Wednesday, November 17, 2004

smiling again

My friend Gordon Zaft sent me a link to a Catholic Exchange article and lo! -- it was one by Barbara Nicolosi who stands on a pedestal in my eyes although the last time I put someone on a pedestal I think it was Woody Allen. Read Barbara's
Five Easy Things the Church Can Do to Fix the Culture Fast
. Gordon, did you know I was talking about Barbara just this weekend at a Daughter of St. Paul's conference/retreat? She gets it. She gets it the way Andrew Greeley used to get it about film, before he got crochety and snarky to his critics. (Andrew Greeley's condemnation of The Passion of the Christ flew in the face of countless articles he has published over the years saying where are the Catholic filmmakers and the Catholics who will support good art in film. They played the pipe and he didn't dance.)

If I could figure out how I would put a permanent link in this blog to Barbara Nicolosi's Church of the Masses blog. But for now I'll put a link here.

Serendipitous email from Gordon is one reason I am smiling again. Another is that Sr. Kathryn James wrote me back about how crushed I was to come off the wonderful Pauline retreat to find a friend beating me up again about my vote this election. One bit of advice I really liked was this, in response to my trying to figure out the war and election and politics and what my role is in it all:

" In spiritual direction courses you have to learn to stop
the analysis because it leads to paralysis. We need to take up a stance of
observation, contemplation of the situation, if its inner truth is going to
unfold and reveal itself. I believe this is a bit of advice that's helpful
for any Christian in any situation. A contemplative stance. Ask: What is God
doing in this situation?"

Tonight I made a Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, which is something that the religious of the Pauline Family do every day. I am going to try to do it more often. I am part of the Pauline Family, and want to join my sisters and brothers in their prayer each day to Jesus Master. Not to mention it is always so wonderful to pay Jesus a visit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

formation of a Cooperator

I am fresh off the annual Pauline Cooperators Convention, this year held at St. Thecla's outside of Boston. It was an excellent weekend. Now I am back at UD and in the dumps. Peeved also. I got exactly one evening of peace, Sunday evening when I returned. By Monday I was aggravated again.

Here it is. I talked to Sr. Kathryn James and she is going to snail mail me the complete Donec Formetur exercises. Then I am going to start over again, and try to make the retreat in a consistent manner, rather than the fits and starts I did before.

I remember now where those fits and starts come from. I get too peeved and irritated by political discord. I am tired and increasingly impatient with what I perceive as being nagged and picked on by people who think President Bush is evil. This includes most if not all of my Wednesday reading group, comprised mostly of University colleagues.

What to do? I received another irritating email blaming those who voted for Bush for evils allegedly perpetrated by his administration. I started doing some research to see if the alleged evil mentioned in the note was something that I too would agree was evil. If it was, then yes, I'd support efforts to stop it. In this case I didn't have to go too far, because the alleged evil had been "put on hold" for the time being. Meanwhile, I asked the Green Delaware group who originated the email to refrain from pointing the finger at citizens who voted for Bush, blaming them specifically for this alleged evil and more to come. I said that I had voted for Bush and that I was interested in finding common ground with Kerry voters on issues that I too supported Kerry on, and working for solutions that all could agree on. That, I said, would move things forward in the country. The head of Green Delaware replied that moving forward meant assuming responsibility for the evils caused by a vote for Bush.

Well, I argued with him a little but realized I had way overestimated my ability to hold civil discourse with people who think Bush an evil man. I didn't know the GD guy but I do know, and have a relationship with, the woman in my book group (a friend) who sent me the original note.
I asked her if she sent the original note because she wanted my help on an issue or because she wanted me to receive the GD guy's message that I and other Bush voters were to blame. She replied, "Rae, I was confident you would want to do whatever possible to confront and help
contribute solution (through the petition) to this seriously problematic study that has everything to do with how children are considered and treated by this Administration."

So in other words, a bit of both.

I don't think I am in any way suited at the moment to collaborate on social and political issues with those who hate Bush. I may never be suited to do so. I know that in areas like, for example, Catholic and Jewish dialogue, people of good will on both sides spend years working out carefully nuanced expression of agreement, where agreement can be found. Perhaps it is imprudent and hubris-y of me to try to find common ground with self-proclaimed Bush-haters. Fr. Alberione says that as you begin the purgative way, whose special end is to live as an upright person, you should seek to spend time with "companions"-- com pané, "with bread", people whom you feel able to break bread with. I don't think I can make a serious effort at the purgative way, let alone the illuminative and whatever the other one is, if I am spending energy trying not to get mad at brick-a-bats thrown my way by those who don't like the way I voted in the election. Maybe I need to go cold turkey, quit the book group, accept the coldness and lessening of affection that will come from that, and take as much "flight from the world to the school of the Divine Master" as I can. Novices and postulants get time "away from" the daily fray while they are undergoing formation. Why not me?

Friday, November 05, 2004

Four more years

The election hoopla is over. George W. Bush won another four years, this time with no doubt about his capturing both the popular vote and the electoral college. There is much gloating on one side, much cheering each other up on the other. The gloating is understandable but offends my ears, and I am on the winning side. The most remarkable fact of the election this year in my opinion was that 3 million more people voted than did four years ago. That's a lot of people stirred out of apathy. If that many people would stay interested in upcoming legislation, court decisions, etc., perhaps our democratic experiment could have the chance to shake off the torpor of helplessness so many people feel in the face of complex globalization issues, war, ubiquitous media influence, and the general harassments of day to day living in a world of voice mail routing systems, cell phone mania etc. We cannot afford to indulge in feelings of helplessness. There is work to be done.

I have not heard from or seen any of the Bush-haters among my friends except for Lisa. I tried to be conciliatory but came off, I fear, as irritatingly magnanimous as only a winner can be. I don't know what to say to Nancy, to Ellen, to Susan. I hope that their fears of apocalypse if George W. wins can find relief without furthering dividing them from ... to be selfish about it ... me. This campaign was a civil war of sorts and the wounds hurt. No wonder it is 150 years later and the South still resents the North.