Tag Archives: change

Turn, Turn, Turn…

July 5, 2014

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flowersTo Everything Turn, Turn, Turn….

Or so goes the song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
I have come to reflect again on this bit of scripture as I find myself moving from one era of my life to another. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser I have been taking time in my prayer to reflect on these movements in my life and how they really do fit into God’s plan.
A few years ago my children when off to college and thus I started a new era in my life. My mother recently passed away and a good friend has moved away (By coincidence she lives in the same town that Pete Seeger made famous – Beacon New York) . My pastor and spiritual guide has been reassigned to a different parish. I might be ready for a midlife crisis but the seasons of life are not only for empty-nesters – these seasons have been happening all of my life.
As a High school student, I readily anticipated and embraced going off to college and being independent (or so I thought) but even the anticipation left me with fear as I left behind security and family. My 20’s were filled with college, marriage and establishing some sort of career. It was quite hedonistic in it’s way, at least in that it was a time of the unholy trinity of Me, Myself, and I, but God was still leading me even though I didn’t know it. I learned about love through my marriage to my husband. I may not have known the fulness of God’s love for me yet, but I was learning. By my 30’s the season of raising children entered into my life. I would write more about it but it is a blur of diapers, potty training, sports camps, music lessons and play dates. Yet even during this crazy time of my life, I remember savoring every minute with my little children and never wanting it to change. God has his hand in teaching me about love here too. The sacrificial way in which we love our children, but I had more to learn.
My forties brought me a surprise. My children grew more independent and this season of my life brought me the surprise of God through a conversion experience I was not prepared for. I realized I was a child of God, His beloved and loved! I filled my life with learning and a zeal for evangelization. This season of my life brought me to volunteering for my church, to my work for the Archdiocese and in contact with mentors and friends who have helped me to learn more and grow deaper in my faith. Most of all this season has taught me how to pray.
I have lately realized that God is moving me into another season. A dear friend and spiritual sister has moved with her family to New York and my pastor who brought me to my faith and guided me through much of my spiritual life has been transferred. Like my children leaving the nest, it feels like the end of an era.
Even though my children graduating from High School left me reminiscent for the past, I relish the time with my grown up children and sharing their new lives as adults! I wonder what God has planned for me in this next season of my life. Maybe this season will bring me to more  wisdom and maturity in my faith? We will see.

I am sad to see the end of this season of my life, but it may be a time to deepen my friendships with those close and who have moved away, explore my relationships with my adult children and find out what God has in store for me next!
All I know is that seasons turn, turn, turn…

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

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Stuck confessing the same sins over and over?

January 30, 2014

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Better to ask for "the usual" here than in confession, where it's not such a good thing to come in with the same list of sins time after time. A good place to get "the usual." Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives.   Licensed under Creative Commons

Better to ask for “the usual” here than in confession, where it’s not such a good thing to come in with the same list of sins time after time. Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives. Licensed under Creative Commons

If a regular customer sits down in a diner and says “the usual”, an experienced waitress will bring their eggs exactly to order without any more questions.

I feel like if I said “the usual” to my confessor he’d know my list of sins as well as the diner waitress knows her regular customers’ orders. When I go to confession it sometimes seems a lot like the time before.

I commit the same sins over and over. It’s some consolation that I’m mostly not out inventing new sins but sometimes when I kneel in the confessional I don’t feel like I’m making much headway.

I guess what I should ask myself  is, do I really want to get these sins off my list and what am I doing to make that happen?

Conversion

What it takes is interior repentance, according to the Catechism. “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.

“At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart). “(CCC 1431)

According to one priest, the way to overcome sin is to “look at the causes of it in ourselves, address them, and avoid what leads us into temptation.” He suggests making an examination of conscience at the end of the day to look at each sin in context, ask for God’s mercy and grace and make a resolution to avoid those sins the next day.

Another suggestion is to journal about it and then go back to find patterns that could lead to a trigger or circumstance causing the sin. That can give clues about how to deal with those circumstances to respond differently the next time.

Desire to overcome sin

We have trouble doing  what we know is right because the enemy convinces us to give up the desire in our hearts to be good. If we don’t have the energy to please God, we won’t try very hard.

The solution is to ask the Holy Spirit to heal us and give us back the desire to please God.  A good goal is to ask God to help us eliminate one sin each year.

It is harder to work at avoiding sin than it is to say “the usual”  in confession partly because we’re kind of comfortable with those sins. They’re always there unless we decide we want to get rid of them. But change happens, if we want it.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit. 

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Jackie Robinson, Lucy and the quest for a better tomorrow

September 28, 2010

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As two events draw near — Major League Baseball’s playoffs and the announcement of the Strategic Plan for Parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — I thought this might be a good time to revisit a column from a few years back that connected the great American pasttime with something many will need to deal with  — change. — bob z

 By Bob Zyskowski

Jackie Robinson, more than half a century ago, knocked out one half of an analysis that defines my belief about life.

The other half of the definition comes from Lucy, the dark-haired girl in the Charles Schulz cartoon strip “Peanuts.”

Robinson, the Hall of Fame ballplayer who was the first black to play in the Major Leagues, said back in 1950 that he was given that opportunity “because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past to discover the truth of today, and perhaps find the greatness of tomorrow.”

In other words, we can change.

Lucy, however, pitched the curve ball.

In the first panel of a cartoon she says that nothing happens until someone changes.

Linus responds in the next panel: “But I have changed.”

Lucy’s retorts in the final panel: “I meant for the better.”

Can we ever know?

That’s the dilemma I keep bumping into today.

In our country.

In our workplaces.

In our communities.

In our church.

We have the potential to change, but we’re uncertain if the change will be for the better.

I’m not sure we can know.

But should not knowing – not being absolutely certain of the consequences – freeze us from ever allowing ourselves the opportunity to improve? Should it prevent us from the opportunity to – as Jackie Robinson said – find greatness?

 Who needs power windows?

Back in the 1970s, when our young family was forced to look for a new car, finances dictated that we settle for basic transportation. No bells or whistles.

Power windows?

What for? I never had a problem rolling them up before.

Skip ahead 30 years. Middle son is out in the work world and needs a car.

He sees an ad in the paper for what looks like a good deal and asks me to go with him to check it out.

The advertised car is definitely basic transportation.

It’s a case-study of the bait-and-switch sales technique.

The car comes with n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

No air conditioning.

No power steering.

Not even a radio.

And windows you have to roll up and down manually.

I recommend against buying the car.

The clincher was the windows.

 Accept conditions – or change them

Other changes in our lives and our society haven’t worked out as well as power windows on automobiles.

To take just one example, the pre-Sexual Revolution mindset that treated human sexuality as “dirty” was less than healthy in denying the positive qualities of this great gift from God; however, some of the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – sex without commitment, using others to sate one’s own sexual appetite, abortion, single parents and children in poverty, sexually transmitted disease – are evidence that change can sometimes go too far.

That some change goes wrong, however, cannot be allowed to paralyze us into accepting a situation that can be improved.

Author Denis Waitley once wrote, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

Several generations earlier, Catholic commentator G.K.Chesterton skewered hard-liners on both sides of the change/no change issue:

“The whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

 Start with a question mark

A mentor for me was the late Archbishop John R. Roach. A former president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops who for 20 years led the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he was asked once if his was a “liberal” diocese.

“I don’t know if we’re liberal or not,” Archbishop Roach answered, “but we move.”

If the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results, the sane choice may very well be to move, to do some things differently than the way we’ve done them in the past.

From my perspective, that doesn’t mean change for change’s sake. As cartoonist Schulz says through Lucy, the goal needs to be change for the better.

But staying the course when the course is not leading to satisfactory results, being bound by tradition when traditional ways aren’t working any longer, that’s just as wrong as taking change too far.

Start with a question mark, Bertrand Russell suggested.

The philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning writer offered, “In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

We need to do that questioning regularly, no matter where on the ideological spectrum our personal feelings lie.

A mover if not a liberal, Archbishop Roach told of forcing himself to question his own thinking. He was among the leaders in promoting the approval of the document that would become the landmark 1983 U.S. Bishops “Peace Pastoral,” but Archbishop Roach said he could never persuade New Orleans Archbishop Phillip Hannan that the pastoral was right.

“I had to ask myself, does he see something I don’t see?” Archbishop Roach said.

 Toward a better future

We’re in that situation with any number of issues in our lives, and especially in our church: The failure to hold onto teens and young adults who were raised in the faith is one example; our stewardship of parishes and schools is another. Keeping a pat hand isn’t the answer. Some of the things we are doing just aren’t working.

Neither is going back to the way things used to be. A century ago another archbishop of St. Paul proclaimed the fault in the kind of thinking that would have us to revert to the way things have been done in the past.

“I see no backward voyage across the sea of time,” Archbishop John Ireland said. “I will forever press forward. I believe that God intends the present to be better than the past, and the future to be better than the present.”

So we can change, and we must.

We may make mistakes when we do, and we may fail at changing for the better.

But doing nothing is failure just the same; it is failure to seize the opportunity to improve.

And perhaps to find greatness.

 Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit.

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