Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Swarm

On Thursday, LC and I drove from Sparks to Sacramento where we would spend the night before flying to Orange County for the weekend. The going was quite slow on I-80 across the Sierra because of massive reconstruction. We decided to have a late lunch in Auburn at a Marie Callender's, then headed back toward Sacramento.

At first, traffic was better than we expected; most of it was headed east toward Carmichael, Rocklin, and other suburbs. Then we heard on the radio about a big rig accident on I-5 southbound, and saw a consequent backup on the ramp from I-80 westbound to I-5 southbound. We grinned and bore it.

And then they appeared. First a couple, then a few, then dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. Bees started attacking our car and the others on the ramp! Some even tried to sting the windshield. We wondered first whether these could be Africanized bees, and then whether this was a one-time thing related to a traffic incident or a regular occurrence. Most of the other drivers appeared unfazed, except for motorcyclists who weaved their way between the lanes to keep from getting stung.

We reached our hotel which was only about 200 yards from I-5, but . . . not a single bee. Weird.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Youth Mass Purgatory

LC and I were away for the weekend in southern California and had not been to Mass yet. We were driving back from Sacramento, and our flight had gotten in too late to go to Mass there. So we planned to go to a 5 PM Mass somewhere to fulfill our obligation.

We got into Carson City in time for the Youth Mass at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community. I guess I go to Youth/LifeTeen Masses every once in a while to remember why I don't like going to Youth/LifeTeen Masses.

Everyone was talking in the sanctuary before Mass, making prayer difficult.

It started off with the senior team members (or some such term, which seemed to be half the kids) standing with their backs to the altar and clapping to the opening song, which was typical "Aren't We Great?" fare. Music was provided by a guitarist, a bass player, and a drummer.

The kids clapped to just about every song, and at the end of each. Applause was the rule of the day here, never mind that it is only at an ordination Mass that applause is allowed.

"Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. " (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 198)
Father may have been ill. He left the altar three times and did not distribute the Eucharist. Moreover, he omitted the entire second half of the Eucharistic Prayer! I'm guessing that at any other given Mass, he would not have done so. But more disturbing than that illicit slip was this: Despite the fact that the sanctuary had kneelers, no one knelt during the Eucharistic Prayer.

The Our Father and the Sign of Peace were complete chaos. The kids ran around the sanctuary to find their BFFs to stand next to, and then went all over again to give the Sign of the Lack of Peace. I declined to give it to one girl who was "making the rounds."

I mentioned Father didn't distribute the Eucharist. The EMHCs did . . . using crystal glass to hold the Body and Blood of Christ, which is expressly forbidden:
“...Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate....” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments)
There was no closing prayer, but there was 10 minutes of announcements. And then the congregation gave itself the doxology!

Bottom line: This Mass had all the reverence of a Miley Cyrus concert. And is it any surprise why so many Catholic teens transition to their twenties and fall away from the Church because they discover to their horror it's not like they thought it was at their precious Sunday afternoon pseudo-Masses?

Now, I'm not bashing the whole parish here: it looks like it's on the right track in many other ways. But Youth Masses really do Catholic youth a disservice, telling them the Mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass really isn't for them unless it's packaged like a Disney Channel show. Why do so many well-meaning parishes give them a counterfeit liturgy?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Of Dolphins and Cell Phones

I have no idea who the lady snorkeling with a dolphin in this photo is. This is from our honeymoon in Key Largo when we visited Dolphins Plus. She was in the first group, and we were in the second.

It was fantastic swimming with the dolphins in an untrained environment. I dove under to chase a small pod of them, and then they all turned around on a dime and came back at me! I think they did it just to see what sort of reaction I'd have in my heart rate and blood pressure; their sonar allows them to see that. One of the stories we were told was six or seven dolphins once gathered around the waist of one woman. They could see she was pregnant before she knew she was!

Anyway, the woman above was in her late 70s or early 80s. After the 20-minute swim, she said, "I didn't see a single dolphin!" We all pointed out the dolphins paid more attention to her than anyone else in her group. But she didn't know because she was looking straight down. They were all around her!

I do that with my spirituality a lot. I get tunnel vision about how God should work in my life.

Fast forward to last Friday. LC and I went to Western Village Casino for a nice inexpensive dinner at the Vineyard restaurant, and then hit the slots. I fared surprisingly well.

On the way home, I noticed something: my cell phone was gone. I drove back and looked at every machine where I'd played, praying to St. Anthony for his intercession as I did so. Nothing. I called the next day. And the next. And the next. No phone. LC canceled service to the phone. I felt like St. Anthony let me down; I really believed the phone would turn up.

So I punted on Monday and bought a new phone, which fortunately has the same number as the old one. One good thing about this phone: it's smaller and fits in my pocket quite nicely. Every time I've lost a phone, it's happened when I had it on my belt . . . or, as happened Friday night, when I didn't have a belt, but just put it on my waist.

Then it hit me: God gave me the money to get the phone . . . in cash! Duhhhh. I was like the woman with the dolphins, looking in only one direction. God really does work in mysterious ways.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ten Years And Counting

Since I was last in government service. My final day was September 1, 1999.

While I made some good friends who remain so to this day, I really don't miss government. I could have been there for the next 20-plus years, hating every minute of it. I knew people not much older than me who were literally counting the days until retirement. There's no amount of money that could make me do that.

And what I hated most is it didn't play to my strengths: creativity, spontaneity, humor, extroversion. I can do all that in my current broadcasting career. Oh, I could have stayed and been mediocre; government rewards mediocrity and punishes risk takers. But I was starting to dread going to work, and knowing I didn't belong just weighed me down all the more.

I definitely got paid more -- a lot more -- in government than I have since, with the exception of my six months as a contractor, ending in an unceremonious layoff as the dot-com bubble burst and Y2K became a distant memory. But I don't want golden handcuffs today.

Oh, I wouldn't mind being happy and well paid in my work. But if I have to choose between the two, I'll take happy.

New and Better Countdown Clock

Until President Zero (h/t: Joe of St. T) and his autocratic ways are safely escorted from the White House. It's on the sidebar.