Thursday, July 14, 2016

Make Me Broken, So I Can Be Healed

Our parish recently celebrated the groundbreaking for our new church building. The semi-casual event included parishioners of all ages gathered in lawn chairs on the edge of the parking lot, squinting at the shovels stuck in the mound of dirt while waiting for the brilliant sun to sink behind the trees. No Mass is what was advertised, but a comfortable (brief) Liturgy of the Word celebrated with three priests, a deacon, and our Archbishop Emeritus provided ample ceremony.

As we waited, I was struck by the words:

           Ground breaking

           Breaking ground

And I considered.....All things new must come from a breaking –

The breaking that defines our parish is to open suddenly because of pressure from inside.

Pressure from inside. Our parish is experiencing expansive growth. With this groundbreaking you could say we are bursting at the seams of the old building; we are breaking out which means we must break ground.

At the same time, groundbreaking means markedly innovative, introducing new ideas or methods. Archbishop Fiorenza referred to this in his homily, that we are growing much like the early church, the first apostles to preach the saving Gospel to newcomers. For some, the love of Christ is a markedly innovative, new idea.

As he blessed the ground, the architect, the contractors – he thanked each of us for what we’ve done as a parish. And what have we done, these sweating families gathered in the space where grass and mosquitoes meet the concrete curb? We’ve created a parish community united in our strong bond of faith to show one another Christ’s healing love.

This community of sinners, who are sometimes broken, help one another to be healed, to become new. When we struggle or fail, another is there with a helping hand, a kind word, or silent acceptance. The love we extend to one another is a powerful witness to the whole world. From this ground, broken through the strength of our love, will rise a new building where our families will welcome new families who will share in the glory of the Gospel and the sacraments.

The "J" Club: Fr. Joy, Fr. John C., Deacon Jim, and Fr. John R.

We celebrated that love together that afternoon as we welcomed back our founding Pastor, whom Archbishop Fiorenza reminded us he had the pleasure to ordain. We celebrated with our current Pastor, whom Archbishop Fiorenza reminded us he also had the pleasure to ordain. As another side connection, I commented to Archbishop Fiorenza that he also had the pleasure of confirming me when I was a young teen.

I look forward to celebrating in our new church building, not just because pews and kneelers will replace folding chairs, but because it marks the growth of our community and reminds us our differences and brokenness are superseded and healed by our common faith and love of Christ.

Lisa & Shelly breaking ground

Monday, May 2, 2016

5 Things I Learned From Law School

5 Things I Learned from Law School

When people hear I went to law school, graduated, took the bar and am actually a *gasp* LAWYER, they act a little surprised. And while I haven’t practiced the art of law in over a decade, I can still call myself an attorney (as long as I keep the State Bar of Texas happy). Once people pick up their jaw from the floor, I usually get asked if I miss practicing law. “Not yet” is my typical response. And then “Do you think you’ll go back to it?” To which I reply, “Not really.” Ha ha.

No, I don’t miss actively being a lawyer and I don’t have any plans to return to the law, but I also don’t regret going through all the work of law school and the bar exam.

Now that I’ve been a non-practicing lawyer twice as long as I practiced law, I can say law school taught me some very useful things.

1. The Law is Gray – We learn in law school that the law is the law, but then we learn how to interpret it, how to defend it and how to argue against it. What they actually teach us is to not accept anything at face value. Almost anything is a good, reasonable or legal argument away.

2. How to Outline
– Law students create outline after outline. It seems a bit weird at first, but then you realize there is a method to the madness. Outlines teach you to organize your thoughts, the material and eventually, your argument. I still find something really wonderful in an effective outline.

3. Think on my Feet
– The Socratic method is painful but very effective. For years after law school I would dream of a particular professor saying, “Ms. Henley, would you tell us…” Yikes. Three years of being put on the spot forces you to be good on your feet. And if you don’t know the answer, you’d better start thinking and talking fast.

4. Hone my Writing Skills – We think of lawyers using legalese and we do, when called for, but there were also times you needed to get your point across in a clear, succinct manner, so common language writing was more appropriate. Other times you needed to lead the reader down the rabbit trail to the conclusion you wanted them to discover, and still there were times when obfuscation was required in what you wrote.

5. Reading & Research – Law school teaches you how to bolster and support your point of view or argument through case law, testimony or evidence.

Overall, law school teaches you a way to think, not what to think. All of these lessons above I am able to still use. Trust me, my kids have learned all about having arguments with mom and the necessity of support for their position. The education and experience of law school (and the practice of law) really is invaluable for the practice of life itself.

I tell my kids you don’t have to decide a career for the rest of your life while young, instead you should think outside the box. You never know where life will take you, so choose what you are interested in and what will provide great training for wherever you land.

5 Things I Learned From Law School

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Catholic Guilt: Keeping it Real

Despite a long week, Lisa being chatty and Shelly just not feeling it, we got together to do another video talking about some feedback we received from our Easter video.  Watch to hear the feedback where a friend asks us about Catholic Guilt and Keeping it Real.

If you're not familiar with "Catholic Guilt," it's that feeling of not being "perfect enough" or "holy enough."    We talk about being late to Mass, not being good enough, how it's great to have expectations, but the reality of life is.... well life!   We're wondering if our culture celebrates being busy - is it a competition on who can be the busiest?

Our question to you:  How do you struggle with the every day and how you thing things should be versus the reality of our messy lives?

Lisa didn't do her homework (and apparently neither did Shelly), but here the links to some of the posts we talked about:

Oh, and watch out for a very unexpected photobomb!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Making a Mess and Being Foolish: The New Evangelization

Messy & Foolish by Matthew Warner
The little white book arrived in my mailbox with a sticky note attached, “Will only take 30-40 mins to read. I’d love to hear what you think?”

I love my “Catholic blogger” friends.  They are the best fruit from the time spent writing this blog and connecting with people online.

The book is brightly titled “Messy and Foolish.” It sounds like someone describing a middle school EDGE social night with a shaving cream fight, not a challenge to the faithful to build the Church.

And Matthew is on to something.

At the first opportunity, I found an hour on the “peach couch” (see the video) and started reading.  Less than a minute later I got up to find a pencil for underlining phrases and starring paragraphs.

The book’s title and premise stems from two different quotes from Pope Francis.  The first spoken in Rio de Janeiro at the 2013 World Youth Day:
I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out!”
Pope Francis doubled down on the Make a Mess concept in Paraguay in July 2015, encouraging the faithful to 
Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope, a mess that lets us meet Jesus and know God, who I know is very strong. That is the mess that you must make.”
Matthew’s book almost reads like a stream of inspired consciousness. It’s a quick read, but a long study.

His excitement over the prospect of making a mess, being “foolish” for Christ, and evangelizing the World is tangible, gets the brain going, makes you think. When you’re finished, the content tumbles inside your brain, with different points rising to the surface at odd moments. You want to run out and get started!

But there’s this sentence towards the end that caught my eye and stuck in my heart:

“Don’t let the pursuit of being a little something to everyone keep you from being everything to someone.”

Be Everything to Someone - Matthew Warner

I read this five times.  

Then I thought about St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little ways.” She wanted to be a saint. She wanted to become a missionary and travel the world.  But she lived most of her short life in the convent doing small acts of love with her whole heart.

After this great treatise on Making a Mess, Being Foolish, and Evangelizing, Matthew reminds us that you don’t have to do that on a huge macro level. You and your faith can be someone’s whole world in a little way. 

“We so quickly give the world and our work our best, yet struggle just to give our family enough.”

Messy and Foolish quote from Matthew Warner

Touche’ Matthew.  Great food for thought.

I’ll wrap this up with a  note that Matthew is partnering with Dynamic Catholic (lead by another Matthew – Kelly – I don’t know him personally) to develop this concept “Messy and Foolish” into something more. The official website invites you to take the concept further, dive deeper. Be sure to sign up for his monthly interviews for a fresh reminder and recharging.

And Matthew – with all the talk in our parishes about how to keep our Post-Confirmation teens active in their faith, you may have just hit upon a great post-confirmation young adult retreat theme. Let me know if you’re not going to run with that and we’ll chat. 

Grab Messy and Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, and Evangelize the World. by Matthew Warner in hardback here.  Or go here to get Messy and Foolish for your Kindle.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

It's Easter! Eggs, Mass, and Bugs?

Alleluia! He is Risen.  It's Easter afternoon so we wanted to spend some time chatting with YOU on our new video.  Join us as we discuss our Easter morning, blog posts from the past, and issue each other a throwback challenge!  Do you have an answer for our "random question?"  Don't miss our uninvited special guest stars vying for Lisa's attention in a most natural, but unwelcome manner.

Thanks for watching! We'd love to hear from you!  
Happy Easter Season!

Throwback post from Easter 2010 - God Spoke to Me on Easter Morning

Instagram photos mentioned in the video include: 

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