Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time in a Garden

Four out of five posts in this blog, so far this month, are - well, a trifle on the grim side:Time for a change of pace: writing about the Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church in Sauk Centre.

All Those Statues! What About the Starving Masses?

From time to time I've run into the idea that spending money on statues, stained glass windows, or candles is sinful: because that money could have been spent on the poor. Or that it's selfish because that money could have been spent on social programs. Tomato, tomahto.

That's not exactly a new complaint. (John 12:3-5)

I don't feel too guilty about the Marian garden between Our Lady of the Angels church and the rectory. For one thing, the money came from donations specifically for that garden - and our diocese gave a quarter of a million dollars to Haiti in one special collection recently. (February 22, 2010) We've been blessed with peace and a measure of prosperity - and are able to help our neighbors and set up a garden.

The Marian garden, by Our Lady of the Angels church: A nice place. April 30, 2010.

I spent a few minutes there on April 30, 'doing nothing.' Apart from thinking about Jesus and His mother, Mary; remembering that the angels and saints in Heaven sing unending praises to the Lord; considering how, after thousands of years, we're still learning new things about God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and allowing myself to relax.

Off on a Tangent About Sloth

By some American standards, that's "doing nothing."

I was born in America, and would rather live here than anywhere else. And, in some ways, I'm a fairly 'typical' American. Like the time my conscience was bothering me because I hadn't been working at particularly high efficiency for my employer. I learned two things when I brought that up during Confession. First, the sin "sloth" or acedia isn't 'not working at top efficiency 24/7/365.'
"One can sin against God's love in various ways:
  • "indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
  • "ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.
  • "lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
  • "acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
  • "hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2094)
Repelled by divine goodness? Refusing the joy that comes form God? No, thank you: I've got enough trouble as it is.

Sure, I've had moments when I was in a snit about God - but not often, and never for very long. No great virtue involved: during those decades when I was living with undiagnosed major depression - I knew I was missing something, and that God was my best bet for an approximation of an adequate life.

Thanks to prayer, a merciful God, and antidepressants, I'm thinking faster and clearer than I have - well, in a very long time. And yes, it's okay to take medicine. (March 4, 2010)

Back to that confession: The priest I talked with had spent quite a bit of time in another country. He assured me that he had never met an American who had a problem with being unproductive. If that story seems familiar: I've told it before. (August 16, 2009)

Relaxing in a Garden

Not all people are as tightly wound as Americans typically are: and that's okay. I'm not, I've been told, a particularly ambitious man. But I've found that I get anxious if I'm not doing something: writing, researching, working on some piece of art, washing the dishes.

That's okay, too.

But I've also found that there's a lot to be said for walking to that garden, sitting on a bench, and letting my mind dwell on something besides the day's task list.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.