Thursday, November 10, 2011

Firing a Coach and Defrocking the Priests

I find the situation at Penn State to just be sad.  It is sad all around.  The child abuse that took place at the school is sad.  The fact that the school created an environment that allowed the abuser to continue to victimize children is sad.  The fact that the people that knew what happened- from the janitor to the school President and chose to ignore the abuse is sad.  And the protests that are now occurring over the fallout from this terrible situation are sad. 

I think that the public reaction to the firing of the beloved JoePa at Penn State is quite interesting.  This man turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children that occurred in his program- in his locker room.  Sure, he alerted his superiors, but he did not seek to stop the abuse.  And that is wrong.  More children were harmed because of his inaction.  He valued his friendship with the abuser more than the safety of children.  And yes, there must be consequences to his poor decision.  I understand that he has given so much of his talent and life to Penn State, but, nevertheless, his terrible lapse in judgment that perpetuated this situation needs to be addressed.  I think the trustees are justified in removing him from his position.  But the public seems to disagree.  Many think he should keep his job.  Many think the trustees are being too harsh.  Many don’t understand why the coach’s misjudgment has cost him his storied career.

This situation reminds me of another child sex abuse scandal that has a much different reaction from the public.  The Catholic Church has been rocked by this very situation.  There have been Priests who have taken advantage of their trusted positions and committed similar crimes.  Like the volunteer coach at Penn State, there have been Priests who have sexually assaulted children.  And in some of those cases, their superiors did not do enough to stop it.  They did not do enough to protect future victims.  When the public got wind of these crimes, they were outraged.  They wanted some one’s head on a platter.  The fall out has included not only the justified removal and prosecution of the abusive Priests, but also the resignation of many top level church leaders such as Cardinal Law of the Archdiocese of Boston.  But some think that this is not enough.  Some think that the Pope should pay for these crimes.  Some want his head on a platter.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to belittle the public’s outrage in their reaction to this terrible crime.  I think they should be mad.  I think this reaction is justified.  I disagree with people who paint all Priests with the sex abuser brush, but I do think that the public is justified in their anger.  And good things have come from this situation for the Church.  Thanks to this scandal, the Safe Environment programs developed by dioceses have never been more comprehensive.  The children and vulnerable adults the Catholic Church serves have never been safer.

So, my question is, how is the situation at Penn State different that the situation in the Catholic Church? I know that at Penn state we are just talking about one abuser and there were many more than one in the much larger community of the world-wide Catholic Church over a longer period of time.  But the crime is the same.  In both cases, the abuser was allowed to continue to victimize due to the negligence of his superiors.  So why does a football coach get a reprieve from the public while all Catholic Priests must wear a scarlet A?  Why does a football coach’s justified firing anger the same public that wants the pope’s head on a platter?  I don’t get it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Men: Step Up and Surrender

I went to a ministry conference last weekend and I learned something rather profound.  Men are created in the image of God.  And God made women to be the perfect companions for men.  So, since men are created in the image of God that makes women the perfect companions for God.  I never realized that.  Logically, that makes perfect sense.  And it explains a lot concerning the spirituality of men and women.

In my experience, I've noticed that men seem to have a harder time with spirituality.  It doesn’t come naturally to them.  They have a hard time surrendering to a God they can’t see with their eyes and touch with their hands.  They have a hard time trusting in their faith and defining themselves by that faith.  I think some men see it as a sign of weakness.  Men are made to provide and protect.  They have a hard time admitting that they need to be provided for and protected.  The walls a man must tear down in his heart in order to embrace Jesus as his Lord and Savior are tall and thick.

Women, on the other hand, are made for God.  And that would explain why more women are in the pews.  More women are at prayer groups.  More women are enrolled in bible studies.  Women have an easier time finding God in everything around them.  They have an easier time in prayer.  They have an easier time with surrender.  In fact, I always thought it brilliant that God designated men to lead the church.  Because if the church was led by women, then men would be lost.  They would not be drawn into the Church if there were no male leaders to serve as role models.

This morning, on Facebook, I asked my friends what I should write about for today’s column.  Yep.  That’s right.  I had nothing planned.  ‘Tis the life of a procrastinator.  Anyhow, one of my friends suggested that I write about how the importance of the father’s role as spiritual leader of the family.  This is a topic I have been thinking about since the conference and then last week, our adult cluster group engaged in this very discussion.  Yes, indeed.  Men need to be the spiritual leaders of the family.  But why?  Why is important that they fill a role their wives seem to fit more naturally?

Have you ever prayed with a group of men?  I mean really prayed.  Like on your knees, face to God, heart and soul poured out on the altar prayed with a group of men.  It is pretty awesome.  I have had this experience at our Holy Spirit prayer group which is a charismatic prayer group in our parish.  I don’t think you have really experienced prayer until you have prayed with a group like this.  And our group has several core members who are men. They make it AWESOME.  I don’t know why but they do.  And then there was the time I visited my parent’s Baptist church.  All the men came to the front of the church, got on their knees and prayed.  They prayed hard for rain.  I thought for sure that it would be raining when we left their church service.  Indeed, there is something remarkable about the prayer of men. 

In the family, the most natural role for the man is provider and protector.  I am not saying that women can not provide or protect, but I think men feel more comfortable filling that role.  Therefore, it is pretty remarkable when the man looks to God to be his provider and protector.  That makes an impression upon the rest of the family.  If my Daddy, who provides the family’s income and is trusted with the family’s well-being, can give up that control to God, then I can trust God too.  I can believe in the God my Father depends upon.  A father’s faith in God sends a strong message to the family.

So, I challenge the men to stand up and be men.  Be an example of one who lives a faith-filled life.  Show your wife and your children what it means to love God.  Show them how to surrender their very lives to the God who surrendered his life to us.  It will not be easy.  You are not made to surrender.  The walls you must tear down are tall and strong.  But your family needs you to do it.  They need you to lead them to the Lord.  Your wife is God’s perfect companion which makes you, who is made in the image of God, her perfect companion.  But you can’t be the man she needs you to be unless you allow God into your life.  Surrender those walls.  Pray with your family.  Show your children how to trust God.  You are the person that will bring them to Christ. 

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 8

I’m really not in the mood to write this.  Today was not a good day in the 6th grade.  There were many tears shed.  The child is completely overwhelmed by the consequences of his lack of organization.  I wish there was something more I could do.  But these are lessons he must learn.  And he is choosing to learn them the hard way.  I wish his 5th grade teachers did more to prepare him.  This transition is ugly.


Well, the highlight of my week was meeting Lisa Hendy.  She is the creator of and author of two great books: The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.  We have been emailing back in forth for a couple years now.  She is probably one of the few people that have read all of my columns.  I feel like she probably knows me better than some of the people I see on a daily basis.  And until Saturday, we had never met face to face.  She is incredibly sweet.  We started chatting like we were old friends.  She even introduced me to the attendees in her session as one of her talented contributors (which left my ego rather inflated).  It was really great to finally meet her.  I hope our paths cross again soon!

I have a question for all of you.  I assume that many of you are Catholic parents.  Just in case this is your first time reading my blog, I am a youth minister.  We have a little over 200 middle school students enrolled in our Wednesday night faith formation youth group.  So, it is a big program that requires a number of volunteers in order to be successful.  I need more volunteers.  I need more faith filled people to mentor these youth.  I need more adults head over heals in love with the Lord to share their faith with these impressionable young people.  The first pool of adults I want to target is the parents of these youth.  So, what does it take?  How do I pull in these parents?  What would make you WANT to be involved in this program?  FYI- Adults do not lead groups on their own; they are given detailed lessons in advance that require little if any prep; they do not have to lead their child’s group-the choice is theirs.

My friend and I have discovered a WONDERFUL system: trading babysitting.  I take her kids so she and hubby can go on a date and she takes mine so we can go out.  For a family of four trying to make it on a teacher’s salary, this is a great system.  It is fun for the parents who get the outing time and the kids who get to play at someone else’s house.  I can not believe I didn’t think of it before!  I highly recommend it.

This one should probably be in the #1 spot on my list.  But since my brain is still reeling from all the 6th grade math, science and social studies homework on the night before the 6 weeks ends, I forgot about it until now.  My husband’s band, Wakeland High School is going to the state marching band contest.  To say I am super excited for him is an understatement.  This will be his second time (and consecutive) at the state contest.  He is hoping they will place well.  They compete on Tuesday.  I have to say that I am super excited for him AND I am super excited for what this means.  That is right folks.  Marching band season is coming to an end!  It has been a long, tough, long, stressful, long and really long season.  He has worked every weekend since the beginning of September.  The number of hours he has clocked is astronomical- averaging 60-80 hours a week.  The personal sacrifice he and our family have made is exceptional.  It is nice to see him have this success.  I’ll keep you posted.


Well, I guess I can’t avoid it any longer.  I might as well acknowledge the elephant in the room.  We lost the World Series.  The Rangers didn’t bring home the title.  We missed out for a second year in a row.  Game 7 was horrifying.  They had a good few innings in the beginning but then they choked.  The Cards played better baseball.  It pains me to say it, but they deserved to win.  Our guys looked terrible.  And the whole time the game was playing out, all I could think about was the fact that we were only one strike away from the title in game 6- TWICE!!!!  And they blew it- TWICE!!!!  Ok, I’m starting to get all worked up again.  Time to move on.  But on a good note, I did learn from my game 6 martini mistakes.  I didn’t partake in game 7 which proved to be a good choice given the outcome.

I have a confession to make.  My confession is that I haven’t been to confession in a while.  It has been a few months which is unusual for me.  I was going once a month.  But I have two problems: time and circumstance.  Since I have taken this youth ministry position at the church, my time is greatly limited.  I already have a full time job with my home day care and adding the part time church gig with all the family stuff leaves me short on time.  Our youth nights are during one of the weekly confession times at our parish.  The other time is on Saturdays and my husband has worked every Saturday since mid-summer.  I finally came to the conclusion that I am going to have to make an appointment with our Priest.  And then there is the Priest issue.  Now that I am working at the church, do I still go to our pastor for confession?  Is that professional?  Maybe I should just go somewhere else.  But then, due to some trust issues I am working to overcome with people in ministry(I know how ironic that is considering my new job), I have been making a real effort to go to our pastor for confession.  It would be easier for me to go to a Priest I will never see again.  I have been working to build that trust with him so I am not sure I want to give up on that just because I am working at the church.  What to do?  What to do?

Visit more 7 Quick Takes at  Thanks Jennifer!