Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jeans & Shorts at Mass?

The teenagers did all the music, ushering and so forth at the late evening Mass.

By the time Mass was over, I realized I had been gripped by a familiar debate that rises within me from time to time . . .

Is it okay to wear shorts and jeans to Mass? What about when you are serving on the altar? Is it okay during the week but not on Sundays? Should we just be happy people attend? Is it being judgmental to be concerned about what people wear?

The song I was singing—a familiar one—had this line: “Give me the mind of Jesus.”

I immediately recognized the irony. Would Jesus care? Probably not, but still, there I sat in my humanity, frustrated by the river of jeans and shorts on teens and adults alike, ministers of the Eucharist and attendees.

We have lots of excuses for not dressing up for Mass. We’re running behind. It’s a weekday. We want to be prepared for our after-Mass activities. We want to be comfortable. We don’t want to argue with the kids. It’s not important. The list goes on and on. I know. I’ve used some of these excuses myself.

But still, isn’t it disrespectful? Mass isn’t like anything else we do, shouldn’t our clothes reflect that? Shouldn’t we bother just a little more?

We teach our children to dress appropriately for other events, why do we negotiate when it comes to Mass? Is it that we are just glad they are going and don’t want to fight about it? If we have to bribe them by allowing them to wear jeans and/or shorts, what does that say about their understanding? How well have we taught our children about the Mass if the only reason they are agreeing to go is because they don’t have to make any effort? Is that good enough? Is it acceptable?

Where else do your children get away with that kind of attitude?

If your children are young, teach them to dress for Mass. You won’t have an argument about it when they get older because the habit will be formed. Of course, you have to believe in the relevance of it yourself.

If they are older, why not explain to them your “new” understanding about the importance of dressing up for church and, as a family, make that change together?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nutrition and Hydration

For an excellent report from Catholic News Service on the issue of nutrition and hydration for "vegetative" patients, go to:

This is well-written and gives a very clear explanation of the Church's teaching on this very sensitive subject. I suggest you take the time to review it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Football Felons Update

The high school football players who confessed to committing larceny of a house and were legally released from jail for school and school related activities—including playing in a Friday night football game—have now been suspended for the remainder of the season and their coach was suspended indefinitely. The athletic director was also suspended for a couple of weeks.

Apparently, the injustice to the other players and the preposterous idea that playing football is a reasonable excuse for leniency in a larceny home invasion—just took a little longer for those directly involved, to process.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Forget what you learned in kindergarten!

I was watching a report on one of the morning shows about kids and their first day of kindergarten. It showed the separation of parent/child. Some kids handled it fine. There was one little boy, however, that was having a hard time. He was crying and sort of screaming. The teacher and the aid did a very good job of redirecting him throughout the day, giving him important jobs to do and he calmed down tremendously. But there was one thing that struck me.

At the end of the day, it looked like the boy got some sort of reward or little acknowledgement because of his change in behavior. The teacher (or maybe it was the aid) said to him, “This is because you did really good. You didn’t cry the rest of the day.”

I know they were just being kind, and it was good that he calmed himself down, but the language bothered me. Wouldn’t it have been better just to acknowledge that it is hard to separate from Mom and Dad and that crying is a natural way to express that sadness? Why did they have to associate crying with badness? Couldn’t they have simply rewarded him at the end of the day because he cooperated when they asked him to lead a line or some other task?

Too often, we, in the adult world, want to fix everything right away. We want to make everything all smiles and happiness, because that says to us that everything is okay. But, in truth, outer expressions of joy do not necessarily reflect one’s interior reality, which may be one of utter turmoil.

Read any study on depression and you’ll quickly discover that the happiest looking people can be masking feelings of isolation and despair.

I wonder if we might all be a little healthier if we let go of that first lesson of kindergarten, and, rather than pretending that sadness dries as quickly as tears, offer a healing comfort that allows tears and sadness to be shed, rather than stuffed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Football playing felons--does this make sense?

Two high schools students, aged 17 and 18, plead guilty to felony home invasion. Under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, if they qualify, they are allowed to leave jail to go to school. They can do their time at nights and on the weekend. Their high school coach was allowed to decide if they could play in the Friday night football game. He let them play.

For all players who have not been allowed to play because of poor grades or conduct, and for all parents who have ever had to painfully enforce a simple grounding, does this make any sense? Even if there is great remorse, even if it is an important game, even if it is allowed under this Act, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to the two young men to be denied participation in the game?

Is this in their best interest?

Healthy discipline doesn’t usually take the easy route. It can be uncomfortable and difficult. No one is doing these young men any favor by allowing them to play in the game. The adults in their life, that could have made a positive difference, have let them down by allowing them to play.