April 29, 2015

The Water (and Blood) of Baptism [ACNM]

Ten years ago I took the plunge, literally. This Easter season marks ten years since I received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. What a ride it has been. When people ask me what I remember most about my baptism from ten years ago, four things come to mind:

  • I was wet.
  • I was worried.
  • I was (very slightly) bloody.
  • I wish I could do it again.

The wet part makes sense; after all, it was a baptism, right? But I mean really wet. This was a full immersion baptism, courtesy of the walk-in baptismal font at St. John Vianney in Round Rock, Texas. By the way, a decade later I am still thankful to whomever decided to make it a heated baptismal font.

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Image credit: St. John Vianney - Round Rock, TX


The amusing thing about it is that I was expecting the priest to push me under water three times, once each for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At least that's the way the dutiful coordinator said it would happen. But actually he just dunked me once. He may have said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." But all I heard was, "I baptize you in the name of the... [sounds of water and bubbles] Spirit." (I'll stipulate that he did indeed mention the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, therefore making it a valid baptism!)

What's the first thing I did as soon as I emerged from the font? I hustled to the men's room. That was all part of the intricate plan. All of us who were baptized that night had to hurry off to the bathroom to change out of our wet clothes into formal, dry clothes and be back in the front pew of the church in just a few minutes.

That's what I was worried about. You'd think on such an amazing night I'd have faith and trust in God. But I must admit that I did far too much unnecessary worrying. Before Mass I had to hang my suit and towel in the men's room so I could dry off and change quickly. And so I worried:

  • What if I get to the men's room soaking wet after getting baptized and my suit isn't there?
  • What if I get to the men's room and someone is locked in the stall with my suit?
  • What if my suit is there but my dry shoes and socks are missing?
  • What if I somehow commit a sin on the way to the men's room and immediately ruin my new-found holiness? (I probably did that just by worrying so much.)

Of course, my clothing and towel were there exactly where I had left them. But something else did go slightly wrong. That's where the bloody part comes in. I don't know exactly how it happened. But in the mad rush to get out of my wet clothes, dry off and change in the men's room stall, I cut the top of my left hand. I must have scraped it on something in the bathroom.

I did my best to try to stop the blood with my towel. But the clock was ticking, and I knew that the Easter Vigil couldn't continue until the new entrants into the faith returned to the church.

When I got back to the pew, I noticed my hand was still bleeding...

[To read the rest of this story and see a rare photo of me on the night of my Baptism, jump over to Austin Catholic New Media.]


April 24, 2015

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 116 (Hazardous lunch, tuna humor, Slinky strangulation and more)

ONE: My eight-year-old may have a budding future as an accident investigator. My wife and kids witnessed a car accident the other day involving a speeding car that skidded across the road, knocked over a light poll and then left the scene. My daughter drew these sketches to help explain what happened:


TWO: Her third grade class had a fun lunch project. Each kid wrote down their favorite lunch items on little cards and then they picked the cards at random. The children had to secretly bring in the desired lunch for the person on the card. The teacher encouraged parents to pack the lunch in something clever. So my wife and I stuffed the lunch for my daughter's classmate in a hazardous waste disposal bag. And we put the kid's drink inside a sharps disposal box.


THREE: At the annual fundraiser dinner for the school, we bid on and won a fun prize in the silent auction. It was a bag full of miscellaneous toys and games that supposedly became popular in the 1950s. One of the toys was a Slinky. Until I saw the warning label, I never knew it was dangerous to play with a Slinky in the car. I suppose if the car hits a big bump the Slinky could fly out of your child's hands and strangle the driver.


FOUR: Some kids are downright hilarious. My wife and I served on the Parish Advisory Team for a seminarian who did his pastoral year at our parish. The last meeting of the team was an appreciation party. One little boy at the party had some hilarious conversations with the seminarian.

They were talking about fishing, and the boy said, "I went on a fishing trip and was hoping to catch a tuna. But all I caught was a stomach ache."

Another discussion went like this:

Boy: I want to be a saint and go to heaven.

Seminarian: That's the goal.

Boy: Yeah, it's like soccer!

FIVE: It's embarrassing to admit but last week I had a dream that I was having trouble typing a text message while using one of those old side-wheel Blackberry smartphones like this one.

My (former) employer gave me one of these back in 2006. The Blackberry is probably still trying to reboot at the bottom of a scrap heap somewhere.

SIX: Speaking of technology that will become obsolete, I haven't paid much attention to all the Statcast hoopla that Major League Baseball has been overhyping lately. But when I saw this picture on Twitter, it reminded me of the late 90s when Fox started using a fluorescent puck effect while showing NHL hockey games. I know firsthand how much viewers hated it. At the time I was working for the FOX station in Detroit, and we used to get complaint calls all the time saying, "Turn of that @&$*%^! flashing puck!"

Image credit: MLB.com via Twitter


SEVEN: One missing word can make a hilarious difference in a photo caption. Check out this one from the Atlanta newspaper. I have a feeling that's not really Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell!

[The original caption says, "Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell smiles as Keyarra Mason (foreground), 16, finds her prom dress...]

EPILOGUE: For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum.



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April 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 115 (Easter splash, perennial pizza, workplace stooges and more)

ONE: Ten years ago I took the plunge. No, not marriage (that was eleven years ago). I was baptized a decade ago on Easter. If you're wondering what I remember most about that powerful experience, I can sum it up in four points:

  • I was wet.
  • I was worried.
  • I was (very slightly) bloody.
  • I wish I could do it again.

You'll have to wait until my next Austin Catholic New Media post in a few weeks for more details!

TWO: While some people overdose on chocolate and other candy at Easter, my problem this year was pizza. Due to an unusual set of circumstances, from Holy Saturday through Tuesday I had pizza as a meal five times. It started with our family over-estimating how much pizza we needed when we decided to order takeout Saturday night, so there were tons of leftovers. Then we were unexpectedly invited for pizza Sunday night. I made the ultimate sacrifice and finished the last two pieces for lunch on Tuesday.

THREE: I didn't eat any for Easter, but I was amused by the label on on these croutons. It seems like a marketing clash to have New York and Texas on the same product.


FOUR: Federal Express changed its name to FedEx in 2000, but Sam's Club didn't get the memo. After I ordered something from Sam's online (for business purposes; personally I prefer Costco.), my receipt said the product would ship by Federal Express. I wonder if Sam's Club calls people using American Telephone & Telegraph or searches for things on the web using BackRub.

FIVE: I'm so glad baseball season is back, even though my team is in rebuilding mode this year. Perhaps the Braves will surprise people.

SIX: I can relate to what happened to former major league pitcher Jamie Moyer recently. He and other tourists got stuck on a roller coaster at Disneyland. In the 80s I got stuck on the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney World and had to be led out an emergency exit. The most terrifying part of the whole experience was having to listen to that Small World song over and over until were were rescued!

SEVEN: My beloved Three Stooges Christmas ornaments haven't made it onto our tree for several years. So this week I finally gave them a new home and relocated them to my office as a year-round decoration.


EPILOGUE: For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum.



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April 3, 2015

No Quick Takes

No Quick Takes for me on Good Friday. Have a blessed Easter!


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April 1, 2015

Here Comes the Judge [ACNM]

"We'll take a short recess, and I'll come back and give you my decision." It only took Judge Wapner the convenient length of a commercial break to pass judgement back on the original version of The People's Court. And yet we judge others even more quickly each and every day.

The litigants for our first case are now entering the courtroom.

Case #1: The Drunken Priest

This is the plaintiff, Jane Doe. She was walking to her car outside the emergency room at the hospital after getting treatment for her sick child. That's when she says she saw the defendant, a priest, staggering on the sidewalk and vomiting in the bushes. She's accusing him of being drunk, disorderly and unholy in public.

This is the defendant, Reverend John Doe, a priest at the local (fictional, of course) Catholic Diocese. He says he's never been drunk in his life and was simply overcome with grief and got sick after visiting a gravely wounded parishioner.

Plaintiff's Evidence: This is based on a true story that I heard on Relevant Radio, but obviously there was no court of law (or television) involved. A priest from outside of Texas recalled an incident where a diocese received a complaint from someone who claimed to have seen a drunk priest staggering outside a hospital around 3 a.m. and vomiting in the bushes.

Defendant's Evidence: Yes, the priest really did stagger and throw up outside the hospital. But it's not what you or the accuser may have thought. The priest was awakened to go to the hospital in the middle of the night to administer anointing of the sick to a person who suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident and was near death. The wounds were so gruesome that the priest could hardly even tell at which end of the bed was the patient's head. On the way out of the hospital, the priest felt ill from having seen such tragic injuries and suddenly had to rush over to the bushes to vomit.

Judgement: Defendant. I can see how people would have passed a quick judgement if they had witnessed the same thing. But hopefully some of us would have run over to the priest and asked him if he needed help. No matter what we see, it is impossible to know exactly what's happening.

The litigants for our next case are now entering the courtroom.

Case #2: The Red Light Bandit

This is the plaintiff, John Smith. He was approaching the intersection of Main Street and 1st Avenue when he saw a car coming the other way drive through the stop sign without slowing down. He's accusing the defendant of being a maniac and running the stop sign on purpose.

This is the defendant, Jane Smith. She acknowledges that she ran the stop sign but says it was an emergency, and she looked to make sure the intersection was clear.

Plaintiff's Evidence: This one also comes from Relevant Radio, although I had to embellish quite a bit. If one person sees another run a stop sign, perhaps you might think the other driver is a maniac too.

Defendant's Evidence: For the sake of this court theme, I'll make up the defendant's story. She was was a block away from the hospital, in labor and could tell that her baby was coming NOW. She saw that the only other car at the intersection was stopped, so she kept going to get to the emergency room without further delay.

Judgement: Defendant. A priest on the radio used a similar example to explain his interpretation of making a judgement versus being judgmental. If you saw someone run a stop sign, based on your experience as a driver and understanding of traffic laws it would be a reasonable judgement to think that the other person broke the law and did something dangerous. But to assume that the other driver was a maniac (or worse) would be judgmental because you don't know what was really happening in the other car.

[To read the rest of this story, please hop over to Austin Catholic New Media.]


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