Believing the Unbelievable, in a “Flash”

May 27, 2015

This weekend while I was hanging out with my brother we decided to watch the television show “The Flash.” I agreed because I knew the pilot episode had recently won a Christopher Award; he agreed because he is a superhero fanatic.

I love my superheroes, too, but for all the comic book nerds out there—I am a Marvel girl so the DC universe was new to me. I knew a little about the Flash but not much. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the series started but from that pilot episode and some of the bits of dialogue I was hooked. The main character, Barry Allen (the boy who becomes The Flash—for exactly how that happens, you’ll have to watch the show!), says in one scene, “To understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to do something, you need to believe the impossible, can you do that?”

flash

I knew from that line this was going to be a show I would like. That one line made my heart flutter just a bit. In an instant, I was a kid again, opening a new comic book—curiosity filling my mind as to what adventures and magic waited inside.

We both enjoyed the show. But at the end, my brother asked me, “Why did this win an award from a Catholic place?”

It was a good question. At the Christopher Awards, the hero of the show was commended for his “moral strengths born out of pain.” Allen didn’t have an easy life—his mother was murdered, his father is in jail as the culprit, and how he obtains his powers is not that pleasant. He grows into his character, as we all do, through trials, doubt and uncertainty, and obstacles. I told my brother that it’s a story of resurrection and even one of finding your own path using your own strengths for your vocation in life.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite show that has reaches down and touches a common human truth?

The Christophers To Broadcast Award Show Today on Sirius-XM

May 26, 2015

The 66th annual Christopher Awards ceremony, which took place in New York City last week, will air today, Tuesday, May 26, as a two hour special on Sirius-XM’s The Catholic Channel (129) at 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. The program will feature original interviews with award winners and The Christophers’ director of communications Tony Rossi. Comedy writer Tom Leopold (Cheers, Seinfeld), who won the Christopher Spirit Award in 2014, will host the broadcast and provide commentary throughout.

Information: www.christophers.org/awards

The Christopher Awards — Catholics Are Allowed to Talk About That?!

May 15, 2015

Among this year’s Christopher Awards were a book and a movie that stuck out to me: so much so that I watched the movie immediately the next day and have hopes of starting the book this coming weekend. One is a movie about a man who smokes, drinks and gambles on horses; and the other is a book about the armed forces, mental illness and suicide. When I told a friend about the winners, she was a bit shocked that Catholics could talk about such topics.

But Catholics can and should discuss the topics above. Mental illness, suicide, gambling, addictions, etc., especially because they are so prevalent today. The Invisible Front by Yochi Dreazen that tells of two brothers, one who died during the war and one who died by suicide after returning from the war, won in the adult book category. It’s a true to life story that tackles mental illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The parents of the two boys were there to accept the award.

Father Jonathan Morris, Carol Graham & Major General Mark Graham, accepting Yochi Dreazen's award for the winning book "The Invisible Front." The Grahams and their sons were the subject of the winning book.

Father Jonathan Morris, Carol Graham & Major General Mark Graham, accepting Yochi Dreazen’s award for the winning book “The Invisible Front.” The Grahams and their sons were the subject of the winning book.

Yesterday, I watched St. Vincent and I was not disappointed. I like Bill Murray and his movies so that drew me in right away. When I heard that he smokes, drinks, bets on the ponies I thought, “This is my kind of movie!” and was hooked. I had to see how it would play out and why it won a Christopher Award.

According to Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, “The Christopher Awards are unique in that they celebrate both sacred and secular works across a variety of media. The stories we’re honoring—whether true or fictional—highlight people who rise above their own wants and needs to act selflessly, regardless of the sacrifice involved.”

Interesting. I had to see how that would play out in the movie.

If you haven’t seen it. Check out this trailer, and I hope you make time to watch it. It’s worth it.

What…Week Is It?!?

May 6, 2015

Have you ever been off by a day? I have. Often. I’ll wake up one morning thinking it’s Wednesday when it’s really Tuesday. But today I was way off…I thought I was in the next week. Thankfully, I had a friendly colleague gently remind me that I was skipping over time in leaps and bounds without laughing too hard at my mistake.

I guess it happens sometimes—days blur together. Although I have to say that it hasn’t happened to me since I was a child during summer break. Generally those days and weeks became one long adventure of swimming in blue water, running on fresh green grass and sitting on porches drinking lemonade and eating ice cream. As an adult, however, when time gets foggy, it’s generally because things are getting overwhelming—at least that’s what it’s like for me.

So, after I hung up the phone with my co-worker and fell back into the right week, I asked myself, how do I get out of this fog? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. But one thought popped into my mind from a book I read by Victor Frankl that says something like—we can’t control our circumstances, but we can control how we look at them and react to them. I feel like we can react with strength and fight or we can give up and float along when things get tough—which is what I was doing.

Have you ever lost track of chunks of time? How did you get back on top of things? Please share as it might help others.

Work as a Gift

May 1, 2015

May 1 is the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker. When you think about it, it’s a fitting time to celebrate St. Joseph because May is the month dedicated to Mary. It’s as if his day is there at the beginning to support and protect her through the rest of the days. That’s how I like to think about it.

The words support and protection come to my mind whenever I think of my job. It’s easy to see how employment supports and protects each of us—it provides the money to buy what we need to survive and protects us from living a life of poverty.

For me, and maybe for you, too, my employment offers much more than money, and a very different kind of support and protection.

Knowing my own shortcomings and predispositions, I can tell you in a very real way that work protects me from laziness and negative thoughts. Once, during a time in between jobs I was so depressed I didn’t get out of bed more than a few hours a day—and even those few hours were exceedingly difficult. Work protects me from my own mind and keeps me from negative thinking and helps me remain focused on the task in front of me.

I’m thankful for the job I have, and I view it as a gift that’s not to be taken for granted. How about you? On this Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker, what is it about your job that you enjoy the most? Please share!

First Things First

April 27, 2015

My husband and I have been “church shopping.” Although that doesn’t really quite fit what we are doing. That, however, was the plan. We picked a few churches in the area around us, and were going to see what they were like, sort of like an open house, and find one that fit us. But, like many things in my life, the first one was the one we went with.

I’m pretty much a person of “firsts.” What I mean by that is, the first wedding dress I tried on, I fell in love with—and that was the one I wore walking down the aisle. The first apartment that my husband and I went to look at is the one we now live in. The first, and pretty much only college I looked at—Fordham University—was the one I attended. The first place that offered me a chance to attend school abroad for a year, I took (at Oxford University.)

Luckily for me, all of those firsts worked out.

I’m hoping the same is true of this new church. We put off going inside and checking it out for quite a while.

Of course it’s difficult knowing that the parish were my mother and father were married; where my brother and his wife were married; where my father’s funeral was offered; where me and my husband were married. On the other side, this is also the first time that my husband and I have chosen a church on our own. It’s frightening because it’s out of our comfort zone, but it’s also beautiful to recreate your spiritual life in a new place.

I Saw His Side, Now I’m a Believer

April 21, 2015

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since we heard the story of “Doubting Thomas” at Mass, but I have been thinking of it quite a bit over the past few days. Mostly because I think I empathize with Thomas. And quite frankly, I think out of all the disciples, I am most like him.

Why do I think that? I think he seems to be the one with the worst luck. Imagine all of your friends are gathered—and it’s the one night you’re not with them—which just happens to be the night Jesus comes back. Figures. I’d be pretty mad. I’d tell them I’d want to see what they saw to believe it, too, because that would only be fair.

Even though I’m not a theologian, I couldn’t help but think about it this way: Could I believe that Jesus rose from the dead if I were Thomas, without seeing? Maybe. But for sure I wouldn’t trust the word of the ragtag group of men Jesus chose as his closest friends and followers.

In my own life I realized how often I don’t trust people when what they say has to do with something outside of my own admittedly limited experiences. For instance, I have a friend who can do complex math problems in their head. I didn’t believe them until I saw them do one with my own eyes. I know it’s a silly example, but it goes to show that even with people we know and say we trust, there is always a little bit of doubt. When we haven’t experienced something, it’s hard for us to relate.

Yet, what if we didn’t need to relate more to people unlike ourselves, we just needed to trust them? I’m not talking “world peace” level trust here…I’m talking about trusting more in the people in your own circle: your friends, your family, your co-workers.

Instead of automatically putting up your guard and saying “That can’t be true,” how about taking the person for their word, hard as it may be, and believing in them.

Have you been in a situation where someone didn’t trust you? Or perhaps you didn’t trust someone else? Please share your experience as it may help someone else.

Asking a Question, Not Knowing the Answer

April 17, 2015

At St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie the other day, along with my fellow reporters, interviewed seminarians who are about to be ordained as priests in May. The assignment is one of my favorites because I get to spend so much time talking about the reasons why a man chooses to become a priest which I view as such a heroic vocation.

I have been doing the interviews for nine years now, but I still am filled with anticipation and anxiety before I go because I want to make sure that I ask the right questions and really get to know each and every man individually so I can best tell his story. I always enjoy the interviews, which generally turn into conversations by the end of the session.

In one particular interviewing session, I posed a question to a seminarian that once I asked that I kind of wanted to know the answer to in my own life. The question was: “What centers you in your life that keeps you moving forward toward your goal?”

When I began to think about how I would answer it, I came up empty. I don’t, for example, go to daily Mass or receive the Eucharist frequently or pray the Rosary every day or spend time in Holy Hours on a regular basis. I don’t have any prayer practices that put Jesus at the center of my life each and every day. No wonder ordinary stresses keep blowing up like balloons into extraordinary sizes all the time. So it comes as no surprise when big problems come, I get so overwhelmed I shut down completely.

I went to the assignment for work, to do a good job with the stories I am to tell of the men in an upcoming issue of Catholic New York. But I came out of the seminary with so much more. I have a goal now…I have to find my own way of putting Jesus at the center of my life.

Lent is Over. What Now?

April 8, 2015

My husband and I are two different creatures. Generally after a long road trip, he likes to stay in the hotel room and relax. I, on the other hand, am usually full of excitement and want to explore wherever we are right away. That’s usually how I feel after the long penitential season of Lent when Easter Sunday finally arrives.

But this year, something was different. When Easter came, my husband and I attended church. I responded during Mass, I sang, I listened. I went through all the proper motions. But that sense of elation and joy was absent. Perhaps it was because I knew that this Lent I didn’t try as hard as I usually do to keep my Lenten promises. (I gave up shopping for non-essential items, among other promises.)

Now that this particular liturgical season is over, I find myself asking, “What now?” Then I remembered something that the pastor said during Mass at the church we attended on Easter (St. Patrick’s in Yorktown Heights). He said, “Try each day to be a little more Christ-like.”

That stood out to me out of everything he said because I’m generally a go all-in type of person. I like to do things all at once and get frustrated if I can’t. This method of doing things in baby steps has been a new revelation for me for the past while, and here it was again, said in church, right when I felt like a huge failure.

Sure, Lent is over, but if you’re like me, there is still a lot more work to be done spiritually. I plan to try to do it little by little, day by day. And if it has to be, minute by minute. Lent may be 40 days, but there is no time limit on how and when we choose to get closer to God.

Emergency Care

March 30, 2015

On Sunday night last week, as I was prepared to settle in for the Sunday blues to hit, something far worse struck instead. It felt as if a giant sword, just brandished from the fire from a blacksmith, was thrust into my left side. I had experienced this pain before. I had a kidney stone.

I woke my husband up from his slumber, and asked, all the while hunched over, grasping my back in agony, “Can you take me to the Emergency Room. I think I have another kidney stone. I’m in a lot of pain.”

He immediately jumped out of bed, threw some clothes on and off we went to the nearest hospital. After a wait that seemed like forever, a doctor did a CAT-scan and confirmed I had two kidney stones. I was given medication and sent on my way.

Today is Reconciliation Monday, and parishes are open to hear confession—which for me is kind of like a spiritual emergency room.

Sometimes I feel the same way about my soul as I did about my body. “I think I have a stone in my soul. I’m in a lot of pain.” In those situations, Catholics do have an “emergency room.”

Confession is one of the most healing and, I think, one of the most beautiful moments, Catholics can experience—a chance to start over, to renew our souls, to unburden our hearts. God can fix what is broken and start to remove piece by piece our spiritual pain. What a wonderful way to start Holy Week.


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