberately withholding sins while confessing is far worse for our souls.

One more thing: if you were taught that your face-to-face confession is "more valid" or "better" than from behind the screen, forget all about that. There is absolutely no difference in the end result. What matters is that you've admitted your sin, and resolve to not do it again, and you don't have to do it sitting in a chair staring at the priest.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coming Soon...


Music stormed loudly
through the narrow hallway
of my mind,
and when I tried to block it out
with a racket of my own
the clamor
ricocheted off the walls,
gaining speed,
pushing the limits
and I held my walls firm,
and still the noise blasted through,
cracking the sheet rock,
shattering the windows,
and I held my walls firm,
and still the noise blasted through,
tearing out casings,
sheet rock crumbling
piece by piece,
and I held my walls firm,
and still the noise blasted through,
frame after frame
tumbling into
a grotto of waste

And as the walls fell
I lost my strength,
for my voice was weak
against the music
I heard for the first time,
and gawking at what's
left behind from
my shattered wall,
I wonder how I was
content inside such a
weak structure.

And the sunlight burned my skin
pocked with disease,
my eyes weak from darkness.
The personal living hell club:
everyone's already a member.

And from the depths of the rubble,
the pains of my despair
I cried out into the darkness,
And the parasite
gagged me with
words of the damned
and I writhed to get free,
and the parasite
gripped my heart
with users and usurpers
and I writhed to get free,
and the parasite
tied down my limbs
with poverty and hatred
and I writhed to get free,
and the parasite
raped me with his
lies disguised as love,
and I writhed to get free,
and the parasite
laughed in my face,
"Who will save you now?"

And I remembered blue eyes
looking over me long ago,
the one that dawn showed me
when my eyes were open,
but my spirit so diseased
I couldn't reach for him.

After all my castles built with
cracked stone and rotted lumber
crumbled around me,
he was there,
waiting for me
to see.

And he wrapped me in his wings,
and with the lightning of his song he
stabbed the parasite with a mortal blow,
and rescued me from death.

"Angel of God, My guardian, dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light, to guard, to rule, to guide."

(Just for you, CB. A shout out to CG too. That's right, I still got it. PG)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advice From the Queen of Heaven

" of Our Lady's greatest sorrows during her many visits to Kibeho was that not enough people truly listened to the loving advice and counsel she offered through her visionaries.  Too many individuals came to the village simply to witness a miracle, and while their eyes and ears searched the heavens for a supernatural event, their hearts failed to hear the messages Mary repeated again and again:  love God, love and be kind to each other, read the Bible, follow God's commandments, accept the love of Christ, repent for sins, be humble, seek and offer forgiveness, and live the gift of your life how God wants you to--with a clean and open heart and a clear conscience."  Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa by Immaculee Ilibagiza, pg. 62.

If humanity would only do what she asks. That would be a supernatural event worth witnessing.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...