Shrewdness

I approach this post with fear and trembling, mostly because I’m afraid of the combox tomorrow.  But I’ve been thinking this morning about my friends who are set on voting third party, and I just wanted to share a thought — not to change anyone’s mind, because I know I won’t do that – but just to share it.

One of my friends after Mass asked me if I had any information on Catholic Social Teaching he could use for a group of men that are getting together to learn CST.  I said I had a few articles I could pass along to him that might help as they went through the Compendium.  Then he dropped the bomb – that he wanted to clear up the idea in these guys’ mind that a vote for Romney-Ryan was the Catholic thing to do.

I told him I didn’t want to share any materials with him anymore.

haha.  kidding, of course.  Well, I did say that.  But I was kidding.

I believe he thought to ask me because our sermon today was a fantastic one about why we can’t vote for a political party whose platform supports the death of children.  It was an amazingly moving sermon.

I know this particular friend is not going to vote for Obama, so I’m assuming he’s voting third party.  I told him I disagreed with him and was going to vote for Romney.

He said there was no prolife option.

I could go on about that (we went our separate ways then, because he had to go teach CCD, but we promised to talk soon), and how as Catholics we are allowed to vote on the pro life issue incrementally (a Catholic can vote for a bill that restricts abortions in certain cases, not because they approve of abortion in the other cases, but because they want to work towards restricting it completely) and I think any candidate that replaces abortion-hungry Obama is a pro-life option.

But that’s not why I came here to blog.  I came here because I was reflecting on Luke 16:1-12.  It’s that funny parable where Jesus seems to be praising the dishonest steward who knew he was getting sacked and worked behind his master’s back to make friends who would take care of him after he lost his job.  Why the heck is Jesus praising him? He tells us:

“the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

I think Jesus is saying that we need to be more shrewd.  The people of the world know what they want and know how to get it.  And they’re clever in getting it.  We aren’t so clever, and we get taken advantage of a lot.

Jesus also said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt 10:16)  So translations have “sly as serpents” and others have “shrewd.”   My constitutional law professor always joked that he’d work on the latter half when he perfected the former.

So that brings me to the idea of voting third party.  Yes, Romney is not the perfect candidate.  He has flaws.  But since the race is between two men, Obama and Romney, I’m voting, praying, and campaigning for the better of the two candidates.  Why?  Because I think it’s naive to vote third-party.  Is Obama the perfect candidate in a lot of Democrats’ minds?  No.  Will that stop most of them from voting for him?  No.  And so they win, and their intrinsically evil platform  is advanced.

It’s time to be as shrewd as the people of this world.

(A big thank you to priests like Bishop Paprocki  and my friend Father O’Neill who are willing to preach the truth from the pulpit.)

UPDATE: I realize that the far bigger problem is that Obama is still winning the Catholic vote, even when surveying Catholics who attending weekly Mass.  This is a far bigger issue and most deserving of my time and prayer than those Catholics voting third-party.  Which is why I’m not going to waste any more brain power on this issue.   At least until I meet the next friend… hahaha!

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Stupid ad of the day

My dear swing-state sister got this in the mail the other day, and I can’t help but blog about it.

;

Seriously? Isn’t that exactly what all these lawsuits are about — we want to make the decision ourselves, and Obama and Sebellius have made it for us?

It’s not their decision. Exactly. It’s up to the individual and the employer. The employer has the right to follow their conscience. If he chooses a health plan that doesn’t include contraception, the employee can either spend their own money on their healthcare choices (gasp! I do it every day with my HSA. Not on birth control, but on my healthcare choices) or go get it free from the numerous clinics and abortion mills that give it away for free or very inexpensively. (Or you can get another job. No one is forcing you to work for a organization with principles.)

If the government truly wants to help women’s health, why don’t they make the insurance companies give out insulin, oxygen, or Lipitor?

As for that ad, I don’t know what group sent it out, but we could send the exact same ad out with the picture and names changed. Not a good choice of words, guys.

I see stupid people that don’t even know they’re stupid.

The Cancer Year

Last week I saw on Twitter that Matt Maher was going to be playing in Nashville.  I wasn’t sure if Matt’s recent move to Nashville would necessarily translate into concerts, so I was pleasantly surprised to already see him playing here.

When I looked into it, I saw that it was a benefit concert put on by Audrey Assad and her husband Billy for those struggling with debt incurred by medical bills.  Audrey is another great Catholic musician, and she and Billy produced an EP called “The Cancer Year” to help pay for the medical costs they incurred when Billy was diagnosed with and fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Today Billy is cancer free, the EP was a success, and they wanted to have a concert to help others.

I was grateful that my friends Maria and Manda wanted to go too, because I was sort of unsure what to expect.  It seemed like it was going to be a small, intimate group of people… was it just going to be Audrey and Billy’s friends?  Would we stick out?

It was worth the risk.

It was a small, intimate gathering (sixty people tops), and most of the people knew Audrey and Billy personally.  But it wasn’t a big deal that we didn’t, and I knew a lot of people there and felt perfectly comfortable.  It was a blend of Catholics and hipsters.  And it was awesome.

It was in a converted warehouse  that is now a venue with rooms of varying size.  The room we were in is actually a “member’s only” coffee shop. Who knew such things existed?

One of Billy’s friends is in Second City in Chicago and did stand up comedy.  There was beer and coffee and food.  And all the artists from the EP played — first Erin Gauvin, then Audrey, Audrey with Matt, just Matt, Audrey again, Audrey with Marshall Altman.

It was very laid-back and exactly what the night should be… just a bunch of friends hanging out and playing music.  We were standing in the back with Matt Maher for awhile, and it was no big deal — he was just a guy hanging out with his friends.  Audrey sat in front of us while Matt played – and again, it was just a girl watching her friend perform.

It was just a bunch of people hanging out and celebrating.  Except these people were professionals.

Have I mentioned that I love this town?

My Town

Today I realized why I love this city so much.  I was reflecting on it because I had a fantastic weekend — it was packed full of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in other places.   There’s always something unique to do around here.

But is that just because I live in a city?

So I had to think about it further.  Some of the opportunities this weekend were uniquely “Nashville.”  But some of them could have happened in other metropolitan areas.  I saw a play on Friday, for example, that someone could have seen elsewhere.

So what is it precisely about this city?

I came back to the conclusion I’ve made before — it’s the size.  We have awesome opportunities, but we’re small enough that there’s an intimacy at those opportunities.  At the play, for example, I saw a dozen of people from church, school, and my other social circles.   Same with the music event last night — I didn’t know if I would know anyone, and I ended up running into all sorts of friends and acquaintances- more so than I would in a bigger metropolitan area.

So I repeat… I love this city.

On Friday, we went to a one-man show of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.  Anthony Lawton adapted the novel and performs it around the country.  The Catholic Medical Association sponsored it at one of the local private high schools (a high school that costs $25,000 a year… so needless to say, their theatre was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to, period) and all the proceeds went to their medical mission to Haiti. But that’s not why Dr Ely brought Lawton in to do the play — he brought him in because he knew The Great Divorce had a message that people needed to hear.  Lawton did a great job, and it made me want to read the novel again.

After the play a group of us went out to Sweet Cece’s.  Because everything is better when finished with dessert.

Saturday I had truly beautiful day.  It began with early morning Mass, because I had a lot of work to get done on my Church history class.  I work best in coffee shops, so I like to get an early start to Saturdays and hunker down somewhere inspiring.  A friend had sung the praises of a new coffeeshop in East Nashville: Barista Parlor.  It was supposedly quite an experience — they craft each cup of coffee individually.  (Which, if you learned to love coffee in Italy, is the way you think it should be.)

It was an experience– from the bourbon vanilla latte to the sausage biscuit (with jam… it was delicious… and the sausage came from the butcher next door!) to the tables clearly made out of felled trees… it was awesome.

A friend who lives in the neighborhood came over for a visit while I was on her side of town, so after two hours of working and two hours of socializing, it was time to head home.  So I went back and read by the pool for three hours.  The weather was gorgeous– one of those beautiful Nashville fall days when it’s 78 degrees and sunny with a breeze.  Then my friend Maria came over for a movie.  A good blend of work, relaxation, and fun.

Sunday I went to the parish downtown for Mass (the oldest standing church in Nashville) and then walked to get coffee with a friend. It’s always funny to be downtown on a Sunday morning when the city is quiet (except for Titans fans walking to the game).  The weather was beautiful, so it was nice to walk.  After the hot summer, it’s a shock to realize you can be outside and be completely content.

Then I went with a few of the Sisters to their retreat house about an hour away.  It’s pretty new, so I hadn’t been out there before and was anxious to see it.  Boy, was I in for a treat.  It’s beautiful (have I mentioned I had a beautiful weekend?) and is almost worth losing Super Bowl XLIV (Sorry, Jim).

Pictures can’t really do it justice, which is why I was so blown away.  I had seen pictures before, but nothing is like being there.

That didn’t stop me from taking pictures.

After we got back to the Motherhouse, I made a holy hour in their chapel.  I need to do that more often.  Mark it under “things I take for granted around here.”

Monday night I had a “only in Nashville,” experience — one that prompted those musings about why I love this town so much — but I’ll save that for my next post.

Frightened Rabbits

I’m reading a book by the Vatican’s chief historian for my Church history class, and I thought this quote was too good not to share:

“… We should finally stop being like the frightened rabbit that stares at the snake before it is swallowed by it.  This defeatist attitude, this whining self-pity that has gained so much ground in … Catholic circles, is an insult to God.  What is needed is a new, forceful consciousness of being Catholic.  There is nothing that could be truer than the Catholic faith — and wherever the Catholic faith, Catholic truth, and Catholic moral principals are put into action, the world, despite all human shortcomings, is put in order.”

-Father Walter Brandmüller

The Labor

I wrote this earlier in the week and never posted it.  But it’s still true tonight…

I have approximately 25 lessons for this Fall I should be preparing right now, but I’m eating a late dinner and procrastinating writing any of them.

The last two weeks have been a mix of exhaustion and thrills.  Two weeks ago, I was out on the East Coast for a meeting and managed to meet up with two of my good friends from college beforehand.  The last day of the meeting (a semi-annual event during which much work is done, lots of fun is had, and sleep is neglected) I felt myself coming down with a cold — not good timing, considering the week I got back would be spent getting ready for our annual diocesan catechetical conference.

So last week was a blur– I was sick and busy, and I honestly don’t really remember one day from the next.  But when Friday arrived, I was feeling much better and everything was shaping up for a great conference.  Our lineup this year was first class- including one of the greatest catechists in the world, Petroc Willey (who is heading to Rome for the Synod on the New Evangelization in October) and my friend Matt Leonard, executive director of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

It was a pretty great weekend — after setting up at the Embassy Suites on Friday for the conference and running to the airport to pick up Matt, that night was our annual Catechetical Leadership banquet with the bishop and DREs and principals of the dioceses, with an address by Dr. Willey.  Then we all stayed there at the Embassy Suites so the next day we could wake up bright and early for the conference.  5oo people were in attendance, including over 200 Latinos.  Mass with the Bishop was beautiful and bilingual — I was almost moved to tears to see the Church so beautifully Catholic and One.

After a successful day, Matt and I headed to the Cathedral for evening Mass and then downtown for Jack’s BBQ and live music.  I take for granted the crazy town I live in.

And I take for granted the amazing people I’m friends with, too.  In the last two weeks, with my meetings and the conference, I’ve seen the Church at her best (this side of the Atlantic).  I’ve had drinks with journalists, bishops, a metropolitan, a CPA, and small business owners who love the Church just as much as I do.  I’ve had great conversations with catechists and parents and grandmothers working hard to pass the Faith on to their students and families.   I’ve rubbed shoulders with big names and unknowns.   This is the Church.  These are the laborers in the field.

And I love it.  I love the laborers, the field, the seed, and the Master of the field.  And I’m humbled and honored to work for Him.