Monday, May 31, 2010

The Noble Soldier

Thank you to all of the men and women who have served our country.  I am proud to say there are members of my family who served in World War II and in the Persian Gulf War.

Pictured to the left is my grandfather who was stationed on a Pacific island as a mechanic.  I am glad he was a only a mechanic or else I may not be here.  That was a different time culturally. This picture was taken in 1938 and sent to my grandmother who waited for him to come home. He is smiling at the bottom far right.

They met growing up and he apparently went dancing  a lot.  So did she, so a friendship was born and then they decided to marry when he had a little time left in the service.

My grandfather grew up in Baton Rouge and my grandmother grew up in the countryside.  She was raised learning the catechism in French, first from her father Oneziphor Guidry and then from a local priest.  Who, she just told me yesterday, told them as children that they were dumber than his cows.  This was in 1920s.  I am happy she is still Catholic and has been such an example to me. She always had a hard work ethic having had eight brothers.  She is the soda girl behind the counter in this promotional picture from the Walgreen's that was on third street in downtown.

My grandfather was able to attend Catholic High School in downtown Baton Rouge when it was still a school downtown run by religious.  He was raised by his aunt because after immigrating to Pennsylvania, his mother did not want to move South, where his father came to work. He died when I was ten or eleven. I remember his presence, much like my dad's and that he would make us fresh ice cream in a hand cranked churn.  He only ever said a few phrases to me, "Don't run in the house." and "If you run in the house, you get a whipping." Mostly this was to my younger brother and I happened to be there too.

When he finally came home from the military, my grandmother took a train to meet him in San Antonio.  She was standing on a picture of Louisiana in a large painted image of the United States to wait for him.  She had five sons, all living to this day, as she is too at 89 years old.   I am so thankful for the story of my family and the part it has played in keeping me safe to this day.

Thank you to all of the military who have served to make our country safe from tyranny.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Act of Love

You ask me a method of attaining perfection. I know of love - and only love. Love can do all things.

-- St Therese of Lisieux

Love can be tricky sometimes in life.  It starts out as an instinct toward parents and then quickly becomes a raging inferno in adolescence.  If you are lucky you grow and learn to love your friends and your annoying family members for who they are.

I made the interesting choice to ask for the spiritual gift of 'understanding others' at my confirmation. "Let me understand others, so that I can love more," I said.  I am still trying to do that, but it has it's faults.  I find when I am trying to understand others, I naturally love them and feel concern for them.  I don't forget people or faces, I see them and I pray for them.  This can be a real pain because often if love is openly expressed to people who do not or have not regularly experienced it, they are really put off.

I take their hesitance in stride and learn from the way I decided to approach my dad as a teenager.  He did not grow up in a household where there was (I would say any at all) affection.  Knowing that, I decided that if I did not demand he let me hug him, then I wouldn't get initiation from him.  After about 20 years he started hugging back!  He is an extreme example, but if we were to inspect households more closely, we would find there is little affection and thus little communication of love.

Hugging is a very simple and physical means of affection, but I think it shows the lack of love in our world.  When I threaten my 8th grade students, I threaten to HUG them.  Most of them quell at the prospect and immediately pay attention, and as the year progresses, those that most need love get hugs as punishment from me.  I can tell they need that affection and attention because they then pay attention after I pay attention.

Love can be tricky, it's not always welcome but it always permeates every area of your life.  It is a necessity to express the love of God, to show love to others.  Sometimes I feel like I wish I could be colder and not care so damn much, but I try to remember that I must love here on Earth so that I may understand the immense love that Christ showed on the Cross.

Check out this article on the Holy Trinity:Gift and Call to the Communion of Love

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Act of Forgiveness

"Blessed are the merciful for they shall inherit the Earth."

What anger do I allow to control my heart when I choose to judge? What areas must I forgive in myself so I can forgive others of the same fault? Mercy is fruit of a charitable heart that is mature enough to receive the inheritance of heaven. Inheritance of that grace comes as a gift, often received not by merit.  There are many more worthy at Christ's table, so what would I leave on Earth for others to inherit?
Reflection: Dec 22, 2005

I have written this year of the type of children I teach and the way they demean each other and anyone in authority.  I find it easy to love them, but I do not like many things.  One such thing I despise is how long it takes me to forgive some of them when they are particularly rude.

Key word there is 'me'.  I was reminded this year in working with these young people to always look to myself to change when I see things in them that frustrate me.

An example is when a student that has grown in poverty and has an inner attitude of bitterness and disdain for learning, expresses that attitude in foul words, everyday, every class.  WWJD?  It becomes a matter of love in my eyes immediately, because along the line of this 15 year old student in 8th grade, there was no proper teaching of rationality and civility.  Never pity though.  So I must look to myself to forgive constantly and find the words to express love to these students.

Another example at a workplace is when coworkers whom you may rarely interact with make disrespectful comments. Somewhere along the line, these persons did not experience love.  It is a constant thread in Christ's teaching to show mercy, show mercy, show mercy.

Look to yourself first and remember the loving caresses, the peaceful words or the silent loving gestures that someone may have shown you, but that these persons never experienced in there lives.  Their perception of rationality and empathy colors everything.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Mission Trip

Christ the King Catholic Church mission trips change your life. At least the one I went on in 1997, changed mine.

This year the students are going to Costa Rica, where my experience was only as far as Mexico. Pray for them to have a safe journey as I share the story of my re-conversion.

We stayed in a convent in Saltillo with a large courtyard and three stories of bunks for missionaries. There were only sixteen of us and Fr. Pat. On reflection, I don't know why I wanted to go but I did and I had no idea about anything Catholic really. It had been so long since I had been to mass, I really didn't know any of the parts or responses. But I felt Our Lady with me there.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was a prominent figure in the church where ever we went. I mainly watched and tried to learn from these beautiful people in their humble faith in Jesus. While there I felt like I didn't belong with the group.  I would just go to the quiet areas and speak with God in nature and the bustle of the town around us.

Excerpt from my diary:
"We come from another place,
To share his grace.
Mexican cities buzz around us,
Mexican mountains rise above us.
Beyond those mountains
Hidden by the camoflage of dust
Are followers of Jesus Christ."

May 18,1997

The best part was Christ opening my heart to Him to know the Holy Eucharist again. When I came back, I saw Our Lady of Guadalupe hidden on a mosaic upon a home. It was a subtle and spiritual reminder of Christ's gentle call of such a faithful people and of myself. I love her to this day in all of her apparitions, but especially as one who always draws me closer and closer to my loving and merciful Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Tomorrow on the celebration of the Pentecost we remember the provision Christ has given us in the Holy Spirit.  The Book of Acts describes the roaring wind and flames that alight upon the apostles.  They then are able to speak in the tongue or language of any who hear and they spread the gospel across all the lands, their footsteps ordered by Jesus Christ.

 "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. You send forth your spirit and things are created you shall renew the face of the Earth."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Sweet Mary