Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Holidays Have Begun!

I have not posted anything this week due to illness. As much as I enjoy the colder weather, it takes my body a while to adjust to the change. I had a bout of bad coughing and bad headaches.. not a fun combo to have.

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. As has been our new tradition since Grandma passed away, we get together with my sister in law's family for dinner. We are very fortunate that both sides are so close, not only in terms of friendship, but also in distance.... they live three quarters of a mile from us. Katie's Mom, Brenda, loves to entertain and cook. She is North Tonawanda's very own Martha Stewart! As seen from the picture, her dinner table is quite impressive (I apologize for the poor quality, it is a cell phone pic).

She made homemade mushroom soup, ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, sweet potatoes, a relish dish, stuffing, gravy, corn and a vegetable casserole! For dessert, she made pecan pie, google-berry pie (made of various types of berries), pumpkin pie, chocolate cake, and jell-o.... there's always room for Jell-o! Everything was AMAZING!!! I believe we ate better than they did at the White House!!

After dinner we all watched comedian Jeff Dunham's latest Christmas DVD before sitting down to a game of "Apples to Apples" and then "Outburst". We played teams, men versus the women. The men won... thanks largely to my help and extensive knowledge of useless trivia (and the few history questions asked).

We shared some laughs and stories over coffee, tea, WINE, and great food. I look forward to this gathering every thanksgiving... which eclipses the impending gloom and doom of the Black Friday which is to follow. After a fun filled evening, I decided to enjoy the cold night air and make the three quarter mile walk home... which I'm guessing burned off the shrimp I had as an appetizer. :-P

I hope everyone out there in cyber-land enjoyed their Holiday just as much!! My sincere thanks to reading, and I look forward to many more posts to come!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What a weekend.

We had been cleaning all week in preparation for out of town guests who were to arrive this past Saturday to celebrate my Aunt Karen's birthday. The plan was to have the 25 out of towners come to our house for lunch, and then go to the hospice center for pizza and cake.

Saturday morning, at around 3:30am, my mother was taken to the hospital with chest pains, and trouble breathing. We thought she was having a heart attack (not even two weeks after my father had his). Come to find out, it was not a heart attack, thank God.. but as of yet, we are still unsure what it was. The doctors think it might be a liver problem since her liver enzymes were rather high. She still has to go for more tests. They did however keep her for 24 hours.. she missed the company, and that left yours truly in charge!

I had to get out to the air port and pick up Uncle Vinny, and then go nuts cleaning, organizing, and preparing food for the guests to arrive. It was almost comical at times. We kept calling people we knew in the area to seek help, but no one was home. We couldn't even figure out how to make a pot of coffee (we are both tea drinkers). I knew I had to pour water in, I didn't know the water was already in the machine and had to boil first. Needless to say the first pot was ice cold.

I muddled through, and we all ended up having a good time. I felt so bad my mom had to miss it. Some of these relatives never make it out to Buffalo, and never will again, and she had to miss the whole thing. She almost missed Katie's baby shower on Sunday, but showed up unexpectedly just before the presents were opened to a round of applause.

It was a very LONG weekend, and I'm still feeling the fatigue from it all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christianity VS Homosexuality??

It would not be much of a stretch to suggest that Homosexuality and aspects of Christianity are at odds with one another. The extent to which they conflict depends largely upon the denomination you are speaking of, and the interpretation that denomination (or individual for that matter) has of Scripture.

I have a number of Catholic blogs that I enjoy reading from various people around the world, written by both clerics and laity. Today, I found an interesting post by Father Longenecker over at Standing on My Head. Father is actually a convert to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism, and I enjoy reading his blog and seeing what he is doing in his own parish and community. Today's post was titled, "Women's Ordination and Homosexuality", which immediately caught my attention. In the post, Father included a link to an article he wrote on this subject previously, showing how ordinations of women and gay rights seemed to be linked within the Church.

I have long since ceased to think that it is my mission in life to make all people comfortable with homosexuality and the idea of loving committed gay couples. I can't even get all gay people I know to go along with this idea. I do however have feelings, and as a gay person who's Catholic faith means a great deal to himself, articles like this stir up many emotions.

Father Longenecker makes a number of points, some I agree with, others I do not. First, Father mentions an article which he quotes Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal bishop, who's consecration has caused much uproar within the Anglican Communion. In this article, Bishop Robinson is said to have had "secret" seminars with gay Catholic clergy in which he "encouraged their open dissent from the teaching of the Church and their overt disobedience to their vowed celibacy". The article concludes with Bishop Robinson's comment that "It's too dangerous for you to come out as gay to your superiors, but I believe that if you work for the ordination of women in your church, you will go a long way toward opening the door for the acceptance of gay priests."

These sentiments of Bishop Robinson bothered me. I do admire the man and the struggles he has gone through, but I cannot admire his tactic here. While it is wonderful for him to reach out to his Catholic counterparts, I disagree with his urging Catholic Clergy to be outright disobedient, and break the vow of celibacy that each priest took before God and his Church. Would the Bishop advise a gay man who entered into a heterosexual marriage that it is o.k. for him to have sex with men while still remaining married to his wife, and keep the whole thing quiet?

Similarly, I disagree with Bishop Robinson's notion that priests should push the agenda of female ordinations, in the hope that acceptance of homosexuality will soon follow. Here lies my deepest issue with people who bring political agenda into the Church (women's ordination is often more political that social). To allow women to be ordained within the Church would destroy the liturgical tradition and identity of the Church which has already suffered so greatly within the past forty years. While social teachings within the Church may change over time to reflect new ideas and understandings of the world around us, the liturgical practices and customs of the Church do not need to be stylized to suit the environment and times in which they are practiced. The Divine Liturgy of the Church is itself a living tradition and connection with our past brothers and sisters in faith throughout the centuries. It is designed to remind us of where we come from, and where we are going as a people of God. The Liturgy is supposed to lift our minds and hearts to Heaven, not water down its worship to a pop culture phenomena.

As Bishop Robinson and Father Longenecker would suggest, women's ordination and homosexuality are connected. I would argue this is not the case. These are two separate issues, which need to be dealt with accordingly. I personally am pro-gay marriage, but anti-women's ordinations. Gay marriage is a matter of accepting the human person in the state he or she is born in as a child of God. Women's ordination is a matter of liturgical, historical, hierarchical and traditional identity. I do not feel we have to completely alter the liturgy or make up of the Church in order to accept homosexuals as children of God.

Father Longenecker would seem to make the argument that interpretation of Scripture and Catholic tradition cannot, or should not be altered to change its view on homosexuality. Inspired by the author John McNeil in his book "The Church and the Homosexual", I think the Church needs to take a long hard look at where the ideas and teachings towards homosexuality come from, and why they evolved the way that they did. Much has changed in the fields of science, sociology and especially psychology since the time the Bible was written. In light of these changes, new understanding of the workings of the world around us, and even our own psyche, it would be helpful for the Church to re-evaluate its stance on homosexuality. After all, who among us would want to be treated by a doctor when we were seriously ill who knew only as much about medicine as people did in the first century? The Church was gradually able to accept the idea that the world was not the center of the universe and that the body was not divided up into humors which regulated our health. Perhaps one day, it too will realize that gay men and women are born gay, and as such as entitled to full acceptance as children of God, and their love just as valid as any other. (See also John Boswell's Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe)

I have always agreed that what the world comes to understand in years, the Church comes to understand in decades, and rightly so. The Church, like any religion, has the task of guiding its followers to a closer union with God, and to advise them in the best way possible. To change their stances regarding major topics on a whim would be devastating to the faithful. Change can be good, but drastic change can be frightening. I have often told people that if I were Pope, I would not come right out with an encyclical granting full acceptance to gays and lesbians. I would be helping in alienating more than I would be welcoming. Things have to be done in baby steps. Otherwise, we would end up like Bishop Robinson and the rest of the Anglican Communion, feuding with each other, and on the verge of collapse or major schism.

There are certainly no easy answers, and people are passionate on both sides of the issues. I cannot, as Bishop Robinson suggests, condone outright defiance and turning one's back on one's vows, nor can I agree with Father Longenecker that the issue of women's ordination is directly linked with issues concerning homosexuality. All I can do is continue to be myself and offer my petitions and praises before the Lord as I have done, every day, and most especially at Holy Mass. As an exhausted Pope John XXIII prayed one night, "It's your Church Lord, you deal with it!"

The article about Bishop Robinson can be found HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time flies....

It's been a very busy week, and things don't seem as if they will slow down any time soon.

Dad came home from the hospital last Thursday, and is doing just fine. There was no damage to his heart at all.. thank God! He needs to stay focused on a diet, and exercise more. Other than that.. he seems to be in good spirits, and back to driving us all crazy. In fact, he plans on going hunting soon.

Last week Anne's daughter in law passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). She had the disease for just over five months, and was 51 years old. I went to call hours last week before school to give my condolences to the family. I know Anne's children and grandchildren quite well, and had gotten to know Mary and her family well over the years. I felt so bad for Mary's husband Tim, and their two High School aged children. I could see the immense pain in Tim's eyes. I want to just wrap the whole family up in some kind of blanket that will make them all feel better, but no such device exists. Death is part of life, but that simple fact does not make it any easier when it we lose someone we love so much.

This week we have a LOT of family coming in from out of town to celebrate my Aunt Karen's birthday, which is Saturday. They will be coming to our house for lunch, then we will be going to the hospice center to surprise her. It will be nice to see everyone, but it is a lot of work to get the house ready in the mean time. We will be having over 20 people to feed, so I have to get busy baking. I'm making cookies and two different cakes for dessert, and Mom is ordering subs from Wegman's for the actual lunch, along with some side dishes we will be making.

I'm trying to get on the substitute list for a local school district. A good friend of mine is a Social Studies teacher there, and I had the opportunity to visit the school and her class last month. I really liked the school as well as that age level of kids. She will be going away for a week in December for a conference, and needs a substitute. The district doesn't have many, so she has encouraged me to put in an application. She'd be so happy if I could sub for her while she was gone since I also am certified in Social Studies, as well as having a good relationship with her to go over lessons in advanced to get the most done possible while she is gone. It would be great experience for me, and maybe even get my foot in the door for this district. Unfortunately, the district's webpage is not all that user friendly, and looks like I will have to call people and go back and forth with paper work to even apply for the position. Nothing like good old fashioned running around! Oh, how internet has spoiled us!!

I have also been working some more hours lately at Walmart. Good for the wallet, bad for my nerves. I'm beyond tired of working retail, especially with the approaching holiday season. It's so much crap to work through for so little money. Even the stigma of telling people I work for Walmart or retail in general when asked what I do for a living. I'm eager to be working in the field I have been schooled for, and more than ready to leave retail far behind. The week of Thanksgiving I am working over 30 hours... that's going to be rough. Thanksgiving week is the week from HELL.

Good God.. give me strength.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Elect, Obama!

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate, through the use of this humble blog, our President elect, Barack Obama. I feel so honored to have cast my vote in his favor in this historical election.

Scary morning

This morning I was woken up by my mother telling me my Dad was being taken by ambulance to the hospital because he was having a heart attack. He was woken up by a pain in his arm, which he thought was caused by sleeping on it wrong. He got up and put a pot of coffee on, but soon realized this was no ordinary pain.

The pain in his arm grew, and traveled up to his jaw. He woke my mother up and told her the problems. She said she was calling an ambulance, and he didn't say a word.. so she called. They were here in no time, and took him to Millard Fillmore Gate Circle Hospital where medical staff were waiting outside for his arrival.

I don't recall the name of type of heart attack he had, but it was rather serious. Had he not arrived at the hospital when he did, he might have died. Thankfully, he didn't put it off and was taken there quickly. The doctors put in three stents, and he seems to be doing much better now. He will be kept for 48 hours for observations.

He was in good spirits and humor when I left him around noon. Ever since I have been sending e-mails and fielding phone calls from family and friends.