Catholic

All Hallows’ Eve Revisited

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Horse costume. Check. Flag with fleurs-de-lis. Check. Sword. Check. Home made Saint cards. Check. Fifteenth century French-like soldiers helmet and armor.

Umm…we may have to improvise.

All Hallows’ Eve, also know as Halloween is right around the corner and my wife and I are preparing our daughters costume. We have started a tradition in our household where each year we dress our daughter up as a particular Catholic saint. Last year she was St. Clare of Assisi after her namesake. This year she will be St. Joan of Arc. One of the things we are adding to this years Halloween tradition is that we will have our daughter give each home she visits a homemade card with a picture of St. Joan of Arc on the front and a little bio of her life on the back.

There are many Christians who have various thoughts on the matter of whether or not to celebrate Halloween. All Hallows’ Eve is literally the eve of All Saints Day (November 1st) in which we celebrate the life of all the amazing Saints that have lived their lives for Christ in an exemplary way. All Saints is part of our Christian history and therefore a big deal. I am a Youth Minister and I believe that God uses young people to change the world. If you don’t believe me, pick up a bible and read it. Many of the stories in the scriptures where God calls someone to do something amazing, involve a young person (i.e. David, Mary, the Apostles, etc.). I find Halloween to be an incredible opportunity to go and share those stories and the stories of the saints with people who may never get a chance to hear them. Also, it gives my daughter and opportunity to be one of those young people God uses to change the world. More on that later.

Think about it this way.

When else do we have an opportunity to go to a stranger’s home and be greeted with a genuine desire to see us? Sure it’s about candy and maybe we can say it’s expected of people to open their doors and greet us. Regardless of why people open the door the reality is: they are opening their doors to us. My daughter is very cute. Put her in a horse costume, with a sword in hand and people will listen and do anything she says. Claire is learning about St. Joan of Arc and my hope is that by the time we go out trick-or-treating she will be able to say, “I’m St. Joan of Arc. Thank you (in reference to the candy she’s receiving), here’s a present for you (as she hands the Saint card).”

We’re working on the enunciation.

Will people read the Saint card? I think they will at least look at it since a cute toddler is giving it to them, and maybe later that night they will read it. Will this card change their lives? Probably not, but it is hard to say. We don’t know how a person may react to a mixture of the Holy Spirit, our family’s prayers and a cute child dressed as a Saint.

Here is the other thing.

The reaction of the person who is receiving the Saint card is only part of the equation. My daughter learning to creatively share her Catholic faith is the other part. Claire needs to learn at a young age that her faith is not hers to keep. Claire (she’s 2 and a half) needs to be able to experience evangelization (aka sharing the faith) at this early age so that she realizes that this is normal, and what all Christians are called to do. Experts say that at this age kids absorb everything they hear and see, so it makes sense that we would want them absorbing how to share the faith as well. Evangelizing is not limited to special holidays and seasons, but Halloween gives our family an opportunity to do this together in a safe, and easy way with people we may never get another chance to connect with.

Discovering fatherhood requires that I take every opportunity I can to help my daughter grow and become who God is calling her to be. It also requires that I help my daughter learn that the gift of faith we have is so precious, so awesome and so needed in our world. Halloween will come and go, but the opportunity my daughter has to share the life of St. Joan of Arc will help her be a better follower of Jesus and with a little luck, some prayers and a cute costume we may just touch someone’s heart.

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Categories: all hallows eve, all saints, Catholic, christianity, costumes, evangelization, fatherhood, God, halloween, halloween costume, Jesus, saints, Uncategorized, youth ministry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus in the Bathroom: The Mundane & Sacred

crucifix in bathroom

The picture above is from one of our bathrooms. We have a crucifix in every room in our home to help us remember that God is always present. In the bathroom where this photo is from, I placed the crucifix in this basket. It wasn’t that I ran out of nails, or that there wasn’t a good spot on the wall. I remember putting it in this basket because it felt natural—Jesus amongst the normal everyday mundane stuff.

St. Josemaria Escriva has an amazing quote that has always stuck with me, “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.” This crucifix in the bathroom reminds me of this reality: that our lives are always filled with the mundane and the sacred.

So my wife, daughter and I were at Mass like any normal Sunday afternoon. We were praying and trying to keep the 2-year-old from crawling under the pew. My wife and I take turns holding Claire and helping her to experience Church as best a 2-year-old can. Sometimes it is easy. Most times it is challenging.

After communion I’ve made it a habit of having Claire sit on my lap to pray with my wife and I as a family so that she recognizes the sacredness of this moment. For Catholics, when we receive the consecrated bread and wine we believe that it is the true, real and total presence of Jesus (the same Christ that walked on earth 2000 years ago). So it’s a big deal for us to emphasize this moment with Claire. Claire will normally sit on me, close her eyes and put her hands together to pray. On this particular Sunday she did the same. As we sat enjoying this moment of grace it was interrupted by the mundane reality of a full bladder.

As I realized that Claire had completely unloaded on me I stood up and sure enough it was dead smack on the middle of my pants crotch region. I sighed out loud, picked Claire up and headed to the bathroom while holding her a little lower than normal to shield myself. In the bathroom I laughed out loud. The urine spot on my khakis’ looked as if I was the one who peed on myself. I laughed out louder at the irony of it and Claire asked, “What’s funny Papi?” I responded, “Life baby. Life is funny.”

Claire and I bolted through the main door of the Church and headed to the car. Claire was maintained at crotch level in case we bumped into anyone. We made it to the car and waited for my wife to meet us. As I sat in the car I smiled and thought of Escriva’s quote, “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.” It is so true.

Claire peeing on me did cause us to get up and leave the Church, but what I realized is that it hadn’t changed the moment of grace we were experiencing. Grace came with us to the bathroom and was with us as we laughed. The sacred was with us as I cleaned myself, as I thought of how embarrassing it would be to have to explain this to someone as we left the Church. The bathroom was not the typical place we experience prayer and grace, but it was this Sunday.

The things we consider mundane and ordinary typically dominate our lives. These ordinary, mundane things are not bad; they are good and certainly necessary. More importantly I believe God is present in these ordinary moments. Maybe for you its experiencing God while cleaning up a mess your kid made, or dealing with the chaos of a work situation, maybe its experiencing a moment of grace in traffic when you are bumper to bumper on the interstate. Rarely do we have experiences of the sacred in perfect, extraordinary situations. Not too many of us can say that an angel appeared, or a light shone down on us, and a voice from heaven spoke. Most of the time the sacred presents itself in the ordinary everyday situation. Thank God for that because I personally don’t find myself in many extraordinary situations.

When I stare at the crucifix in our bathroom I am reminded that all moments are sacred. That whatever is happening right now is a moment of grace if I can see it. Do you see God in your mundane, everyday ordinary moments? Look again. You might just find Him in the most extraordinarily ordinary of places.

Categories: being thankful, Catholic, church, daughters, fatherhood, God, Jesus, ordinary, potty, sacred, saints, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Babies, Guns and Jesus

 

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I am having a bit of a dilemma with the subject of this post and I am writing about it because this site is about “everyday daddy stuff” and this constitutes that. Also, because I believe there are plenty of other men who have gone through this situation and I could benefit immensely from their suggestions, comments and wisdom.

The moment I was married my mind began to think differently about various subjects (it’s supposed to). Life insurance was one of those things. If I die I want my wife to be taken care of. I also realized that my bachelor pad habits were not great and needed to change, furniture included.

When Claire was born there was another change in me. This change picked right up from where I left off after getting married. I had a wife and now, a daughter. My wife could take care of herself, but my daughter is utterly helpless. I had to think about things I have control over: baby gates, electrical socket plugs, and kitchen cabinet locks. Also in the mix were things that I may not be able to control: school districts, public or private school, neighborhoods, and the people in the said neighborhood.

So Claire and I were at the playground a few days ago. My daughter was going down the slides and running through the various obstacles there. As Claire went down the slide I saw a car coming. In the car was a really huge Malamute (like a Husky, but bigger). Also in that car was a Great Dane. I immediately went on alert because those are huge dogs that I have no control over and I don’t know what they will think upon seeing my little girl. The dogs both got out of the car and proceeded to take their owners on a walk. The dogs were fine, but I had this thought on my mind. What if both, or just one of those dogs attacked my little girl? What could I do? I have a pocketknife, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t work out so well with dogs that big.

So I am thinking differently about lots of things. Guns are one of those things.

It would be one thing for me to get beat up and mugged, but it would be a whole other ball game if my wife or daughter were involved. So I am discerning whether or not I should get a concealed carry permit and carry a gun with me at all times.

I want to protect my family, which I have a right and duty to. However, I am also a Catholic Christian man who wants to help others come to see the awesome power of Jesus and what He can accomplish in us. Never in my life have I wanted a gun on my property. When I was single, if someone were to break into my house I would probably invite him or her to chat about Jesus over pizza before they took off. I know that’s weird, but that’s how I use to think. I only had myself to think of then.

But now I am married. I have a daughter. And I am a follower of Jesus who tells me to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even that neighbor who might be hostile, or so broken inside that he or she is unable to really reason properly. Those are all Jesus’ people. My people…

Maybe I am being paranoid. Am I being paranoid?

What are the odds of someone or something trying to attack my family? Are those odds better than one of my kids getting to my gun and shooting themselves or someone else accidentally?

There are also the practicality factors to consider. If I carry a gun I have to be aware of it at all times. I have to know where I can go with and without one. If I cross from VA to MD, or SC with a concealed weapon is it all the same thing? Is it cool in one state and you get fined in the other? What about comfort? The gun will be on my person, which I can’t imagine is super comfortable. Will others who know, or can recognize the outline of my gun under my shirt feel comfortable with me carrying? Will I become a threat to someone else if they recognize I’m carrying a gun?

This is what I am thinking about right now: babies, guns and Jesus.

So what is the answer here? I don’t want to become a crazy gun owner that is uber paranoid and thinks everyone is a threat to his or her family. Yet, I never want to be in a situation like the one I mentioned above and not be able to defend my family.

I realize very clearly that things happen and we are not able to control them. I really do get that. I also really trust that God has my family’s best interest in mind, but not all of His children necessarily see it that way. Some people make mistakes and chose to hurt others. Does the act of me carrying a gun deter someone from choosing to harm my family and I? If not, should I respond to that violence with more violence? I am called to protect and defend my family but are guns the answer?

This is what I am thinking about right now: babies, guns and Jesus.

Categories: babies, Catholic, christianity, conceal carry, daughters, fatherhood, fighting, guns, Jesus, protecting family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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