It’s fairly common for our family to gather around the tv once things settle down for the day. Lately, everyone enjoys watching Hallmark movies. No, they aren’t the best plots, nor do they have the best acting. However, they are clean and wholesome by today’s standards, and by-and-by, they’re very positive. A recent one, ironically titled Summer of Dreams, portrayed Debbie Gibson, playing the role of a 40-something former female pop-star who peaked in her teens (in other words… playing herself). Her character had a line about life being a soundtrack. I asked myself… If your life had a soundtrack… what songs would be on it? Isn’t that just a phenomenal thing to consider?
If Your Life Had A Soundtrack…
Soundtracks are fun. They have a way of taking us back to memorable moments in movies or shows. The only thing I can think of that is more powerful for me in that way are certain scents. Wow, can a scent take you to a different time and place, but that’s another post for another day! Music has its way with us too. It’s a powerful tool for engaging our memories. That said, it’s worth asking, “If your life had a soundtrack… what songs would be on it?”
Today my daughter had her freshman orientation at our alma mater. The place is different today, but the old High School Halls are still full of notes of nostalgia.
Hitting All the Right Notes
Walking through those High School Halls, I pointed out where my locker was. I showed my daughter where my favorite classes and teachers were. We passed through what used to be our cafeteria, which is now called the Commons. I popped into the boys restroom by the old band room, and while that sounds unimportant, it was once a favorite spot! No, smoking nevered happened in there, at least not on my watch. It was singing. My best buds and I used to sing acapella in that bathroom because the acoustics were phenomenal. Around every corner of those halls… a memory… even with the many cosmetic changes.
On Saturday morning I made the 40-minute drive to pick up two of my sons from Cub Scout Residence Camp. Listening to my “Praise and Worship” list on the way and singing at the top of my lungs, I was on top of the world. Then it hit me. In a few minutes, two boys would enter my vehicle and want to tell me all about their last several days. My initial reaction to that thought was selfish disappointment. “I’ll be interrupted from listening/singing all the way home,” I thought. Just as quickly as that thought came, another took its place. I needed to offer patience and proper praise.
Patience and Proper Praise
What do I mean by patience and proper praise? I mean setting aside what I want to do, and what I think pleases God, in favor of offering Him what He really desires from me. God desires a humble and contrite heart, as Psalm 51 tells us. Convicted of my selfishness, I repented in the truest sense, turning away from my own desires and in the direction of serving my kids and their need for their father’s attention. This is pleasing to God.
This morning I was in the perpetual adoration chapel at my parish and praying the Rosary. Since it’s Thursday, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries. As I prayed, I realized how much these particular mysteries shed light on what this summer is about for me, and more importantly, what that means for others.
What are the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary?
The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary come from Scripture and they focus on significant events in Jesus’ ministry. They aren’t representative of all the important events of His ministry, but they illuminate in ways that others may not.
Reflecting on John the Baptist, I imagine it must have been quite a thing to finally see Jesus coming his way. He prepared for that day by training himself in asceticism and preparing the way for the Lord by preaching repentance to crowds of people. His life was a mission. He had no illusions about his purpose. John took his role seriously. He embraced it and got to work. We remember him for it.
The words, “God” and “Dog” are a semordnilap (there’s a trivia nugget for you!), which occurs when one word spells a completely different word backwards. There’s really no comparison between God and a dog, and there never could be, but a trip to Confession yesterday got me thinking.
A little background…
My pastor sometimes brings his dog with him during Confession hours on Saturdays in the church. Father’s joke never gets old, either… “The dog’s under the seal!” For those who aren’t familiar, “the seal” is the seal of Confession, whereby a priest is obliged by the severest possible consequences to keep private those things which he hears confessed by the penitent. Naturally, a dog repeating the sins of a penitent is an impossibility, but it’s still funny to hear him say it. It’s one of the endearing things about our pastor.
When the dog is there, it’s excited to see each new penitent (or I assume so since it’s always excited to see me!). It wags its tail vigorously and does all the things friendly dogs do, you know? It’s well-behaved, so it never jumps on me or anything like that, but it sure seems pumped. Inevitably, Father calls the obedient dog to his side and it lays down next to him. It almost appear as if it’s listening, with its brows moving and ears perking as I speak. The dog doesn’t judge or condemn. It doesn’t get sad or angry. The dog doesn’t lash out at me. It silently allows the confession of my sins to fall upon it and then, guess what? It’s over. Father gives me my penance and absolution, and the dog wants to say goodbye as I leave.
Am I really sharing a post on prevenient grace and… Netflix? You betcha. Indulge me.
When a friend suggested a few days ago that he planned to begin a 33 Days to Morning Glory trek toward renewing his consecration to Mary this Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, I told him I would do the same. Having done it using that method, as well as according to the traditional method given by St. Louis de Montfort, I opted for a third way in hopes of discovering some fresh insights. That method is
The author of Totus Tuus is Father Nathan Cromly. He’s something of a “rockstar” among my wife and her friends, as well as several other folks I know. According to my wife, he gives amazing retreats. She should know. She’s been on two in consecutive years. I hope she goes on more. Shoot… I think we all should go on more retreats, especially ones led by the Holy Spirit and great priests. That’s a bit of an aside, but the point remains that Father Nathan blazes a trail in the Church today, and when I recalled he put together a book on Marian consecration, I figured it would be very good.
Two days into the path to consecration, and the lessons blow me away. That’s no easy feat, mind you. With a Master’s degree in theology, a catechetical diploma endorsed by the Vatican, 15 years of experience teaching religion, and theological study as a hobby of choice, exposure to something entirely new to me is rare. Oh, how I love it when I am, though! It reminds me of those heady days in my 20s, when I felt like I was learning something new about God, His Church, and myself in relation to these things everyday.
What blows me away? Prevenient grace. Stick with me. This is good stuff!
“It’s a part of life.”
We often say these things with regard to death and dying. The problem is, they’re not true. We weren’t made for death. God made us for so much more.
This past Saturday evening, my wife and I had the privilege of visiting with one of our closest friends. Late-stage liver cancer left him with little time on this earth, and we all knew that evening would be our last goodbye. As we drove away, tears streaming down our faces, I turned to the faith the three of us shared in common, and what follows is my effort to share the thoughts that came to my mind in that moment.
Some will find it ironic that the theme of dying would be the cause for a meditation on the Holy Trinity, but I think if you read on, you’ll see why it’s so fitting.