Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas in California

I decorated my apartment for Christmas this weekend. My sister Sarah and I laughed about how different we are when I told her that I have a theme - gold, snowflakes and pinecones.

As I decorated I considered whether decorating early for Christmas was missing out on the purpose of Christmas, (i.e. skipping Advent and going right to celebrating the day of Christmas).

But I decided as I carefully trimmed my little Noble Fir Christmas tree that I was preparing both my house and my heart for the coming of my King

--click pic for more pictures

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A Dominican sister I know shared this reflection with me and gave me permission to share it with all of you:

How do you give thanks? Not only to ask ourselves, ‘what are we grateful for?’ but also to be mindful of how we express our gratitude seems a good thing as we anticipate the Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. As I invite you and myself to be with the question, may I share with you a story or the person that led me to the question?

It was Kenneth. Kenneth is presently going through a radiation therapy for his colon cancer. Most people, without knowing him, would label him homeless. And he was; and perhaps he is. Now days, he earns just enough by selling Berkeley’s homeless street newspaper to supplement his medical cost and pay for $250/month room in Oakland. He makes sure he looks clean and his fingernails cut short and clean. When you ask him how he is, he always responds with, “I’m blessed” and that with such conviction in his eyes and a kind smile spreading all over his face. And, so he answers even when he can barely stand and move due to the radiation treatment that leaves him weak.

Last night on my way home, happy to see him again, I sat down to chat a bit with him. During our conversation, he had to rush to a public bathroom, staggering across the street full of cars. When he returned, his usual cheerful face was filled with frustration and sadness. The memories of the misunderstandings and the mistreatments he receives for being homeless and for not being able to control his bowl movement had rushed to his mind, leaving him feeling desolate. When he had an accident on the bus, more than once, he had been asked to get off the bus by the bus driver because he stunk. The thought of being judged as uncaring, incapable, and lazy because he sat on the sidewalk to sell the newspaper pained him. What pained him more was the feeling that he had nothing to give back for the gratitude he felt to those who have been good to him. When people put money into the cup, he offers his newspaper, making sure it’s a clean one. But, many, for different reasons, decline to take it, thereby quite unconsciously robbing him of an opportunity for him to say thank you.

We were in the midst of such conversation, tears running both on his cheeks and mine, when a young woman approached and squatted down to put some money into his cup. He offered his newspaper. She gently refused. Softly, I whispered to her, “Please take one. It’s his gift to you.” She then offered a cup of tea she had in her hand to Kenneth. He can’t drink soda, coffee, chocolate or tea because of his condition. But, he looked at her with a long pause and asked whether she had gotten that just for him. She said yes. At that, he reached for it, saying, “I’ll drink it then. Thank you very much!” He graciously accepted the gift, albeit knowing what it will do to him. To honor her intent by accepting the gift was his way of saying, “Thank You!” And, he did more than accept it. Because she had gotten it for him, he did try to drink it, which rushed him again across the street…

How do we say, “Thank You” to the Giver? On this Thanksgiving Day and on each of our days, may we cherish not only the gift but the givers and the Giver! Thereby, may the Love that gave us life and the loves that sustain us remain alive in us. May our beings proclaim how blessed we are. May our living be the blessing for one another.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bonding Over Bond

This afternoon, I am going to participate in a Thanksgiving tradition at my new job - have lunch and watch a movie all afternoon. The guy who organized it is calling the event "Bonding Over Bond" because we are going to watch the new James Bond movie.

Have I mentioned how much I appreciate my new job lately?

Things I am thankful for at my job:

- A laid-back boss who trusts me to complete my work and does not keep track of my time
- Really great co-workers who are incredibly intelligent and make me laugh
- Opportunities to learn around every corner
- I can now go to daily mass and get to work at 9AM, (and I am one of the earliest ones to arrive at the office!)
- I can work from home!
- I get to go to trainings and conferences (out of town!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Feast Day Wizzers!

Happy Feast day to my dear sister Elizabeth. St. Elizabeth of Hungary and my sister have something in common, their service to the poor.

I also found out today that St. Elizabeth was a contemporary of St. Francis and wanted to give up all of her possessions and follow St. Francis, but her spiritual director forbade her.

Learn more about this great saint and patron of young brides here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Bishops Draft a Letter to President-Elect Obama

A friend sent me a link to this article in the Chicago Tribune about the fall national assembly of bishops. I particularly was moved by one bishop's quote:

"Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow--die tomorrow!--to bring about the end of abortion."
- Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis

The article references a letter that the bishops wrote to incoming President Obama. The letter begins with a wonderful summary of some of the most important issues to Catholics - education, peace, health care, and economic justice. I was glad to see an optimistic theme of cooperation and hope that runs through the letter.

But the letter primarily focuses on the issue that is at the forefront of many Catholics' minds after the election - abortion. The bishops articulate their opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a law that Obama has promised to pass as president, which would abolish all restrictions on abortion at the Federal and State level.

Please join me in signing the Fight FOCA petition.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

The American people have spoken and Barack Obama is our next president, the first African American president of the United States.

I know good Catholics who voted for Obama and good Catholics who voted for McCain and good Catholics who could not in good conscience vote for either candidate.

There is a serious burden on supporters of Obama as well as all Catholics to pray that Obama's opinion on abortion, the most important issue of our time, changes with the help of God's grace. We pray that his presidency is not the cause of further erosion of the respect for life from conception to death. We also pray that Obama effectively represents the interests of the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised as many of his Catholic supporters hope.

To the supporters of McCain, let's get behind our new president with our prayers and with our voices. Let him know why you voted for McCain and help Obama to understand that he must listen to the voices of conscience who did not vote for him if he is going to understand and fully represent the American people.

Catholics have a unique voice in the political arena. No candidate will ever fully represent our views, that is why we are divided more than any other religious or ethnic group in the country as to which candidate we will support. It is important to remember amidst the euphoria of our candidate winning or the sorrow of a loss, that we are Catholics before we are Americans. We are Catholics before we are Democrats, and we are Catholics before we are Republican. No candidate will ever represent for us the fullness of Truth that is the Catholic faith. So we are always on the sidelines, observing, sometimes rejoicing, sometimes lamenting, but hopefully always aware that politics can never truly have ownership of our hearts.

Monday, November 3, 2008

From My Mom's Blog.....

I tried to quote from Archbishop Chaput's (American Indian Bishop of Denver) book when I was talking to Sarah this morning and realized I mangled it quite a bit. Here's the accurate quote, which was his response to how we can morally justify a pro-choice vote.

"And what would a proportionate reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions as we someday will.”