Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm Going to be an Excellent Poltergeist

Last night, two of my kids woke up crying that they couldn't find their pillows.

The younger one was the first to awake. I went into her room to comfort her, and from what I understood she said she couldn't find her puddle. So I hugged her and laid her down, assuring her that her puddle was safe. (?)

Upon my return to bed, my wife informed me that this child in particular has been known to wake up disoriented and can't figure out which way to lie back down, so in itself this wasn't an unusual scenario (although I'm such a hard sleeper that I usually sleep right through).

Then about 30 minutes later, the older one, in a separate room, woke up crying that her pillow had moved all by itself. We were both somewhat startled at this point; could there be something supernatural interfering in our lives? My wife went to her, and while the child hadn't seen the pillow actually move, it was at the foot of the bed.

So my wife got out the holy water and started anointing the kids' pillows with it. I said a prayer that if there were some spirit causing this distress that it would leave us alone (although I suspect that this child has inherited some of my wife's family's tendency to be fully functional in their sleep... ahem).

Then a nasty thought popped into my head.

What would my wife's reaction be, upon her return to our room, if I moved her pillows to the foot of our bed and pretended to be asleep?


I thought long and hard about doing that...

But I didn't do it. There are some things worse than poking a hornet's nest.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


St. Gregory of Nyssa is quoted as saying, "He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows."

The call to perfection in our Christian lives is probably the most intense paradox in existence. It is woefully impossible, yet absolutely necessary. Only through the impossible and necessary act of Christ on the cross can the attainment of perfection be made a reality.

It occurred to me tonight that the mere fact that we possess a fallen nature implies a call to perfection. For as soon as we recognize that we are fallen, we are recognizing that there is a standard up to which we do not measure. Imagine a fallen lamp. Or a fallen tree. The fallen state of these things is unnatural and tragic, yet it makes clear the intent for which the objects were created. So with our fallen natures; for if we fell we obviously have a state to which we can be restored.

I thus take a little comfort when I think of my vices and my trials; they are a testament to a higher calling. Only when I submit to my fallen urges, which are echoes of an innate desire for holiness, do I distance myself from that goal of perfection. The presence of the urges themselves is a source of hope.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not the Paperwork!

CTV National News tonight had a piece on how the federal government wants to ease restrictions on foreign peace officers who follow the quarries into Canada. The big hubbub is over how easy it will be for these police, rangers, or air marshals to bring their weapons with them.

It didn't take much digging for them to find a politician opposed to this plan. They quote NDP justice critic Joe Comartin saying, "Canadians aren't generally speaking enamoured with guns. I don't think they'll be very happy to find out foreign police forces are operating in our country, armed."

Yes sir! If you say so sir! I thought I was enamored with guns, but you've proclaimed otherwise, so okey dokey! That's right, Mr. FBI man, if you're hot on the tail of a serial rapist and he crosses the border, you have to ensure you stop at the booth and fill out form T37-TE9. And don't forget subsection HL004, which has to be in essay form. In triplicate! And spell "harbour" with a U!

Then the report went on to say that foreign police could potentially be coming into Canada having filled out less paperwork. Oh horror of horrors.

I don't know about them, but I like to try to use less paper in my life, and I really don't appreciate a national newscast trying to promote use of more paper. I know what's really going on here - CTV news is in the pocket of Big Pulp & Paper.

And they wonder why there's so much cynicism around us.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

7 Reasons Why I'll Never Join Facebook

  1. The term "facebook" is an oxymoron; a non sequitur. If they called it "Book of Faces" then maybe I'd join.
  2. If I wanted strangers to know intimate details about my daily life, I'd talk to my neighbours.
  3. As if I need another reason to spend more time on the computer.
  4. "We are like little explorers so busy reporting back, that we could never possibly discover anything." - David Warren
  5. Real socialization should involve a handshake. Not a poke.
  6. I'm in the Witness Protection Progra... oh damn.
  7. My mommy always told me not to write on walls.

Got more? Add 'em in the comments.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Some days in life require the taking of what I call an "emotional snapshot." I took one today.

We were walking out of Sunday Mass. In my left hand was the carseat with our youngest daughter, and in my right hand was the hand of my second-youngest. Holding her hand was my second-oldest, and holding her hand was my oldest daughter.

Me in my new Father's Day green tie, and them in their cute little pink skirts. We took up the whole width of the sidewalk.

Now that's a Catholic family. That's my legacy; for as much as I might have an impact for the Kingdom on the random people I meet in life, my girls will multiply that effect.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Earlier I wrote about transformation and what drives it: a renewed heart.

I was reading a homily delivered by the Vatican's Fr. Cantalamessa [whose name means sings the Mass] on the gospel reading where the woman washes Jesus' feet with her tears and annoints them with expensive perfume. His comments take my thoughts on transformation to the next level:

How a conversion happens is perfectly described by Jesus in the parable of the hidden treasure: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field; a man finds it and hides it again, then he goes, full of joy, and sells all he has and buys the field." It is not said that "a man sold everything he had and then went out in search of a hidden treasure."

We know how the stories that begin this way end. One loses everything he has and does not find any treasure. These are stories of deluded people, visionaries. No, a man finds a treasure and sells all he has to acquire it. In other words, it is necessary to have found a treasure in order to have the strength and the joy to sell all.
The treasure that I've been finding these last few days is a deeper walk with Christ. Specifically, he meets me every time I seek him out. Yesterday was a particularly hard day at work, with certain stresses and external pressures coming to bear in a manner truly grueling. I came home mentally and emotionally exhausted and, as per my new habit this week, sought him out in prayer.

I'm learning that this practice doesn't always result in a tingly spine or even a reversal of my mood; rather I am drawn into a place of peace where God listens to my concerns and wraps me in his embrace.

This is the treasure - a God who cares, who not only tolerates my petty woes but wants to offer comfort to me where I am; a God who I don't have to try to please with vain sacrifices, but who is always willing to meet me where I'm at.

I've found a treasure here and I must have it... and that's the point Fr. Cantalamessa is making. He continues [ibid]:

I was reading recently the story of the famous convert of the 19th century, Hermann Cohen, a brilliant musician, idolized as a the young prodigy of his time in the salons of central Europe[...].

After his conversion he wrote to a friend: "I looked for happiness everywhere: in the elegant life of the salons, in the deafening noise of balls and parties, in accumulating money, in the excitement of gambling, in artistic glory, in friendship with famous people, in the pleasures of the senses. Now I have found happiness, I have an overflowing heart and I want to share it with you. ... You say, 'But I don't believe in Jesus Christ.' I say to you, 'Neither did I and that is why I was unhappy.'"

Conversion is the way to happiness and a full life. It is not something painful, but the greatest joy. It is the discovery of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.

Amen, amen.

Friday, June 15, 2007


In my prayer times, I often find it helpful to write down my prayer, as it helps me focus. Occasionally I sense God's response and write it down as well. I don't believe this makes me a mystic or anything like that, and obviously these occasions are intended as a purely private form of conversing with my creator.

However, I felt led to post some of what he said to me tonight:

James [God never calls me Doogie], through all your sin, through all your suffering, remember that I love you. Remember what I did on the cross, that cursed piece of wood which held your sins to me as closely as I was held to it. Remember especially that I chose to drink that cup. Even as I hung there and absorbed all your sin into my eternal purity, I loved you. Indeed, those hours on the cross were my moment of greatest love for you, for as your sins flashed before me, my love for you grew stronger and hotter. In that moment I consecrated my life to yours; I claimed you for the Father and rejoiced with each drop of blood I lost, for even as I died I was thinking of the joy we would know together some day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Touch

I've been spending more time in prayer these last few days, journaling my experiences and insights in a binder which I've come to refer to as Compass. In trying to find my bearings in this desert, it has occurred to me that I must allow God to point the way, and my private prayer life has been dismal for several years.

Many things can keep us from God, but the all-time favourite excuse we feed ourselves is that we're too busy to spend any real time alone with him. So we tell ourselves that our work is our prayer, or that our family time is our prayer time, or we try to multi-task our prayer time with cursing at fellow drivers while commuting to and from work.

Tonight I asked God for a touch of real intimacy with him. I found a quiet corner, lit some blessed candles, read some Scripture, and waited. God granted my request, and assured me there's more to come.

How can I explain it? I've encountered the risen Lord in a completely new manner, and I'm left hungry for more, yet completely satisfied at the same time. All I brought to him was my desire to be near him, and he has answered me. And yet there is a sense of mission and strategy in how he is revealing himself to me... I'm sure there's more to come.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Since my youth I have been a fan of the Transformers toy line. I followed the animated series and movies faithfully; I even read the comic books. I loved the robotic technology, the depth of the storylines, the diversity of the characters, and the pitched battles between good and evil.

I recall the heroism of Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots who disguised himself as a semi-truck, and the treachery of Starscream, the F-15 fighter jet, second-in-command of the Decepticons. Ah, good times. Soon there is a live-action movie coming out - you can bet I won't miss it!

Yet despite how utterly cool the Transformers were, it has occurred to me that we can learn nothing of transforming from them. For when Optimus Prime transforms from a robot into an 18-wheeler, he can transform back into a robot again - therefore there is no real change in his character; he simply remains as he is. The disguise is part of his nature.

As part of my recent pilgrimage through the desert, I was reading Romans 12 tonight, in the Jerusalem Bible, and came across the passage which in the NIV Bible tells us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Here's how the JB puts it:

Do not model yourselves on the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change, modeled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.

When my behavior changes, I am truly transformed. If my behavior reverts, my transformation was therefore incomplete or temporary, and thus not genuine. I must move beyond the disguise and really become different, if the reality of intimacy with the risen Christ means anything at all. So what causes real transformation?

When my mind is made new.

So what makes my mind new? Ah, that is an insight I've yet to discover on my way through this desert. But I've gone through enough of a journey that I feel I may resume blogging now. Stay tuned, and keep me in your prayers.