Bloggerhood Etc. 2/23/15

Kid on a bus.

Photo: Sarah Ruttan

Best Parenting Post.Stamps in Their Passport: The Highs and Lows of Travel with Children” by Sarah Ruttan at Alice Calahan’s The Science of Mom.

Best Commentary.School Is About More Than Training Kids to Be Adults” by Michael Godsey at The Atlantic.

Best List.Want to ‘Take Up,’ Rather Than ‘Give Up’ Something for Lent? Try the Acts of Mercy” by Elizabeth Tenety at America.

Most Infuriating.How The Boss May Be Quietly Pocketing Your Server’s Tips” by Dave Jamieson at Huff Post Business.

Best Reflection.When Your Life is Out of Control During Lent” by Natalie Trust.

Best Special-Needs Post.A Fashion Breakthrough for Those with Developmental Disabilities” by Melissa Hart at Oregon Live.

Most Monastic.De(tales): Mystery” by Hope Lyda, guest-posting at Cara Strickland’s Little Did She Know.

Best Profile.Is the College of Faith for Real?” by Evin Demirel at SB Nation.

Best of the Bunch.Spiritual Assault: How Not to Run a Parish” by Barbara Parsons, part of a series of stories on the Catholic priesthood at Commonweal.

Best Video.Zeppelin!” by Louisville Leopard Percussionists (via YouTube).

To catch up on the great posts I’m reading online and to get a sneak preview of next week’s candidates, check out my new Around the Blogosphere board on Pinterest.

The First and Greatest Painter

Rows of tulips in various colors.

Rows of flowers at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (Photo: Julia Ozab)

Every Spring as the flowers open to the warming sunlight, we are reminded who the first and greatest painter is. He doesn’t need paint or canvas. He paints in wavelengths of light, and his subjects are also his canvas.

Tulips

Tulips (Photo: Julia Ozab)

And he gave us the eyes to see the beauty and the minds to appreciate it. We paint it, we photograph it, and we write words inspired by it. We will never improve upon the original, but we will always strive to come as close as we can.

Farm and tulip rows

Looking across the field to the farmhouse (Photo: Julia Ozab)

May the beauty of Spring remind us of the beauty we were created for, and may we grow in holiness as we finish our walk with Christ through Lent and rise with him at Easter.

Amen.

Today is Julia’s birthday and we are taking her to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival tomorrow to celebrate. It’s going to be a glorious day.

Five Minute Friday

 

Bloggerhood Etc. 3/10/14

Lenten Facebook cover art (via Google Image Search)

Lenten Facebook cover art (via Google Image Search)

The beginning of Lent, the first year of a beloved Pope, a week of great writing, and a song you can’t get out of your head—here’s the best of the week.

Best List.40 Ideas for Lent 2014” by Rachel Held Evans.

Best Advice.Getting Dirty on Ash Wednesday” by Gregory Houck at the Order of Carmelites Blog.

Best Retrospective.How to Really Measure the ‘Pope Francis Effect’” by Daniel Burke at CNN.com.

Best Commentary.Undressing Misogyny” by Natalie Trust.

Best Invention.Local Musician Invents Music Technology” by Stacey Kafka at KEZI 9 News.

Best Guest Post.Staying Silent No More: I Am a Christian Ally” by Evelyn Shoop at Believe Out Loud.

Best Brew.Pilot Batch Release: Stay at Home Dad by Stephen Weber” at The Bruery.

Best Parenting Post.Minimalist Parenting: Another Trend I Don’t Have the Time For” by Elissa Strauss at Raising Kvell.

Best (and Worst) Earworm.Why You Can’t Get That Song From ‘Frozen’ Out Of Your Head” by Laura Shocker at Huff Post Healthy Living.

Best Parody (of Said Earworm).A Frozen Father (‘Let it Go’ Dad Parody)” by Scott S. Kramer via YouTube and HuffPost Parents.

Habemus Papam . . . Emeritus?

Sede vacante papal arms.

The arms of the Holy See during the papal interregnum (Image: CC BY-SA 3.0)

This is my second Lenten Season as a Catholic (third, if you count the one I observed as a conformation candidate), and it is a historic one. Today, Pope Benedict XVI is relinquishing the Chair of Saint Peter. This is not a once-in-a lifetime occurrence, not even a once-in-a-century one. It has been nearly six hundred years since Pope Gregory XII resigned to end the Western Schism. To put that time frame into perspective, consider that in 1415—the year Gregory resigned—Constantinople was still Christian (it would fall to the Ottomans in 1453) and all of Western and Central Europe were still Catholic (Martin Luther’s father hadn’t been born yet).

So, yes, it’s a big deal, and it will take a while, perhaps even a lifetime, to truly understand the implications, but here are a few thoughts.

First, this is a good reminder of the difference between the man and the office. The authority that Christ granted to Peter is invested in the chair, not in the man who occupies it. Starting tomorrow, Benedict XVI, while retaining his papal name, will no longer be the Bishop of Rome. We who make up the Church, clergy and laity, will need to remember that, for however much longer God grants him the grace of his time on earth, he may be Pope Emeritus (that is retired pope),  but that is an honorific title only. He is no longer the pope, and today he made that clear by pledging obedience to his soon-to-be-elected successor.

Second, the pope holds the keys given by Christ to Peter. These keys are usually surrendered at death, but his handing them back to the Church reminds us that they belong first and foremost to the Church. Just as Christ handed the keys to Peter, the Body of Christ—that is the Church—hands them to Peter’s successor. The power is held by the Church and exercised on the Church’s behalf by the pope. The pope takes Peter’s place, and only for a short time. No one takes Christ’s place.

Third, this is a rare act of humility for one who holds an office invested with so much power. The pope holds several grandiose titles, like Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff, but my favorite title is the one that says what the papacy truly is, but rarely seems to be given the human failings of its many office holders, the Servant of the Servants of God. Jesus told his disciples not to hold authority like the gentiles do, but to serve like he did. He also said that in the Kingdom of God the last shall be first.

To paraphrase Jesus (in Mark 2:27), the Papacy exists to serve the Church not the Church to serve the Papacy. Taking the Pope’s actions at face value, I hope and pray that this rare act of humility will remind us of the pope’s appointed role in the Church, to serve the faithful and to feed the Lord’s sheep. I also hope and pray that his successor takes this lesson to heart as he leads the flock entrusted to him out of the wilderness of Lent and into the promise of Easter.

Amen.

Forgiveness has no Expiration Date

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Image: St. Mary’s, Longview, TX

Yesterday, I posted my planned Ash Wednesday reflection, but I left out one important part of my church-going experience: an apology for a slight long-past and already forgiven in my heart. I wrote about this encounter in August, 2010 on the old version of Fatherhood Etc. I reproduce the post in full here:

God Bless You
August 16, 2010 09:56:27 AM
Posted By David Ozab

I went to Mass yesterday at the Carmel of Maria Regina—a Carmelite convent about ten minutes from home. This was my second visit there in three weeks, and though I don’t see it as a permanent church home for my family it is a quiet, prayerful place that I enjoy visiting.

After Mass, I was walking through the parking lot to my van. As I walked to the driver’s side door, I heard a voice behind me.

“I’m surprised to see you here with those on your bumper.”

He was referring to the three well-worn Obama campaign bumper stickers that have adorned our van for the last two years. This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard a rude comment about them, but it was the first time I heard one in a church parking lot after Mass.

How Christian of you, I thought, but I refused to counter his comment with one just as rude. Instead, I got in the car and started backing out.

The parking lot is quite narrow so it took a few tries to pull out of the spot and straighten up without hitting someone. As I was about to drive off, I glanced over my shoulder. He stood there staring at my bumper stickers, like he could peel them off if he glared at them hard enough.

“What?” I asked, knowing the answer.

“What?” He sounded surprised that I was challenging him.

I paused for a moment, wondering what I’d say next. When I opened my mouth again, I think the Holy Spirit was guiding me.

“God bless you.”

His scowl transformed into a smile. “God bless you too.”

It’s been over eighteen months, I haven’t thought about it much since then but he had, and as we left church yesterday morning he pulled me aside:

“I don’t know if you remember, but I made a comment a while back about your Obama bumper sticker. Well, I just wanted to apologize.”

We shook hands and chatted for a few minutes. We have very strong, and often differing opinions about many subjects, but on two things we wholeheartedly agree:

  1. Those things we hold in common—our shared faith and our shared humanity—are far greater than any of our disagreements.
  2. Forgiveness has no expiration date.

All in all, it was an excellent start to a Lenten journey.