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Friday, April 30, 2010

Preparing for First Reconciliation

One of my kids is preparing for First Reconciliation, and I'm using a book from Catholic Answers, Today I Made my First Reconciliation. It is a good resource, using the story of two children who are preparing for that sacrament and finding themselves in a moral dilemma. There are Scriptural references at the back as well as other useful materials such as a guide to examine one's conscience. One of the things I was taught while attending an Opus Dei center in college was to examine my conscience every night at bedtime.

Some folks might actually be bringing up their kids to make decisions based entirely on amoral consequences. Well if one does not believe in God, then there is no basis for an objective moral code. No basis for a conscience either -- what on earth can that tiny voice say about anything if there is no objective moral code?

One's conscience can either be honed with reasonable attention or dulled with disuse. It can be informed with education or atrophy with neglect (life's too busy, no shortage of engaging pursuits). I'd prefer the former. The latter sounds more like what happened to those folks recently captured on video walking on by while a man lay dying on the sidewalk. Some might say that it was no big deal, it wasn't illegal to mind your own business. What, you actually need someone explaining this, and do you need legislation to tell you that you ought to call 911?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Much ado about nothing indeed

James Valentine in The Australian muses how one goes [B]ack and forth in the quest for diddly-squat The same thing has been on my mind, too. One of the things I distinctly remember from Og Mandino's books is this line from his "God Memorandum": to be everywhere is to be nowhere. I've always been a dreamer, a planner, but my doing needs an upgrade. In fact I've probably missed 20 years of upgrades by now. While my life is far from flat and lifeless -- my kids remind me everyday that they are like plants that will grow in spite of me -- I do feel this frenzied activity around my two jobs and a quarter (no, really, I virtually have three employments right now), and the accomplishments are lacking.

This has been on my mind since the start of the year. Yes, God must be trying to tell me something when I read articles as above, and my kids just happen to have watched Mary Poppins tonight, and their school is preparing for a production of that great movie and its great lesson. And I'm Mr. Banks, make no mistake.

How bad can it get? I haven't had a seven hour sleep since my last bout with a bad cold. Otherwise, I'd be lucky if I get away with six hours. The worst part is it's all my doing. My pride, arrogance, lack of reliance on God and too much on me.

Right. Off to bed, it is 1 am.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sin and its effects

One of the most daunting things I've discovered about parenthood is how much influence my actions have on my children. Whether it is a matter of bad example, which they might emulate. Or depriving myself of sleep and making myself vulnerable to illness (which I can pass on) or unsafe driving. Or me on the keyboard at 2 in the morning, disturbing their rest. Let's face it -- I can certainly cause my children harm.

Something else that resonates for this topic: take even a cursory look at the news concerning the pope and the sex abuse scandals here and there. What trouble visited upon the Church, the faith of her members, disturbing their peace, and that of majority of her priests and deacons who are not sexual abusers. What horrors unleashed upon the victims! The Church is a household, and the sins of one can gravely affect a multitude, from the victims to their victims (for those who end up emulating the abuse) to the average Catholic whose faith is shaken.

But then that influence can work the other way too. What can we do to make amends? We can pray. We can encourage. We can clarify and expose the truth.

I'm off to bed. My kids need me awake enough to drive.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Did the Pope give the Milwaukee sex abuser a free pass?

There is much in the news these days about the alleged culpability of the Church leadership, all the way to the pope, concerning an American priest-abuser of about 200 victims. We would not be human if we remained indifferent to such charges, given the gravely evil nature of the abuses perpetrated. But we would not be rational if we fail to investigate the evidence prior to making up our minds. In Scoundrel Times, journalist George Weigel helps us get started. Jimmy Akin provides a more detailed investigation based on letters and accounts concerning the matter. Two other posts by Jimmy add further details: accounts from the tribunal judge involved in the case and analyzing the 1998 memo concerning this case. The evidence is there for all to consider. The only logical conclusion is that, while there is culpability in cooperating with grave evil to dole out, they cannot be assigned to Pope Benedict XVI.