Friday, September 23, 2011

This is Your Invitation

The Sacredness of God's Handiwork - NOUWEN

How do we live in creation?  Do we relate to it as a place full of "things" we can
use for whatever need we want to fulfill and whatever goal we wish to accomplish?
  Or do we see creation first of all as a sacramental reality, a sacred space where
God reveals to us the immense beauty of the Divine?

As long as we only use creation, we cannot recognise its sacredness because we are
approaching it as if we are its owners.  But when we relate to all that surrounds
us as created by the same God who created us and as the place where God appears
to us and calls us to worship and adoration, then we are able to recognise the sacred
quality of all God's handiwork.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Sunday Visitor Interview

Although the hardships might seem like ample cause for a bleak atmosphere in the Church and a grim attitude among its members, three Catholics with a great appreciation for wit — Jesuit Father James Martin, Lino Rulli and Judy McDonald — argue that now is the time for Catholics to infuse their spiritual lives and faith communities with a renewed sense of humor and joy.
By Lindsay Ross. Three funny Catholics explain why lightening up a little is a must for followers of Christ

Comedian: God created us to have a sense of humor, and he’s in on the joke
Judy McDonald is a Catholic comedian and former youth minister based in San Diego, Calif, who has performed in parishes, conferences, colleges and military bases around the world. 
Our Sunday Visitor: It can be difficult for people to discuss religion with others. How does humor help you reach audiences on this topic?
Judy McDonald: Humor is international; it cuts down all boundaries. When people are laughing together, their guard is down. After you laugh and tell somebody about embarrassing things in your life, when you deliver the message of Christ to them, they’re more apt to receive it because now you’re not just some nut with the Bible thumping them — they know about you and you’ve almost built a relationship with humor. They can hear the Gospel on a level where there’s a little bit of trust.
OSV: When you perform, how do you strike the right balance of how much humor to put into the topic of religion?
McDonald: A misconception when people hear that I’m a Catholic comedian is that I’m just going to make fun of the Catholic Church, which I don’t do. I generally just report on my experiences. But for me, I’m heavily dependent on my ghostwriter, the Holy Spirit. Before, I would hem and haw and worry and now I really take into prayer who I’m talking to. When is it OK to put humor in and when is it not? It’s just something you learn over a period of time, and it’s only by listening and being obedient that you know.
OSV: How has having a sense of humor helped you in your own spiritual life?
McDonald: It’s a two-edged sword for me, because I get challenged a lot that funny people can’t go deep. That’s something I really struggled with until I came to the understanding that God created us in a certain way. Now I understand that the only reason I have a sense of humor is through God. What I think and what humans think is funny is because God enabled that to be in our personality. He knew what he was doing when he created beans and what would happen to our bodies. God has a sense of humor; I just think we don’t always get the joke. 
OSV: What are people’s reactions when they learn that you’re a Catholic comedian?
McDonald: Right away, people either say, “Oh, that’s cool” or “Do you make fun of the Church?” There’s a lot of misconception and misunderstanding. I think a lot of times with comedians we think of biting or cutting or tearing-down comedy. But humor in its purest form is just joy, and that’s why I think it correlates back to spirituality. It isn’t about tearing anybody else down; it’s about looking at life and saying, “Yeah, that’s kind of funny.”
OSV: What can Catholics do to lighten up a little and see the joy in life more?
McDonald: Certainly, the average Catholic laughs at all sorts of things, but what we tend to do as humans is secularize what we do and where God is. You don’t really think that God is present when you’re having a good time.
But he understands that part of being human is laughing. Once we understand that good humor is reflecting back on how good God is, I think we can celebrate humor more and not take ourselves so seriously. We can appreciate that God could have made us without a sense of humor and made us grumpy all the time, but he didn’t. You will spill milk out your nose if you laugh too hard, and God knows that; I think he delights when we do that.
McDonald’s website is

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'd a go, you'd a go, we all go crazy for the Vertigo

July 28th 2011 my world started spinning, literally.
While attending mass during a conference I was speaking at in Spokane, Washington all of a sudden my left ear became muffled and quiet and my right ear was engulfed with a high pitched buzz.  The theater that mass was being held in started to spin and my breakfast asked permission to come out the same way it had entered just a few hours before but I declined it’s request.  I sat down and made it through the rest of mass and then went to the speaker’s room and sat down very slowly.  What was going on? I didn’t eat anything weird like blow fish or unknown berries from the Forrest.  I had gotten plenty of sleep and had been drinking water. It’s not like I was nervous for my talk, I had already written it out and had given it once 2 weeks earlier and felt comfortable with it. I decided to lie down on the floor and once I was down, getting up just seemed impossible.  My heart rate started to ba-boom ba-boom double time and I started to feel like the lights were just a bit too bright and shut my eyes for relief but that didn’t help because my world was spinning just as much in the dark.  And that has been my story for the last 6 weeks. 
Vertigo isn't just like being dizzy. Please, being dizzy is fun; vertigo is serious. How can I explain's like going on the tea cups at Disney Land with the worst case of stomach flu you have ever had.  Throw in the annoying symptom of hearing my own voice in my ear (kind of like when you get water in your ear but it won't go away) and you can understand why I have been such a joy to be around lately.  It's not all bad.  Oh wait, yes it is. 
You never know how much you use one part of your body until it is rendered useless.  Who knew watching TV, reading, writing, using the computer, surfing, golfing, hiking, and going to Costco were nearly impossible to enjoy with vertigo.  I have only missed about 4 walking days through all this but now I walk a bit slower, a bit more side to side and with a stick (there are no walls to hold onto in nature).
Lately when people hear I have vertigo they have all sorts of advice.  Everything from shaking my head to taking a certain kind of vitamin only found on Sesame Street has been suggested.  People are only trying to help but after awhile it's almost easier to have people think I knocked a few back at the bar than to explain why I am holding on to the wall while I walk (because the floor keeps moving).  

Things slow down with vertigo.  Some words sound different to me than before so when people are talking to me it is certainly a trip and an effort to understand what they are saying.  It’s made for some awkward moments as well when I misunderstand  a phrase and take the conversation down a whole new path.  The trouble is people think I am just being funny so instead of correcting me they just wait for the giant punchline of why I am now talking about gophers when we started out talking about what side up a penny should be in one’s loafers.

The words coming out of my mouth have not been that cooperative either.  At times I know in my head what I want to say but what comes out is less than perfect.  Once again this is why the rumors at church have started. 

I never knew how many people nod their heads while talking to me and how much I use non verbal communication to agree with people.  It’s a hard habit to break especially when I don’t want to interrupt a person but still let them know I am listening.  So my conversations with people have become a real effort on my part.  Plus I stare and seem like I don't care, but really, I am concentrating! I must now focus on their mouth when they speak and if they are rocking back and forth I must grab them by the shoulders and tell them to stop, which doesn’t work since while they are rocking back and forth I counter rotate with my vertigo and I end up grabbing the air and sliding down the wall.  Once again, seeing this on paper makes me realize why the rumors have increased and why people keep giving me that look of empathy.  The same look I use to give the slightly older puppy with a lazy eye thrown in with a bunch of cuter younger puppies at the pound.  

After 2 weeks on prednisone and dealing with such fun symptoms as blurred vision,  nausea, vertigo and the most unique one of sometimes instead of food going down it goes up and out my nose, my ENT ordered an MRI of my brain.  This excites me for many reasons.  Obviously I love spending money on medical tests, that’s a given.  What I am really looking forward to is seeing not only the size of my brain but what kind of hamster is in the wheel that controls it.  I hope to God the hamster did not die in there.  But if it did we will replace it with a stronger, smarter hamster or maybe even a gopher.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

SFCC 50 Years!

Alumni Mass tonight @stfrancisvista 5PM! Celebrating 50 years, plus Sister Madeline Fitzgerald will be @ the reception!
"Oh love, come and see me!"