Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Technology is still no substitute for work.

Remember the Palm Pilot?  That was the beginning of the end for me.  I went through a few of them before I realized that a paper calender and a pencil work so much better for me.  I got pretty good with the Palm software and was able to manage my time fairly well with the handheld device.  But there were always problems with synchronizing with the computer, and I lost one, dropped and broke another, and the technology gave me huge headaches and never really saved me any time. 

I don't have a smart phone either.  The technology looks amazing.  These devices do so many different things and are meant to make life so much more convenient.  They are portable stereos, games, calenders, Internet, phones, and life savers if you lock the keys in the car.  Touch an app and you're ready to play the latest bloody battle game, or research a paper, or maybe even give grandma a call.  You can even do an examination of conscience to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

When technology becomes so smart that it does all our thinking for us, though, I think we're in serious trouble.  I've seen how the Confession App works.  It seems very cool.  It gives you an extensive list of possible sins and all you have to do is put an X in the box by the ones that apply and it will automatically remember the sins for you in nice neat categories.  Then when you get into the confessional all you have to do is bring in the smart phone and you've got your list of sins right in front of you.  How much easier could it be for the penitent who has it all?

Of course the penitent still has to decide whether the sins on the list apply.  There's a little bit of effort for you.  But is that really going to be a substitute for prayerfully and courageously listening to the conscience as it helps us to understand the nature of our sins, their consequences, and our need to let them go?  Something as important as thoroughly reflecting on our sins takes time, honest effort, and it's not very much fun.  It's not supposed to be convenient.  The purpose of doing a thorough examination of conscience is not just to help us remember what we are to say in the confessional, it's also to help us understand more deeply what it is we need to change in our lives. 

Maybe I'm just "old fashioned."  I've always been the type of guy who does things the hard way.  I guess if I was smart enough to grasp the technology and really let it work its magic, the Confession App could really rock my world in a fantastic way.  But at my age and temperament, I'm going to live with doing the work myself.  I just can't make myself trust the machines to work right for me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Would you like some honey with your Gospel?

St. Francis de Sales used to say that you attract more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel full of vinegar.  I'm sure there is a great deal of truth to that statement.  But when I take a good look around I see that those flies who want to hear the Word listen well.  But how often do we lick off the sweetness on the outside and throw away the rest?

As I examine my own life I realize that I am a pretty direct kind of person, and while I can be diplomatic, while I can speak with sweet overtones, I am probably more like the prophet Jeremiah who had such a fire in his belly that he had to speak God's Word with a boldness that usually angered people more than it attracted them.  I know it's a good thing to challenge people in encouraging ways.  However, I am convinced that there is so much sugar in everything else people hear today, that there's probably not much room for the sweetness of the Gospel.

Here's my question.  How does the Church most effectively promote the Gospel to a culture that refuses to listen?  What works best?  Is a honey coated, spoonfed approach going to work better than a good old ass-kicking, or the old-timey revival approach?  If I went to a street corner here in Genoa, Illinois, a nice quiet semi-rural community and started proclaiming the Gospel, would that work?  If I went door to door and invited myself, or imposed my presence on the lives of this community, would that work?  Or, should I just keep on doing my best to preach well, love the people I'm called to serve, and just leave it at that?  I hope I get some responses to this blog.  Unfortunately, I've run plum out of honey.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Will someone shut that damn goat up?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tobit 2:9-14; Mark 12:13-17
Who was right in the debate between Tobit and his wife?  I can see merit in both positions.  Anna received the goat as a bonus for the work she had done.  Her employer might have been very pleased with her work, or maybe they just felt bad for her because she was working so hard and her husband was blind because a bunch birds pooped in his eyes. 
But Tobit’s position also has merit.  He did not want to risk eating meat that had been stolen.  He didn’t know where it had come from.  Perhaps his sense of justice was a bit too strict, but legally speaking hecould have been correct.  There is an undercurrent of real stewardship in telling Anna to take the goat back.  So often we have more than we deserve; more than we need.  Could it not be said that when we keep more food for ourselves than is necessary we are robbing the hungry?  Perhaps all of us have stolen food in our pantries.  I think I do…
What would life be like if all of us decided that we would give to God what belongs to God?  My guess is that it would be heaven.  For now, we live in this world and it belongs to God.  All we really possess is the life we have and everything else belongs to God.  If we only took and used what was necessary for sustaining our lives we would probably find that in very short order, poverty would vanish forever.  Poverty exists today because we who can afford all we want in this life are greedy.  Deep down we see ourselves as Caesar; we are demigods ruling our own empires and everything belongs to us.  I wonder what causes that kind of blindness.