Feeling your spirituality dry up quicker than a wet bathing suit on a clothesline? Well, Kerry Trotter has got some ideas for you. Word On Fire's resident goofball (well, one of them) has assembled 10 ways in which you can tap into your Catholicism this summer, and have fun doing it too. Warning: this is not for the "pickle-faced" Catholic.
When I was a kid, some neighbor friends of mine attended a “Vacation Bible Camp” every summer. For those first couple of years of our friendship, I thought they were the luckiest chumps on earth — making dioramas, taking field trips to the beach and baking peanut butter cookies in an air conditioned church basement while I sat idle—bored, jealous, sweaty and alone—square atop our backyard sprinkler waiting for them to get home.
That jealousy only lasted a couple of years, of course, when I started to view “Vacation Bible Camp” as some sort of sick joke word sandwich. One of these things is not like the other… I definitely felt like I dodged a bullet of unnecessary schooling.
However, now that I’m older still, a little meaning injected into an otherwise freewheelin’ time sounds pretty worthwhile. And recent studies have shown that kids do backpedal academically during the summer months — is it possible that we all might chug a little in reverse spiritually too?
Well, fret not as I have assembled my top 10 suggestions to help your spiritual self get a little summer Son (as in, “of God”) tan...
Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed. Kerry Trotter reflects on the life of her grandfather, "Spoose," and how his simple gifts of love and faith inspired so many.
One of the first phone calls I made from my brand new phone in my brand new Chicago condo during my brand new flirtation with self-sufficiency was to my very old grandparents.
It was 2004 and Moose and Spoose, their names to the grandkids, were living in Phoenix. I missed them.
“Ker! Howaya? Oh, before I go on, your grandmother needs your new address.”
“Sure. It’s 1400 West Cortez Street, unit number…”
“Cortez!” he interrupted. “Oh yeah, hell of an explorer.”
I burst out laughing at this very sincere aside of my grandfather’s. It could have been the fact that he was complimenting a long-dead Spaniard, or that Cortez’s colonization of Mexico probably didn’t win him any humanitarian awards. Or it could have been that it was just a typical “Spoose” thing to say.
Everyone, according to my grandfather—even a pillaging womanizer—deserves some credit.
Spoose, or Jack Leonard as the rest of his boosters knew him, died a year ago today. He was 94. His passing was unexpected in the way it should be, in that his illness was short and dignified, but not tragic or untimely. He left behind four sons, four daughters-in-law, and over a dozen grandkids and great-grandkids, all who were completely shook by his passing but totally devoid of regret. There was no unfinished business in this family, no one who wasn’t entirely certain of how he felt about his kin—and how he felt was that we were the greatest. Not all of us collectively, but each and every member of his clan managed to share a superlative. Never mind the impossibility of the claim, when we left Spoose’s company, we felt it...
Below, Ellyn von Huben, with her signature wit and probing spiritual insight, reviews the newly published Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins.
A Guide for Travelers in the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing world.
I like to laugh, which is pretty much a blessing. [Except for those pubescent years when laughter was illogical, uncontrollable and would leave me absolutely cataplectic. Some of my teachers may have been tempted to despair. My mother was driven to rely on a sharp stiletto heel squarely applied to my instep to quell laughing spells at church. Desperately discreet; and not particularly cruel.] And, what a blessing it has been. There have been some wretched times in which the ability to laugh has been a life preserver thrown by a loving God. The rest of the time? It’s the frosting on the cake. Truth is not always easy to handle. I think I speak for a lot of people who find that humor is the vehicle which makes it all so much easier to absorb. Laughter is much better than a spoonful of sugar to make much medicine go down. Not everyone can have the straight forward transformative conversion of an Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) simply by picking up a biography of Teresa of Avila. Some of us need the help of “stealth catechesis:” teachable moments with the added psyscho-physiological benefits of laughter. This is not to say that we always have to be entertained, but that humor’s effects go far below the surface appearance of mere entertainment...