Monthly Archives: November, 2008

A Strong Message

When I was in undergrad at Maryland, I had an experience with the Eucharist that changed the way I understand the True Presence. Tonight, in Mississippi, I had another.

I’m spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my grandfather and his wife on the Gulf coast. My dad’s family isn’t religious at all, so I used MassTimes to find a Catholic Church nearby and went to the vigil Mass this evening. I passed the church at first; Google Maps told me it would be on the left, but it was clearly on the right. I had enough sense (and experience with getting to lost) to know to turn around, though, so I made it to Mass just before the opening hymn.

I slipped into the back, opened up my hymnal, and joined in the singing. We were sitting in chairs instead of pews because the church was flooded to the roof by Hurricane Katrina, but if I hadn’t read that on the website, I would never have known. I’m not sure what triggered it, but all of a sudden I started to feel dizzy and my vision blurred. I get vertigo ocassionally, but never as bad as that unless I wake up sick. I barely made it through the opening prayers, which included the introduction for the double baptism this church’s Father Bob celebrated. (What is it with priests named Bob? I know 3 in the South alone.) I finally had to sit down and try to breathe.

Sometime during the first reading, I knew I had to get out of that room. I picked up my things and spent the rest of the Liturgy of the Word breathing as much fresh, rainy air as I could stand. Finally, I felt calm enough to go back in. I felt like I was having a panic attack, or that something was smothering me. It might have been triggered by a moldy smell in the church, but I’m fairly sure they cleaned that all up when they rebuilt, and I’m not allergic to mold.

Later, during the preparation hymn, I had to sit down again. I debated whether I should risk going up to receive communion. Then I realized that if anything would make me feel better, it’d be Jesus. So I joined the line, and received under both species as usual. I’ll never be able to explain it, but as soon as the Eucharist was in me, I felt better. So much better. It was a small miracle, but so significant that I will never doubt the power of the Eucharist again. Sometimes God makes the sun move backwards, and sometimes he just makes you feel better. Either way, he’s always there.

Happy new liturgical year, friends.

Things You Should Know

You are talking to a colleague — seemingly intelligent, born and raised in the United States — and you realize that the person has an amazing gap in his or her knowledge. Of the following, which would disturb you most about this person?

  1. He or she doesnt have a clear idea of what countries we fought in World War II.
  2. He or she doesnt understand the difference between a star and a planet.
  3. He or she cannot name the current vice president of the United States.
  4. He or she cannot locate Europe on a map.
  5. He or she cannot tell you what 50 percent of 100 is.

I picked the last one. Brendan faced that with his algebra and geometry students this year. If you can’t multiply fractions, solving two-step equations is going to be impossible. I think you should know where Europe is, but not knowing 50 percent of 100 is ridiculous even for high school students, let alone adults.

via Poll-ish Humor, Nov. 25: Door 2, by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post

The Shepherds Speak Out

Today is the feast of St. Albert the Great, a Doctor of the Church known for his speaking and teaching. Two of my friends are currently in seminary for the Dominican order; one used Albertus Testudo as his Catholic Terps blogging pseudonym for years.

As I’ve tried to find balance in my life again, I’ve been reading Catholic news again. As I’ve read over these last few months, I’ve noticed that the U.S. bishops are more vocal than I can ever remember them having been before. The first surprise was when so many bishops chastised Nancy Pelosi after she tried to be a theologian on national television. I almost missed the whole uproar, but I caught enough. I was so glad to see our bishops fulfilling their role as shepherds and teachers. We have bishops so that they can keep us from falling into heresy and missing out on heaven without realizing it. Similarly, hearing that the Massachusetts bishops decried a billboard that promotes adultery brings me great joy. Bishops and priests got such a bad rap when the sexual abuse scandal broke, but if efforts like these continue, they’ll become known primarily as teachers once again. The media will still see them as out-of-touch old men, but they’re our wise old men.

Slight Progress

I got the key to my classroom yesterday. I had to swipe the key to my closet on Wednesday because I needed an immediate solution to classroom theft, but I plan to copy it and give it back.

My students are only allowed to write in blue or black ink. I tolerate some unusual shades of blue and erasable pens, but anything written in pencil got a zero. It was harsh, but “don’t use a pencil” is a basic instruction. However, they are still children, so I buy cheap black pens at Wal-Mart and sell them to my students for 25 cents each. I point out whenever they buy pens that they could buy them themselves much cheaper, or borrow them from classmates for free, but they continue to come to me.

When they leave their textbooks behind (or say they’ve been stolen from their lockers) and I find them, I put them in my drawer and charge $1 per book to give them back. There are about fifteen textbooks in my drawer right now; my class requires two books, which are loaned to students as if they were in public school.

All of this added up to an envelope with around $20 cash in my top desk drawer. Tuesday night was the first home basketball game, so when I left around 5:30 p.m., there were still dozens of students running around the unlocked building. When I arrived Tuesday morning, the envelope was gone. I mentioned this to my housemates, who encouraged me to report it to my principal and ask for a key to my room. I did.

I got the key to my classroom yesterday.

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