In Song of Songs 1:2 it states, “Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” God wants our love; God wants us to have that most intimate kiss with him. That’s what receiving the Eucharist is all about!
What does this have to do with the Little Mermaid? There is a scene in which Sebastian, the crab, is trying to set the mood for Prince Eric to “kiss the girl,” Ariel. This scene is rich with theological gems that are good to ponder.
Like most things it’s probably easiest to explain God’s role first and then ours following from that explanation. God is like Ariel in that He loves us, wants to be intimate with us, but at the same time has chosen to be silent in one way so as to communicate that love in other ways. I mean, truth be told, I don’t hear God the same way I hear my wife speaking with me on the phone.
Next up is Sebastian, his merry band of turtles, and other animals that are setting the mood are the Church. By that I mean people that work for the Church, priests, bishops, and anyone that has come to know God on a deeper level. We are to set the mood. Not that I know God on a deeper level, but just because I work for the Church part of my job is to get more people to take that plunge into the everlasting love of God. Our parish needs to have an inviting, homie, romantic atmosphere. Our choir is like the mariachi band at your last date night, again, setting the mood. We all need to do our part to help set the mood for another. Active participation is one of the biggest things that came out of Vatican II. A post Covid time will come when we ask for more readers etc. The more we participate the deeper the meaning of the Mass becomes. “Sail away with me, to another world.” -Islands in the stream
Finally, we come to youthful Eric, the one we are most alike. We can be in the boat with God amidst all the hints and surrounded by the melodic mood setting but still, STILL, not having a real clue. We are too caught up with what’s around us or in asking questions than to just take God’s lead and be silent and sense how He’s communicating His love to us. We need to silence ourselves enough to sense the communication for God. As a priest friend once told us, “The Rosary and other devotions are great, but sometimes we need to set them aside and just be with God.” Please, I beg you, go be with God in the boat sometime soon.
Damn dishes, Damn laundry
If you are ever just frustrated by what seems like endless dishes and laundry, then this article is for you.
The title may shock some people. How can an Adult Faith Formator, someone who works for the Church, use the word Damn in a title? Isn’t the word a bad word?
Nope, this word isn’t a bad word if used correctly. The problem is that most of us haven’t been taught how to use it in the right way. We were taught just to never use it. In my case, and my guess yours, is we were taught this anathema when we were younger. I even teach my kids not to use the word. It’s similar to how we as a society treat alcohol. I’m not handing my 3-year-old a beer and I’m not going to teach him the proper way to use the word damn. He’s just not ready.
But, you an adult. That’s a different story. You have reason and a more developed intellect than my sons. YOU, in fact, need to learn how to properly use the word. The devil hates when we correctly use it. In the seminary they told us it’s very powerful when used in the right way.
To correctly use damn, we need to define it. Damn means to send something to hell. Only God has that power. God is an all-loving parent that wants to empower His children. Much like we want our kids to learn to drive. Our priests have the power to bless and damn things. They get this power from Jesus. We have priests bless our homes, marriages, and almost anything else. We also would call on them to do an exorcism and damn some demons. But as baptized children of God we also have these powers. However, not in the same way. * We are to bless our children, food, and other things we are thankful for. But the devil has tricked us to not damn the things that hold us back, vices we have, sin, and results of sin.
So, how does one damn the dishes? Well, it’s actually not the dishes we would be damning. It’s the bad germs because they are the result of the sin that has entered the world. One can look at the mound of frustration and say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I damn these germs to hell.”
You can, and should, do the same with temptation in your life. The next time you feel a temptation say it in your mind or even better out loud. For example, “In the name of Jesus, damn my laziness, greed, lust, gluttony.” Own your sins, but throw those damn things out like dirty old socks. While you’re at it ask God then to fill the void. Remember, SUPER AWESOME PARENT literally wants to give you the world! Get the greed out Charity in, lust out Love in, gluttony out jazzercize in (shrug). If you don’t find it working, then call on a Saint to do the damning for you. Listen to me, we all need a little help from our friends and those are the big guns. St. Joseph is GREAT for this action. One of his titles is: The TERROR of demons!
It’s a battle field out there. So, get out there and start terrorizing some demons yourself!
*To put it simply, a priest is in personal Christi capitis and we aren’t. Just like I received special powers to somehow know things my kids are doing Fr. Dave got super powers during his ordination. That seems like a good topic for next time.
With the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19. last week and the Solemnity of The Annunciation, March 25, this week happening during Lent I've had a few questions come my way. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy my musing on these not Holy Day of obligations, but still to be honored days.
You see back in my day, the 80s, these two solemnities were like Holy Days because back in my dad's day, the 50s, they were Holy Days at the Catholic boys school he was at. I type "like" because outside of my dad taking the day off of work we honored the day. We went to Mass at St. Joseph's parish (not our home parish), we feasted, and we prayed a little extra. To this day I always forget that these two closely related Solemnities are not Holy Days. In fact, in some countries they still are.
By now you are probably asking yourself, "What's a Solemnity?"
The Old Mission website, missionsantaines.org, has a good definition, "Solemnities are the celebrations of greatest importance. Each Solemnity begins on the prior evening with first vespers (evening prayer) and several of the solemnities have their own Vigil Mass. On these days, both the Gloria and the Creed are recited." Back when I taught grade school aged kids I would explain that it's like a birthday being so important that the night before we start celebrating. (Something adults tend to do. Wink.) Just like Christmas and Easter! God wants us to celebrate Him, He wants us to give Him Glory!
Next up are the Feasts.
They may be secondary in importance, but are still meant to bring us closer to Jesus. We don't recite the Creed, however, the Gloria is still Sung! They are often times the Feast of an Apostle or related to Jesus like the Transfiguration or Presentation. Just fun little days the Lord has us sprinkle throughout the calendar year for little celebrations and reminders of His love. These days can be a nice surprise, like a spouse a parent showing up with flowers or a snack during a hard week. (Mother Church is trying to show us we need more of this in the world.)
Finally, are the memorials.
Some are optional and others are obligatory. The local Bishops, regions, and religious communities get to decide what's an option. For example, I haven't meet a Franciscan community that didn't celebrate the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. These days may be less important than Feasts and Solemnities, yet, it give one the opportunity to celebrate a Saint or devotion they are particularly close too. With memorials we see Mother Church saying, "Hey I know you kids aren't all going to be besties or drawn to every spice in the cabinet, so here are some day to honor the one's you are besties with and the spices you like!" So, if you really enjoy the life of St. Rita or Our Lady of Lourdes, then you can still remember her and that devotion on those days.
This is not a total explanation of all days to do with the liturgical calendar. Goethe forth and do some homework.
As always, have a luminous Lent, -dave h.
How will you choose love?
How do we move past this daily turmoil so heavily focused on politics, proving one side is right and the other side is wrong? Now that January 20 has rolled around and there’s a new family living in the White House, how do we as ordinary Catholic citizens move forward?
How do I move forward? Do I argue with people who voted differently than me? Do I turn my back on people I disagree with? Do I look to the news media, social media, or people in political leadership positions for guidance?
Do I move forward, each day, choosing to love instead of holding on to resentment, bitterness, anger, jealousy, etc.?
At first, I thought I needed to forgive the “other side” for their voting record, for their verbal, social and financial support of one man. But no one needs my forgiveness, and it is not my place to pardon and forgive. My vocation as a Catholic is to bring anyone and everyone closer to knowing Jesus, to bring people the peace and grace of Jesus, and to share the Truth with them.
The following is from a Facebook friend:
“But when is it important to be mad to fuel outrage and DO something? I feel paralyzed and I’m so sick of not doing something. I feel like I need a list of goals or something tangible. We need healing. We need resurgence. I just can’t feel calm yet.... I’m unsettled, and I’m glad I am. I think we need to be in times such as these, and fight for what’s right.”
I think this friend captures how a lot of us are feeling. As you can see, she is unsure of how to move forward. She wants to fight for what is right, but who are we allowing to tell us what is right and what is wrong? She speaks of resurgence and healing, two things that are connected but can also be separate. There is a change in leadership, so for many, a resurgence has already begun. For the other half, they are still hurt, confused, disappointed, and feeling like they are being lied to. Everyone feels like they need to have an opinion and yet no one is being heard. Neighbors are not listening to neighbors. Communities are divided and people are not receiving the respect they deserve as a human being.
In 2004, a professor at the seminary warned his students studying to become priests that one of the biggest challenges they would face as American priests was that American politics would overtake all discussions. His warning is now painfully true and unfortunately obvious. Every time we argue with someone about politics in hurtful and disrespectful tones, every time we choose our own self-interest over the interests of our brothers and sisters, and every time we choose matters of this world over our faith in Christ, the devil gains more power in our lives. The devil weakens us, laughs at our division, mocks us and celebrates our discord.
How many of us are waking up each day and checking the news before we think to thank God for another day of life? How many of us are turning to social media and our echo chamber instead of turning to scripture? How many of us are spending hours each day talking or thinking about politics, politicians, and violence but only sparing a few moments to talk and
think about our relationship with Jesus? I am guilty of picking up my phone first in the morning instead of my bible. I am guilty of thinking about the political violence instead of turning toward God. I am guilty of thinking that any human on this planet has any of the answers instead of asking God for His answers.
How do we move forward? How do I move forward? I am going to move forward by going to mass on Sundays and going to daily mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Instead of sitting by my kids’ beds on my phone, waiting for them to fall asleep, I am going to pray a rosary (it’s already proving more effective). I am going to offer a faithful environment for my kids to cultivate a desire for a deep faith in God. I am going to raise my kids to be strong, brave and resilient so that when they are adults, they can impact their communities in powerful and loving ways, rooted in love of God and neighbor.
Please share in the comments how you are feeling, how you are moving forward or struggling to move forward, and your ideas for cultivating a strong faith in these tumultuous times.
Litany of Trust.
From the belief that I have to earn Your love. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute. Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on. You Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will. Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future. Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past. Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment. Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth. Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands Deliver me, Jesus. From discouragement. Deliver me, Jesus.
As I write, we are (already) well into the second week of Advent. As usual for me, the first week flew by. It happens every year.
Week one: I want to really get my act together this Advent season.
Week two: Yikes, week one went quickly. Better double down and work harder this week.
Week three: I think I’m finally getting somewhere and hitting my stride. Pink candle-right?
Week four: Wow-can’t believe we’re almost to Christmas. Where has the time gone?
And so it goes... this pattern of mine. And truthfully, this is a somewhat cyclical pattern throughout the year. Heck, even some 24-hour periods hold the same type of rhythm.
Good intentions, hard work, missteps, start again.
But these seasons, of Advent and Life, seem to be the most joyous when I exercise a singular practice.
With others. With circumstances. With myself.
It’s no joke that patience is considered a Virtue. And Advent may be one of the greatest opportunities to develop our spiritual patience. The season is meant to slow our busyness by waiting. And we are called to not only wait, but wait patiently and wait well. We recall in salvation history how many centuries ago our brothers and sisters in the faith, long awaited a Messiah, a Christ, a Redeemer, a “Deliverer” from the oppression of the world, and of the powers that often unjustly crushed their hope and spirits.
The prophets, including Isaiah, countered this oppression with words of courage, hope and impending victory: “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense he comes to save you!” (Is. 35: 1-6, 10.) Most of the ones who heard these words never saw the Christ, but they still patiently believed with an ardent faith and a confident hope.
The same is true for us. We must wait. And God wants us to wait patiently. Not as a punishment, but as a practice to help draw us closer to the true meaning of Christmas. When we pause to light the advent candles, may we offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s light in our dark world. When we wait in a long line, may we offer silent prayers for our brothers and sisters waiting with us. When we are anxious in anticipation of impending news, may we praise God’s goodness and faithfulness, knowing He will never leave us.
Pause. Pray. Praise.
Dear Lord, waiting is hard, and waiting well seems impossible at times.
As I wait, help me to see the goodness around me, rather than feel neglected-or dismissed.
When I grow impatient, remind me how you are trustworthy and have my best interests in mind.
Thank you for all the good plans you have prepared for me.
May I patiently and joyfully await the coming of your Son at Christmas time, and humbly follow his footsteps all the way to the cross.
Gratitude with Attitude!
If you ask my mother, she will tell you I have always had a “tiny bit of an attitude”. In our house, we call it “being sassy” Maybe it stems from the time I was at a formal dinner party with great aunts and uncles and the hostess asked if I would like brussels sprouts. Apparently answering with a polite, “No Way, Jose” simply wasn’t acceptable. In my defense, I was 3. Regardless, I still faced a time out.
What, if anything, does my lack of appreciation for a green vegetable have to do with present day circumstances? Kind of everything! Bear with me for just a few moments while I share what I’m learning from “forced timeouts” this year.
Everywhere I seem to look during this season of life, the answer seems to be : “No Way!”
Want to take that trip of a lifetime?: No Way, not this year.
Want to have 200 people at your wedding?: Don’t even think about it.
Want to shop without a mask? Probably not going to happen.
Many, many days are so overwhelming that it’s hard to focus long enough to find the proverbial silver linings.
But they are there. God keeps on sending them. The ‘kicker’?: We actually have to look for them, with our eyes, our minds, our hearts…
So here’s what I’ve been really, truly SEEing lately:
And what about a reminder from The Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity?! While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
In no way have I forgotten that the world is full of suffering and sadness. But I refuse to silence my gratitude. Even my heartache draws me closer to God.
If I have a point it’s this:
The ability to be grateful for any given situation, is always available to us. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible.
(PS: I still don’t like brussels sprouts, but I’ll keep working to appreciate them!)
All the Saints go marching.
Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day
In researching about All Saints Day, even though I am a cradle Catholic, I learned that it is very much connected historically with Halloween and All Souls Day.
Did you know that Halloween was first celebrated in Ireland, Britain, and Scotland to celebrate the end of harvest, share the family’s bounties with neighbors and friends, and as a pagan celebration? The Celtic celebration called Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain, the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through. People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as evil spirits and thus avoid harm.
All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints. All Souls Day is dedicated to all who have died and are in Heaven, and all Saints known and unknown. It is a reminder of how we are called to live saintly lives to unite with Jesus in death.
All Souls Day is dedicated to all those who have died whether they are in heaven, purgatory, or hell. It is a remembrance of all souls and to ask for God’s mercy for them. A tradition in most churches during the month of November is to have The Book of the Dead displayed openly in the church for anyone to write in the names of their beloved.
In reaction to the Celtic pagan holiday, Pope Gregory III moved All Souls Day to November 1. I believe this was an attempt to distract Catholics away from a Celtic pagan holiday and encourage them to be more pious toward the Catholic Church and all saints. The battle between secular Halloween and the Catholic Holy Days of Obligation is ongoing, so how do we adequately celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day?
In the Tobin household, we were gifted the blessing of Margaret Rose on November 1, 2018. In addition to celebrating the Catholic Feast of All Saints, we celebrate Maggie’s birthday and she will be blessed to have extra reason to attend Mass on her birthday (I’m praying!) I found this blog written by a Catholic convert, mother of 4 with lots of ideas to help celebrate All Saints Day:
-Talk about the history of Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day
-Decorate the house with pictures of saints
-Throw an All Saints Day party and dress up as a favorite Saint (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, IN does this with their preschoolers every day and it is adorable)
-Carve (or paint) a Christian-themed image in to your pumpkin instead of something scary, check out this post for some inspiration -Read through The Pumpkin Gospel here
-Create Saint-themed snacks/meals
And of course… read one (or two or three) saint’s story
There are lots of ideas to help you celebrate All Saints Day so do not overwhelm yourself by trying to be Super Parent Who Does Everything. Pick one new tradition to start this year with your family and grow over time. If you like to cook, pick one new recipe with a saint’s story associated with it. If you like to craft, pick one new project to do. If you’re just not sure how to incorporate a new tradition, just pick a few saints’ stories to read with your family.
We will be reading the stories of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Patrick, and St. Margaret. I don’t really like cooking and I don’t think I could carve (or paint) a clear image in/on a pumpkin so I might try to do one new crafting project or create one new decoration to hang up that will remind us each year of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
I would love to hear what you want to do this year to grow in holiness as you celebrate All Souls Day. Please leave me a comment below!
Lovies and prayers,
This post is not intended to make anyone feel guilty for not attending Mass. Something the pandemic is teaching me repeatedly is that everyone is experiencing it in their own way. So, if you haven’t dragged your kids (or yourself) back to Mass yet – that’s okay. I am not about to lecture you, judge you, or condemn you!
When St. Mary’s announced their first Mass post-quarantine, one of my first thoughts was, “Great! An excuse to get out of the house without the kids!” Honestly, my first thought was not that I can receive Jesus in the Eucharist again; it was that I could get away from my kids.
We tuned in to virtual Mass every Sunday during quarantine and we even watched Easter Mass at the parish Kurt and I met and fell in love at which was super sweet and nostalgic. We semi-forced our kids to sit still on the couch while Mass was on in our living room but inevitably each week broke down and let the kids run around and play while we tried to pay attention.
We started bringing our cups of coffee with us to the couch, a snack, our journals, etc. While we did journal some great thoughts during quarantine and still took something from each homily, our Mass experience was vastly different during quarantine than we are accustomed to.
So when Mass started back up again in person, both Kurt and I were eager to reserve our spots and attend in person. For our first Sunday back, we left the kids with grandma and grandpa and attending Mass turned in to a great opportunity for Kurt and I to “go on a date.” Getting dressed up for Mass felt rejuvenating. Sitting with Kurt in the pew, in silence, before and during Mass was wonderful. When I received communion again after months away, I did almost cry with joy.
The whole Mass experience is so beneficial: a cleansing of my soul after a week of yelling at my kids, arguing with Kurt, worrying about the pandemic, stressing over who to listen to and who not to listen to, swearing under my breath, and so much more. Attending Mass on Sundays and driving to the physical building, sitting in the wooden pews, surrounded by my parish is such a healing experience that I do not do at any other time during the week.
It’s therapeutic, it’s calming, it’s restorative, and it’s always what I need most on Sundays. I almost never walk out of Mass thinking that I should not have gone in the first place. Almost. There have been one or two Sundays when I walk out of St. Mary’s with a crying child wondering why I even came and why do I even bother.
The reasons why I love attending Mass so much are exactly why I am dragging my kids to church on Sundays. I remember growing up and the expectation that I be at Mass with my family with the only excusable absence being sickness. I resented my parents at times for forcing me to go but resentment soon gave way to joy when my church’s youth activities drew me and my friends in. I attended multiple retreats every year during high school and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
Several years later, I am still dedicated to celebrating Mass together with my parish in person. I bring my kids with me to share with them my faith in Jesus Christ; my faith which lights up my life with love, peace, and joy. I want them to soak in the reverence of Mass, the rituals of celebrating our faith together, the inclusivity of our universal church, and the fact that Jesus loves them so much He was willing to die on the cross. Helping them enjoy Mass will supplement their formal Catholic education. Teaching them the profound and unparalleled importance of the Eucharist will give them something concrete on which to build their faith and their relationship with Jesus. And at the very least, they will learn to be okay with sitting in silence and not to interrupt someone when they are speaking.
So, yes, most Masses with my children feel like a physical workout, a tedious whispering battle to get them to be quiet, and a constant negotiation for compliance and reverence. However, I truly believe that if we just keep bringing our kids every Sunday and we show them how we hold our hands and the joy we receive from singing and receiving the Eucharist, they will learn to love their faith as we do.
We greatly appreciate everyone who encourages us each week with a smile or a kind comment. Early on in parenting, I worried about bringing a baby to Mass: will Elizabeth be disruptive, will she annoy someone, will I even get anything out of it? Now, thanks to the kindness of parishioners, strangers, and priests, I don’t mind if my kids make some noise or distract a little bit. If it helps you feel more comfortable at Mass with your kids, it is totally worth it!
If you do see us having a more difficult Mass experience than usual or even if it’s going really well, we love your encouragement, your smiles, and your loving comments. I’m sure other parents with young children feel similarly, so help us all feel more welcomed and supported at Mass.
Thanks so much for your time and attention!
When the economy first shut down in March and everyone was asked to stay home, I was honestly a little excited right along with slightly scared. All of a sudden, I didn’t have to pack up 3 kids in the car to go anywhere, I didn’t have to wrestle with 2 sometimes 3 kids during Mass, and I didn’t have to wear make-up or do my hair.
Even though I was concerned for the health and well-being of my family, and everyone affected by COVID, I was grateful for the break in routine and the change of pace. Incredibly, the shutdown turned out to be an insane blessing for my family because that week we also received the keys to our new house.
As people were binge watching Netflix and wondering what on earth to do with their unexpected downtime, we were happily and distractedly unpacking in a new house, organizing everything, and trying to feed five people semi-balanced meals three times a day.
Elizabeth did not have to be at school at a certain time or be picked up. Suddenly, we had all day to clean and put things away. While my husband worked on the backyard completely transforming it from beautifully landscaped to a more open space for our kids to run around, I was inside breaking down boxes and starting a big donation pile. This sounds so nice and you might be envious at first, but it was still stressful.
It honestly took a couple of months to truly appreciate the blessing that the shutdown was. Instead of going out to eat once or twice a week, we stayed home and saved some money by eating in. Instead of having to work around Elizabeth’s school schedule, we had the flexibility each day to do what we needed to do to settle into our new house. Without distractions from outside the home, we played games together, watched movies together, did the laundry together, and cleaned together. Allowing ourselves to be swept up in the Zoom craze, we chatted with my family in Cleveland more than we ever had before. We video chatted with friends in Chicago, Virginia, and Cleveland. We experimented in baking homemade biscuits and cookies. We played together a lot.
In the moment, everything felt overwhelming and simple at the same time. We felt powerless to the virus but empowered within our own home. As we were
laughing and making special memories, communities were being ravaged by a virus that might show up in our own village. I found myself reflecting on days with a newborn as a new stay at home mom. There was a similar sense of chaos and yet no pressure to do anything except the life-giving necessities of eating and sleeping. Just as I told myself in those early days of motherhood, I reminded myself during quarantine, “One day at a time and when necessary, one hour at a time.”
Those early days of parenting are filled with the sweet moments of learning how to keep an infant alive and less memories of the tumultuous days and nights of panic, doubt, and anxiety. Now with quarantine over and the school routine giving more structure to our daily lives, I’m looking back on those slow days of pajamas, too many boxes, and the backyard changing completely with more gratitude than I experienced in the moment. We will probably never receive this gift of forced family bonding again which is a blessing in terms of the virus, but that does not mean we have to abandon the moments that brought us true joy in uncertain times.
Tell me about your quarantine experience. What pockets of joy did you find amongst the simple chaos of staying home? What blessings are you grateful for now that you did not recognize then? What have you learned? What have you gained and what have you let go of?
As always, thanks so much for your time and attention!
Why I am not talking politics for the next 3 months
I decided that I’m not talking about politics for the next 3 months and I think you should avoid it also. This past weekend, I attended a family gathering (outdoors & 6 ft. apart), and something really unfortunate happened: my joy at being in a loving environment was compromised because adult family members decided to “talk” politics after several alcoholic beverages. Their “discussion” was actually just an argument and neither one of them benefitted from the dialogue nor was anything constructive even said. In consequence, everyone else was forced to endure this negative and spiteful communication or leave the area until it dissolved. I’ve been dwelling on this exchange the last few days and I’ve decided I’m not going to allow politics to ruin my time with family ever again.
This is a culmination of many situations and interactions over the last few months. The pandemic has devolved into a political debate. Our children’s education has devolved into a political debate. It seems that our daily lives have turned in to a political debate. Everyone has an opinion on everything and yet no one is really listening to anyone else, all the while believing they are right. We are all just spewing words at each other without taking the time to engage in meaningful, constructive, and respectful conversation. On social media, twice, friends have reported that a miracle happened: a post talked civilly about politics; people from each side commenting and responding with kind words and respectful attitudes. The unfortunate part of this is that it was described as a miracle because they know as well as you all do, that civil conversation about politics just does not occur anymore.
We are all guilty to some degree. Even if you have not shouted at a teenager making minimum wage about having to wear a mask, you’ve probably shared a post, commented on, or argued for why you are voting for one of the presidential candidates. I am trying to figure out how to use social media to stay in touch with family and friends spread out across the country without having to consume hateful and divisive political messages. If anyone has anything concrete, please share your ideas with me.
My decision to not talk about politics anymore comes down to the fact that I truly believe everyone could vote tomorrow. This means that I think everyone knows who they are voting for in November and nothing is going to change their minds over the next three months. I know who I am voting for and nothing is going to change my mind over the next three months. I have seen enough, heard enough, and experienced enough to know which way I am voting. I have thought about it, debated myself about it, and gone back and forth about it. Now, I am sure of who I am voting for. If you are sincerely undecided, then you obviously need to try to educate yourself. However, I think the number of undecided voters in insanely small.
Given this, what is the point of commenting on a post or arguing for your candidate? Why engage in conversation about politics when it will likely devolve into an argument? Why spend any of your time or energy on something that is so negative and draining?
The more people who begin to ignore politics, the less prominent it will be in our daily lives. There is a time and a place for political dialogue, the bishops of the United States have sought to share Catholic teaching on social and political life. In a series of statements issued every four years, they focus on “political responsibility” or “faithful citizenship.” If you are interested in reading more, start with Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship – Part 1 – The U.S. Bishops’ Reflection on Catholic Teaching and Political Life. (Link below.)
Instead of bringing up politics, let’s connect with people about our strengths, our weaknesses, what we love spending time on, and what brings us the most joy. Here are some conversation starters that I would love to talk about instead of politics:
-What have you enjoyed most about this summer?
-What has been a challenge for you this summer?
-Have you read any good books lately or watched any good TV/movies?
-Did you visit any new places this summer or revisit a family favorite?
-How have you grown over the last few months?
-How do you want to grow over the next few months?
Commit today to ignoring the hateful and divisive messages spewing forth on the internet. Redirect the conversation when it turns negative and argumentative and instead choose love, positivity, constructive, respectful, and more enlightening conversation instead. The more love we spread, the more love we will receive. The more respectful we are with others, the more respectful people will be with us.
Maybe the Peace Prayer by St. Francis can help:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Thanks for reading.
Lovies and prayers,
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