Archive for the ‘Humor’ category

My “Top Ten” Mass Peeves

April 2, 2017

I’m going to take a side trip from my Biblical journey and wander about in the tall weeds to talk about my Mass pet peeves.  These are not necessarily in order from least to most peevish; some you’ll may go “Right on Shaft!” and others you may go “Get a grip bro.”  But keep in mind these are my peeves, not necessarily those of your Archbishop, although Pope Francis has probably said something in the back of a plane about them.

“Turn and greet and introduce yourself to those around you.” Not the stuff of which great human problems are made, but a Protestant-flavored attempt before the opening hymn to make everyone feel “welcome”. The Mass is a recreation of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice, where heaven meets earth, not a social event.  And I don’t necessarily relish shaking hands with little Billy right after he wiped his nose with his right hand during cold and flu season.

“Take a moment of silent prayer to prepare our hearts and minds for holy Mass.” This is one particular to my parish – which I love in so many ways – but it takes more than 5 seconds to prepare one’s heart and mind for holy Mass. Get your butt in the pew at least 10 minutes before Mass begins to do some serious praying and prepping.  Families with young children are excused: I laud you for getting there on time or close to it (I’ve been there).

Most of the hymns written after Vatican II, especially those written by Marty Haugen. “Gather Us In” (the lame and the stinky?) and “All Are Welcome” (Nazi Satanists too?) are Haugen classics of tonal and lyrical insipidity. Somehow blissful marijuana-fueled hippie-dom took over Catholic music.  I want songs of spiritual struggle, where you shoot Satan with a .44 and the like.  But that’s just me.

Priests who think they are Bob Hope or David Letterman. This takes the form of post-Communion stand-up where vacation slides of the parochial vicar laying on the beach are shown while the pastor does an engaging (he thinks) monologue. Father, in your spare time head out to open mike-night at the comedy club, but spare us at Mass.

Applause. I guess clapping for Bob and Sally after their two-minute post-announcements pitch for the WEDS ministry is OK – took a little courage to get up there. But clapping for musical performance – like a post-Communion Flugelhorn solo of “Ave Marie” – is never appropriate.  It’s Mass, not a concert.  Any music performed is not for human praise, but for the glory of God.

Showing words to songs and parts of the Mass people should know by heart like the Creed on the back wall of the sanctuary using a projector. I’m sorry, but I was taken to Shakey’s Pizza as a child several times, where they had guys in old timey dress playing the piano and the words to songs like “Down By the Old Mill Stream” projected on the wall so you could sing along. Blame this on Shakey’s Pizza.  My parish years later still has idiot cards in the pews: c’mon people, make some kind of minimal effort to learn the prayers.

Irreverent/casual communicants. Dudes and dudettes: you are about to take the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Creator of the Universe into your corpus. Don’t act like you are getting a flu shot or in line at the DMV.  Especially don’t wave at your friends or exchange pleasant banter as you process by their pew.

Recorded music. I experienced this recently at a Mass in Ohio during Communion. Creepy, and a violation of canon law.  Made me feel like I was at Applebee’s or something.

Homilists who require audience participation. (How many of you say grace AFTER meals? Put your hands up!)  Also homilists you just repeat the readings to you.  (We see that Abramafter being told by God to go to a distant land, does so without question.)  Dude, try to make some kind of connection with living life today, try to make me have a “V-8 moment”.  Deacons are especially egregious in this regard, probably because the diocese keeps them on a tight rein.  Occasionally one goes rogue elephant, snaps his tether and kills a coolie, and that’s always a pleasure.

Special appearances by Santa at Christmas Masses. One time the priest processed in dressed like Santa going “Ho! Ho! Ho!” I love priests, but keep in mind Father what Jesus said about scandalizing little ones and that millstone necktie.

Actually I have many more, but these are undoubtedly more reflective of my sinful shortcomings than the shortcomings of others.  I long to be present purified at the heavenly worship described in Revelation 4 and 5.  But that’s just me.  God shower His grace on us all!

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Judith 13-16; 1 Corinthians 8

February 23, 2017

(As promised, the dramatic conclusion of “Judith”, as seen on the Hallmark Channel, starring Andie McDowell as Judith, Rhea Perlman as the maid, and Alec Baldwin (the best actor ever!) as Holofernes)

Judith 13:6-10  She went to the bedpost near the head of Holofernes, and taking his sword from it, she drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me this day, Lord, God of Israel!” Then with all her might she struck his neck twice and cut off his head. She rolled his body off the bed and took the canopy from its posts. Soon afterward, she came out and handed over the head of Holofernes to her maid, who put it into her food bag. Then the two went out together for prayer as they were accustomed to do.

Drinking more alcohol in one day than since the day you were born seldom ends well, but it ended particularly badly for Holofernes.  Here is a link to Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, which should be a staple hanging on the wall in every Christian child’s bedroom:

http://www.caravaggio.org/judith-beheading-holofernes.jsp

At least Holofernes received the best hangover cure there is.  What I love about this painting is you can read the maid’s mind, which is obviously “I didn’t sign up for this.”

Simple lesson: don’t mess with God, especially when He can send a beautiful but bad-ass sword-wielding woman to even the score. Amen.

Never go Grumpy Cat 5

October 18, 2016

The nice lady that does Adoration after me just sent me an email about an elementary school in Oregon that has given permission for a satanic temple to sponsor an after-hours club.  The email contains links to petitions to fight this initiative.  I was a bit dumbfounded (Got to be a hoax!) and with some googling found out it is genuine:

http://koin.com/2016/09/28/satanic-temple-gets-ok-for-portland-after-school-club/

Now I’m not going to let my blood pressure rise over this too much yet, noting the kids have to have parental permission to be part of the club.  I’m guessing this is more of a publicity thing, and when the one or two kids who have demented parents show up for the frothy excitement of rational humanism, the club will quickly die a natural death.  Still, this little news note of joy makes me marvel….

…that God loves each and every one of us unconditionally.  We in the majority seem to be a pack of passion-addled violent stark-raving lunatics.  Fallen nature?  Good gravy, our “nature” seems to have taken a 150-foot cliff dive into 3 feet of water.  Where was the Nancy Reagan-like “Just say no” angel when the forbidden fruit was offered to that dim-witted woman and her lunk-headed spouse? (And speaking of angels, why are they all either muscular blonde California surfer dudes or babies?  And male babies to boot?  How do I know they are male?  Well, in the absence of a cloud wisp or a conveniently placed head, the babies always have…ahem…male equipment.  But I digress. These are questions for the next great council, probably the Council of Cleveland.)  It makes me go Grumpy Cat 5 when I think that – with a little bit of self-control on the part of Adam and Eve, pathetic dopes – I and everyone else would

  • enjoy continuous spectacular weather
  • eat the very best organic produce
  • have spectacular physiques
  • run around naked without shame (no “Does this make me look fat?” questions)
  • after a leisurely day of light raking and hoeing, enjoy some “being fruitful and multiplying” (rowrr!)
  • have any kind of pet I want – lion, cobra, great white shark – doesn’t matter
  • sleep like a baby, CPAP not necessary
  • best of all, be immortal, never be bored, tired, anxious, or grumpy.

I’m sure when I confront Adam about this, he wlll play the Curly Howard “I was a victim of circumstances!” card.  I guess the good news is that when this meeting takes place, I will have been purged of my desire to give him the Moe Howard double-eye poke.

 

1 Kings 22; 2 Kings 1-3; Acts 8

October 9, 2016

2 Kings2: 23-24 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on the way, some little boys came out of the city and jeered at him: “Go away, baldy; go away, baldy!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces.

This story taken at face value appalls, but commentary on it describes it as a popular story conveying the dignity of the prophet, probably told to small boys after they got fresh with the rabbi.  It’s a caricature of the behavior of Elisha and she-bears…although it could be taken as a metaphor for attending Catholic elementary school in the 1960s.  I see similarities between our pastor then and Elisha; of a number of my male classmates and these “little boys”, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph and she-bears.  We got torn to pieces on a regular basis, and deservedly so most of the time: Sister Agnes of the Divine Retribution, I tease, I joke – OWW!  Not the Holy Ruler of Antioch – OWW!  OWW!

GOD’S ANSWER:  Yes, those were the days!

But I digress….

October 5, 2016

Mary and I got back from Orlando night before last, where Sunday we witnessed the baptism of Jonas, the world’s happiest baby.  Jonas is also a big baby: there must be Samoan heritage in the DNA somewhere , and I think Father injured a rotator cuff lifting him up before the congregation – Father is listed as day to day.  But Jonas and I got some quality time, and I sensed he found me engagingly goofy.  He did get hold of my chest hair once; the pain, the pain as Dr. Smith would proclaim on Lost in Space.

On the way back Mary wanted to look at some Florida properties and Lake Eustis and Lake Griffin in little cottage communities that are close to the water or on canals leading to the bigger water.  Her dream is to have somewhere fairly close to the kids where we can stay and not be imposing on them, and they can come to and have some water-based fun.  Seems like reasonable dream, as long as there’s air-conditioning.

One place on Lake Eustis was an “active senior” community.  We met by chance an energetic 70-something named Skip who spoke enthusiastically about the place and all the great opportunities for socializing and diversion, like the Saturday morning coffees where you get a free donut….be still, my heart.  Personally, I feel no enthusiasm for my senior years being spent in amusement and self-absorption.  That time seems like a great opportunity to “give back” and get closer to God.  And truthfully, I find conversations with younger people usually more edifying, like the one I had with my almost 4 year-old grandson this past weekend:

J: Grandpa, who would win, a T-Rex or a wolf spider?

Me: Why, the wolf spider of course.

J: Awww, how’s a wolf spider gonna beat a T-Rex?

Me: The wolf spider would crawl into his ear canal while he was sleeping and bite him into submission.

J: Awwww Grandpa, Nooooooooo…

Me: ‘Fraid so J.  It’s documented science you see.

 What a great gift children are!  God bless us all.

 

And a man shall leave his father and mother…

June 21, 2016

Today is our 36th wedding anniversary, so pardon the digression from the Scriptural journey.  Mary is going to wake up disappointed when she finds no card on the kitchen table, but I have made celebratory provisions that I hope will ease the initial letdown.  They are not quite as good as the Suwanee PD showing up to do this, but it’s close:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QYZGtH01H8

I was thinking this morning about what I’ll call the “Nora Ephron Syndrome”, most egregiously on display in her movie “Sleepless in Seattle”.  The Nora Ephron Syndrome – or NES – is the nagging conviction that no matter what person you are currently in a romantic relationship with, there is some other potential lover somewhere – maybe in Tierra del Fuego or the Fiji Islands – you would be much happier with, that would be a truer soulmate.  Of course the big problem with NES is even after you’ve left a goober like Bill Pullman for Tom Hanks, how do you really know that Tom Hanks is “that guy”, or Meg Ryan is “that girl”?  I mean, Tom Hanks could very well be a Russian implant that when Moscow calls him on the phone and says the psychological key word, he screws on the silencer, puts a bullet in your head while you sleep, and then goes on a killing rampage that only Charles Bronson can stop.  You never really know, do you?

Thankfully as a Catholic Christian I don’t believe in blind chance and coincidences.  I believe this wonderful woman I’m yoked to was part of the plan from the creation of the universe.  I offer as evidence that fact that I’m just as crazy about her now as I was after the first date back in 1975, even though we no longer climb trees to engage in monkey steaming jungle love; watching Dr. Phil together is taxing enough.  We have 3 great sons – “mighty men of valor” as the Bible would say – and 3 great grandchildren: the 3 year-old office linebacker, the 1-1/2 year-old delicate and peripatetic flower, and the recently-born milk vampire.  I thank God every day for these incredible blessings in my life, and I am sad and pray for those young people who are so hesitant and reluctant to commit to marriage.  As Chesterton once said, it is the greatest adventure there is, and you don’t go on it alone.  And it is our great hope that we recline at table together at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where the wine never runs out and the desserts are sensational and not the least fattening.

God bless us all!

Life changing? One can hope…

June 4, 2016

I watched an ETWN program Memorial Day called “Bookmark”, in which the host interviews an author about his or her latest book.  The show was with Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bill+thierfelder&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Abill+thierfelder

He was a very engaging interview, and I’ve started reading his book.  There were two key points for me from the interview.  The first was that “peak performance” occurs with 100% focus and effort (there is no “110%”) in the present moment.  When we are doing this in the present moment – not distracted by thinking about potential future failure or past failures; winning or losing – we are also closest to God, who is outside of time yet present in every moment of time.

The second point was a charming story about him working with an NFL football pass receiver who dropped a ball in practice and cursed and stomped his feet.  Dr. T asked him what happened (he had observed that he turned his head before the ball got there).  “I don’t know, I just dropped the ball.”  Dr. T then asked him what it was he said when he dropped it, and the player sheepishly said “Well, you know I dropped the ball.”  He then asked him “Shouldn’t you be saying “Thank you Jesus!” and the player looked at him goggle-eyed and “Eh?”  Dr. T, responded “Yes, Thessalonians 5:18 right? In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ.”  So the next time you drop one, proclaim “Thank you Jesus!”  About 8 balls later, the player dropped one, and Dr. T heard “Thank you Jesus!”  And when he asked him why he dropped the ball, he replied “I turned my head too soon.”  In other words the player was in the present moment, not ego-involved regarding his performance.  And that player went on to display the most reliable hands on the team.

So what about this resonated with me?  I’ve been an angry bird for a long time.  Guillain-Barre is after a year my hands still feel half-asleep.  So I drop things a lot.  I recently dropped a Coke Zero in the break room at work trying to put it in the refrigerator, and it exploded all over me and the room.  I did not respond with “Thank you Jesus!”  Fortunately I was the first one at work that morning, so no one was scandalized.  I seem to be a magnet for idio – umm, aggressive drivers – on the road of late, and I tend to bless them with “STUPID S. O. B.!” or some other cheerful invective.  Sometimes God gets involved, if you know what I mean.  I’ve been perplexed on how to control these outbursts: I take them to the confessional and I do better for a time, but eventually I fall.  So saying “Thank you Jesus!” is a strategy that has not occurred to me.  I’ve had the opportunity to use it twice today, and once it was “Thank you too honey!” for leaving that cup of water on the bathroom sink for me to knock over and get some practice.  I see all kinds of potential future opportunities for “Thank you Jesus!” besides dropping things and road rage…

  • When Wally (our aging Dachshund mix) pees in the house…”Thank you Jesus!”
  • When my boss tells me a project I’ve been working on weeks has been shelved or has to be retested from the beginning…”Thank you Jesus!”
  • When the Browns do something boneheaded to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory…”Thank you Jesus!”
  • When the lady at Subway puts mayo on my sub after I requested “No mayo”…”Thank you Jesus!”
  • When Mary asks me to vacuum the entire house…”Thank you Jesus!”…..well, let’s no lose our minds here.  J

God bless,

Tom