Friday, May 29, 2015

Favorite Quote of the Day

From National Review (May 18, 2015) The Week section:
President Obama responded to the rioting in Baltimore by condemning the rioters, calling for criminal-justice reform, lamenting such problems as fatherlessness, and then, in a long riff, urging Americans to do some "soul-searching." We know how to fix Baltimore and other troubled communities, he said, and would make the large investments necessary if we saw their children as ours. This is, of course, delusional.  If Obama knows how to revivify marriage or compensate for its decline, he should share his insight.  In reality, his confidence that he has the answers, and that the rest of us do too but are too callous to act on them, is a reminder that his worst personal failing is the same as his worst ideological one:  vanity.
President Obama, like many on the far left, is so accusatory.   Does he really think that we (whoever we are) are withholding solutions to the problems of racism and poverty because whites don't see children of other races as their own? Seriously? He holds us in such contempt?  And he has the answers, if only we would give him the money to implement them?  Whaaat? Such dark rhetoric.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Grace of Ordinary Time

The Easter season has ended and here we are back in Ordinary Time. I am reminded of the comment made by my friend Patti, busy mother of 11 children and faithful servant of the Church. She let out a long exhale and said, "Ordinary Time. I love Ordinary Time. It's so peaceful." Indeed, it is peaceful. It's not Advent or Christmas. It is not Lent or the joyous season of Easter.  It's ordinary. It is the normal rhythm of our daily lives.

There is a great grace that lies on the days that are high feasts in the Church. But may we never forget that there is grace in the ordinary as well. As Pope Saint John Paul II said, "We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

Ordinary time is about sweeping the floor, seeing what we have for dinner, picking up clutter, cleaning the bathroom. Yes, and it is about answering that phone call, sending that card, smiling at that grumpy salesperson, and blessing the person who just cut me off in traffic.

As Saint Philip Neri was quoted in the Meditation of the Day in the May 26th reading in Magnificat:
     A man should not ask tribulations of God presuming on his being able to bear them:  there should be the greatest possible caution in this manner, for he who bears what God sends him daily does not do a small thing.
No, it is not a small thing to bear the minor crosses of everyday life.  How we respond to them represents the stuff of which we are made.  Is there love in our hearts?  What happens when we are pressed, pushed, treated poorly?

The Lord notices when we turn the other cheek, when we respond with kindness when confronted with rudeness. Maybe that person is having a terrible day. Maybe that person needs our smile desperately. Maybe he or she is even approaching despair. In the ordinary experiences of everyday life may we keep the image of Christ ever before us, always imitating him to the best of our abilities.

As Francis Fernandez writes in the meditation for Wednesday of the Eighth week of Ordinary Time in Volume 3 of In Conversation with God:
When we serve someone with a smile and a pleasant manner it is as if our action has acquired an enhanced value, apart from its being all the more appreciated.
...And, in any case let us remember that Christ is a 'good paymaster' and that, when we imitate him, He notices even the accompanying gesture, the smile, the smallest piece of service we have rendered. He looks at us with warm approval and we feel ourselves well rewarded.
Yes, may we seek the "warm approval" of our God!  Let us give always of the love we have received!
From the words of Mother Theresa (as quoted in goodreads.com):
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness:  kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
Ordinary Time is ordinary. It's just another day. But it is the day that the Lord has made, the one in which we are told to rejoice. May it not pass by without our claiming the Hallelujah that is our song!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Announcing the opening of Foundation Chiropractic!!!

My son-in-law, Dr. Zachary Simkins has opened his new office, Foundation Chiropractic.

Dr. Zach is a strong Christian, honest, caring, and compassionate.  He is also an excellent chiropractor!!  I know this from personal experience as he has adjusted me many times. He has also provided care to my entire family and extended family.

Great at explaining things, Dr. Zach takes the time to tell you exactly what is going on with your back and what he will do to fix it.  He also gives you exercises to help correct problems and to maintain your good health.

Foundation Chiropractic is located in Ann Arbor and I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Who Has the Responsibility to Develop Character?

Psychiatrist Peter C. Whybrow wrote an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal ("This IsYour Brain on Easy Credit"), adapted from his upcoming book The Well-Tuned Brain:  Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived. Whybrow rightly concludes that we would all do better to avoid impulsive decision making and to develop a greater ability to delay gratification.  But the following lines really caught my attention.
Yet the habits of prudent concern and self-command develop, just as do profligate habits, through social exchange.  Ask who is responsible for the development of character and there is no single answer, because it is a collective responsibility.  It is regrettable that discussion of how good character is built has become an unfashionable subject, largely ignored in today’s public debate. 
Is the development of character a collective responsibility?  It is not. Parents are responsible for the development of character in their children.  Healthy societies support and reinforce the teaching of parents.  But the society in which we live, in many ways, can no longer be considered healthy. Parents must educate children in the virtues by constant and repeated instruction when children are small.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church spells this out quite clearly. In CCC 2223:
They (parents) bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.  The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self- denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery—the preconditions of all true freedom.  Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” 
Yes, the parents must provide this instruction.  No one else has the authority or influence over the child to do so.

Whybrow is right that the discussion of how character is built has become an unfashionable subject. Why is that?  I would suggest that there are two main reasons.  First, moral relativism has become the norm. Our culture is very committed to the irrational notion that there is no absolute right or wrong and that truth is relative and dependent on personal opinion. We are a ship without a rudder. Consequently, many parents are raising children not only without a compass to rely on, but without even the ability to argue that there is such a thing as a moral compass. The results have been predictable.

The second reason flows from the first. There has been widespread abdication of parents' responsibility toward children.  Some of this abdication is evidenced by the actual turning over of children to the care of others.  If you spend less time with your children, you have fewer opportunities to teach them about what is important. But even parents who are the primary caregivers of their children are frequently failing to teach their children about virtue. Why? Because of a prevailing and insidious child rearing philosophy that says that parents cannot control their children. So parents give up before they have even tried and then blame the bad behavior on the child, ignoring the fact that parents have tremendous influence and great God-given authority over their children. Discipline is very much out of vogue. It is much easier to throw up your hands and shake your head over the "bad choices" your child is making than it is to painstakingly and repeatedly instruct your child in what is the right way to live.  Yes, I said a right way to live.  And, yes, there is a wrong way to live.

We live in disturbingly dark and spiritually dangerous times in which to raise children.  But life remains a beautiful gift from God. Our God reigns. We must diligently call upon the Lord and implore the help of his Blessed Mother to discern and to follow his will in all of the challenges that life and parenting presents.  We must stay on the path illumined by his law and teach our children to do so as well. Our children will recognize the truth. But we must be the ones to show them.