Back Home Again

26 Oct

Some things are worth sacrifices.  But when the sacrifice is over, you don’t sit around thinking, “Gee, I wish I was still sacrificing.”  It doesn’t mean that you would change anything about the past, or even that you hated every minute of the sacrifice.  It was worth it, but now there’s a new phase of life and you’re okay with that.

For the past six years, I had the joy and honor to teach almost every Saturday from mid-February to mid-May and mid-August to mid-November.  It was worth sacrificing my Saturdays (and about half of my Fridays) to have the opportunity to preach the Gospel and share the joy of Jesus Christ with over a thousand people.

It was a joy, but it’s also a joy to have my Saturdays back.  One of the first things I planned?  A road trip to Notre Dame.

Two weeks ago, three guys and I piled in my friend Matt’s Jeep early Friday morning to make the trip to the beautiful state of Indiana.  It was harvest time, the trees were changing, and I was goin’ back to Indiana.

It was fun to show Mario and Father my old stomping grounds —  our first stop was my home parish, St. Boniface.  The church was unlocked and it was just good to be home again. As we were leaving, my pastor was driving into the parking lot– such a gift! So we got to chat with him and then I had the guts to ask him a question about the church that I had wondered since middle school… and he must be turning soft, because he showed me the answer – a secret I didn’t think I would ever be told.  I would be more transparent about it if I didn’t think my middle school classmates would hunt me down and make me tell them, too.  Suffice to say, it was pretty awesome.

Then we went over to the perpetual adoration chapel, which I saw with new eyes, taking guests there.  I had always known it was beautiful, but I think walking into it realizing that most people probably expect a little room tucked in the corner of the hospital… and then you walk into a gorgeous Gothic chapel with incredible statues and beautiful stained glass windows — well, we’re pretty blessed in Lafayette.

steI stole this picture off the internet.  And it doesn’t do the chapel justice.

We didn’t have much time before dinner, so we finished the tour of Lafayette with a stop at the taproom at People’s Brewery.  People’s is an addition to Lafayette after I left home, but I had enjoyed their beer when Mom and Dad bought it, and they usually bring me a six-pack when they visit. So I was looking forward to checking out the taproom.   So that we didn’t have to make decisions, we decided to get two flights, which would include samples of everything they had on tap, and split them.

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The nice guy bringing us our flights described them all, then recommended drinking them from low IBUs to high, so that the hops wouldn’t wreck our palate.  I think my favorite was Belgian Stout, which we couldn’t take home because it’s made with nitrogen and they can’t bottle it.  But we ended up bringing  home the regular IPA and the Red Ale (which I liked because it was named for our local Irish pub).  I was hoping to like their Oktoberfest, because it’s brewed especially for my home parish’s Germanfest, but it just wasn’t my favorite.

IMG_9885Twelve beers.  Enjoy them, but make sure you’re home in time for dinner.

We returned to the homestead for a delicious dinner (thanks, Mom!), and another good friend of mine, Father David, joined us because he knew Father Kevin from seminary.  My nieces were staying with my parents, so it was an extra treat to get to spend time with them, too.  I feel like the guys got a little taste of the family craziness, which is always good.  After dinner we played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.  (Dad and the priests won.)

The next morning we woke up bright and early to continue our grand adventure. Father celebrated Mass, Mom made breakfast, and then we hit the Hoosier Heartland to trek up to Notre Dame.  My awesome brother not only got us tickets but also a parking pass, so we parked south of campus and headed to the bookstore.  Since we were parked so close to campus, we could even take our loot back to the car before exploring the rest of campus. It’s the little things that count, you know?

It was fun to show the guys the way my family always celebrated game days.  Steak sandwiches from the Knights of Columbus, prayers at the Basilica and the Grotto, and a fairly new tradition, the trumpets under the Dome.  But it was my first game back on campus since my sister-in-law’s father had passed away, and it was sad not to see him at his tailgate.  I’m sure St. Peter frequents his Notre Dame tailgates these days.

The game was a too much a nail-biter — it made it fun, but I would rather have been bored. : )  But we pulled it off in the end.

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We celebrated the win with another Watson tradition … Bruno’s for dinner after the game!   We didn’t have to wait as long as I thought we would (and I even saw one of my brother’s old friends at the bar).  Then we hit the road to head back to Lafayette, and we all fell asleep in the car. Except Matt. I’m so grateful to Matt and Mario for for driving all weekend.

Sunday we headed back to Tennessee.  A short trip, but packed with old memories and new inside jokes.  So many of my childhood Saturdays were spent on that campus, and it was good to return – and actually witness an Irish win.  (the last game I went to, we lost to Air Force… and the two people I took to the game ended up breaking up a few days later…Eek.  Needless to say, better memories this time around…)

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Hypocrisy at its finest

24 Oct

I almost wrecked my car the other day.  I was driving through a nice Nashville neighborhood, my eyes occasionally wandering to the yard signs that pop up everywhere in the fall, and I saw one urging people to vote against Amendment 1 here in Tennessee.

“Vote No on 1: Stop Government Interference”

I had to try to regain control of my passions and continue driving.  Stop Government Interference?  So now that’s your mantra?  Are you kidding me?

Let me explain, especially to all of you non-Tennesseans, what Amendment 1 is all about.  We have four Amendments on the ballot this fall, and Amendment 1 pertains to abortion.  Does it outlaw abortion?  No.  Does it actually pass any law restricting abortion?  No.  You know what it does?  It returns the right to pass laws to the people of Tennessee and their elected representatives.  Currently, the right to abortion in Tennessee is broader than in the US Constitution.

In 2000, the Supreme Court of Tennessee declared that there was a fundamental right to abortion in the Tennessee Constitution. What that has translated to in the last 14 years is that we can’t pass laws on things like waiting periods, informed consent, or even enforce health standards for abortion clinics.  What happened to making abortion “safe, legal, and rare”?  We are currently not allowed to pass laws that ensure basic safety standards for abortion procedures.  What sense does this make?

The abortion clinic where I occasionally go to pray doesn’t even have a health license.   Is it too much to ask that a “clinic” where major invasive surgery is taking place actually be inspected by the health department?  It seems that even pro-abortion activists should agree that health standards are important.  And what about telling the woman about the procedure?  As this blogger points out, that’s customary before getting a cavity filled.  But yet it is not required that the staff at the clinic tell the women anything before the abortion. And this is pro-woman?

As a woman, I’m insulted that the “No on 1″ crowd doesn’t want to pass laws protecting my health and safety.  If I wanted to get an abortion, I would want to be educated about what was happening and I would want to do so in a clean, licensed facility. 

Some facts to think about, women of Tennessee:

-A Nashville abortion clinic actually went to court to prove they no longer had to have a license from the Department of Health and be inspected

-Tattoo parlors in Tennessee are inspected four times a year. They have stricter health requirements than abortion clinics.

Let’s go back to when I almost wrecked my car.  “Stop Government Intervention”

Honestly?  It’s okay for the federal government to force religious groups to act against their conscience.  It’s okay for the government to force Christians to perform same-sex weddings.  But it’s not okay to force an abortion clinic to be inspected by the health department.

The hypocrisy is unbelievable.

They have rhetoric like this gem from a Knoxville news report“What this amendment does is it imposes a rather extreme position of the government inserting itself into people’s personal lives,” Rovetti said.

A rather extreme position.  All the Amemdment does is say that the “right to abortion” is not in the Constitution and that we the people have the right to make laws about abortion.

Yes, that sounds extreme.  How dare we ask for the right to make laws. Sounds like government intervention to me.

If you live in Tennessee: go vote. Remember: due to the way the amendments are passed, if you leave Amendment 1 blank, it is as if you are voting against it. 

Everyone reading this: Pray for us.  They have been working for this for the past fourteen years. It is the Rubicon. We need this to pass.

Happy Feast Day!

22 Oct

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The various tempting extremes

20 Oct

We don’t have the official translation of the Pope’s closing remarks to the Synod (after which he received a five-minute standing ovation), but from the provisional translation, I wanted to share this:

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

- The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

- The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

- The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing!

Read entire address here.

My thoughts on the Synod

16 Oct

There has been much ink spilled — good and bad, astute and sloppy — on the Synod these days.  Part of me feels like we’re back in 1963 and relying on Xavier Rynne to tell us what the Church teaches. But I don’t remember 1963, so I can’t feel like that.  And with modern technology and the speed of communication, it’s Xavier Rynne on steroids.

I’ve spent some time over the past few days trying to read a variety of opinions from a variety of sources. I won’t share them all, but I’ll link to some of my favorites.  There are twenty more blog posts for every one of these I post. But no one can read everything.  Before I post links, I’ll tell you three things I know for sure about all of this, then I’ll add my opinion to the cacophony.  Here we go.

1. The Synod is not an official teaching body of the Church. It is a group of bishops coming together to discuss the issues that face the Church in society today.  No matter what some bishop says in a press conference or even whatever they might write in a document, they don’t have the power to change Church teaching.  Sorry.

2. This Synod is not going to produce any official document.  Even the document they’re going to publish at the end of this week is simply a working document to go into the Synod next year.  The Church is an ocean liner, not a speed boat.  Always has been.  Do you realize how long it took for us to put into words what we believe about the person of Christ?  Whatever the effect of this Synod, it isn’t going to happen overnight.

3. Everyone is going to ignore #1 and #2, and our dilemma as a Church is how to continue to function in 2014 like we did in the 15th century.  The Church has always refined Her teaching (not changed, but developed and figured out how to express the teaching of Christ adequately in limited human terms) through discussion and dispute.  It’s how we did it at Nicaea and it’s how we did it at Vatican II.  People argue.  People defend their beliefs.  People bring up points and get shot down. For Pete’s sake, St Thomas Aquinas argued with himself.  It all gets sorted out through the gift and protection of the Holy Spirit. That being said, in 2014, people don’t want to wait for the conclusion of arguments.  And in 2014, we have the ability to almost instantaneously hear every word of every argument.  I don’t think that’s a good thing.  But it looks like we have to figure out how to deal with 2014 the hard way.

My opinion (take it or leave it)… Full disclosure — my approach to some of the issues discussed by the Synod has changed in the past five years.  That may sound radical to some of you.  I don’t say my beliefs changed.  They haven’t.  I believe what the Church teaches in regards to marriage, sexuality, and family life. And I believe it with all my heart.  That being said, over the past six years I’ve worked with a lot of people.  I’ve encountered the human heart.  Fresh out of grad school, I was armed with the Catechism and the Summa and I was ready to beat Church teaching into every soul and mind.  Now I’m still armed with those treasures, but I’m ready to propose it.  Just as God does.  I’ve encountered a weak and frail humanity that needs love and care and healing.  It needs the Truth.  But it is too wounded to be beaten further.  It needs to be loved.

Does that mean we don’t preach the Truth?  No.  And one of the weaknesses of the relatio was its failure to preach the Truth and beauty of Church teaching with clarity.

Does that mean we change Church teaching to suit the needs of society?  No.  Church teaching is beautiful and wise and true.  We can’t change what Christ Himself taught.  As soon as we do, we cease to be the kingdom of heaven.

But does that mean we need to find ways to bring that Truth to the wounded people in our world?  To teach them in ways they can understand, that will not shut them down but open them up to the richness of the Word Incarnate- Who desires to love them in their brokenness?  Yes.

We are broken.  We are wounded.  All of us. And those who walk around and pretend like the human heart is understandable and that life is full of black and white situations are probably the most broken and wounded of all.

The only thing that will heal us is Truth. So how do we give that Truth?  How do we proclaim that Truth?  How do we live that Truth?

I have to admit, when I heard the Gospel yesterday, and heard the condemnation of the scribes by Jesus, I wondered how often I have been guilty of the same sin: “And he said, ‘Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.’”

All the times I have judged people- thought I knew their hearts, thought I knew the state of their souls, gossiped about their sins, judged their intentions, judged their desires and assumed the worst…  I have failed to love them in their brokenness, failed to help them carry their burdens. God, forgive me.

A quick link-up:

Reports of the Working Groups – if you read the relatio (and if you did, you’re probably in the 1%), you might want to read this — the feedback from the working groups about it.  This link wil take you directly to the three English groups and their thoughts

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod – Father Barron is always a good read. Thank you for your measured response and sanity, Father.

The Great Catholic Cave-In that Wasn’t – George Weigel points out what we should all know by now – secular media usually gets it wrong

Synod report: Is there a seismic shift in Catholic approach to marriage? – Are we ignoring what Africa wants to share?

PewSpective: My Favorite Sins – a beautiful reflection from a lay woman about relatio and real, every day living

Synod of Bishops 2014: The Drama is Back – John Allen is my go-to, even though I don’t always agree with him.  but you shouldn’t just read people you always agree with…

Maronite Synod Delgate: Family Issues Facing Catholics are not all Universal – a good reminder that it’s not just all about the West

I’m sure there are several I missed — I read a lot yesterday. But there’s a start for you.

words I’m living by

8 Oct

Fear not, little flock, for it is your-2

Let the Music Play

6 Oct

Have you ever had a song that could be the lead song on the soundtrack of a certain moment in your life?  I should start writing them down, because I have so many.  They come on my Pandora station and I am immediately taken back to a certain moment — I can smell the smells, feel in the pit of my stomach the same emotions, good or bad.  When I heard Nickel Creek live this summer, as soon as they began playing songs from their title album, I was taken back to a summer of fun at my friend Annie’s new apartment — long before her four girls, when her husband was still a lovesick college boy with unrequited love for her, when we spent hours sitting on her roof, laughing, singing, writing short stories, goofing off without cares in the world.

Accidentally in Love immediately takes me back to my graduation dance at Christendom, when that boy that I had waited for two years to ask me to dance gave me one of the greatest swing dances of my college career.  That song comes on and I’m a girl on the verge of leaving everything she’s loved for the past four years, already an emotional mess, and that boy comes through the crowd with hand outstretched.  It’s crystal clear, like the closing scene in the movie of my senior year…  minus that happy ending of the boy asking to marry me at the end.  Haha!

This morning I turned on Delta Rae’s If I Loved You, and I was back at their live show at 12th and Porter, wincing at every word of the song as it unraveled in front of me, wishing that my life wasn’t quite so movie-like at times.

If I loved you, life would be easy /
There’d be no truth that I’d be scared of

Yes, that would be lovely, I thought as I stood there with a boy I didn’t love.

But I don’t love you, not like you need it /
I don’t love you, good as you are

Stomach roll.  Why is life so strange?  You are so good… everyone’s going to think I’m crazy when I break it off…

But I don’t love you, much as I want to /
I don’t love you, no, it would be a lie /
And you deserve love, you’re better than a good day /
And you’ll find it, but just not in my eyes

Thank you, Delta Rae.

Good and bad memories, ones that never disappear, thanks to some lyrics and instruments. What will the song from this summer be?  Will it be one of the songs that I’ve had on repeat these days — or will it be one that will surprise me? All I know is that I’ll be sitting in a coffeeshop five years from now and I’ll be brought back to the summer of 2014, the crazy happy times of short-notice cookouts and road trips, the heart wrenching moments when I knelt in the chapel and asked God why He created the human heart the way He did, the strange in-between weeks of transitions and new jobs, the laughs, the tensions, the tears, the annoyances and the joys…

And I’ll be glad that we have the gift of music.

Here’s to the future soundtrack of 2014.

Breaking news

29 Sep

I mentioned before that while the blog has been quiet this summer, my life hasn’t. I suppose at the time it sounded like it was busy with eating and traveling and hanging out with friends and goofing off.  And it has been that, but it’s also been busy with other important things.

Like an exciting new development in my professional life. Read all about it here…

Joan Watson hired to revitalize adult education in the diocese

It feels good to share it!

what’s in a hug?

25 Sep

I’m not supposed to be blogging right now, but since I’m supposed to be writing somewhere else and I’m hitting complete writer’s block, I thought I might as well begin to have words flow from my typing fingers somehow.  So I thought I would come here to muse about hugs.

Yes, hugs.

I was never an overly physical-touch person growing up.  Then I went to Franciscan, where everyone hugged everyone.  So my “get away from me, why are you touching me,” tendencies mellowed a little.  Hug friends when you see them, hug at the sign of peace, hug goodbye.  Hug here, hug there.

But do I really want to hug at the sign of peace?  I began thinking about it when the Congregation for Worship responded to questions about the sign of peace (mostly its placement in the liturgy) with a call for a more “restrained” approach to it.  Let’s remember that Jesus is up there on the altar, and maybe there’s a different time and place to walk across church to greet your second cousin and ask them to go to breakfast after Mass.  We don’t need songs about the sign of peace or some big production.  Turn to your neighbor, shake their hand, move on. They also indicated that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be replaced with “other, more appropriate gestures.”  Hm. Hugs?

So while I haven’t stopped hugging completely, I have wondered if I should go back to only sticking my hand out (or nodding, because let’s face it, sometimes I don’t even want to shake people’s hands).  Just to clarify, I don’t hug everyone at the sign of peace. That would be creepy.  I just hug my good friends and only if there has been some indication that is what they would do, too. Because there’s the awkwardness of “does she want to hug? Or am I going to go in for the hug and she’s going to stick out her hand and we’re going to feel dumb?”   So there’s about five of you girls out there, tops.  But still.  Should I go back to hand-shaking?

Then there’s the hugs of greeting between friends.  There are some people in my circle of friends who always hug, coming and/or going.  It’s the way they say “hey, it’s really good to see you.”  And I almost didn’t write this blog post because I don’t want any of them to read it and stop hugging.  Because I’m not criticizing them or necessarily want them to stop greeting me with a hug.

But at the same time… what’s in a hug?  Especially a hug between a guy and a girl.  For these guys, it’s a sign of friendship. There’s nothing romantic in it (at least, I hope there isn’t, because they’re hugging everyone).  Yet physical touch affects different temperaments different ways.  And to most single girls, a really nice hug by a really nice guy — even a guy she isn’t romantically attached to — can affect that little single heart.  I can say this pretty honestly, because two of the best huggers in my circle of friends are not guys I’m romantically attracted to (or can ever see myself being romantically attracted to, honestly — with no offense to them) and yet I really like their hugs.  They’re strong, warm, and loving.  No strings attached.  Just some nice physical touch.

But is that good?  Is that healthy?  In our world today that gives physical displays of affection — and MORE — out like candy, should we be more reserved in the way we touch people of the opposite sex?

I was flipping through the channels the other day and found a marathon of 19 Kids and Counting.  I haven’t watched the show in years, but found myself getting sucked in because they were talking about the courtships and engagements of Jill and Jessa.  The Duggars, most of you know, are notorious for their rather strict rules concerning relationships with the opposite sex, including things like chaperones on dates and not kissing until the wedding.  While I’m not advocating that (although it doesn’t seem to affect their love life later…), they mentioned that they only give “side hugs,” and it got me thinking again.

Okay, just that phrase – side hug – makes me laugh.  But it made me think about the hugs that are passed around right and left in our circle of friends.  A hug should be an intimate exchange — unless it’s one of those awkward hugs where you stand about three feet away from each other and pat each other on the shoulder.  The Duggars described them as “chest to chest contact,” which kind of makes me squirm, but is true.  Especially with the good huggers.  So while there are some good huggers in my circle of friends, what does physical touch do to my heart?  And I’m not neccessarily talking about temptation with the hugger- I’m just talking about that yearning for more physical touch that just isn’t possible when you’re not married or dating.

At the same time, isn’t it better to get a good hug from a friend than be completely deprived of physical touch?  After all, while physical touch isn’t my primary love language (I can’t believe I just typed that), everyone needs it.  Then there’s that question on the practical level… what about that person who comes in for a hug that you don’t want to hug?  I don’t want to share that contact unless I feel comfortable– but I guess you stand three feet away and pat them on the shoulder…

Just some thoughts this fall morning.  What are the limits of physical touch a single girl should allow herself, so as to save her heart from desires that aren’t fulfillable right now?  With a world chucking their carnal treasure at everyone, perhaps these seem to be a pretty naive and sheltered thoughts. But I think it’s worth thinking about.

Quotable Francis

22 Sep

o-2

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