What is Holiness, Part 1 – What it’s Not

This series is adapted from a meditation that I gave in September 2008 for a Women’s Morning of Reflection. Quotes from the book Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be by Fr. Thomas Williams, LC are used with permission.

What is holiness? You seem to know it when you see it. I remember a man I used to work with. Bob was a very faithful Catholic. He knew God was not calling him to the vocation of marriage and he was single. He spent a great deal of time helping sick members of his family and friends. Homeless people and those with drug problems would come to our workplace and ask for Bob, and he would always help them. Sometimes he would give them money. He knew this could be used in a sinful way, but they came to him for help and he would try to help him. You knew from talking with him he was holy.

Another person I could immediately sense was holy was my uncle George. He had a quiet soul. When I looked into his eyes, it was like looking into the eyes of Jesus. Kind… gentle… prayerful. He had sorrows in his life, but you knew he leaned on Christ. That he was close to Christ.

There is a woman that I see at weekday masses at my parish. She is a poor Haitian woman. Her clothes are probably from Goodwill. You can tell she has had a hard life. I don’t know her name, but she sits behind me. A rosary is always in her hand. She radiates Joy. A smile is always on her face. When the priest asks during the Mass what people’s special intentions are, she says the most profound prayers. You know instinctively that she is holy. That she knows Christ intimately. I consider it a privilege to shake her hand, and I always grasp her hand with both of my own because I know she is close to God. Maybe she will rub off on me. She always says “Peace be with you, sister.” And I feel privileged to be her sister in Christ.

But what exactly is Holiness?

Fr. Thomas Williams, LC talks about this in his wonderful book, Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be. He suggests that the place to begin understanding holiness is to understand what holiness is NOT.

First, holiness is not mere philanthropy. Donating money or giving aid to those less fortunate is important, but it is not holiness itself. Caring for those who need help is a manifestation of being holy, but it can also be because our conscience is bothering us, or we do it to look good to others. It in itself is not holiness.

Holiness is also not just avoidance of evil.  A holy person will, of course, try to avoid evil. But holiness is about doing and being, not about avoiding things.

Holiness is not an intellectual pursuit. The simplest people are often the holiest: the cleaning lady… the garbage man. We should all learn about Christ and learn theology. We should learn what the church, founded by Christ, teaches, but that is not what makes us holy.

Holiness is also not the number of disciplines you perform. Many people confuse devotion with disciplines. Holiness is not an excessive emphasis on external works, such as fasting, abstinence and lengthy prayers. Being miserable is not holiness. Jesus told us in the Gospel of John that His wish for us was he wanted our joy to “be complete.” Those who are holy are joyful, not dour, and sad, and serious all the time.

And he also does not expect us to walk down the street flagellating ourselves in public, like some saints of old did, to encourage public penance. He also does not expect us to battle demons in the desert like St. Anthony of the Desert, or to have extraordinary levitations like St. Joseph of Cupertino. Though I think my children would think it cool if I levitated!

Holiness is also not a means to something else. It is not trying to manipulate God to do what you want. Like going to church every Sunday in exchange for financial success. Or thinking that “If I become Holy, God will let me win the lottery!” We are trying to gain union with Christ. Not to gain anything but to be with HIM. HE is our supreme goal. Heaven is our goal because we get to be joined forever with our creator and the one who loves us the most. Money is just paper, it is nothing. God is everything.

Holiness is not self-improvement. We all want to improve and be better. We want to stop being vain or prideful or impatient. But this is not a self-centered pursuit. It is hard to remember “It is NOT about ME” It is about Christ. Pope Benedict wrote a book called “Called to Communion” and in it he wrote

“It is not the perfecting of one’s self that makes one holy, but the purification of the self, through the fusion into the all embracing love of Christ: it is the holiness of the triune God himself.”

So we become Holy by purifying ourselves. Ridding ourselves of whatever is in our way to be close to God. But we cannot do this ourselves! We need Christ to help us – by allowing Christ to work in you, you receive the holiness of Christ Himself.

Very importantly, Holiness is NOT about “Feeling” God’s presence. Good feelings come, and good feelings go. And that is normal. But it has little to do with growth of holiness. Many people have a naturally cooler temperament. Some are emotional about everything. Others are very controlled.

You got up this morning, got dressed, got your kids off to school. Did you feel enormous feelings for your spouse this morning? Did you even think deeply about your spouse, who may have left already or was busy getting himself ready for an important meeting? Did your heart overflow with love at the very thought of him? Or were you wondering if he will have clean socks? It is not normal to be in a perpetual state of emotion. You have to come down to the real world to function properly.

Loving God is a CHOICE, not a FEELING. God does not command us to FEEL a certain way, but to ACT a certain way. Loving others, which God commanded us to do, does not mean warm, fuzzy feelings but the desire for their good. Fr. Williams says

“Every time we prefer others to ourselves or choose to do something, not because we feel like it, but because it is the right thing to do, we are loving.”

Feeling love or getting consolations, is not an accurate way of assessing holiness. Many saints, like Mother Teresa, did not “FEEL” God’s presence for YEARS. It is what you do when you DON’T feel God that counts. Did you follow his commandments? Did you go to Mass even though you did not feel like it? Did you take the time to sit down for awhile and pray and open your heart to the Lord, even though you had a million things to do that day? You may not feel His presence, but He is there and many times MORE present when you don’t feel him. I picture Him sitting there beside me watching me, waiting to see what my choice will be today. Will I rush my prayers or really try to pray seriously?

Finally, Holiness is not an Unreachable Utopia. “It is not just one occupation among many, to be juggled along with our other affairs, but the Central enterprise of our lives.” It is, quite simply, the meaning of life.

What is very important to know is this: growth of holiness, the Christian life, like all life, is progressive. It is NOT a state or condition to be reached. “Today I’m Holy, Tomorrow I’m not.” They don’t give out awards – the holiness award. She’s now holy. No, it is union with God and we either grow or diminish. We can’t stay still. God calls each of us to holiness, to be saints, and He provides ALL the means we need to attain it. God puts in our life all the people, all the circumstances that we need to help us to be holy. Just think…your mother in law is providing you with the means to learn prudence!

SO…now that we know what holiness is NOT, tomorrow we will learn what it is.

Related Posts:
What is Holiness, Part II
What is Holiness, Part III – What YOU Need to Do to Be Holy

What Does It Mean To Live Catholic?

What does it mean to be a LIVE Catholic? It means we are not afraid to live life abundantly! To drink in the beauty of life, family, friends and the world. We are not afraid to explore the wonders of Christ. We have Hope! Hope for a better life in Christ, and most importantly the Hope of being with Christ on the “other side.” Whether we are new Catholics, “Reverts”, members of the life-long faithful, or those just considering Catholicism, we all can live life in the joy of Christ.

Too many Catholics think religion is dour, depressing – what grandmothers and old men do. They have the impression that to be a saint is to be boring and painful. Long hours on their knees wearing hairshirts. But holiness is not about hairshirts – it is about union with God. An aliveness we can not only dream about but actually attain. A great adventure waiting for us that we only have to open ourselves to. And yes, this means YOU TOO!

Saints are truly the most joyful people around. We may not know many – if any – but when you meet one you can sense it immediately. They radiate love, goodness and truth. Sure it is not all fun and games. Life is not like that. But the joy in Christ we experience here on earth is but a taste of the joy to come.

True Catholics don’t spend their time complaining about how unfair the Church is, or how they are not getting their fair share, or how so-and-so said an unthinking word. True Catholics realize that it is all about their relationship with Christ, not about rules. The rules are there to give us a framework to build on, to go beyond. A starting point.

True Catholics are alive in the Faith. They take a journey every day with Christ. They never stop learning. They are never afraid Christ will abandon them. They suffer hardships, pain and disappointments with faith and trust that the Lord will give them the strength and help to persevere.

To get to this point – joy in the Lord amidst life’s struggles – is itself a journey. We have so much to learn and experience. There is a depth to Catholicism that is unfathomable to us. We could spend our entire lives with our nose in book after book, website after website, and never even scratch the surface of the knowledge of Christ held within the Church.

In another way though, knowledge of Christ is profoundly simple. Even small children and the uneducated understand it, and in many ways, better than anyone. They have a deep understanding of who God is and what he wants from our lives. Simple people have far less in their way to Christ than we may have.

To live as a Catholic, to be an alive Catholic, means to not let the world surround us, choke us, smother us with falsehoods. We have to grow in knowledge and holiness. We need to take advantage of the depth and beauty of Catholicism and what the Church has to offer us. We have to not be suspicious, to not always be looking for the “catch.”

Of course, we cannot ignore problems when they happen, in the Church or in life, but we cannot let them spoil our joy. We cannot allow problems to penetrate and sour our relationship with the Church and with Christ.

We also need to let our joy spread. An alive Catholic opens his or her heart to the world. They have compassion for those in the world – be it a starving child, or a person whose heart is a stone. We need to let the Holy Spirit flow through us to spread the Kingdom of Christ. We need to do this even when confronted by hostile territory and the “snakes” of the world. Our mission is to be in Christ and spread Christ in spite of problems or problem people – like family, or co-workers, or even other Catholics.

The most important thing I can possibly say to you is that YOU, with God’s grace, can do this. You too can be a Live Catholic. Someone who radiates joy and has a deep relationship with God. If you trust God, open your heart to him, and seek him with all your heart you will find him.

Contact Info

I would love to hear from you! If you would like to contact me please email me at Marcy (at) LiveCatholic (dot) net. Please replace the “at” with @, and the “dot” with…well a dot, and omit any spaces.

Our Trip to Ave Maria

Recently, my youngest son and I had the opportunity to travel with friends to Ave Maria, FL for an art show. It was a lovely trip. I wanted to see the town since I first heard about it being planned. It is still, of course, being built, but I was impressed by the small town atmosphere and how the children were able to ride their bikes everywhere. People who live there use golf carts to get around, even to the supermarket. I thought I would share some pictures.

This is the “Oratory.” If you are unfamiliar with this term, as I was, the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent, says it is “a structure other than a parish church, set aside by Church authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass.” So, it is not actually a parish. It belongs to the University. It is in the exact center of the town and everything goes around it. It is absolutely beautiful. And no, that is not my son in the picture.

This is the inside. Where I live, all the churches are so….uninspiring, boring, boxy and do very little to promote true worship. You go there because that is what is available, but this is gorgeous. It is a bit modern but I still like it. The crucifix, I’m told, was imported from Europe, barely fit through the door and it is stunning.

The place is built like a fortress. The walls are very thick stone. There is a permanence to the place that is very comforting. I know that buildings are not built like this anymore, but this will still be standing 500 years from now when nothing else will. The natural light coming in from the ceiling, and the stained glass was just lovely.

I was particularly impressed with the most beautiful Stations of the Cross I have ever seen.

Finally, this statue of Our Lady of Grace is just awe-inspiring. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of it, but I did not want to disturb the people praying in that area. The tabernacle, which was farther away, behind the altar is also very beautiful. I wish we could have attended Mass there but I’m glad we went.

Sadness for an Old School

Since our soon-to-be First Grader will now be attending a Charter school, it has been a great sadness for me that he will not be able to have the same Catholic School experience as our older son. Why?

1. Being able to talk about God. It is a lot easier to pass on the Faith when you can converse openly about God. Where you can pray. If someone is sick, the class prays for them. Heaven forbid that should happen in a Public School! And actually it is probably a good thing they don’t, since they might pray to the “Goddess,” or Allah, or teach the latest New-Age, quasi-Asian religious technique. Yes, I know that is an unpopular opinion among my other devout peers, but society is actively anti-Christian. Anything but Judeo-Christianity is preferred. I personally prefer my child learn to pray and talk about God correctly then learn it from people who find Christianity (or Catholicism) evil. We had Mass every week in our school. The priests and nuns were active there. Saints were seen (in statue form) and actively discussed. There were crucifixes! The older kids actually opened Bibles **gasp**. You can’t do that in a Public/Charter school, because, you know…the Bible is hate speech.

2. Love. The signs in the First Grade said “God is Love.” The kids cling to the teachers with love, which is actually allowed to be expressed. Now, maybe in public school a hug is still allowed – who knows, but here Love was everywhere. My son’s 8th grade class, of 14 kids, did a fund-raiser for Cystic Fibrosis and made $1500. They collected hundreds of gifts for needy children for Christmas. Yeah, you can still say that word in Catholic School. The class adopted a family for Christmas and went, with their teacher as Santa Claus, to their house with dozens of gifts – toys, supermarket gift cards, clothes, etc. It was a very special event. This family had nothing and it was important that they receive love too.

3. Family atmosphere. In our small school, which not all Catholic schools are, of course, everyone knew each other. My kindergartner knew the names of the kids in middle school, and vice versa. Dismissal was over in 10 minutes. Teachers were able to really give kids more attention if needed. While big schools can have bigger sports teams and amenities, and can pay teachers better, small schools are a family. Kids don’t get “lost.” Teachers are really in contact with the parents. And parents are really expected to contribute of themselves. It is not good enough just to say, “Oh, someone else will take care of it.” I think one of the reasons our school did not survive is that half of the kids were not Catholic, and their families were not committed to the parish and the school. Many were there by state scholarship for needy families. Most of the committed parishioners moved to newer neighborhoods and our school was not the same again. I also think the K-8th Grade set-up is best. It seems to keep the kids grounded. They have to take a leadership role in the school and are expected to have responsibilities. Middle schools don’t seem to have that same expectation.

Of course, this is my view. I’m sure many will say I’m just sentimental. That their experience was not positive, or their school was not run with charity and love, etc. But our experience has been positive and I’m sad my little one will not experience it. But we are determined that our new school will get our best, and that we will help our son to get the best education possible. Really I think that is all we can do.

Catholic School v. Charter School

One of the most difficult decisions in the saga of our Catholic school closing
(read Part 1 & Part 2) is our decision to go to the Charter school that is being set up at our old school.

In one way it was easy, we don’t have the money. Our older son is beginning Catholic High School next year. Two tuitions were not feasible for us. I’m, for the most part, a stay-at-home mom. I have been very committed to that decision. I occasionally work part-time, but I think that in the trade-off between more money v. more time, more time wins. Of course, so many women can’t make that choice because our society is ever more increasingly hostile to single-income families, but we have been fortunate that we could do it. Our kids have never been to theme parks and they have survived. And I will be taking more free-lance work now that both kids are in school.

The hard part of the decision for me is the loss of Catholic school in our 6 year old son’s life. Catholic school is special. It is the loving, small school, family environment. You can talk about God there. You can read the Bible. “Jesus” is not a dirty word. Prayer is expected. Love and Charity are expected. To do your best is expected.

Is every Catholic school like this? Definitely Not. One school near us, the one everyone says is just excellent, and has a huge waiting list, is very successful and has all the awards – is very cold. Everything is about money – how much you make, how you make it, who you know. I visited it years ago and the whole place felt snooty. The sports teams are very good, but also very proud, and not in a good way. They act superior to other teams, looking down on them. Those who are not well-off are not welcomed. I was very uncomfortable just going to Mass there. But our school was not like that, and we are spoiled.

What about Public School? Well, not all public schools are bad. Just like any other school, parents have to look out for their kids. The teachers and the area are very important. More affluent areas have middle-class to upper-middle-class students who are usually guided by their parents to put an effort into learning. And education is, for the most part, encouraged. Not all areas are like that.

Truthfully, it is the “Middle School,” that I worry about the most. Some of them are cesspools when it comes to behavior. One girl in my son’s graduating class was in public school until 7th grade. In the middle of the year her parents moved her to our 4K-8 Catholic school, and she will be going to Catholic High School in the fall. Why? Sexual activity in the hallways of the supposed “good school.” Last year, a public middle school in the next county had one student murder another in the bathroom.

A friend of mine went to her local middle school with her son on a field trip a few years ago. This was to be his new school the next year. She was shocked. She lives in a very affluent area. The kids acted like they were in prison. Not a smile anywhere. The principal kept on telling parents what a “safe school” it was. The ethos was awful, and she knew she had to do something. The next year she homeschooled him and the following year he went to a Catholic school.

Now that I’ve given my opinion on why Catholic school is so good – what is not so great. Well, I think sometimes the academics can be better. It depends on the school and the teachers. I’m told that public schools try to make learning more fun, less worksheet dependent. And our charter school follows that. Catholic schools are always fundraising. Always begging for money, even the more well-off ones. There is the tuition, then fees, all the supplies you need to buy. Public schools have buses – for better or worse and more options for before & after care.

When I began 6th grade my mother took me out of our Catholic school and put me in the public middle school because she could not afford the tuition. This was 1976. I was a good student and would have done well anywhere. I was bored for a year, though. I had to listen to kids read aloud who….read….like….this… I was frustrated and the kids were meaner, but I survived. We had some cool classes though: silk screening, wood shop, home economics, swim class. The library was bigger, etc. And that is still true I think. Public schools are for the most part, except for very affluent private schools, much better funded.

If you have a special needs kid you will probably be in Public School. Whether your child is gifted or autistic, they will get more of what they need there. Not that it will be perfect, you have to fight for everything your child needs, but by law you will probably get it.

My prejudice against Public Schools is the liberal bent. The handing out of condoms and all the sexual goings on in public schools. The violence in some schools. The drugs and weapons. The laxity of discipline. The kids – and parents – who just don’t care. The one thing about both religious and charter schools is that you have parents who care. Parents for whom education is important and that makes a difference. In the high school my son is zoned for, only 70% actually graduate, and of that number only 44% go to college. In the Catholic high school he will be going to – 99% of the kids go to college and the other 1% go to military academies. Now which school do I want my kid to go to? Who will be his friends? His girlfriends? His future contacts? What will rub off on him? The kids there are drug-free (they have random testing – the kids voted for it.) It is as safe as a school as can be.

So now we move to Charter schools. Are all charter schools great? Most definitely not. A Charter school is a public school run by a private entity and granted a Charter by the state. They can teach they way they want and can have better discipline. All require parental involvement – i.e. service hours. If you don’t behave you have to leave. We have 389 charter schools in our state with 100,000 students. Several have been closed down. Of course, some of that was because of bureaucratic problems or poor funding, but others were not good. Other Charter schools, however, are “A” schools and do very well. Our city runs a Charter school system, and one third of the kids in the city go to those schools. You can only get in by a lottery system.

The Charter school company that is taking over our school buildings has 14 schools already. They are very well respected “A” schools – very professionally done with excited and motivated administrators. Their mission statement is very similar to a Catholic school. In fact, most of the administrators were educated in Catholic schools. A friend of mine who teaches at one of our city-run charter schools says our new school is very good. But, of course, no religion can be taught there since it is a Public School. There is the difficulty I’ll address next time.

Our School is Closing, Part 2

Well, the school is closed. Except for moving out, which is happening for the rest of the month, all the regular activities have ended. The end of school was hard, it was like one long death. As the end came we had one sad event after another. First there was the Saturday mass for the parish and school, where current faculty & staff, and those who have been involved since it’s beginning, were remembered and thanked. There were speeches, of course, and the tears.

Then there was the traditional “Pass it On” school Mass where the 8th graders essentially “pass the baton,” symbolically of course, onto the Kindergartners. Both were dressed in their graduation gowns and it was nice, but I could not help but think “Pass on what?” the whole time. There was nothing to pass on, but it was the tradition and a nice photo opportunity, especially since both of my sons were in it.

We had the 8th grader’s graduation party one night followed by a graduation Mass the next night. The party had lots of food, awards and family memories. It was a lovely celebration of what great kids this class had. Many of them have been there since they were three or four years old and the class is very close. It is amazing what fun simple pleasures are – musical chairs, laughter, dancing, cake, and watching these young people blossom.

During the party in the cafeteria I noticed pictures posted from the 53 years the school existed. I kept looking for pictures from my class years ago, but did not find any. What I did notice was a picture from what looked like a graduating class from the 80’s. 56 kids. This year’s class had 14. My son mentioned that the first row in the picture had as many kids as his whole class. That pretty much says it all about why we are closing.

When they announced the closing, after the initial shock, there was a drive to save the school, which I personally thought was a waste of time and energy, but I helped because I was asked to do so. I was not very enthusiastic, I’m afraid. The school did not get to this situation overnight and it would have to be a miracle for it to stay open. Enrollment would have to double, there would have to be a tuition increase and lots of donations. That was not going to happen. Why would parents put their kids in a school that would probably close? Parents could not pay the tuition we did have, which was the cheapest in the county, and with the economy they were not going to pay an increase. And writing to Bill Gates & Oprah Winfrey, as some were doing, was not going to save the school either.

I think the biggest question for parents is “Where do we go now?” “What school to go to?” Some parents immediately removed their children for other schools. For us, the first thing was to get into another Catholic school ASAP for the next year. I immediately called other schools to be added to their waiting lists. I asked around about the several different schools in the area. And during the registration period toured some schools. We registered at one of the schools that we thought would be excellent for our son, even though we knew the tuition and other expenses would be difficult for us to do, but we would try. We were just very grateful to get in. The Archdiocese was asking those schools to give us the same tuition as ours did for a couple of years. The school and the people there are nice and very welcoming and helpful. There is lots of discipline and I think he would be happy there.

But…then our pastor announced something unexpected. Our school could become a Charter school. It was a shock and I did not know what to think. Eventually, the details were hammered out and the charter school, which is an established organization with several successful schools in the area, is going to take over all seven of the archdiocesan schools that are closing this year, plus one that closed last year. Several of our teachers are supposed to be hired. My husband and I discussed it as more details were revealed and it became an option for us. With the economy being so bad, and our finances, it was an easy, yet difficult, choice. Our son will be going into first grade at the charter school. But it also means our son will not be educated in a Catholic school. That struggle will be my next post.

Our School is Closing, Part 1

There is a lot of truth to the saying that you don’t know what you have until you lose it. That is particularly true lately in our parish school. Our school celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago. It isn’t a grand school but it is solid. Built when lots of young middle-class families were moving into an expanding area, it and our parish has suffered a decline of resources and people of means for several years. In essence, the middle-class people moved to better and brighter territory, and working class and immigrants with less means, less involvement, and different languages, moved in.

The new people and the established parishioners did not always understand or appreciate each other but over time have gotten along. Our finances have not. Our school, which should have 250-300 children to be truly viable, only has about 120. If we picked up our school and moved it 10 miles west we would have them coming out of the rafters, but our location, while not dangerous, is not desired and therefore we are one of the few schools in our area without a waiting list.

This is the school that I went to through 5th grade. The school I did my First Communion. And when my son became old enough, it was the school we chose. Actually, it was the only Catholic school without a waiting list, so we got in. Admittedly, it was not my first choice, but public school was not something we wanted for our child if we could do it. Later, when we had another son, he joined his brother at our school for Kindergarten. That was this year.

We did not know when school opened that this would be its last year. My older son was in 8th grade after having been there 10 years. And now I thought we would be there another 9 years. Over the years I had grown to appreciate the teachers and staff who really sacrificed to be there. They could have been many places but chose our school because it was truly a family and truly Catholic. It was not until this year I realized just how lucky we were and how much a loving family it was.

I came to this realization on the first day of school. It was my youngest’s very first day of school. I had been teaching him at home all his life and did not see the need for preschool since I stay home. He, of course, was familiar with the school and had been there frequently. He knew everyone and it was a nice start. But our entrance to the school was truly amazing.

We got out of the car to walk in and were met at the gate by Mr. Marvin. Mr. Marvin is a disabled volunteer with Cerebral Palsy, among other problems, and walks with a limp. But he is there every single morning, rain or shine, to greet the kids and make sure they cross the parking lot safely. “ROBERT!! WELCOME to your 1st Day of School!!!” he said joyously. We crossed the basketball court and passed by Coach…”Robert, it’s nice of you to finally join us! Welcome.” Then as we walked into the main gate of the school and were met by Sister Beatrice. In her wonderful Irish accent she greeted us, “Welcome to school Robert!” We continued on past the 4K door and there was the 4K teacher who gave him a hug and welcomed him as well.

By the time we got to the Kindergarten door, full of busy activity, I was practically in tears. What a blessing this school was. What a blessing all these people were. We were truly lucky to be in this family of God. Over the next few months I noticed little things, the rosary the kids were saying to keep them occupied at dismissal, the way the principal, who is a sister and can be tough as nails, was loving and fair to all the children and everyone thrived. The priest who came to teach religion to the little ones. All combined to create an atmosphere where everyone was loved and encouraged to grow.

Then, of course, the news came in January. The school was to close. The archdiocese just could not prop up the school financially any longer. Our school plus five others were closing. Later, it was quietly announced another school would close as well. I was saddened but not surprised, how long could the Archdiocese bleed money to keep these schools open? The pastor was not surprised. Many parents were, though signs were huge if you looked.

Upset parents and friends of the school made an attempt at saving the school. Fundraising, enrollment drives, and groups of women walking around the school praying the rosary each morning did not work. God’s answer was still No. So here we are. As I write this, the school will close in 9 minutes. There is deep sadness. Since January it has been like a long death. Like a man told he has just months to live. First the shock, then the hope to find a cure and now the Long Goodbye.

What comes next? How did our school and Archdiocese handle this? How did we handle it and what do we do now? That comes in my next post. It’s 3:00. School is out now.

Dealing With Scandals

Recently, a very prominent and popular priest in our diocese has caused scandal with a woman. He very possibly could leave the priesthood to get married. Of course, the press has plastered the story everywhere, and brought out the usual comments about abolishing celibacy. One national newspaper has even taken a poll about the church making celibacy optional, and has made sure to include prominently the comments of Catholics who profess support for the priest, his divorced girlfriend, and his choice. It truly is a sad time for the Church and the community. But how does this (and other scandals) truly affect Catholics? How does it affect you?

I’ve been thinking and praying about this today. How does this affect me as a member of the faithful? How am I supposed to react when scandals happen, as they always do? Truly, I hate to even mention it to anyone. I emailed my pastor to get his opinion, and have read a few articles, but it seems like such a sadness. Perhaps for some it is an opportunity to gossip and revel in every detail, or to use the scandal to further their agenda, but really it is time to pray for all involved in the scandal, including us.

In the history of the Church, there have always been scandals. Judas comes to mind, and of course, the priestly scandals a few years ago. There have been bad popes in our past. Truly, scandals occur every day in the Church. Most are small, but many have serious, deep repercussions, like the Reformation, a most horrible breach that separates Christians to this day.

It is how we deal with these scandals that helps us climb out of the pit of despair. If we try to pretend they don’t exist, or if we try to cover them up, more damage will be done.

What we need to do is keep focus. Focus on what Christ wants from us, what our responsibilities are. We have to keep our eyes on Christ. If we do that we will be OK. It is harder if you know people involved, but the most important thing to remember is to keep focus. What exactly does that mean? That means pay attention to the job at hand. If you have an apostolate, work harder at it. If you are raising a family, try to do it the best you can. In other words, pay attention to the life you are supposed to live and ignore things that don’t involve you. MYOB.

Mind Your Own Business. Now we tend to use that phrase to describe when people are interfering in others affairs, but if you use the term literally, it really means to pay attention to YOUR life and the things you can control. Don’t let the failings of others affect you and your life. You should certainly learn from others when they fall, or learn to be aware of certain problems that could come up. One example is when someone steals from the Church. You certainly don’t want to pretend that did not happen, but use it as an opportunity for putting in place certain controls to prevent it happening again.

But you can’t let a scandal distract you from your task at hand, which is to get closer to God. I think that the devil enjoys using scandals to distract us from what we really should be working on, which is spreading the Kingdom of Christ. We have to pray harder and deeper. Take more time out for prayer and talk to the Lord constantly throughout the day. Think of HIM, not the scandal, not the gossip, and you will progress on the road to God. Which, of course, is all that matters.

Why This Blog?

In 1995, when I came back to the Church, I knew very little about the Catholic Faith. I discovered that I, and others who grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s, had been educated in what I refer to as the “Kum Bah Yah School of Catechism,” named after the popular folk song forced upon us at Mass in the 70’s. We were taught that “God was Love” but not much else. We did not really know what the Church taught or why she taught it.

Fast forward 16 years. As I progressed in my faith, I had an insatiable desire to learn everything I could. I read every catalog, book and website I could find. In the process, I learned a great deal, and discovered fantastic resources that I felt I had to share with others. In talking with other Catholics, I discovered that there is a real need that people have in where to go to find out information. They want to know about serious topics, but also about prayer and how to have a “personal relationship with Christ.” Most people are clueless in where to even start. So, here I am to help you. I want to help you find the great resources that are hidden in the midst of all the “weeds.”

I am not a theologian or a religious. I’m a Catholic layperson. My goal in learning, and in sharing with you what I find, is to be true to the Faith. I have no interest in spreading false or dissenting information. I think that if you are going to be Catholic you should learn what the Faith really teaches and why. If you don’t understand a teaching then it is your responsibility to find out more about it, and to pray for that understanding. In the meantime, it is also your responsibility to follow that teaching, even if it is hard.

There are many people who say they are Catholic, but have a specific agenda. They are teaching others what they think the Catholic Church should teach, what they want it to teach, but not what it actually does teach. This agenda usually is driven by those who think the Church should modernize and “get with the times.” But Christ is the Author of Time, the Creator of Time. His teachings don’t change and won’t change. It is our job to find out what they are and follow them. Christ left us the Church to help us do just that.

I’m going to show you resources that can help you with your walk as a Catholic Christian. My aim is to help you, whether you are a convert, revert or experienced Catholic, find what you need, whether it is about Church teachings, or ways you can deepen your relationship with God. I’m also going to share with you my journey. I’ll tell you my thoughts and opinions if I think it will help you. We will not be discussing politics, or politicians, or current events. There are many others out there that do that very well. I’ll tell you which resources I think will be helpful (and faithful) concerning a topic, but I’m not going to add to the fray.

I will treat everyone who comes here with respect and I expect the same from you. Please do not post ugliness. If you would like to email me, my email is Marcy (at) LiveCatholic (dot) net. Please replace the “at” with @, and the “dot” with…well a dot. This format is used to prevent people from stealing email addresses for nefarious purposes. I’d love to hear from you.