Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Comfort

Last night, when my work for the day was done, I laid down in my very comfortable bed. I recently replaced my pillow, which made for an extra cushy experience. The late summer heat was kept at bay by my air conditioner, backed up by my ceiling fan. I used a supercomputer that easily fits into my pocket to turn off all the lights in my house, arm my security system, lock my doors, and turn on a white noise machine, so no loud noises would disturb my sleep.

We live in a world of peak comfort. We have access to every piece of human knowledge, the ability to travel the world through powered flight, and view any work of art on a screen. Musicians play their music for us, at will, through our speakers, and we have more minutes of video to watch than we could ever possibly get around to.

What have we done with this comfort? Despite overcoming almost every natural barrier, we haven’t found happiness. Like the people of Israel, we have a direct connection to knowledge of God, but we choose not to let it change us. They had the prophets, we have the Eucharistic Christ and all of His words. Still, we are asleep.

It’s good for us to harness technology and use it to power our betterment. We can use our phones to pray using the Hallow app, or to doom scroll away our day on social media. We can use air conditioning to protect us from dangerous heat, or to resist spending time in God’s creation. We can use medicine to correct dysfunction, or to cause death and destruction.

The people of Israel had little comfort in the world, and they turned away from God. We have all the comfort in the world, and we still turn away. It's time to wake up.

Letting Go of Efficiency

It’s a Friday morning and time to run errands in the big city. Before we leave the house, I cycle through the various routes, selecting the most efficient option. Our departure time is calculated carefully, accounting for bathroom breaks, finding shoes, and getting out the door. Along the way, seconds are shaved off our travel time as I select the best lane, optimal cruise speed, and maneuver around slower traffic.

This is how my mind works, always working for optimization. I plan, recompute, and adjust my day to get things done in the best possible way. It just happens. For most things, that’s fine. We safely and efficiently move through our errands, check tasks off of my list, and get more stuff done.

In parenting, efficiency isn’t always the right choice.

I can clean the kitchen, wash the cars, and reorganize my closet with speed and precision on my own, but should I? Shouldn’t I let my two-year old pull dishes out of the clean dishwasher, one at a time, at random, instead of insisting on pulling out entire category groups? She’s so gleeful to help.

I can go to the office and knock out an hour’s worth of work in 45 minutes, but shouldn’t I take my son along with me to check out an airplane, and play with his LEGOs while I work? He’ll ask questions, share his thoughts, and slow me down. It’s not efficient, but is it better?

I can wash a car in 90 minutes, getting it to showroom perfection, but shouldn’t I let my daughter pick up the hose and go a little crazy? Shouldn’t I hand her the wash mit and let her take some of the dirt off of the car, too?

We all remember that point in time when we realized that our parents were their own people. They have their own thoughts, needs, hopes, and dreams. As children, our minds weren’t able to comprehend that others have the same desires that we have. Now on the other side of that equation, I can see into my children’s minds, but they cannot yet see into mine.

I’m a very efficient person, but when it comes to each day and each task, it’s okay if I invite my children into my world, and I perform at a level just a few notches below peak.

Pause

I’m back from summer vacation, a whole week experiencing Northern Michigan. It was a great reprieve from the heat, and a chance to go to places that I’ve never been to before.

When I clocked out last week, I made the intentional choice to step away from my work. I didn’t check my email while I was away, or shoe-horn in any work related tasks. I did use the downtime to get some other priorities checked off my list.

It was not easy at first, and I knew I was storing up a massive backlog when I returned. But my choice was simple: vacation means vacation. Permission to not think about work, do work, or worry about work. I was free to be in the moment, say yes to most activities, and to recharge my batteries.

Now that I’m back, I’m back. Although I’m now overrun with projects, emails, and to-dos, I’m delighted that I gave myself the gift of a pause.

Worth Celebrating

At every point in our Nation’s life, all 246 years, there have been voices predicting its imminent collapse. There’s no doubt that we have struggled in this unique experiment of human governance. Never has a group of people as diverse as our population come together and governed for so long with such prosperity. It’s never happened before, and therefore, some conclude it can never survive.

Yet, from our humble beginnings, we built a nation of innovation. A technological, economic, and military powerhouse with the ability to set the world order. With this great power and influence, we chose to use it for good, for the advancement of humanity, not our self-interest.

Throughout these years, we’ve made many mistakes. As we crafted our laws, which inform the morality of our population, we wrongly denied basic human rights to ethic groups. We separated child and people in communal spaces, we warred with one another, and we even, for a while, pretended that the Constitution didn’t guarantee fundamental rights to all people.
Despite our errs, our democracy has shown a remarkable propensity for self-healing. Without need of external military intervention, we demolished the institution of slavery, broke down the barriers of segregation, and revoked the flawed logic that said that some lives weren’t worth living.

The voices of despair rise and fall, and we hear them daily today. But they look at a narrow window of our nation’s history, a snapshot in time that fails to capture the stunning progress that we’ve made. We are a flawed people, but despite our shortcomings and mistakes, we still seek to build a more perfect union.

The Work Begins

For 49 years, our voice on the fundamental issue for society was silenced. A contrived legal theory, enshrined in precedent, permitted a mother, with few limits, to take the life of her child for any reason. Just not a theory, but a position that argued that it was as the framers of the Constitution intended. We marched, we prayed, we did the work, and had our rights finally restored.

Like the return of Aslan to Narnia, the cold, brutal grip of the White Witch is broken, but her power is not destroyed. The question of the morality and legality of abortion is again up for debate, and now we must begin the hard work of winning hearts and minds.

We live in a society where people violently question the legitimacy of our legal system because things didn’t go their way. They lost, and now they want to change the rules. Deeper than that is the rage at the notion that mothers shouldn’t be permitted the right to kill their child; that a child has fundamental worth that ought to be protected.

The landscape has changed, and the people in every state must now determine how they wish to live. It’s true that with Roe overturned, many states will enact statutes that allow unlimited abortion, on demand, until the moment of life. In others, abortion will be completely outlawed. Many states will land in between.

Polls tell us that abortion is broadly accepted, and the overwhelming majority of Americans think that contraceptives, abortifacient by design, are morally acceptable. Yet, these same people seem baffled at why racism, sexism, and violence abounds in our communities. You cannot chip away at the integrity of the human person, with carveouts and exceptions, and not expect contagion to follow.

Our message, from the very beginning, is so simple that we teach it to kindergartners. Every person has value and is worth protecting. Now if only we can get our society to internalize it.

Fathers for Good

God’s plan of salvation for the World contains essential truths and profound beauty. He chose man to be held in esteem above all other beings in the created world, including His angels. He desires an intimate relationship with each one of us, and freely chooses to share His power with us.Read Article

Universal Church

To prepare Benedict for receiving his First Communion and Confirmation, Alison and I thought he should go to Reconciliation the week before. It’s not a hard sell for Benedict. He’s seen me go regularly for years, and every time I invited him to come, he always accepts.Read Article

Friday Night Adoration

This week, Benedict will complete his initiation into the Catholic faith when he receives the Sacrament of Confirmation. With just a few days to go, I took him to Adoration on Friday night.Read Article

Sacred Treasure

Benedict is about to receive his First Communion, and he’s very excited about it. We’ve prepared for nearly a year, and the time is almost here.Read Article

A Time for Play

Work expands to the time that you give it. Work is a good thing, giving structure and purpose to our days. It allows us to share our skills with others, and to provide economically for our family.Read Article

Parental Love

Our long holiday from democratic debate over one of the most contentious issues of our time appears to be ending. In the theme of this year, a return to reality is upon us. What’s so devastating is that we have to have this debate in the first place.Read Article

Turn On Your Brain

The culture of rage is here, a general acceptance of rule breaking in the furtherance of political ends. Rage is primal, reaching into the area of your brain that runs your internal “fight or flight” response. It shuts down logic and instead pursues action, no matter how unhinged.Read Article

A Fresh Look

For over a year now, we’ve lived in our new house. I think that it takes time to get used to your new environment before you deeply understand what changes would improve your lifestyle. We’re at that point.Read Article

The Paradox of Time

There’s a quirk in human psychology when it comes to time. We have lists of things that we’d like to do, but never enough time to do them. Yet, when our schedules open up, we’re more likely to drift to watching TV or wasting time, rather than investing it in quality activities from our list.Read Article

Victory

Easter is here and the tomb is empty. The timing of Easter this year was prescient. In my listening to the “Bible in a Year” podcast, I lined up exactly with the events of Holy Week. The same went for my daughter’s Bible curriculum. For her school work, we read a story and the next day she narrates the story and draws a picture. In her telling, Jesus was hiding behind a tree, waiting for Mary Magdalene to show up. The image she drew of Jesus lying in wait was amusing. Read Article

The Human Person

It’s a great paradox that in the Information Age, when every book every written and every fact known to man is available on your phone, that our connection to the truth is at great risk. The future that GK Chesterton presciently wrote about over 100 years ago is coming true; we are drawing swords to defend the basic and observable truths in the natural world.Read Article

Increments

Lent is quickly winding down, and perhaps the success of your Lenten rituals is a bit checkered. Sustaining any type of radical life change is often easy at the beginning, but the slightest bit of friction from life can cause the best intentions to crumble.
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Examination of Conscience

Last month, my son received his first confession. As he was preparing to receive the Sacrament again last weekend, I sat down for a few minutes to help him do his examination of conscience.Read Article

A Sense of the Sacred

A few years ago, I watched a documentary about the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. They followed the historic rise and fall of the population, along with the complexity of adjudicating cases of those sworn to defeat the United States of America as an experiment in human history. Although I can’t tell you much beyond the scope of the documentary, I vividly recall the coverage of religious life in the facility.Read Article

Desensitized

Evil’s greatest objective is to desensitize us to its reality. If we fail to perceive evil for the threat that it is, to our lives and our society, then it can more easily dominate us. Read Article

Never Wasted

Starting or growing a habit of prayer can seem like a big lift. We first have to restructure our day to meet our new objective, and then we have to maintain the momentum each day. The biggest challenge comes when there’s disruption. Like any diet or exercise routine, vacations or illness can throw a wrench into our finely tuned machine and cause us to feel discouraged.Read Article

13 Cents

Lent is upon us, this year's opportunity for us to take a fresh look at our spiritual life. As our thoughts turn to what we're going to take on or give up for the next 40 days, they're also likely to turn back to our character flaws. We are all predisposed to a unique mix of temptation and sin, the ones that come up in confession after confession. Although this constant battle can wear us down, Lent reminds us that the war is already won.Read Article

Icy Slopes

I went skiing for the first time in my life last week. We started discussing a trip in July and firmed up later in the fall. I spent a lot of time thinking about the trip's logistics and surprisingly little on the mechanics of learning this new skill.Read Article

Detailing

Our vacation plan for this year included a trip to the Great White North to enjoy a week of snow, play, and skiing. Driving north, the landscape turned from winter browns to gleaming white. Unfortunately, flurries and snowstorms met us along the way, as well as road salt and ice.Read Article

Keto Recycle

Over the past three years, I've experimented with the keto diet. It's fashionable right now, a fact that's helped me stay consistent. My grocery store stocks a variety of keto-friendly options, which is fantastic.Read Article

Noticing Progress

It’s hard to notice progress in our personal growth. We’re so intimately familiar with ourselves that small changes are imperceptible. Even the markers that we mentally track can be deceiving. Read Article

Applied Bioethics

One of the best outcomes from majoring in Philosophy is how it nurtured my sense of curiosity. The toolset that I gained helps me look critically at the world and think deeply about issues. Alison and I’s story is in its twelfth year. We started dating the final semester of college, and the story continues today.Read Article

Preparations

I love to drive. Each year, our family takes two or three major road trips. These are highlights of my year, even if occasionally the kids don’t travel as easily as I wish they would. Although our destinations are often places we’ve been before, it takes weeks of preparations to be ready to go.Read Article

Image and Likeness

2021 was supposed to be the year of civility and normalcy. Well, we didn’t get it. Instead, we got more acrimony and animosity. Last year I wrote about walking under the stars and listening to the Bible. I had started the Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz. I didn’t make it past day 25 or so, but I’m starting over.Read Article

All Things New

What a lousy two years we’ve had. Disruption, distortion, and distrust maligned what was supposed to be a grand opening of a new decade. Peace, prosperity, and stability reigned, and we collectively looked forward to more of the same. How quickly that all faded.Read Article