A 7 Quick Takes (plus 1) post
You can read more 7 Quick Takes posts from many other fine bloggers, at Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary blog.
It’s been a difficult week, things are all disjointed. My wife is trying to get through her last two weeks at work, is training her replacement and we both are trying to anticipate what actual retired life will be all about. I feel a little like I’m in limbo. In order to even write this post, I have given into trying an experiment suggested by Ian Staples in his book, The Blog Post Writing Formula. The experiment is, if you are going through writers block, or think you are, just sit down and start typing something for 60 seconds. The idea is that, once you start with that small commitment, you will keep it up. It seems to be working.
When I began my journey into the Church I made friends with a couple of Secular Franciscans and later spent 4 or 5 years as an SFO (now OSF, I believe) myself. It, unfortunately, was not for me. However, I retained some interest in St Francis himself. Perhaps one reason why I wasn’t able to be a Franciscan is because I never thought I understood St Francis very well and certainly didn’t understand exactly how to be a Franciscan. A year or so ago, I found a course from the Teaching Company on St Francis and decided to give it a try. It’s taken me a year or so to get around to it, but this week, I opened the Teaching Company app and began to study the course. I learned that, from the beginning of the order that’s been a problem Franciscans have struggled with since the order’s founding. Francis himself, it seems, never left a clear definition of how the renewal he envisioned could be lived out; he never understood that not everyone could follow the Franciscan life exactly the way he did. It was a relief to learn I wasn’t the only one confused.
I enjoy going for short walks in the morning but lately the weather here hasn’t allowed that. We’ve had a lot of rain and the backyard, such as it is, seems like an overgrown jungle. It’s quite welcome to see it, since it’s been so dry the last two years.
I read the other day that the average 3 hour baseball game has something like 12 minutes of action, of hitting or fielding or base running. Professional football is even worse, only 11 minutes of real action. At first, I was a bit surprised and shocked; you don’t realize watching a game how little time is spent in actual play. But then, in a way I suspect most jobs are like that. In most companies, the real work for the typical office employee can’t amount to more than an average of 3 hours a day. The rest of the time is spent in meetings that can be less than productive, in answering phone calls and emails, or just goofing off. It’s a wonder how our old world keeps going, isn’t it?
On a related topic, did you know they’ve recently discovered the major contributing factor to prison overcrowding in this country — the NFL. (Sorry, bad joke, but I had to do it.)
This week, First Things had an excellent column by William Doino, Jr. on their web site about Pope Francis and his statement that priests shouldn’t drive luxury cars. Doino included an interesting quote from St Catherine of Siena:
“Alas, what confusion is this, to see those who ought to be a mirror of voluntary poverty, meek as lambs, distributing the possessions of Holy Church to the poor: and they appear in such luxury and state and pomp and worldly vanity, more than if they had turned them to the world a thousand times! Nay, many seculars put them to shame who live a good and holy life. . . . Holy Church should return to her first condition, poor, humble, and meek as she was in that holy time when men took note of nothing but the honor of God and the salvation of souls, caring for spiritual things and not for temporal. For ever since she has aimed at more temporal than at spiritual, things have gone from bad to worse.”
I have to admit, I’ve had some mixed feelings about Francis’ seeming desire to”dress down” the Mass, doing away with many of the most beautiful vestments, etc (I think he’s doing that). One lesson I learned from my experiment with the Latin Mass is that such things are an important element of the worship of the Church. The point is to lift the worshiper up to mindfulness of the grandeur of God and to offer God the best that we have. On the other hand, I see no reason why priests, bishops or higher clergy should live, outside of church, in luxurious settings and eat only the best food. Not that I would see them in poverty, rather in simplicity, as an example to the faithful of how the Christian ideal is best lived out.
Well, I guess the experiment worked; I sat down and got this post completed in just under 15 minutes or so. Sorry if it reads like it, to be sure. I had planned to take one week a month off from posting here to have time to recharge the old batteries by concentrating on some good reading and prayer. I haven’t done that this month, and next week may be the week. So, if I do miss next week, you’ll know what’s going on.
When I started, I wondered if I could get one “Quick Take”, much less seven. It turns out, I’m going to have eight. The reason for the eighth is that I just learned of a marvelous web site call, The Church Militant (www.churchmilitant.com) and I urge you to check it out. It looks really interesting and useful.