Monthly Archives: September 2015

Give Me Your Huddled Masses….

When I was a kid, I thought being “good” was pretty easy. You just had to be nice, do nice things and not swear.

But, as I discovered, things get more complicated as you get older.

Currently, I’m finding myself torn on a big issue. Immigration.

Let me say first that I am horrified for people, Christian or not, trying to escape the nightmare of ISIS. Or any other terror group. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up daily wondering if you’ll be the next to die. If I should acquiesce to save my family. If I should work to help others escape, heal, hide. These cannot be easy decisions under the circumstances.

As Pope Francis says, so many are truly in need of our help. I want to help those in true need, and I want others to help them as well.

But I don’t want to help those using this situation as a way to spread evil as a by product of my charity. And, again, I’ll be honest. I do truly believe there are terrorists posing as refugees to spread fear to the global community. Based on what we’ve seen since 9/11, this is classic terror strategy.

None of us want to be “chumps,” playing into the hands of those who would destroy our culture, religion and traditions while forwarding a type of living that enslaves the people of the world to madness. We’ve heard what’s happening in Germany. We’re watching other Western countries battle between their beliefs and the safety of their own. Let’s be honest : all Ameticans should be fearful if they aren’t already.

But perhaps not as fearful as those living in the midst of pure evil. I don’t blame the refugees for running. Even the so called able bodied men – there are certainly some who are not terrorists. But I do wish we could some how look into their hearts to see their true intentions. How do you determine need from a desire to destroy liberty? No one has the resources to interview every refugee effectively enough to quell the threat. How do we show compassion without sacrificing other innocents to death?

I wonder sometimes if our ancestors and grandparents felt this way during other mass waves of immigration. Did Americans feel their country would lose its identity as floods of Germans, Slavs, Irish and Italians “invaded” in the late 1800s and early 1900s?

I think about my father’s family, many of who immigrated to the US following World War II. My grandfather, separated from his family, got here from Germany first. I can’t imagine what Americans thought of Germans -they probably called them Nazis- coming here. My father, grandmother and aunt came 16 years later, after finally receiving a visa from Communist Romania, where they had been trapped. 

I can’t imagine what Americans thought of a Gulag survivor and her teen children who couldn’t speak a word of English, and had never known true freedom. Yet they learned English, became naturalized citizens, reunited with my grandfather, finished school, went to college, got jobs and became amazing Ametican citizens. Is it possible that potential is in these other refugees? Could it be they truly want freedom as well?

I just don’t know. Yet I realize the God I love demands my compassion. My fear likely doesn’t matter to Him at all. My desire to be practical, to separate the wheat from the chafe so to speak, is probably not in his playbook. 

It’s seems being nice isn’t as easy as I thought it was as a kid. I pray God helps me to understand this dilemma. That our leaders are wiser than they have shown to be so far. But mostly, I pray for peace. And miracles.

Divided We Fall

I’m a bit ashamed today.

People who know me well, know I love to Tweet. I use Twitter for a variety of reasons, but primarily to spread the light of Jesus Christ. I try to be positive and supportive to people I find there. It’s kind of the reason I write this blog. I want to help people find commonalities in life instead of differences. Apparently, I am not actually good at this.

When I woke up today, I happened upon a debate two people were having about Muslims. I was reading the thread, and somehow or another it turned to Catholic bashing. I let it go a few Tweets. But when it was obviously going to continue, and the Church and its people were called evil…well, as I always seem to, I opened my big mouth.

The most unbelievable stream of anti-Catholicism was unleashed on me for speaking up for my Church. I’ve been Catholic my whole life. I’ve never even heard some of this. Of course there was the whole Mary worship thing, the Catholics have too much treasure thing, the Pope is evil thing (which many Catholics seem to believe now as well), the Inquisition thing, and don’t forget the preist sex abuse thing.

But today, we jumped into the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church founded by Jesus Christ thing. You know after all, the Catholic Church is never mentioned in the Bible. Jesus apparently doesn’t name Simon Peter the rock on which he will build his Church, he’s just some Jewish guy who’s name means “rock.” In case you didn’t know, the Roman Catholic Church was founded by Constantine in Constantinople, AFTER other Christian denominations, so he could kill people in the name of religion.

Let’s forget the nuttiness of that or a moment. I’m no theologian or Church expert, but in 18 years of Catholic education and a lifetime of Masses, I heard the answers to most of the big Catholic questions. I’m also an amateur history student, and I’ve read a lot about the Byzantines, etc. I could debunk everyone of these allegations. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was a poor witness to the Church in the face of radical attackers.

Two days after Pope Francis left the United States following his amazing first visit where people swamped Philadelphia just to be near him, the anti-Catholic sentiment seems higher than ever. And I’m beginning to understand why so few Catholics take a stand for their faith. People it seems, misunderstand us on purpose. It seems futile. They just don’t get it.

Everyone who attacked me today professed in their bios to be good Christian people. People who, for all intents and purposes, are supposed to believe something very similar to what Catholics believe, sans the Pope and Eucharist. Some of them said they were formerly Catholic! 

If you are Catholic, I’ve discovered it’s very important in this day to know what it is you believe in and where it came from. If you want to disagree and still be Catholic, perhaps even more so. Our inability to articulate our religion helps to give rise to these weird Catholic myths. I mean, how could Constantine have started Catholicism when even in the current world, we see great differences between the eastern and Roman rites? And it’s more than statues and icons. There were Christians before the Catholic Church? I bet Jesus himself would be surprised at that. But it’s fair to throw stones at us because hey, we killed millions in the Inquisition and we hoarded all the world treasure and built a wall around it.

Add all of this rhetoric to the Catholics  who find fault in every aspect of the modern Church from the Pope’s so called liberalism to music to kids eating fruit snacks at Mass, and it’s no wonder people don’t understand their own religion. We are all closer than we think – there really is no need for thousands of denominations. It all comes down to us wanting to believe what makes us happy – not what has been proven historically, or what the Church has practiced for thousands of years.

It’s true what they say – all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics.

Can I Trust You?

My hair hurts.

I’ve been spending a lot of time these days thinking about trust. And I’ve got to say, I’ve got nothing.

I can honestly tell you I currently trust a total of seven people. Two are 10 and under.  And if homework is involved, there can be lapses there.

But that’s not the kind of trust I’m really talking about. Kids are going to fib if they think they’re headed for trouble. I’m talking about the kind of trust you base life decisions on – the kind you build your foundation on and take refuge in.

For many years, since childhood until my 30s, I trusted freely. I believed in people, and I believed those who I spent time with, worked with and for, and knew me in my community, if they claimed to like me, accepted me for who I was. We may not have agreed on everything, but I thought my inside person – the part of me that loves, hates, likes, dislikes, thinks etc – was safe with them. I rarely held back my feelings on anything, even if I changed them, or they led to what I considered an “agree to disagree” situation.

Much has changed. A few years ago, I lost the woman who had been my best friend since high school. In a somewhat heated discussion in front of all of our other friends, suffering with serious depression, I told her I didn’t think our relationship was reciprocal – and that it had been a long time since it had been, if it ever was. After over 25 years, in which we always said “friends can tell each other anything,” she kicked me out of her house. I apologized – in writing no less – at least three times. She has yet to accept. 

I’m sure we don’t know each other at all any longer. Nor do I know the others who were there that night any more, even those who promised to support me but have now even unfriended me on Facebook.  Sadly, I couldn’t even say I’d trust any of them now if I had to.

I’ve tried to keep up and “fix it” – I have sent Christmas cards, gifts for my God child. Tried to find out what’s happening through other sources. I pray daily I’m forgiven. I pray for my friend, our friends, their children, their parents. Heck, I even tried to die once of a heart attack. I got a delivery of rotten pineapple and cantaloupe from four couples who were once my foundation. No calls, no cards. To this day, it’s the most painful part of that experience – I truly was sick of a broken heart.

But I digress. Recent turns in the world have me realizing that beyond my tight circle, I’m really not sure who or what there is to trust in.  Obviously not age-old friends who’ve abandoned me. I have relatives I cannot trust, who have literally stolen or attempt to steal from me when I’ve showed them kindness. I had colleagues who destroyed my confidence and eventually my career because I put my children above my job. Not doctors who can’t seem to comfort or heal me. I love my country – yet the very president shows contempt for my religion, my race and my upbringing.

I’m confused also about my Church. As an adult, I’ve finally gained an understanding of what it stands for, what its traditional teachings show. While I’m busy striving to be God’s servant and falling on my face in the process like any real Catholic, our clerics are giving the impression that perhaps THEY no longer trust the Word of God.

In this world, I find love only in my family and my dogs. I hide from most of the rest for fear my heart cannot take any more loss. And I’ve come to understand those who say God is their light. Not the God wrapped in the majesty of the Church. Not the superhero one we look for when something awful happens and we wonder why he allows it. But the one who’s strong hand I can feel on my shoulder at night when I open my Bible and allow him to lead me to the right passage to heal my anger and fear. The one who gently shows me each day, through my beautiful daughters, that the world might be ok after all. The one who trusts ME to raise them. The one who gives me the ability to share my often unpopular ideas here with you.

I’ve found through my recent thinking, in our world so full of lies, he is the one I trust most of all.