Thursday, February 28, 2013

If Dogs Could Preach... part 4

Sometimes the most mundane tasks can teach the most profound lessons.  Let’s take poop for instance.  That’s right, I said it.  Poop.  No one wants to talk about it because it’s gross, stinky, and embarrassing.  Yet it is part of life.  Doctors need to know about a patient’s poop when making certain diagnoses or providing certain treatment.  Parents seem to think nothing of comparing their children’s poop as a matter of course.  And then there’s pet owners.

One of my dogs is quite finicky when it comes to her #2.  She will only go on a walk, not in the backyard, unless we’ve been very bad and haven’t walked her for a couple of days.  And what’s more, she has in her mind a certain spot (I guess) or a certain amount of time or walking she needs to get done before she is ready to go.

Yet, as a responsible dog owner, I don’t leave the house without “the pooper-scooper”.  Therefore, no matter how far from home my dog poops, I still have to pick it up and carry it back, so as to dispose of it properly (you know, where poop belongs – in the toilet).

The other day, I was stricken by how similar poop is to sin.  Sin is another subject no one wants to talk about.  Lots of people like to commit sin, but they just don’t like to admit that that’s what they’re doing.  Regardless, no matter how much we try to disassociate our actions from the definition of sin (turning away from God/disobeying Him), God is always there to pick up the pieces and dispose of them properly.  He forgives, even though He’d much prefer that we obey than repent.

I’m sure sometimes He also scratches His head and wonders if we really believe that we are fooling Him, when we go out of our way to hide our sin.  He knows it’s there, and He knows where it belongs.  Maybe we can do Him a favor and at least quit trying to keep it from Him.  We may be embarrassed by our sin, but He isn’t.  He’s saddened by it, but as long as we live in this fallen world, we will sin.  And dogs will poop.  It is what it is.  Just clean it up and move on.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Another tide turning for the Catholic church

October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla becomes the first Polish pope.

A week and a day later, I was born.  

In Poland. 

And named Karolina in his honor.

I never had the privilege of having an audience with Pope John Paul II.  I have never even been to the Vatican.  There was word when Alex and I were planning our wedding that if he received a wedding invitation from a Polish couple, he would send an official Vatican wedding card.  I guess he had already become too ill for this tradition by the time we got married in May of 2003, a little less than 2 years before his death.

I remember the days leading up to April 2, 2005 vividly.  I became aware of his imminent death through the television.  I kept vigil with the tens of thousands of those in attendance in St. Peter’s Square, watching the news coverage every free moment I had, well into the night before finally allowing myself to get some sleep.  I was afraid of being away from my virtual vigil at the moment of his death.  I knew that I was experiencing the departure of a great saint, and that this was a historic moment.

Many tears were cried, yet I knew JPII was going to a better place.  What was really behind my mourning, perhaps, was the sheer shock of a world with someone else as pope.  John Paul the Great was the only pope I had ever known.   

During this time, I had been having various doubts in my faith, yet a sense of loyalty to JPII kept me from really doing anything about it.  Once he passed away, I no longer felt obligated to remain Catholic.  Thus began my active spiritual seeker journey, finally resulting in my return home to the Catholic church in 2011.

So what sparks this post now?  JPII’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, has announced his resignation as of February 28th.

Many people questioned why John Paul II didn’t resign, once his health started to deteriorate.  I also didn’t understand why he wouldn’t retire – a term I associated with a permanent vacation, something I felt was well deserved after over two decades of shepherding the worldwide Catholic community.  It wasn’t until much later that I finally appreciated his intention.   

Knowing that he was in the public eye, JPII answered God’s call to be an example of enduring suffering, of dying in dignity.  He allowed himself to be an example for others who suffer, giving them a model for their difficult situation in life.  Modern society aims to pretend suffering doesn’t exist, or worse, to get rid of it at all costs, even sin or death.

But the current pope, Benedict, clearly has a different calling from God.  With his resignation, I await the next conclave in a totally different spirit, one of elated anticipation of what God has in store for the next pope, and by extension, for all of Christ’s holy church.

John 21:15
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”