Have a tall glass of Kryptonite

I don’t like milk, in fact it is my kryptonite.  My wife knows this and when she wants to gross me out, she’ll leave a cup of milk on the table a bit too long and as the milk reaches room temperature my skin begins to crawl.

My hatred of milk started many moons ago when I was forced to dump out gallons of rotten milk down a slop drain at the grocery store I used to work at.  I used to plug my nose as chunks of curdled and sour milk glugged out of the jug and headed down the drain. Needless to say this wasn’t my favorite job assignment.

One day I was pouring two gallons of sour whole milk down the drain when I noticed the drain not fully draining anymore.  The curdled milk was starting to spread out across the floor.  Hmmm I thought to myself must be something wrong with the drain and when a sour milk drain stops draining, the only thing to do is to continue pouring milk down in hopes that it will eventually start to work.

I poured the remaining milk down the drain and hoped it would unclog. Alas it did not and now I had a pool of sour milk spreading across the floor.  Whoops better grab a mop.  I headed over to grab a mop and in the process caught my manager’s eye.

“Hey Undem, something spill?” my manager said.

“Nope, just need to mop up some sour milk that won’t go down the drain,” I grabbed the mop bucket and made my way back to the drain.

“That thing stop working again eh?  Well you best figure out how to get it cleaned out.” he said returning to his inventory report.

Oh crap, I need to clean out the milk drain.  The thought of the milk drain made me throw up a little in my mouth.  It was the probably the one job at the store I feared the most.  I’d rather clean toilets or pick up cigarette butts with my bare hands than clean out the milk drain.  That thing was absolutely disgusting, but there was work to do.  I rolled up the sleeves on my white dress shirt and hung my tie up in the break room.

Thankfully, I don’t remember much about cleaning out the drain.  My brain has blocked most of the images out of my head in an attempt at self preservation.  All i do remember is that it was probably the most disgusting thing I have ever done in my life and it has since soured me on my desire to drink milk.

CL1_2517Recently I thought I would make an attempt at drinking milk again.  So one evening I poured myself a nice talk glass of Kryptonite and took a small sip, and by small I mean a very small sip.  The milk made its way across my taste buds, who in turn lit up like a Christmas tree alerting my brain that milk had breached the system defenses and evasive actions where needed.  That one small sip was all I needed to confirm to myself that I still hated milk.

The next day i decided to try milk again, this time I would try while on my lunch break at work.  I figured since I was no longer at home and in a new environment that maybe, just maybe milk would taste better.  One tiny sip later and it was confirmed that I hated milk while at work too.  It doesn’t matter where I am I don’t like milk.

As I ponder my recent milk experiment and it’s bearing on my life I can’t help but call to mind part of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  We all struggle at one time or another in our lives with God’s will.  We fail to do what He asks of us or simply don’t like what He wants for us to do.  Truth of the matter is if we don’t like God’s will here on earth, we aren’t going to like it heaven, just like if I found out if I don’ t like milk at home I’m not going to like it at work

If we truly desire heaven we must first learn how to do God’s will here on earth.  I just hope God doesn’t desire me to like milk that may be kind of hard for me to swallow.

God Bless.

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Happy Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of Catholic publishers and writers.  Since he is one of my favorite saint’s I’d like to share a brief bit of his writing.  I’ll admit his writing are a little easier to read than some of mine.

Check back next week for the next installments of “Forgive me Father”  I should have a bunch of chapter ready to go, been a tab bit busy as of late.  God Bless

From the Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales, bishop
Devotion must be practiced in different ways

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

 

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

 

Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganized and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion, my Philothea, destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfills all things. In fact if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

 

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.

 

It is therefore an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans’ shops, from the courts of princes, from family households. I acknowledge, my dear Philothea, that the type of devotion which is purely contemplative, monastic and religious can certainly not be exercised in these sorts of stations and occupations, but besides this threefold type of devotion, there are many others fit for perfecting those who live in a secular state.

 

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

 

God Bless

Life’s little annoyances

My car has developed a personality as of late, despite the fact that popular science has shown that inanimate objects are incapable of developing personalities, my car has developed one.  I blame it one the fact that it’s been hanging around with a bunch of other cars in local parking lots after dark.  Nothing good ever comes of hanging out in parking lots after dark.

Parking Lot, Clarendon and Stuart Streets

It used to be such a sweet car.  It always listened to what I told it to do.  It accelerated when I hit the gas and slowed down when I hit the brakes.  When I was cold, it provided heat, when I was hot it filled the passenger compartment with icy cold air.  Even when I left it alone in parking lots and locked it to keep it safe, I was greeted with friendly honk of the horn.  It was as it the car was saying “So long Danny, see you in a bit. I’m just going to rest here for a while.”

Oh I’m still greeted with a honk of the horn when I lock it, but the horn has changed tones.  It sounds more defiant.  Now, instead of the “So long Danny” sound, I hear a “get out of here, leave me alone to hang out with my friends” attitude filled beep.  This has been going on for weeks now and I’m not sure I like the change in my car’s tone.

There is another part of my cars attitude shift that has developed, the car has randomly started flashing the brake lights and emitting a warning tone so loud it would end up on the decibel scale somewhere between a running washing machine running filled with rocks and a jet air plane taking off.  The first time this light and sound show happened I nearly spit coffee all over the windshield.  I was driving down a dark country road early one morning and to see a flashing brake light and a jet engine toned beeping that early was a little concerning.  I gently applied the brakes to ensure they were working and then the light went off.

False alarm I thought to myself, no need to panic just keep driving.  Then 10 minutes later another beep loud enough to wake the dead and the flashing brake light.  The brakes were once again verified and as I applied them I swore I heard the engine laugh a bit.  Was my car simply playing around with me?

Well this has now been happening for weeks now and each time it happens my blood pressure rises and I get madder and madder at this phantom problem. In other words, my car is winning.  If it’s goal is to annoy me, it is doing a fantastic job of it.

The beeping is driving me nuts!!

The beeping is driving me nuts!!

I’ve been complaining of this to my wife pretty incessantly since it started, yet she has never heard it.  That is until yesterday.  We were out running a few errands, when my car messed up, it forgot that I wasn’t the only one in the car when it launched into it’s screaming light show.  The first beep caused my blood pressure to rise, the second nearly blew out my ear drum and the third forced me to emit a loud blast of frustration.  To which my lovely bride turned to me and said “Is that the noise that’s been causing you such problems?  That’s nothing.”

“Nothing,” I muttered back “Did you hear how loud that thing is and it does it all the time.”

“Simple fix,” she said. “Next time you hear it say Father Son and Holy Spirit and then offer a quick prayer for someone.”

“Wait, what?” I said in protest. “You did hear that right?  That loud, annoying, random beeping. I’m not just hearing things am I?”

“Just pray the next time you hear it.”

The simplicity of her statement struck me. Take this horribly annoying thing my car was doing to drive me batty and turn it into a positive.  My wife’s idea was put to the test moments later.  Beep Beep Beep…prayer.  Five minutes later beep…beep…beep…prayer.

For the rest of the journey I took my wife’s advice and every time that silly brake light came on, I said a simple prayer. By the end of the day’s journey I was no longer annoyed by the noise, but rather enjoyed hearing the ear piercing scream fill the car.  I had become like Pavlov’s dogs only I prayed rather than salivated when I heard a beep.  Take that car, bested by a human.  Who says German engineering is superior to American ingenuity?

In fact I’m going to start looking for other little annoyances in my life as opportunities to pray.  Stub my toe, say a prayer, dog won’t come home when called, pray. Stuck in traffic, pray.  Take all those little moments in life where there exists an opportunity to move further away from God and turn it around and use them as moments to grow in your faith.

Thanks to my wife, I’m no longer angry at my car for developing a personality. Instead I’m rather thankful, although I’m still banning it from hanging out with other cars after dark.  Nothing good happens in parking lots after dark after all and we’re still going to have a talk about the tone of it’s horn.

IMG_1246

Always keep praying.

Slip Sliding Away

Dawn

Let it be known that I do not sleep with my laptop or any other electronics with me.  As a writer, I am fully aware that I am running the risk of losing the next great blog piece or some other novel idea by not keeping my tools of the trade at the ready. In fact, had I had a computer next to me this morning, you would be reading a completely different piece than the drivel I am currently writing.

This morning I had the perfect blog piece, it made so much sense, was full of so much wit it would have no doubt been one of my best ever.  I lay there writing the intro, the body and the conclusion in my head and yes I will even admit I did emit an audible laugh in my sleep, my friend the piece was that good.

The sun was still well below the horizon when my feet hit the floor.  I set about the day, making a note that when I have a moment I should write down this most excellent blog post. Well, I have to admit the day, like my dreamy blog post, got away from me.

I didn’t intend for this to happen.  I meant to write the post on my lunch break, but instead spent it catching up on social media and the latest news.  I meant to write when I got home from work, but it was time for supper, time to watch my dog aimlessly lick some random spot in the carpet.  Then it was time to help my daughter with her homework, nighttime snack, make sure her teeth get brushed and the  other various chores and routines that make life worth living.

I now sit in front of a nearly blank computer display trying desperately to remember what the genius of a blog post was all about.  I think it had something to do with railroad tracks and Saint Joseph, nope that isn’t it maybe it was….nope that’s not it.  Oh forget it too be honest I’m now more intrigued why my dog is fixated on that spot in the carpet than I am on remembering my blog post.

It’s not only blog posts that get away from us as we go about our daily lives.  I often find all to often it too easy to forgo prayer. I mean I intend to spend time with God, I’ll do it just as soon as I finish this report, or once teeth are brushed or once this episode of “insert show title here” is over with.  How easy it is to keep sliding communion with God down our to do list, but don’t let it slip too far down on your list.

Prioritize your time to include time in prayer.  God desires a relationship with you, isn’t it time you desired the same?

The Doors

Like many home in America, mine has a front door.  It’s not a super high efficient state of the art front door mind you, no mine came from much humbler beginnings.

One night, many moons ago I was over at a neighbor’s house conversing about the latest and greatest in hand tools or whatever else typical males talk about when the topic shifted to the dusty door laying on the ground.

“What are you going to do with that?” I asked pointing at the door.

“Burn it.” my neighbor replied.

“Mind if I buy it from you? I need a new front door.”

“You can have it, I was just going to burn it a bonfire.”

I ran across the street grabbed my SUV and loaded up the door and headed home proud as a peacock.  My wife, however, wasn’t so thrilled with my recent find and to her credit the door was ugly.  It was a dark brown masterpiece straight out of 1970, but I saw the beauty contained within, my wife not so much.

Broken Doors Apart

A few weeks later and after buying a couple of new tools (all men know new tools are required to hang doors) I had a new front door.  Oh sure the door hangs slightly askew and is isn’t perfect, but it opens, closes, and keeps the weather out so I guess it meets the qualifications needed for a door.

I’ve walked through that door more times than I can remember over the years and each time I cross the threshold, nothing inside me changes.  What I mean to say is that I am who I am whether I am inside my house hanging with my family watching a movie or whether I’m outside in the world chasing down my destiny I don’t change who I am.  I am a husband, father, all around good guy who has a wonderful smile and smells pretty nice and no matter where I am.

There is another door in my life, this door is better constructed than the one on my house (the person who hung it must have known what they were doing unlike me), but just like the door on the front of my house. I’m the same person whether I’m inside or outside.

This door is the front door to my church and no matter if I’m sitting inside the sanctuary at mass or sitting in the parking lot I’m Catholic.  I’m not Catholic for just one hour a week when I’m at mass, no sir I’m Catholic 24/7.

We need to realize that we are all Catholic not just when we are at mass, but also when we are out in the “real world” and we need to do a better job of taking our Faith out into world with us.  We need not celebrate our Faith for a mere 60 minutes a week, but rather celebrate it 24/7.

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis recently tweeted “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!”  Follow the Holy Father’s advice take your Faith through the doors when you leave, spread the Gospel, live your Faith, the results could be no less than revolutionary.

Been one of those springs..

It has been a tough spring here in Minnesota, one of the tougher I can remember.  It’s the kind of spring that’s so tough to get through, boys as young a 8 are now growing beards because standing at the bus stop early in the cold mornings has toughened them up so much they now appear as grizzled mountain men.

Snow flake

I’ve hear rumors that spring will arrive and I can once again go outside without fear of losing an appendage to frost bite, but as of today they are just unconfirmed rumors.

My dog is as confused by the lack of spring weather as I am.  She is usually well into shedding her winter coat by now and evidence of her early molting can be seen on the carpet in the basement.  Thick tufts of hair are left behind from her midnight scratching sessions.  However, after going outside in last night’s snow storm I witnessed my dog head over to one of her shed piles and roll around in the lost hair in an attempt to regain the lost insulation.  It’s been that tough of a spring.

Don’t even get me started on the birds.  The poor little birds who when they began their migration all those weeks/months ago thought they would be ending up in springtime in Minnesota and not the frozen tundra that exists in their absence.  If one listens closely you can hear the female birds yelling at the male birds for making them leave so early.  It is as if they say “See I told you we should have waited until Fran and Herb left, but no we had to leave early to get the best nesting spot.”

I’ve watched more little birds this spring sit on the railing of my deck all puffed out trying to keep warm as snow flies sideways and pelts them in the beak.  Every snow fall this spring my wife has alway said “Those poor birds, we should really get out feeder set up.” to which I would usually reply with a “I ain’t going out there. It cold and snowing. Besides the birds are tougher than they look.”

Well, last weekend my wife arrived home with a small bag of bird seed which she and my daughter threw amongst the freshly fallen snow.  Soon enough our deck was full of small birds hopping too and fro picking up the spilled millet and seeds.  The once undisturbed snow quickly filled with the small birds tracks and discarded seeds.  Inspired by my wife, I even ventured out into the snow and hung up a full feeder for the birds.

A male Northern Flicker (or Yellow-shafted Fli...

I now sit watching two birds eating their fill at my feeder, and as they make a mess out my deck with their discarded seeds and such, Mathew 6:26 comes to mind “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”

This verse often comes to my mind when I watch birds or hear birds throughout the summer.  It is that subtle reminder to me that God will take care of me and I am not supposed to fill myself with the angst and worry of the future.  Just as God feeds the birds, he will take care of His flock.

But as my feeder rocks back and forth in the chilly spring air a new meaning to this verse slowly permeates my thoughts.  I am reminded that while indeed God will feed the birds of the air, sometimes he asks his followers to help.  He asks all of us who follow Him to feed no only the birds, but also each other.  We need to take this to heart and in our daily lives remember this by offering help to those in needs, praying for those who have no one to pray for them, and offering a word of encouragement to those who are downtrodden.

I remember that spring will eventually come.  The eight year olds down the road will eventually shave their grizzly winter beards and my dog will fill the floors of my house with enough dog hair to stuff a queen sized pillow.  God will continue to care for and feed me, just as he cares for and feeds the birds.

Birds

I’m More Like Peter Than I Care to Admit

I am more like Peter than I care to admit.  Every time I hear the Gospel in which Jesus tells Peter he will deny him three times before the cock crows I usually think to myself, Peter may deny you but I wouldn’t have.  I always think that for some reason if I had been in the same shoes as Peter there is no way no how that I would have denied Jesus.

I don’t really know why I’ve thought this maybe it’s because I’ve always been really good at following directions.  When I was a young lad I used to love to fish.  I mean I was obsessed with the sport.  I had tackle boxes filled with lures and I’d read just about any book I could get my hand on regarding the topic.

Every year the local mall would have a boat/fishing show.  For me this was my young selfs definition of heaven. Aisles upon aisles of the latest and greatest fishing boats, lures, guides and even a few free samples.  I used to get all excited when the ads would come on the radio announcing the boat show.

One particular year my family went to the boat show and on the way there I was envisioning all the sights and smells that was my favorite sport.  I remember when we arrived at the show, my Mom and Dad had to make a return at a store and I was asked if I wanted to go with or stay out in the mall and look at boats.  I chose the boats, but before my parents left I was given what I thought were specific instruction not to leave the wing of the mall I was in and that my parents would come back and get me.

I was thrilled to be able to look at boats and not have to go return whatever it was my Mom needed to return.  It didn’t even matter to me that the section of the mall I was in was filled with pontoons and not fishing boats. It was still better than waiting in line for a return.

I strolled around each pontoon looking at the different features each pontoon making more excited to go and see the real boats, the fishing boats.  I could see a couple of fishing boast over in the distance, but there weren’t in the wing I was in and therefore off limits.  Besides my parents would be back soon enough to get me.

The time passed slowly, ten minutes began twenty and twenty began thirty and still no sign of my parents.  Maybe they had forgotten about me, but no matter how much I wanted to go out and look at the other boats I stayed put.  I was told to stay by the pontoons and that’s what I did.  After about an hour and a half my family finally came back to get me.  Turns out my Mom had assumed I’d be out wandering the show and that she would eventually run into me.  I wasn’t I stayed put, like I was told to.  That year the only boats I saw at the show were the pontoons, we left shortly after I was reunited with my parents.  My desire to follow directions caused me to miss out on the highlight of my year.  Ya see I’m really good at following directions.

For some reason, whether it is my ability to follow directions or my own arrogance, I’ve often thought that I wouldn’t have followed in the footsteps of Peter.  I’ve recently come to the conclusion, like the first line of this post states, I’m a lot more like Peter than I care to admit.

St. Peter Denying Christ, by Gustave Doré

For you see just like Peter, when I am surrounded by fellow believers and in the presence of Christ I truly do believe that there is no way I’d ever deny Christ in my life.  There is no way I’d deny Him once let alone three times.  But then, when I head out into the world and go about my daily life it is so easy to deny Christ and not even realize that I’m doing it.

I deny Him when I fail to see Christ in my fellow man and turn my back on someone in need.  I deny Him when I fail to pray aloud before a meal in public out of fear of ridicule for my beliefs.  I deny Him when I fail to defend my beliefs when people challenge them.

I have realized that I deny Christ more in my life than I care to admit.  Too many times in my life I have become just like Peter standing around a fire warming myself and when questioned if I am affiliated with Jesus I deny it out of fear for my own well being.

It doesn’t matter that I’m really good at following directions because just like when I was at the boat show I often times misinterpret the directions and while I think I am doing well it turns out I’m failing.

Yes, I’m more like Peter than I care to admit and just like Peter I weep bitterly for my denials of Christ.  I need stop denying Christ in my life and instead life my life for Him.  It’s what Peter did and you see I’m more like Peter than I care to admit.