Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Bold Homily

We had a guest priest today at mass. Maybe some of you have heard of him, Fr. McCafrey. If not, I'll explain a little about him. He is an 80 year old, retired army Chaplin priest who travels the world preaching on the harmful effects of contraception and sterilization in marriages and the meaning of the Church's teaching on these matters. Today he also preached on the beatitudes since that was this morning's gospel. I came home so refreshed to have heard such a bold and honest homily. Although his homily was completely counter cultural, it was refreshing for a priest to finally stand up and give a call to action for his people. He spoke beautifully about how the beatitudes are our way to sanctity and how contraception is killing our marriages and our Church. How if we aren't pure of heart and keep sin in our lives, God cannot work fully through us. He spoke about how money becomes our God and overindulgence in worldly things cripples our soul. He called all of us there to start living our faith, because if we did the whole world would change. And lastly he asked those in the parish who had a hard time with the church's teaching to go home, get on their knees, and ask our Lord to open their eyes to His truth.

In the world we live in today, we should be hearing a homily like this every single Sunday. But in the last ten years of my life, I could probably count the number of times on my hand I have heard a homily about sacrifice and becoming saints. Why are our priests so scared? Why do they feel the need to get up to the pulpit every Sunday and give a bunch of fluff and psycho-babble bull honky? The truth is, Christ calls us to "take up our cross" not "feel good all the time". This is what Christianity means. This is what Christianity looks like.

It's not about some feel good praise and worship music or a really awesome and talented preacher. It's about that picture right up there. It's about submitting ourselves to the Father's will like Christ did and living out the sometimes hard truth's of Christianity. Nothing great in life is every easy. So enough of the fluff already. It's time to start embracing our cross, not running from it. It's time to start living our faith, even if we are hated for it. It's time to start denying ourselves instead of giving into every whim and want of our body. It's time to start letting our priests know how much we need the bold, and sometimes hard to hear truth on Sundays. It's time we start living  the beatitudes. Only then will the world start to change; only then will we be saints.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cleaning House

I have been on a de-cluttering streak lately. My husband, I'm sure, will scream if I ask him if I can throw one more thing away. Although the house is still in a mess, things are starting to find a place and I can finally breath. How is it that we go through life with so much stuff that we don't even know what we own? I was blessed to be raised in a home with a mother who kept absolutely nothing that wasn't needed. She never had the "we may need that someday" mentality that fills boxes of junk in a home. Junk stresses me out. If I don't even know where something is, or where to find it, how am I ever going to use it? Cleaning out my house this week has not been at all sad or difficult; it has been freeing.

There is a lot of freedom in living with less. Less toys (as mentioned in my last post), less "sentimental" things that really will mean nothing to anyone in a few years, and less stuff that we never even knew we had. In the past weeks I was spending most, if not all of my time, cleaning, only to find the house a disaster 5 minutes later. The stress of not having a place to put things was about to put me over the edge. Now, it's true that we live in a very tiny 1200 square foot home, but hey, that's what we are given right now. My new outlook is if we can't fit in the house we live in, then we have too much. For the first time in a long time I feel a weight lifted from my shoulder. There will be no more dread when opening a closet and seeing mass amounts of disorganization and clutter. From now on we will know what we own and where to find it. I have reserved two small storage boxes for my husband and I to keep sentimental things we want to hold on to. If the box is too full to place another item in, it's time to get rid of something else in the box. It's time we start setting boundaries on ourselves in the way we live and the stuff we own. I want to use and enjoy the things I own, not be consumed by it. Most importantly, I want to teach my children that stuff is just that: stuff. I want them to make their attachments to the things of eternity, not the objects in our everyday lives.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Toys Toys Toys

This past Christmas had my husband and I thinking a lot about the things we own, specifically the toys we own. As first time parents we really are clueless as to what kind of toys a two year old likes, and I can count the number of toys on my hand that we have bought for my son. Most of Peanut's toys have been given to him by friends and relatives. The problem is, he doesn't really play with them much. I solved the possibility of having an overwhelming amount of toys by giving many away and putting the rest in organizers and only letting a few toys out at a time. I thought that would do it. Nope, still not playing very much.

On our very long drive back from our Christmas vacation, my husband suggested, once again, that Peanut had too many toys. I argued that he didn't have the right kind of toys. My husband then said something that, in my eyes at least, was very profound, "Peanut has toys he plays with, but not toys he uses to play". Maybe to many of you this sounds crazy or redundant, but it made perfect sense to me. What happened to toys kids use to play and why are they so rare and hard to find?

Try walking down a toy isle and finding a toy that doesn't sing, talk, dance, light up or fly. There is a very small selection. Who needs imagination when a toy action figure now talks, lights up and moves for the kid? Moreover, think about your favorite toys as a child. Were they the ones that made the most noise or had the most lights? No, our favorite toys growing up were the ones that we created. The simple stuffed animal that could be a rocket man, doctor or baby at any given point. The toys that had personality and characteristics that we invented and only we knew the extent of. Toys today come talking and walking with a personality of their own, leaving no room for imagination.

When we got home, we cleared out most of our sons toys that sing, dance and that he hardly plays with. We then took some Christmas money my mother had given to him specifically for toys, and headed to the toy store. We paid a higher dollar for the quality wooden and plain toys we bought, but found comfort knowing that they would stimulated Peanut and Miss Belle's imagination for years to come. One particular toy we bought was a little dump truck with a man sitting in the front seat. No sounds, whistles or motors. Peanut says he's the trash man. He hasn't put the thing down in two days.