Iraq veteran finds welcome, vocation upon return

A year or so ago I got a letter from a man with whom I’d first begun corresponding shortly after his tour as an infantry lieutenant in Iraq. We began by discussing various questions of just war theory, but then our letters touched more and more on my young friend’s vocational discernment, for he had left the service on completing his deployment in sunny Mesopotamia. In his August 2008 letter, he sent an account of his homecoming and asked whether I thought it could be published somewhere, because he wanted to “thank the American public.” I couldn’t find an outlet for him, but on re-reading his letter, it occurred to me that I could help him say “thanks” by reprinting parts of it here.

So ...

“We were slowly coming together in a mass formation, rather numbly, in a dark parking lot. The usual chit-chat and murmur of side-bar conversations was conspicuously absent. We had just spent the last couple of days in a series of hangars and airfields and airplanes traveling back from the Middle East and it was now almost 2 a.m.; that was certainly one of the reasons for our numbness.

Share food and share Jesus, our bread of life

Many of us are fatter than we should be. We’ve heard that a million times.

We wage a battle that often leaves the troops scattered and humiliated, or perhaps more aptly, chubby and bloated.

‘Julie & Julia,’ a movie featuring the life of the famous chef Julia Child, is getting good reviews. Nora Ephron, the director and a connoisseur herself, said that the flick may, she hopes, bring back butter.

Remember butter? We always ate it when I was a kid. Then margarine came along and was cheaper. Then cholesterol came along and some thought margarine was healthier. But then trans fat came along.

Well, you get the picture. We all love to eat but sometimes we’re not sure what to eat.

Food: You can’t live without it, but sometimes it’s confusing to live with it. So we have a love/hate relationship, loving ourselves for that fresh broccoli we bought from the farmers’ market, hating ourselves for that empty bag of spicy nacho chips.

Even in summer, dress with Christian modesty

It’s summer, the season of very warm days and nights. During recent years, this time of year unfortunately has been accompanied by objectionable styles of fashion. Shorts are briefer, the midriff exposure has expanded, swim suits leave nothing to the imagination and necklines plunge deeper.  In addition, jeans barely cover the derriere and are provocatively tight and form-fitting.

Friends of mine who shop for clothing for their pre-teen and teenage grandchildren complain about their inability to find apparel that is appropriate to Christian virtue.  It is only with care an dpersistence that suitable summer clothing can be purchased.

If you go to a beach or swimming pool you will discover that wearing very brief swim suits is the norm.  Turn the clock back every 40 years or so, and we find astonishing change in what is deemed to be acceptable attire and what is not. 

Why should you make a gift to the Capital Campaign?

I am making a sacrificial gift to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary’s “Faith for the Future” capital campaign for three  reasons.

First, we are blessed to have Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Our priests are trained right here in our own archdiocese, by our own priests and highly-qualified lay faculty, in a manner that is in communion with Rome. 

Most dioceses do not have the opportunity for their future priests to be trained together, learning the same curriculum and forming life-long fraternal bonds. We do. It’s a blessing. 

Celebrity deaths offer an opportunity for reflection

Mortality has had a breakout month. With the passing of four bigger-than-life personalities  –– ­ Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson  –– we all feel a bit less bulletproof.

Maybe Americans also feel a bit more religious. After all, from our secular society quickly came statements such as “ Ed and Johnny are back together,” “Michael has finally found peace,” and “Farah is singing with the angels.”

The monumental nature of these four deaths no doubt has been cause for reflection. Death will not stay off to the side.  It can and will intrude, sometimes in noteworthy ways.

Recently, when I was in Florida for our annual vacation, one of the families we were with had the need for a doctor and visited the local “doc in a box”. She confided that even back home she went to these impersonal clinics. “I am looking for a quick fix, not a relationship,” she said. 

I thought this was a symptom of what ails society. It seems we try to put everything in its “box.”

Parents, partner with Christ this August

Moms and dads of school-aged children, beware! It’s August, when the days are hot and sultry.  The kids are lounging their days away, saturated with summer and rapidly tiring of too much time off. “I’m bored,” “There’s nothing to do in this house,” “Why can’t we go out of town like my friend’s family?”

August is the month to sharpen your sense of humor. School days are ever so slowly approaching, but in the meantime, how do you manage?

Now is not the time to sweat the small stuff. Your children text message you at work. It’s the 12th phone call, e-mail or text in less than two hours. Keep that sense of humor. If the kids stop contacting you, you have cause to sweat.

I was often so tired at the end of a hot August day that it was an effort for me just to turn the corners of my mouth into a smile for one of my little ones.

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