Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Funeral Plans

Don't Worry.  I'm not dying any faster than the rest of you.  I'm just planning ahead.  You might want to try this.  It will help bring a focus to your life.  


“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers:  This was the song of thanksgiving selected by myself and the other members I went to Cursillo with.  In addition, it is just one of my favorite songs and really conveys the Gospel message in action.

“Prayer of St Francis”  by Sebastian Temple:  Again, one of my favorite hymns because it conveys how to approach others  or situations as perhaps Jesus would.  Really, this is a great reminder for me when my instinct is to do the opposite at times.

“Canticle of Mary” by Luke:  Any variant will do for this as long as it maintains the integrity of the scripture.  I have prayed this prayer nightly during evening prayer for years.  This is really a beautiful song to read every night and as a convert to the Catholic faith, really helped by develop a love of Mary.

General Theme: Live life with the “Joy of the Gospel” to quote Pope Francis. 


OT – Isiah 58:7-10  Some real examples for how to lead a Christian life.  Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc.  Having an internal sincerity about your faith and your actions are connected. 

Psalm – Psalm 139  God knows me, truly.  He is always with me.  And you too.

NT – Phillipians 2:1-15 or Colossians 3:12-17: Live your life with self-giving love, as Jesus taught us to lover our neighbor as ourselves, even before ourselves.

Gospel – John 13:1-17 Jesus washes the feet of the disciples.  I’m really torn here between several Gospels passages.  I also considered the salt of the earth/light of the world (Matt 5:13-16) and the great commandment (Matt 22:37-40) but I think these ideas can be incorporated in the themes of the homily.


I would prefer that the homily focus on how we can live out Christ’s message of love in this world rather than focusing on the resurrection.  The great commandment tells us what we ought to do, love our neighbor.  The salt of the earth/light of the world message tells us that we are called to show that love to the world.  In a sense, we are the image of God to others in our words and deeds.  The washing of the feet is probably my favorite example of how Jesus calls us to love our neighbor.  The act is one of humble service.  I suppose that I can appreciate the image from my experience working in a hospital.  There is nothing exactly exciting about washing dirty, stinky feet (or other parts for that matter).  So in a sense, it is really easy for me to see how it is a totally self-giving act of love. 

All of the readings give the intended impression that we are called to action if we are disciples of Jesus Christ.  I don’t think it is required that you go wash feet, feed the poor, or become the director of some great program at your church.  Perhaps the best thing to do is live your life fully present with the joy of the gospel.  That might just mean that you share that joy with those around you every day. 

Other boring but important details – No flowers, no viewing.  Burial site is already purchased at Cope Cemetery.  I would like to be cremated and buried next to Sonya.  If you want to have a small get together at the house or parish hall afterward – please have someone make the chocolate sheet cake that Sonya makes.  I don’t really like chocolate cake but I like the one I always called the “Texas funeral cake.”  I love you all! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Running and the Virtues of Fortitude and Patience

Virtues are habits and firm dispositions to do good.  The word virtue is from the Latin virtus: virility, strength of character.  Fortitude is a firmness of will in doing good in spite of difficulties faced.  To put it plainly, I think of it as overcoming fear.  You might become a pretty good ultrarunner if you have a well developed sense of fortitude.  Anyone who is willing to toe the line at a tough run of 30, 50, or even 100 miles has hopefully spent some time developing this virtue.  In fact, I think that is one of the major aspects of training for and racing the longer distances – to know it might be really awful at some point but to do it anyway.  Fortitude is something that most runners develop through their training.  In fact, it happens naturally as our long run increases and as our weekly mileage grows.  We run longer and more difficult races.  The distances that used to scare us don’t keep us awake quite as much the night before.  The interesting thing is that a lot of this transfers over to the rest of our lives and we learn to “be not afraid.”

The virtue of patience is a form of the moral virtue of fortitude.  Knowing that, you might think that patience involves just getting tougher and enduring whatever comes along.  The distinctive mark of patience, though, is that it involves bearing the difficulty caused by another person or situation.  So, instead of overcoming fear, we are now talking about dealing with situations we don’t like very much - and maybe even seeing the joy in that.  We can grow in this virtue by learning not to complain to ourselves and others, to use hardships as a way to progress in this virtue, and maybe even desire difficulties as a source of growth in patience. 

Most runners I have met tend to get fortitude down pretty well.  Patience is sometimes another story.  Part of this is just a symptom of our culture.  We are a very time-impatient society.  We want something right away, on our schedule.  My shoe order said free 2-day shipping, and my shoes are taking 3 days to get here.  I’m thinking of the finish line, and maybe I should just focus on the next aid station.  If something doesn’t go just right in my race, does that mean it’s over? What if I tried to accept it and deal with it…what if I maybe even welcomed it…what if I was grateful for the difficulty?

My own struggle has been when my sense of fortitude leads to impatience.  For a while, that involved dealing with a setback in training.  My sense of fortitude made me initially say, “No big deal…that pain will go away,” followed by something dumb along the lines of, “I’m sure I can just run through it and then it will go away once I start to taper.”  This kind of thinking led to having to back out of two goal races I really wanted to run.  In the end, it is only through patience that I am really able to heal.  Truly backing off and starting over has made me grow in patience and is also making me a stronger runner and person.  The whole thing reminds me of some advice I got from a veteran ultrarunner before I ran my first ultra.  They told me simply, “Don’t try to push too hard and make things happen.  Relax, let the miles come to you.  If something comes up (and it will), just be patient and deal with it.”  That has been some of the best advice I have ever received.