Thursday, June 23, 2022

Fed Up with Waiting in Line

There is a quotation attributed to Will Rogers: “The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.”

I don’t consider myself a particularly impatient guy. There’s no doubt I would’ve made a lousy contemplative monk, but on the other hand, I don’t freak out if I’m in slow traffic or if the lady in front of me at the supermarket checkout line starts digging through her beach bag-sized purse for a 20-cents-off cat food coupon that she just knows is “in here somewhere!”

Throughout my life I’ve had to wait in lines on a regular basis. When I was a kid there were seven people in my family and we had exactly one bathroom. You do the math. Waiting in line in the hallway while doing the opening number from “Riverdance” was a common occurrence. In extreme situations, well, let’s just say the empty coffee can in the garage wasn’t only for holding nuts and bolts.
There have been countless occasions where I’ve had to wait in line. For example: coffee shops, gas stations, the Department of Motor Vehicles, doctors’ waiting rooms, airports, commuter traffic, grocery stores, trying to find a place to park near Fenway Park, waiting to get through the turnstiles at Fenway Park, buying a hot dog at Fenway Park, trying to get into the men’s room at Fenway Park (there wasn’t an empty coffee can in sight), getting out of Fenway Park after the game, and searching for the Mass Pike onramp near Fenway Park and hoping to get home to Connecticut before 2 a.m.

However, something has changed in recent years. As Will Rogers observed, fewer and fewer things seem worth the wait, and I suspect it’s because I’m older. The first two items on my “not worth it” list are Dunkin Donuts and Fenway Park. For at least three decades my morning routine has included going to DD and getting a medium black coffee and a glazed cruller (the undisputed “breakfast of champions”). Now, if I see four or five cars waiting in the drive thru lane, I keep on driving and mutter to myself, “Not worth it.”
The other item is that hallowed shrine, which rivals the Vatican on my list of religious pilgrimage sites, Fenway Park. Even Fenway has lost its luster, at least for me. Yes, the prices for everything there are obscene. This alone is a terrific reason to stay home. But in my case, I’d only make pilgrimages to Fenway about twice per season, so the monetary outlay was manageable. (We would simply skip a month when paying the mortgage.)

But the frustrating tedium of waiting in line a dozen times throughout the day now outweighs the joy of watching a bunch of pampered millionaires swing at pitches in the dirt. Um, I mean, the joy of watching the most talented athletes in the world play the game that captured my imagination as a boy and no matter what reality now says, is still to me America’s “national pastime.” 

Maybe the reason we “seasoned citizens” don’t like waiting in line anymore is because every minute that we wait is now a larger percentage of the time we have left to live. Or maybe it’s because at our age we spend so much time waiting to see doctors (it’s not uncommon now to have more doctor appointments each month than we used to have in an entire decade), that all of our patience is used up for anything else. 

Well, all I know is, I can live without a morning coffee and cruller once in a while, and when I’m watching baseball on TV at home, there is no waiting for the rest room. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Apostles Call In an Airstrike

 In the gospel reading at Mass this Sunday, there is an interesting episode that, in my experience, doesn’t get discussed very often. Jesus and his disciples were traveling toward Jerusalem. They came to a Samaritan village, and the people there did not welcome Jesus and his friends at all, mostly because their destination was Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life. Samaritans and Jews did not get along at all back then, so instead of offering the travelers some food and water, the Samaritans probably scowled at them and muttered, “Just keep moving. We don’t like your kind around here.”


This is when the two brothers, James and John, approached Jesus and asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”

Um, what?! Did I read that right?! The Samaritans behaved somewhat rudely, so in reply two followers of the Prince of Peace thought it would be a good idea to call in an airstrike? Just napalm the entire village into ashes? And why? Because they were not friendly? Holy moly!
When we think of the 12 apostles, a lot of things come to mind. They were the people to whom Jesus entrusted His Church, and nowadays there are countless religious institutions and church buildings that bear the apostles’ names. Even some cities are named after them. The Bible tells us the apostles did a remarkable job spreading the Good News after the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord.

The Bible also tells us that before the Resurrection, the apostles weren’t quite as impressive. Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Him. When Jesus was arrested, they all scattered like frightened bunny rabbits. And throughout Jesus’ three-year ministry, the apostles often were dazed and confused, oblivious to the true message of Jesus’ teachings.

But in all your years of listening to sermons and homilies, have you ever heard anyone mention that Jesus’ apostles also were homicidal maniacs? I’ve never heard that. And let’s face it, that’s the only way to describe this particular episode. James and John, the two disciples who, along with Peter, were closest to Jesus, wanted to destroy the Samaritan village and all the people there. Why? Because the Samaritans committed the unpardonable sin of being rude.  
Well, if being rude deserves the death penalty, it’s a good thing James and John never visited New York City. Or drove on I-84 in Hartford during rush hour.

When these two apostles asked Jesus, in all sincerity, if it was OK to murder an entire community for the crime of being unfriendly, Scripture says, “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.”

That’s it? That’s all the Bible says? Oh man, I would love to know what Jesus actually said to them. I’m sure Jesus' words were not in a calm, pleasant voice, the way you might try to teach 2-year-olds right from wrong, such as, “Now, Jimmy and Johnny, we don’t write on the walls with crayons. So please try to write only in the coloring book, OK?”

No, I can imagine Jesus’ “rebuke” was a bit more passionate. After staring at them with clenched teeth for at least 20 seconds, He probably blurted out, “Consume them with fire?! For being rude?! Have you listened to ANYTHING I’ve said?! Hey, here’s an idea: how about I consume YOU with fire, for being morons?!”
Well, I’m sure Jesus didn’t say that last part. But that’s what I would’ve said if I were Him.  The good thing about this episode is that it shows us how people can change when the Spirit of God enters their hearts and fills them with love. Many years after this disturbing event, John became known as the Apostle of Love. I bet as an old man, John told this story to explain to people how faith in Christ can turn a sinful, murderous man into a gentle and charitable soul. 

We should use this event as a warning, and remember that all of us have that occasional urge to lash out at people who have offended us. “Turn the other cheek” is the Lord’s command to us. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t call in an airstrike!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

What Will Will’s Will Do?

One of my favorite Catholic authors, Dr. Peter Kreeft, wrote something very interesting a while back. He said, “The core of faith is the will, not the intellect….God does not send you to Hell for flunking His theology exam, but for willingly divorcing from him.”


Kreeft went on to explain that our intellect certainly informs our will, but it’s our will that freely chooses to believe. And what exactly is our will? Well, it’s that mysterious center of our being – our soul, our spirit, our heart. It’s the part of us that has our unique desires and dreams, and then motivates us to achieve them. This is often described as being “strong-willed.”
Sometimes people have unhealthy urges and attractions, and even though our will knows better, we pursue these harmful behaviors anyway. This is often described as being “weak-willed.”

But either way, the will is our motivational headquarters. It’s the part of us where our knowledge and experiences are combined with our morals and values and goals. Then it becomes the motivating force that makes us think, do, and say the things that make us who we are. So, the will is what makes us us. 

(By the way, the will is not located in any particular bodily organ. This is further proof that we are not merely a bunch of big-brained apes who randomly emerged at the top of the evolutionary ladder. We are instead physical bodies that have been infused with a spiritual soul by our divine Creator.)

It is our will that freely chooses to have faith in God or not. But as Prof. Kreeft explains, our will is shaped by our intellect, so what we know about faith is very important, too. St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:14).

It is important that the Gospel message is proclaimed to those who never heard it. Jesus’ final words at the end of Matthew’s gospel are crystal clear: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations….teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).
So, it’s very important that we know the details of who God is, and what He has done in salvation history. But ultimately, it’s not information about God that gets us to Heaven. As Kreeft said, people don’t spend eternity separated from the love of God (also known as Hell) because they flunked God’s theology exam. Rather, it is because they made the willful decision not to enter into a loving relationship with the divine Being who is love personified. 

The longest journey known to mankind travels a total distance of 18 inches. (18 inches?! That’s not very long!) Let me explain. Eighteen inches is the distance from our heads to our hearts. This symbolizes the short but difficult journey from knowing about God to knowing God; from having a bunch of facts and figures about God in our heads to entering into a personal relationship with Him.

This 18-inch journey is when our intellect informs our will, and then our will freely chooses to believe that God is the almighty eternal Creator, and therefore He is worthy of our trust and love. 

Please don’t be fooled into thinking that having knowledge about God is the same thing as having saving faith in God. There are many people who could get a passing grade on God’s theology exam, but who have never made a willful decision to believe the Good News. They have not yet made the 18-inch journey. 
If you haven’t already done so, take that 18-inch journey from your head to your heart. Willfully embrace the God of love and mercy. Your soul and spirit, that is, your will, will be eternally grateful. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Blame it on Ma Bell

Last week I discussed a person who I greatly admire. This person responds to emails, text and voice messages only when he or she feels like it — and sometimes not at all. I mentioned that I wish I had the courage to do that.

Replying quickly to business messages is a little different, since things are so fast-paced these days. In my case, if I don’t reply quickly to a client’s message, I worry he’ll call my competition instead.
This reminds me of something I read recently. I wish I could take credit, but some anonymous smart-aleck is the real author. Here it is: “Out of office reply by a European worker: ‘I’m on holiday for the month of August. Contact me in September.’ Out of office reply by an American worker: ‘I stepped out of the office for a couple of hours to have kidney surgery, but you can reach me on my cell phone anytime.’”

Anyway, after pondering this curious aspect of modern communication, I wondered why it is that so many of us have an instinctive urge to respond quickly whenever we receive a message. Even outside the business world, when we receive a personal text or voice message, quite a few of us immediately get apprehensive and cannot relax again until we’ve replied.

I finally figured it out. I blame the good ol’ Ma Bell telephone system during the early and mid 20th century. Remember those days? Each house had a phone, either on the wall in the kitchen or on a table in the foyer. You could choose whatever color you wanted for your phone, as long as it was black. There was no caller ID or answering machine, so when the phone rang (and those Ma Bell bells were loud!), you had no idea who was calling. All you knew, because you had learned this from your parents and grandparents, was that if the phone rang, it was IMPORTANT! That phone HAD to be answered.
After all, since you had no idea who was calling, it could be a relative calling about an emergency. You had to answer. Or it could be the president or the pope calling with some life-changing news. Not that any of us knew anyone who had ever been called by a world leader, but we had heard stories about a guy, some time ago, in a neighboring town, or maybe a neighboring state, who got a call from someone really important, possibly the governor, or someone else in politics, and that one phone call changed the guy’s life. Since we couldn’t rule out for sure that it WASN’T the president or pope on the line, we had to answer.

Back in those days, when the phone rang, it was like the Pony Express riding into a quiet Western town in 1861. It was an event, possibly the most interesting event of the entire week. So, the phone just had to be answered.

My theory is that we all were trained by our ancestors to consider any attempt at high-tech communication to be of supreme importance. When caller ID and answering machines came along, followed by email and text messages that display who the sender is, there was no longer a need to reply quickly. But we are unable to break that habit. 

Well, I say we all should act like the person I admire and reply to messages whenever we get around to it, if at all. Whatever the message is, it surely can wait a little. But if the president or the pope rides up to your house on a pony with saddle bags filled with mail, then you can get excited. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Please Pray for Church Workers

It’s very important that we pray for people in ministry, such as priests, nuns, deacons, and even church employees.

These folks have such a hard job, and it’s easy for them to get burned out and discouraged. Unlike someone who works in, say, corporate marketing, getting burned out doesn’t mean that you have to fly to yet another industry sales convention in Orlando. It instead means precious souls may not hear the Gospel message and as a result may be lost for all eternity. That’s quite a responsibility.
We need to pray for those in ministry not only because it’s a stressful and exhausting way to make a meager living, but more importantly because working in a religious occupation often leads to “familiarity disillusionment.” In other words, priests and nuns and church workers are exposed to the cynical, bureaucratic side of religious institutions that we lay-people never see. Over time their enthusiasm for the mission — sharing the love of God, preaching the Good News, saving souls — disappears and is replaced by a jaded bitterness. 

Many lay-people assume the folks in ministry are so happy to be doing the Lord’s work, they float around the parish and diocesan offices with perpetual smiles on their faces. They approach every task with the joy of Jesus welling in their hearts, and treat every person they encounter with the love and concern of Mother Teresa.

However, we lay-people lose sight of a very important fact: all religious organizations are staffed by human beings. And all human beings, as Scripture tells us and experience confirms, are sinful. 

I would venture to say that people who work for religious organizations are far less sinful than the average members of society, but that doesn’t make them perfect. Churches and other spiritually-based ministries still have a fair amount of anger, dishonesty, selfishness, and egoism floating around their offices. It may not be at the extreme levels of places like the U.S. Congress, but sinful behavior is present, as it is in every organization on earth. 
This can be especially discouraging for those who work at a faith-based operation. Just imagine a young idealistic person who gets hired by a religious ministry. He or she is excited to “make a difference,” sharing the love of Jesus each day and getting a paycheck, too. How wonderful.

But then this new employee starts to witness things the parishioners never see. The priest who smiles all the time in public, but who often scowls and spits our sarcastic criticisms in private. The parish secretary who gossips about the parishioners. The church trustee who shrewdly makes sure his best friend’s construction company gets all the big maintenance and renovation contracts. In other words, this new employee witnesses people being people.

Even though a lot of important ministry work is being done, and many people are indeed being helped, the new, idealistic employee can’t help but notice that a cynical attitude is often present behind the scenes. And that’s when “familiarity disillusionment” can set in. The new employee stops focusing on the real mission of sharing the love of God, preaching the Good News, and saving souls. The new mission is to show up each day, do the minimum amount of work required, collect a paycheck, and actively search for other employment opportunities.

By becoming so familiar with the religious organization’s inner workings, the employee becomes disillusioned. He or she thought working for “the church” would be noble and uplifting and, well, so much different than a regular job. Sometimes the disillusioned employee not only leaves for a new job, but also loses his or her faith entirely. And it’s a fact that disillusioned priests, nuns, and deacons can lose their faith, too.
So, don’t forget to pray for people working in faith ministry, the priests, nuns, deacons, and lay workers. The work they do is crucial. After all, what’s more important than helping people spend eternity in Heaven?
 

Pray for them, assist their ministry financially, and most of all, be friendly toward them and cut them some slack if you happen to catch them on a bad day. After all, they’re only human, just like the rest of us. 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Compulsion to Reply Quickly to All Messages

There is a person I admire very much. This person, who shall remain nameless, is bold enough to do something I simply do not have the courage to do. This person actually replies to emails, voice messages, and text messages if and only when he or she feels like it.


That is just stunningly brave behavior. In this day and age of high-speed instant communication, most people, especially me, are compelled to reply to all forms of electronic messaging as soon as humanly possible. We instinctively fear that if we don’t reply right away, the time gap between receiving and replying will itself send a message, specifically: “I don’t care about you.” Which, of course, is not the impression we want to give.
So, as soon as our phones beep, chirp, or blare out the first eight bars of “The Chicken Dance” (some ringtones are purposely obnoxious, while others are that way because most of us have no clue how to program a different tone), we are compelled to read or listen to the message and then reply right away. This is true even if we’re driving in congested traffic on the Merritt Parkway. (I bet I’m the only person in America who thinks car insurance premiums are too low. The number of fender-benders I see each month, usually caused by someone looking at their phone, is so high I’m certain every single one of us will eventually be either the highway hitter or hittee at least once in our lives.)

In my case, this compulsion to reply instantly is magnified by the fact that I’m in sales. The moment I receive a message, my first thought is that if I don’t reply right away, they're just going to contact my competition. You’d think after doing this for over 36 years I’d be a bit more relaxed about that aspect of my job.

On the other hand, there have been numerous times recently when I’ve received an email message, but since I was driving, I only glanced at my phone and saw that it was from one of my clients. Then literally 90 seconds later, I received a phone call from that same person, which I answered because I have a hands-free system in my car. This is what I heard: “Bill, I sent you an email, but you never replied,” to which I said, “Um, that was not even two minutes ago.” And then he said, “Yeah, but I need the technical specifications for that unit right away. So, I’ll hold.”

At that moment, this is what I thought but did not say, since I’m a good customer service person: “Seriously, dude?! I’m on the Merritt Parkway right now, on the verge of doing something that will make my car insurance premium skyrocket!! You will NOT hold, and I will get back to you when I’m damn good and ready!!”
What I actually said was, “Ooh, sorry, but I’m driving in heavy traffic right now. I’ll find a rest area and call you back in 10 minutes, okay?” 

The frustration and mild indignation I sensed in his voice when he replied, “Yeah, fine, whatever,” actually made me feel guilty. So, obviously, I have psychological issues that are different but almost as serious as his. 

Anyway, getting back to the person I admire, a person with the guts to reply to messages two, three, and even six days later — or not at all. I really wish I could be like that, but I know I never will.
So, if you hear on the news someday that I was the cause of a nine car pileup on the Merritt Parkway, just remember that I am a good customer service person.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

On the Road Again…

Now that the worst of the Covid pandemic seems to be behind us (wait a minute while I knock on wood and cross my fingers), rp tmmes wwzt trooef phw gfmmatz bwsl ot nurggli. 


Oops, sorry. I can’t type with my fingers crossed. Let me try again to finish that sentence: it looks like things are getting back to normal.

At work, I’m traveling again on a regular basis for my engineering sales job. And it’s such a relief. I’m not saying that I don’t like being in the office for 10 hours straight, day after day, staring at my computer screen during an endless series of Zoom meetings. No wait, that is exactly what I’m saying. Being stuck in the office is brutal.
Even if you factor in all the annoying aspects of driving around the state making sales calls — bad weather, flat tires, road construction, highway rest areas, bumper-to-bumper traffic, customers who told me to stop by at 9 am but totally forgot they were not going to be at their office that day, etc. — being full-time in the office is much worse. You just sit in the same chair, stare at the same computer screen, and listen to the same coworker use his “outdoor” voice every time he gets a cell phone call. (Why is it that people shout on a cell phone, when they talk normally on a regular phone? Someone should do a scientific study.)

While I was driving down to Stamford the other day, I started thinking about when I first began to travel for work, back in the 1980s. I wouldn’t go anywhere back then without the greatest invention since sliced bread: my collection of cassette tapes. Wow! Twice as much music inside a rectangular piece of plastic, which was a fraction of the size of my previous favorite modern miracle, the 8-track tape. I was certain the cassette tape was the absolute limit of squeezing music into a small package. (Similar to my certainty that we’d never be able to have telephones without wires, technological advancements in music sort of took me by surprise.)
Nowadays, my car doesn’t even have a CD player, let alone a cassette player, 8-track, turntable, Thomas Edison gramophone, or barbershop quartet squished into the backseat. Everything is satellite or Bluetooth wireless.

Back in the day, I traveled with books of maps, so I could figure out where I had to go. The concept of GPS was another technology I somehow didn’t see coming. I also had an address book that was an actual book, which I used often at a thing half our nation’s population wouldn’t be able to identify if they tripped over it: a pay phone. 

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, a company could not be successful unless it utilized THE most important business tool available: the little pink “While You Were Out” memo pad. That was how the world communicated in those days. You’d come into the office after being on the road and find a stack of pink notes on your desk. Then you’d spend the next four hours returning people’s phone calls. To be honest, at least half of your phone calls produced a new pink memo on the other person’s desk. You might not actually connect with that guy for a month or two. But somehow sales were made, products got shipped, and everybody got a paycheck.
Well, a lot of things certainly have changed since the 1980s. However, it’s comforting to know one thing has remained the same: the men’s rooms inside the rest areas along I-95 continue to be almost as clean as the dumpsters out back. But it’s still way better than being in the office all day.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Long Lost 29th Chapter of ‘Acts’

Did you hear the exciting news? An ancient manuscript was discovered recently, which turned out to be the long lost 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. People often wonder why the book of Acts ends so abruptly after 28 chapters. Well, now we know why: there is one final chapter which wraps up the story.

The 29th chapter was recently translated into English, and here is an excerpt:

"The Lord God spoke unto Paul, saying, 'Behold, the power of the Holy Spirit, which has filled my people from the day of Pentecost until now, shall cease once this present generation has passed away. Even though the Holy Spirit has worked wondrous deeds and transformed countless lives, I, the Lord God, do not want people in the 21st century to get bogged down with "religious stuff." Their schedules will be so jam-packed they won’t have time to get serious about faith. This will allow them to focus on more important things, like their careers and their cars, their iPads and their Facebook posts. Thus saith the Lord.' Paul bowed down and said, 'Your will be done, O Lord, most high. But, what's an iPad?'”

And that’s how the 29th chapter ends.

OK, well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But an awful lot of Christians down through the centuries, including the institutional Church herself at times, have acted as if this bogus 29th chapter were real.

Some fundamentalist groups accuse the Catholic Church of trying to make the Holy Trinity a quartet. They misinterpret Catholic devotion toward Mary as worshipping her, even though the inerrant Scriptures quote Mary herself as saying, “All generations shall call me blessed.” Catholics do not worship Mary, of course, and it’s a good subject for another day.
However, a much more common and real problem is not making the Holy Trinity into a quartet, it’s making the Holy Trinity into a duo.

Christian Trinitarian doctrine teaches that the one God exists in three persons. Believers have no problem acknowledging the first person of the Trinity, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth. And they have no problem acknowledging the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.

But when it comes to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, most believers pause and say, “Umm…well, two out of three ain’t bad.”

Far too many people are under the mistaken impression that the wondrous deeds of the Holy Spirit chronicled in the book of Acts — the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the miracles, the healings, etc. — somehow died off when the first century Christians died off. The thinking is, “Yeah, well, Peter and Paul and John and Lenny and Squiggy and whoever those other apostles were, they needed that stuff back then, but once the faith spread and the church got established, it was no longer necessary.”

What a goofy thought. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated, or even implied, that the Holy Spirit’s ministry was a temporary assignment. After guiding the first century believers, the Holy Spirit did not go on vacation, and He certainly did not get a pink slip. He is still present; He is still working; He is still inspiring God’s people, filling them with faith and hope and love, and empowering them to live victorious lives on this side of eternity.
This Sunday is the feast of Pentecost, and it’s a great time to contemplate the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We should read through the exciting book of Acts in our Bibles (just the first 28 chapters, please) to see how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of the early believers. We should realize the same miraculous power is still available to us today. And we should sincerely open up our hearts and let the power of the Holy Spirit flow from within us. And maybe this can happen if we turn off our iPads once in a while.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Milestone: 500th Merry Catholic Essay

My producer at radio station WJMJ informed me that this is the 500th “Merry Catholic” essay that I’ve done since beginning this little endeavor almost a decade ago. I’m really amazed that I have come up with 500 different topics to write about, especially since in my entire life I’ve only had about seven original thoughts.

But that’s actually OK. Our Catholic Christian faith is built on the clear and firm revelations from God, in the person of Jesus Christ, which were all spelled out for us during His earthly ministry 2,000 years ago. Everything since that time has merely been a re-telling of those fundamental truths proclaimed by Jesus. Over the years, deeper understandings about many core doctrines have developed, of course, but no new revelations have occurred.

So, I don’t need original thoughts for these weekly essays. I just need to retell or comment on the original thoughts, words, and deeds of Our Lord. And then once in a while, just to keep things interesting, I’ll blend some biblical ideas with modern situations, such as wondering What Would Jesus Do … about the Red Sox’ bullpen? Or how would St. Peter react … if he were a FedEx driver stuck in traffic?

I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I approached Fr. John Gatzak, who runs the Office of Radio and Television for the Archdiocese of Hartford, and asked him if I might be able to record occasional essays for broadcast on the radio. I vividly remember two things from that initial phone call. First, he asked me, “Are you looking to get paid?” I replied, “No.” And he said, “Oh good. We’re a non-profit operation here.”

Next he asked me, “Do you think you can get someone to sponsor you?” I said, “Um, probably not.” Ten years later it’s obvious I was right. No person or organization has ever expressed even a mild interest in sponsoring my goofy little effort here. 

A week later I visited the studios to record a few essays. Fr. John was pleased with the results, but I noticed he never once suggested that I ought to be on television. He’s a smart guy.
Occasionally, people ask me why I do this. And the answer is simple: because I’m human. We human beings are all the same. As soon as we have an idea that we consider interesting, we have a compulsion to share it with others. I mean, have you seen Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram lately? Have you seen how many podcasts are now available online these days? (The number of regular podcasts seems like at least 30 billion, even though there are less than 8 billion people on earth.)

When I have an idea that I consider interesting, I want to share it. And what could possibly be more interesting than the mysterious and wonderful relationship we humans have with the supernatural Being who created us? It’s an amazing saga that began in the Garden of Eden and will continue for eternity.

With literature and movies, the most compelling stories are the ones about life and death. This means THE most compelling story of all time is the one about life and death and Resurrection. The world will never tire of the amazing stories about Jesus’ life and ministry.
Early on, when I first started writing these Merry Catholic essays, I was worried that I would quickly run out of things to say. But when I realized there are approximately 1200 chapters in the Bible, I knew I’d never be short of material. Now, I just worry that I never have enough spare time to write something coherent. And if it occasionally sounds like I scribbled some notes on the back of a Walmart receipt moments before stepping into the studio, well, sorry, I’ve had some hectic weeks lately.

So, here’s hoping that I can keep doing this for another 10 years. And maybe I can get the New York Yankees to sponsor me … if I promise to stop writing snarky things about them.

Walk Faster, Live Longer

Recently, I saw a report about a new medical study. The headline said, “Walking fast is the key to a long life. Study links pace to aging.” It seems that researchers at the University of Leicester discovered a connection between a person’s walking pace and how quickly they age.


What jumped out at me was the very first sentence of the report, which read: “A brisk walk could help add 16 years to your life, a new study finds.”
I know the definition of the word “a.” It means singular, as in “I saw a bear knock over the garbage can.” That obviously means I saw one bear. If there were more than one bear, I would use different words, such as, “I saw a flock of bears knock over the garbage can.” (I said I’d use different words, not necessarily the right words.)

Actually, I looked it up, and the correct term for a group of bears is a “sleuth” of bears. (Seriously, I’m not even kidding right now. Look it up if you don’t believe me.) A sleuth of bears sounds even dumber than a flock of bears. So, the next time I see multiple bears wandering through my condo complex (which happens about twice a week these days), I’ll just say, “I saw a frickin’ boatload of bears!” (Except I might use a different “load” word than boatload.)
Anyway, why are we talking about bears? Oh right, the definition of the word “a.” The first sentence of the medical report clearly says, “A brisk walk could help add 16 years to your life.” 

I am confident that I’m capable of “a” brisk walk, maybe even upwards of 15 minutes worth. I would gladly spend 15 minutes of my life enduring the pain of walking briskly to guarantee that I will live 16 years longer.

However, as happens so often nowadays, the medical report I read contained a gaggle of misinformation and a herd of fake news. Maybe we could come up with a new term, such as a Pelosi of misinformation, or if you play in the other side of the sandbox, a Trump of fake news. (I suppose the view of most Americans is still the best description: a frickin’ boatload of B.S. from both sides!)

As I continued to read the report, I discovered that when they said, “A brisk walk…” they actually meant a brisk walk — every day! Whoa, talk about false advertising.

Imagine if medical professionals told us, “You need to get a COVID vaccine — every day!” Or, “You need to get a colonoscopy — every day!” Or, “You need to eat a brood of doughnuts — every day!” (Well, that last one is fine.)

Once again, an announcement from medical experts got my hopes up (a single brisk walk will add 16 years to my life. Yay!), only to be dashed moments later (but do it every day. Boo!).
One positive aspect of this is that it prompted me to look up official names of groups of animals. We’re all familiar with a swarm of bees, a pack of dogs, and a school of fish. But here are some other actual descriptions (and again, if you don’t believe me, look it up yourself): a quiver of cobras, a bask of crocodiles, a murder of crows, a convocation of eagles, an army of frogs, a cackle of hyenas, a bloat of hippopotami, a smack of jellyfish, a conspiracy of lemurs, a parliament of owls, a pandemonium of parrots, and a zeal of zebras.

These names are so weird, no one would even notice if we added a couple of new ones to the list, such as a Trump of baloney and a Pelosi of malarkey.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Delightful Experience

Recently, I rediscovered a wonderful sensation: having a small child fall asleep in your arms. It’s been more than three decades, back when my kids were little, since I experienced how lovely that is.

My wife and I were babysitting our grandson, and he was over-tired and not pleased by the fact my daughter, his mom, was out running an errand. So he did what I always feel like doing whenever I am over-tired and not pleased: he had a meltdown. (By the way, I don’t actually have meltdowns when I’m over-tired and not pleased. I certainly have the strong urge to scream and cry and throw myself on the floor flailing. But I don’t actually do it — mostly because at my age I may not be able to get up off the floor.)
Picking him up off the floor was a challenge, partly because of the flailing, and partly because he’s getting heavier, at almost two years old, while my back is getting weaker, at almost two times 33 years old. I held him in my arms and started singing gentle lullabies to him. 

After a while, my wife mentioned that Springsteen’s “Rosalita” may not be the best song to calm him down. So I switched to a children’s song I remembered from the early ‘90s, Raffi’s “Baby Beluga.” The best thing about singing to a two-year-old is that it’s fine even if you don’t know the words. I sang, “Ba-by Be-lu-ga. Ba-by Be-lu-ga. La la la, la-la. Doo doo doo, doo-doo. Cha-cha, cha, cha, cha,” and it calmed him right down.

I went into his bedroom and sat on a rocking chair, cradling the child against my chest. My wife dimmed the lights and put a blanket over the both of us. I sat there rocking gently and humming quietly. Within a few minutes, I was sould asleep. 

No, wait. My grandson was sound asleep. But to be honest, I was kind of dozing off, too.
It was so delightful having that little guy sleeping in my arms. After a while, when we knew he definitely was asleep, my wife asked, “Do you want to try to put him in the crib?” I replied, “Nope. I don’t want to move. I don’t want this feeling to end.”

For the next three days, I had a big smile on my face, remembering how wonderful it was to have him fall asleep on me.

However, having someone fall asleep on you isn’t always wonderful. I’m reminded of the time I flew home from Chicago a few years ago. It was evening, and I was tired. But I’ve never, ever been able to fall asleep on a plane. At best, I’ll get close to a brief doze, but not quite. 

Well, I was sitting there on the aisle seat with my eyes closed, trying to will my brain into a state of slumber, when I felt a weird sensation on my right shoulder. I opened one eye and looked over. The guy in the middle seat, who obviously had no problem sleeping on a plane, had his head against my shoulder, and it was slowly sliding down onto my chest. Over the roar of the engines, I could hear his slow and deep breathing, on the verge of snoring.

Luckily, before we reached the point where we were officially going steady, he mumbled briefly, shifted in his seat, and leaned in the opposite direction to start a poignant bonding experience with the fellow in the window seat.

Anyway, having someone fall asleep in your arms is delightful. In my experience, small children work the best. But in a pinch, I suppose a businessman flying home from Chicago will do. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

What Is Heaven Like?

 Have you ever wondered what Heaven will be like? Of course you have. Everybody has wondered at one time or another whether there is life after death, and if there is, what it will be like. There are a lot of cultural images of what Heaven is like, such as people floating on clouds all day and playing the harp. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but it sounds kind of boring, especially if everyone is playing the same instrument. Every band needs a good rhythm section, with a bass player and drummer. A whole orchestra of just harps sounds like the worst kind of elevator music.

For those of us who believe in God and believe in His promise of life after death, the Scriptures and Church tradition offer frustratingly few details about Heaven. However, even though specific details are scarce, the Bible does tell us some important information about Heaven.

First, Scripture clearly says that Heaven is a real place and that Jesus Himself is preparing a special spot for us there. John’s gospel quotes Jesus as saying, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places….I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2-3).

There are no details of what these dwelling places are like — condo? mansion? studio apartment? Winnebago? freshman dorm room? — but it seems clear that the folks who make it to Heaven will have their own special place to call home, something a little better than “Cloud # 862-B.”

Next, the Bible explains that Heaven is so spectacularly awesome, words can’t even begin to describe it. St. Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth: “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
Heaven is so amazing, there is nothing in our earthly experience that compares. Since we know what clouds and harps are, this means those aspects of the popular and boring image are not present. Good!

This next one is my favorite bit of biblical information about Heaven. In the book of Revelation, at just about the very end of the Bible, it says, “[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

If you haven’t noticed, our world is up to its eyeballs these days in death, mourning, wailing, and pain. (Sounds like the name of a morbid law firm. “Call Death Mourning Wailing and Pain for your free consultation!”) And no matter how bad things are today — and they’re really bad — it’s actually been worse during previous generations. The fact is, mankind’s long journey here on earth has been a struggle, and throughout history there have been at least as many tears as there have been smiles.

The idea that all pain and heartache will cease forever once we are in Heaven is extremely attractive. And it’s not mere wishful thinking. It is a promise of Scripture, God’s holy Word.

The final thing the Bible tells us about Heaven is a bit sobering. The Scriptures affirm that life after death is indeed real, and we all will experience it (regardless of whether we believe it’s true or not). Once we pass from this world to the next, the Bible clearly teaches that Heaven is not guaranteed. Those people who refuse to trust in God and who have no interest in having a relationship with Him will get their wish. They will spend eternity separated from the love of God. 

The Bible calls this experience Hell, and again, there are many popular cultural images, some involving pitchforks and silly red tights. But the bottom line is this: it will not be fun — at all. The pains and heartaches and loneliness of this world will be like a box of cupcakes compared to Hell. 
So, please make sure you enter into the joyful love of God’s Heaven once your time on earth is over. How can a person do this? Easy. Here’s one more Bible verse that shows us how, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Thankfully, St. Paul did not say a single thing about harps.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Marketing Jesus: ‘He Gets Us’

You may have seen some television ads with the theme, “He gets us.” These 30- and 60-second spots focus on Jesus, and describe how the Lord is able to relate to the struggles people face in the modern world, especially young people in an urban environment. The production quality of these videos is top notch, and an organized campaign is flooding television, billboards, and social media right now with the ads. 

I first saw one of these spots between innings of a baseball game. I immediately said, “Whoa, someone just put an ad for Jesus on TV, instead of the usual Budweiser or Ford pick-up truck commercial. Interesting.”

The one I saw showed a series of black and white images of anxious people in run-down housing projects. Somber music played in the background. Then words flashed on the screen: “Jesus struggled to make ends meet, too. He gets us. All of us.” The ad ended with the website address: HeGetsUs.com.
I visited the website, where you can watch and listen to many of the videos that have been produced. The text on the homepage gives a good idea of the audience being targeted: 

"Have you ever experienced frustration? Sorrow? Temptation? So has Jesus. Jesus understood what life was like for people in his day — especially for the marginalized. He was drawn to those on the fringes because he was one too: An immigrant. Homeless. Arrested. Bullied. Through it all, Jesus welcomed outcasts, stood up for women, hung out with troublemakers, even befriended enemies."

This “He Gets Us” effort is being funded by a small group of wealthy anonymous families. Some reports claim upwards of $100 million is being spent to produce the videos and buy the advertising time. Not surprisingly, the response has been mixed. Some people claim it’s a waste of money. Others are leery and suspicious because the donors are anonymous and the website emphasizes that they’re not affiliated with any church. And many people are turned off by the gritty emphasis on poor, young, urban people. 
On the other hand, quite a few folks understand that young people have been leaving organized religion in droves in recent decades. So, trying to communicate with them in a way they can relate to is simply wise evangelism. 

In our current secular culture, millions of people are unchurched. The only thing they’ve ever heard about Jesus is that His followers are judgmental and obnoxious. So, it’s a breath of fresh air that someone is trying to introduce the Son of God in a way that people can understand. 

Yes, there is no mention of Scripture or the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, after digging through the website and watching the videos, I saw no mention of the Resurrection either. But that’s OK. Those items are steps 9, 22, and 35 in the evangelism handbook. Right now, people need step 1, an introduction to the person of Jesus Christ.

There was a time during Jesus’ earthly ministry when his disciples came to Him, quite upset, saying they saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name. They said, “We tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”

Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him….whoever is not against us is for us.”
The mysterious people behind this expensive advertising campaign may not be doing things in the traditional, church-centered style. Those of us who attend church on a weekly basis might find it somewhat uncomfortable, kind of like going to a folk music festival and discovering that it’s actually a heavy metal concert.

However, since the main focus is on Jesus, how can it be a bad thing? I suspect even Jesus would say, “Hey, they’re not against us, so they must be for us.” 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

‘Lose 20 pounds in 10 days!’

Recently, I received an unsolicited email from a writing workshop organization. By the way, it’s a good thing emails don’t actually take up any physical space, because the number of unsolicited emails I get each day would fill an Amazon warehouse. And those are just the ones that end up in my inbox. If you add in the emails that get caught by my computer’s spam filter, they would fill up a dozen Grand Canyons.

Anyway, the writing workshop email I received said: “Bill, ever wonder why people are completely ignoring your content?”

Well, I haven’t thought about that in a while, but I assume it’s because my content is boring, right?
The email continued: “It’s not the content. Blame the headline! People only click if the headline does the trick!” (Obviously they’re referring to articles published on the Internet. It’s kind of hard to “click” on a story printed in an actual newspaper.)

Then the email went on to offer some “savvy tips” to create eye-catching headlines, which are guaranteed to entice more people to read my essays. One tip said the ideal headline is no more than six words. Another tip said a good headline promises to give the reader something desirable. I stopped reading the email before finding out whether or not the remainder of the savvy tips would require me to give them my credit card number. 

Nowadays, eye-catching headlines are known as “clickbait,” that is, they persuade readers to click on the Internet article, which increases “eyeballs” — another Internet term that simply means viewers or readers — which in turn increases advertising income.
 
Because clicks and eyeballs are directly related to revenue, website editors are very creative with their enticing headlines. (I am using, of course, the definition of “creative” that means: “completely untrue.”)

However, clickbait-type headlines have been around long before the Internet existed. Who hasn’t made an impulse purchase in the supermarket checkout line after seeing stunning tabloid newspaper headlines? Here are some of the more memorable ones: “Dolphin grows human arms!” “Satan’s skull found in New Mexico!” “Abraham Lincoln was a woman!” “Tom Cruise is a space alien!” (OK, that one might be true), and, “Dick Cheney is a robot!” (That one is definitely true.)

So, the idea of using a sensational headline to convince people to read something is not a new Internet-era phenomenon. That technique has been around for quite a while. This is why Abraham Lincoln, who apparently was female, began his second inaugural address in 1865 by declaring, “Robert E. Lee is a space alien!” If nothing else, that certainly prompted folks to listen a little closer to the rest of Honest Amy’s speech.

And now I should comment on the headline of this essay. In keeping with the theme of using eye-catching headlines to entice people to read the story, and employing those savvy tips, I came up with a headline that is six words and promises to give the reader something desirable. 

Now really, after two years of COVID quarantine snacking, who among us would love to lose 20 pounds in 10 days? (That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is, “All of us!”) So, the headline of this essay is scientifically proven to increase the number of people who will pause and read.
The best part is that my headline, unlike many of those supermarket tabloid headlines, is not an exaggeration. My diet plan really works. Here is all you need to do to lose 20 pounds in 10 days: eat the way you usually do, and then on the tenth day, have a doctor surgically remove one of your limbs. See? Easy-peasy. 

In conclusion, I’d like to thank you for not ignoring my content today. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Weekend Retreat Can’t Be Beat

This week, my humor column, “A Matter of Laugh or Death,” discusses my adventures on a recent weekend retreat at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford. Because that essay gets published in a secular newspaper, I did not delve into the religious aspects of the retreat. But since these “Merry Catholic” essays are routinely used as teaching tools by Vatican theologians (yeah, sure!), I'd like to share an interesting spiritual incident that occurred during the retreat.

Over the years, I’ve attended many weekend retreats, usually with a group of guys from my parish. This year I did not go when my parish was scheduled because my calendar was too jammed up. But later on, in early April, I decided I really needed to go on retreat, so I signed up at the last minute. 
The week before the retreat, a local church hosted a Lenten mission, and at one of those gatherings I went to Confession. So, on retreat the following week, I had no plans of going to Confession again, since I had just gone. Being a “once or twice per year” kind of guy regarding Confession (except during Covid, when I got quite comfortable being a “none per year” kind of guy), I figured the priest would look at me funny if I said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 9 days since my last Confession.” He’d either think I was wasting his time, or that I was some kind of Jekyll and Hyde weirdo: penitent Catholic during the day and serial criminal at night. 

Well, during one of the workshops, the speaker quoted Martin Luther. (Yes, THAT Martin Luther! Pretty amazing for a Catholic event, huh?) Luther once said, “Whatever your heart clings to is really your god.”

I said to myself, “Well, my heart clings to my wife and children and grandson, but I don’t think that’s what Marty meant.” (In my mind I call the founder of the Protestant Reformation “Marty.” It might be a bit flippant, but it’s a lot nicer than what the nuns teaching my catechism classes in the 1960s called him.)

I thought some more, and started to realize that my heart clings to a lot of other things, especially my precious stuff. I’m attached to my home and car and 401k and bank accounts. But I really love my electronic gizmos, my iPhone and laptop computer and iPad and Airpods Pro (which are, if you’re not sure, amazing Bluetooth earbuds). 
First, I asked myself, “Do I love those things more than I love God?” Instead of the correct answer: “No, of course not,” I had this thought: “Well… can’t I love God and still love all my stuff, too?”

It was at that moment that I said to myself, “Self, you need to go to Confession ‘cause I think you’re dabbling with idolatry here.”

So, that’s just what I did. And when I said to the priest, “...it’s been 9 days since my last Confession,” he did look at me kind of funny, but when I explained how the earlier workshop had awakened my conscience, he smiled knowingly and was very helpful. Then he said to me, “You lack one thing. Go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor. Then come follow Jesus.”

No, I’m kidding! The priest did not compare me to the Rich Young Ruler in the gospel. Besides, I’m not rich, I’m not young, and I don’t rule anything except maybe the TV remote. If there was a gospel story about me, I’d be called the Middle-class, Middle-aged, Middle manager.
Anyway, the priest gave me absolution, and encouraged me to be careful that I don’t become “possessed by my possessions.” I suspect I’m not the only person these days that is a little too attached to stuff, especially electronic gizmos.

I’m very glad I made the decision to go on a weekend retreat. And going forward, I’ll be much more careful about what my heart clings to. So, thank you very much, Fr. D., and thank you, Marty!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Weekend Retreat Was a Big Treat

Last month I went on a weekend retreat for the first time since Covid, and it was a terrific experience. Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford does a great job of combining spirituality, rest and relaxation, and a dining service that rivals anything you might find on a Carnival Cruise ship. 

My main goal on retreat was to break free from internet-based devices for 48 hours. You’d think that would not be a big deal. But the withdrawal symptoms of “digital detox” were very powerful and painful. As soon as I checked in early Friday evening, I turned off my iPhone and stowed it away in my suitcase. 
OK, I know what you’re thinking, so let me clarify: I did not go completely offline for 48 straight hours. Once each day I’d turn on my phone for five minutes to check for any emergency messages and to give my wife a quick phone call. But during the other 23 hours and 55 minutes each day, I had no connection with the outside world. It was at the same time liberating and terrifying. 

I was acutely aware of being disconnected at meal time. I never realized it, but when I eat lunch at work at my desk, I always have my iPhone next to my bowl of soup, and I mindlessly surf the internet for something interesting. At home, I eat dinner most evenings with my iPad next to my plate, still seeking that elusive interesting story or video.

On retreat, I had nothing to read at the dinner table. I started perusing the fine print on an oyster cracker wrapper and a sugar packet. Did you know oyster crackers contain zero oysters? Or that “natural Turbinado cane sugar is crafted in small batches to retain the pure taste of raw sugarcane”? Wow, I never knew those things.

It turns out the words on the oyster cracker wrapper and sugar packet were more interesting than the junk I typically read on my phone, such as ridiculously biased news reports (looking at you FOX and CNN), and even more ridiculously biased political commentary. As an aside, I’m pretty sure my I.Q. is about 20 points lower than it should be because I’ve had repeated exposure to the thoughts of Sean Hannity and Joy Reid.
Here are some other observations about my retreat experience:

In one of the workshops, the two guys sitting in front of me were wearing hearing aids and the two guys on either side of me really needed hearing aids. (I’m not sure what the average age of attendees was, but to give you an idea, I joined Medicare a couple of months ago, but on the retreat the other fellas called me “Kid.”) 

Anyway, this particular workshop was perfect for my specialty: smart-aleck parenthetical comments. But every clever comment I whispered went unheard. And let me tell you, I made some brilliantly hilarious observations. It was extremely frustrating, and similar to that old question about a tree falling in the woods. For me, the question was: if someone makes a clever comment but no one can hear it, is it still humorous? I say yes.
A final retreat observation: if approximately 40% of senior citizens have some degree of lactose intolerance, you’d think the kitchen staff would refrain from putting melted cheese on EVERYTHING, including the coffee and orange juice. Just sayin’. There were numerous items I could not eat, so I only gained five pounds over the weekend instead of the expected 10 pounds.

Overall, though, it was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend that all guys go on a weekend retreat. It’s great for your soul, if not quite so great for your waistline. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Does the Communion of Saints Know Everything? 

We have a fascinating doctrine in the Catholic Church called the Communion of Saints. This means the people who have gone before us in faith are not hidden away in some distant heavenly zip code on the far side of the Universe. Instead, they are alive and well, and they are aware of our struggles here on earth.


The Bible describes this phenomenon and compares it to sports fans in a stadium cheering on the athletes as they compete on the field. The saints in Heaven are cheering us on as we struggle through the trials and tribulations of life. (See Hebrews 12:1.)
This is why we as Catholics don’t hesitate to ask the saints to intercede on our behalf. For example, we ask St. Anthony to help us find our missing car keys. We ask St. Joseph to help us sell our house. We ask St. Lefty McGillicuddy to help the Red Sox win the World Series.

Recently my mom passed away, and now I find that I’m a little leery of the Communion of Saints. My mother was a faithful Catholic, who put her trust in Jesus, so I’m confident she is now living in the freshman dorm on the beautiful Communion of Saints campus. But for the first time, I’ve begun to wonder how aware the saints really are. I know they are aware of our faith struggles, and they pray for us directly to God Almighty whenever we need help.

But are they aware of … everything? Has the Lord given them the supernatural ability to know our deepest thoughts and the secret emotions in our hearts? I’m not so sure I want my mom to know all that stuff about me. After all, I’m a typical guy. I started hiding things from my mother when I was, oh, about two years old. I remember one time when my mom yelled, “Billy! Who wrote on the wall with red markers?!” I turned on my innocent puppy dog eyes and shrugged my shoulders. “I dunno,” I said in an angelic voice, while slipping my hands into my pockets to hide the red stains on my fingers. In my case, I had a one-year-old younger brother. I didn’t directly implicate him, but when my mom looked at him suspiciously, I didn’t do anything to change her mind. By the way, if you are an only child, the innocent puppy dog eyes don’t work. You are always the one and only suspect.
Years later, when I was in college, it was the peak era of keeping secrets from my mom. I certainly did not want her to know which Commandments I was breaking on a regular basis, not to mention a slew of state and local narcotics laws. So, I told her what she wanted to hear, while being careful not to get arrested, and it worked out sort of okay. In our case, ignorance was bliss.

At this stage of my life, there’s not much that would embarrass me if my mom knew. (Yes, I am that boring now.) But still, I instinctively cringe at the idea of my mom being supernaturally aware of every selfish little thought that pops into my head or every nasty little comment I utter. It’s kind of odd that I’m so concerned about my mom being aware of my most intimate secrets. Ever since I became a Christian, I’ve understood that God Almighty knows every single detail of my life — every thought, word, and deed. That never bothered me because I know God is all-loving and all-forgiving. Here’s a simple question I have to ask myself: Who loves me almost as much as God? Answer: good ol’ Mom.
So, what’s there to worry about? My mother has joined the glorious Communion of Saints, and I should joyfully request that she does the wonderful job she’s been assigned in Heaven: pray for me to the Lord our God. And who knows? Maybe she can help me find my missing car keys and give the Red Sox a boost.