Author Archives: wildrosejmj

About wildrosejmj

I'm just your run of the mill Catholic gal who homeschools, works at several different jobs, and likes to hang out with her friends drinking coffee way later into the night than is good for me. Last year I read the "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas Kempis and was so moved by it that I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook, a few paragraphs at a time. Since then, I have felt called to be more vocal about my faith and want to share the beauty of the Catholic Church with anyone who will listen. Even more so, I want everyone to find the love and peace that I have found through Christ and His Church. So, welcome to Catholic Coffee Klatch - a name born out of my desire to share tidbits of my faith and the Church's teachings and for my love of sitting around visiting and drinking coffee. Please, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea or cocoa or whatever you prefer - but please, no CUI - Commenting Under the Influence) and I hope you find some nuggets of wisdom you can ponder in your heart. Deo Juvante, Jen

St. Teresa is Following Me

I recently read a book that had been gifted to me, “The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross,” by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.

What a beautiful book!  I confess, I read it over the course of only two days.  I have precious little time to read, but since we’ve been on Christmas break this past week, I allowed myself to “waste” some time and just, be.  I’ve been playing cards with the kids and just hanging out around the house.  It’s been glorious!  Someone in one of my Facebook groups sent me the book several weeks ago, and it had been waiting very patiently on my end table.  This seemed like the perfect time to check it out.

St. Teresa of Calcutta has been following me around lately.  Since her recent canonization, of course she’s been in the news and there have been numerous books, videos, and publications made of her life, but I’ve experienced something a little more personal.  Like so many others, I’ve always admired Mother Teresa, but since hearing about the many years she spent in spiritual darkness, I have been more intrigued than ever with her story.  Several years ago a religious ed teacher loaned one of my sons a beautiful biography of Mother Teresa’s life, and I treasured the time I spent reading through it with him.  I’ve thought about Mother Teresa frequently since then and have made mental notes to read more about her . . . eventually.

Several months ago, I found a St. Teresa of Calcutta medal laying on one of our chairs.  Upon making inquiries, I discovered that it was one of several medals that my daughter brought home from a recent trip to a Missionaries of Charity community, where she went with our parish youth group to celebrate Mother’s canonization.  I returned the medal to her, but several days later, it (or another one) appeared in my bedroom – on the floor!  I picked it up, said, “OK, Mother, I get the message,” and added it to the Crucifix pendant I always wear.

Then, a month or so ago, someone on one of my Facebook groups said she would send Donna-Marie’s book to whoever commented first on her post.  I commented – not with the intention of being sent the book! – but just to say it sounded like a really good book and that it was on my reading list.  Well, of course, the poster honored her promise and a short time later I received a message from her asking for my address!   Less than two weeks later, just as Advent was getting underway, the book arrived.  I put it on my pile of things, “To Look at Later,” and there it stayed until this past week.

What a treasure!  How lucky and blessed Donna-Marie is to have such wonderful memories of Mother Teresa.  And how lucky and blessed we all are to have such a beautiful sister in Christ who was willing to lay bare all the difficulties and challenges of her life, all her missteps and wanderings, and all of her joys and blessings.  It takes great courage to share one’s life with the world, never knowing how you will be received. But Donna-Marie does it in this book, and does it with grace, frankness, and even some humor.  It was like sitting down to coffee with a friend and sharing our stories.

I was touched by so many things in this book.  It got me wandering down the paths of my  past and thinking about my own story – also full of wanderings, missteps, challenges, and – yes – joy.  I truly believe I have found joy, not in spite of, but because of, the challenges we have faced.   I realized, as I read, “The Kiss of Jesus,” that I also have a story to share, and I hope that, someday, I too am privileged to share my story with others.  We are in the world to be a gift to others.  When we share our stories, we have the opportunity to share lessons we have learned, provide guidance, and even share our faith, but most importantly, we have the opportunity to give hope.  Sometimes, when someone is drowning in a crisis and feeling like a failure, the most important thing we can give them is the hope that everything will turn out ok, that God is there, with them in their crisis, that someone else has been down that same road, and not just survived, but thrived!

Many blessings to all of you in the new year!  May it be full, rich, and very, very boring.  (Anyone who has had one too many “exciting,” times, will know what I mean and know to appreciate things being, “boring.”)

Peace and God bless!

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized


Be still, Pray, and Have Hope (pt 3) – Putting it all together

Imagine it is, 1917, and you live in Portugal, somewhere near a little town called Fatima.  You’ve been hearing rumors of something strange happening there – three shepherd children who claim to see visions of the Blessed Mother.  They say that they’ve seen her every month since May of that year.  The officials, and even one of the girl’s parents, don’t believe any of it and think the children are lying.  And yet . . . . what if they aren’t?

The children say that the Blessed Mother promised a miracle the next time she appears – on Oct. 13.  Part of you doesn’t want any part of it – no sense borrowing trouble or getting mixed up with a bunch of lunatics who believe everything they hear.  But the other part of you . . . . can’t help wonder . . .  and hope . . . what if?  What if she really is appearing to these children?  What if God really is reaching out to us and has something important to tell us?  What if?

That’s where we are now.  If you were in Fatima, on Oct. 13, 1917, what would you have done?  Would you have gone to the Cova?  Even if it was just out of curiosity, would you have gone out to the field to see the miracle that was promised?

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:36

How watchful are you?  We spend our days running on autopilot, never stopping to look at the sunrise, the flowers, or just sitting and looking at the stars, but then, when something happens, or when we need to make a big decision, what is the first thing we say?  “God! Send me a sign!!”  How many signs does he send us, and we don’t even pay attention?

Many of you have heard of Fatima and the appearance of the Blessed Mother to the shepherd children in 1917.  If you haven’t, it’s worth your time to read about it, or watch the movie, The 13th Day.  Next year, on Oct. 13, 2017, it will be exactly 100 years since the Miracle of the Sun occurred in Fatima.  It had been raining all day and the huge crowd of people (over 30,000 at the lowest estimate) were drenched, standing in the mud.  When the children arrived, they told everyone to put their umbrellas away.  The crowd complied and, shortly after, the sun came out from behind the clouds and appeared to start spinning in the sky!  It spun, “danced,” and then plunged toward the earth!

The stunned crowd looked on in silence.  A moment later, the sun returned to it’s normal position in the sky and stood still once again.  As the people looked about them, they realized that they were dry.  Completely dry!  And the ground, moments before saturated and muddy, was also dry.  In addition, the Miracle of the Sun, was reported up to 40 km away from Fatima, and covered in local newspapers.

The people who braved the rain, and the scorn of their friends and neighbors that day in 1917, didn’t know what they were going to see.  All they knew was that there would be a miracle; that God was going to show them something – and that something, gave them hope.

We don’t know what the next year is going to bring. It might be a scary time, and we might see some horrible things, things we never expected to live through  . . . or maybe not!  I believe though, that God is trying to tell us something.  Are we being watchful?  Are we paying attention?  More importantly, are we living each and every day in accordance with God’s will for our lives?

We have the total eclipse in August, 2017, the constellation of Virgo, crowned with 12 stars like the  Woman of Revelation, in September, and the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, in October.  Like I said at the beginning of this series – I think this is going to be a very interesting year!

Do not be afraid.  We are His people and He is our God!   He has a plan, He is with us now and always, and He is showing us His great love and tender mercy.  Be at peace.  Be still, pray, and have hope.

See you after the election!

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Posted by on November 7, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Be Still, Pray, and Have Hope (pt. 2) – Signs in the Heavens

Be Still, Pray, and Have Hope (pt. 2) – Signs in the Heavens

In my previous post, I alluded to signs and events that will be happening during the next year.  I want to repeat – I am no prophet and don’t claim to have any special knowledge.  Through various articles and blog posts, I have heard about these things and am simply “connecting the dots.”

I share these things with you because I am saddened and deeply troubled by what I see around me.  So many people seem so upset – in a panic, almost – over the upcoming election and what will happen afterwards.  We have to keep our eyes and hearts on God!!   He has a plan and I believe that He is giving us signs, reminding us that He is with us and that everything will be ok.

What are these signs?  I’m so glad you asked!  Let’s get started!

The first date to take note of is, Nov. 20, 2016.  On that date, in just a few short weeks, several things happen.  First, it is Christ the King Sunday, the feast day on which Catholics honor Christ as our King, Lord of the Universe.  Second, it marks the close of the Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis last year.

Third – and this is the big one – on this day, the planet Jupiter (also known as the “king planet”),  will enter the constellation, Virgo, “the virgin.”  Jupiter will remain in Virgo for 9 1/2 months, exiting on Sept. 23, 2017.  On that date, the sun will rise directly behind Virgo, the moon will beat her feet, and above her head will be the 9 stars of the constellation, Leo, along with Mercury, Venus, and Mars, making a crown, of 12, “stars.”

If none of this sounds familiar to you yet, check out the book of Revelation, chapter 12: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.”

“So what?” you may be asking, “What does it mean?”  Obviously, we don’t know exactly what it means.  What we do know though, is that Revelation describes visions seen by John, describing the end of the age and the second coming of Christ.  John’s vision of the woman crowned with twelve stars has numerous interpretations.  Like all visions and prophesies, they are often recognized in hindsight.  We won’t necessarily know what it means until after it happens.  That doesn’t mean though, that we should ignore the clear parallels between the vision in Revelation and what will be happening in the stars this year.

I feel like I should clarify, I am not talking about astrology – something strictly condemned by the Catholic Church.  Rather, just like the wise men who took note of the star in Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago – God occasionally sends messages to us through His creation, including the stars.  We are not using the stars to tell the future.  We are simply recognizing the possibility that God is using the stars to tell us something important in a direct way.

So, we have potential signs in the stars this year, but that is not all.  Our next date of note is, Aug. 21, 2017.  This is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Knock.  You can read about the miraculous occurrences in Knock, Ireland here.  On that day, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse.  This will be the first total eclipse to go directly across the entire continent in 99 years.

Again, we can ask ourselves – What does it mean?  Why does it matter?  Couldn’t it just be a cool thing to watch?  Sure it could.  Maybe it will be.  Maybe it doesn’t mean anything.  But . . . . what if it does?

I’ll leave you with that for today.  Let’s all think and pray on this information.  We don’t know what any of it means, but the more we learn, it seems like it has to mean something.  For now, God bless you and keep you, and God’s will be done.


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Be Still, Pray, and Have Hope (Part 1)

Be Still, Pray, and Have Hope (Part 1)

My heart aches these days.  Every time I go on social media I see posts from people I know – good, honest people with strong faith – in a near panic over the future.  “We HAVE to vote this way – it’s our only hope!”   “But  you don’t understand – we have to think about the Supreme Court!!”  “Our lives are at stake if she wins!”


It hurts me so to see people so upset and anxious.  This is not how God wants us to live.  He wants us to be at peace, to have joy, to trust in Him, not some candidate or political party.  He wants us to have HOPE.  As Christians, we need to carry in our heart the hope that comes with knowing God is always with us and always has a plan.  Even if things get dark and ugly – which they may – if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can be assured that things will work out according to God’s Holy Will.

So now, you may be asking  yourself, “What makes her so sure?  I know we’re supposed to trust God, but shouldn’t we be doing something?”  Well, as a matter of fact, yes, we should be doing something – we should be praying, we should be living our faith, and we should be doing just what the Bible says – being watchful and always ready for what is to come.  Spend some time with Luke 21, and you’ll get the idea.  ;o)

Before I say anything more, I want to clarify.  I am no prophet.  I don’t claim to have any special knowledge or understanding, I haven’t seen or heard any heavenly messages, and I don’t claim to know what is going to happen.  That said, however, I have come to believe that the next year is going to be very interesting.

The last several months, I’ve heard about various things that will be occurring over the next year.  All I’ve done is connect the dots.   Throughout all of history, God has spoken to us through signs.  Why would He stop now?  It is reasonable to assume that He is still giving us messages today.  The question is, are we paying attention?

Over the next several blog posts, I will share with you what I have observed.  I promise you, there is good reason to hope.  We don’t have to be afraid and we don’t have to panic.  God has got this!  Even though things may get very difficult, He has a plan and we don’t ever have to worry.  Rest in Him and He will give you peace.

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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Aquinas, Immigration, and Apple Pie

After a bit of a hiatus from blogging, I decided to give it another go.   I came across an article today that gave me some things to think about.  The article was titled, “What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration.”  Now, I’ve heard a lot of opinions about immigration, but to think that St. Thomas Aquinas himself might weigh on the question was intriguing.  Unfortunately, while the author raises a few points worth mentioning, it is, overall, an attempt to take the great theologian’s words, and fit them into the box of conservative politics.  I offer my response.

I think what makes things particularly challenging in the US, is that we are a nation of immigrants.  We don’t have the same national identity that countries had over the rest of history.  The people who lived within the Roman Empire retained their communities, even once they became Roman citizens.  Samaritans, Babylonians, Jews stayed within their districts, Christian communities sprang up as the Apostles spread the Word around the Mediterranean and beyond.  In Europe, people tended to be nationalistic and their identities were strongly tied to their country of origin – Poles, French, Spanish, etc.

In the US though, we have always been a mixture and, historically, welcomed immigrants openly – even encouraged them to come.  We can say we have a common American identity, but it’s pretty subjective.  There’s the obvious stereotype of, “Hot dogs, apple pie, and baseball,” but is that really what we are as Americans?  And how many of us would agree with that?  We have the Constitution and it’s guarantees of freedom, the pursuit of happiness, and religious liberty, but honestly, I see those things being threatened by the laws and social pressures of our own government more than anything else.  Those ideas only worked when the country was pretty homogeneous at it’s founding, and even then they didn’t really mean it – they only meant the people who were like them.  It didn’t include the blacks slaves, the Catholics, and anyone else who didn’t meet their criteria.

The two main points of this article, in regards to immigration, are the importance of the nation’s unity, and the nation’s common good.  If we look at the US as it has been and as it is now, are we united?  Have we ever been?  In my experience, we seem to be a whole bunch of different groups of people, with very different beliefs, cultures, and traditions, co-existing with each other.  While there are small degrees of integration, at the risk of sounding cynical, but we are still pretty divided.  It’s not the same as it once was; we don’t identify as Poles, German, Irish, etc., but even though we have different labels, the labels remain.  I question how we, being the country which has always, from the beginning, welcomed everyone to her borders, can now decide that adding more immigrants will somehow affect our unity.
To consider our common good, I have something anecdotal to share.  The other day, I drove past one of our local Taco Bell restaurants at about 3 in the afternoon.  Their sign up front read, “Now Hiring,” but I couldn’t help but notice more signs hanging all over their drive through menu and speakers.  I strained to read the signs: “No Staff. Closed for the day.  Sorry.”  This is not the first time I’ve heard of this; businesses without enough employees to stay open.  So even here, where we have masses of immigrants, we still don’t have people to work?  Obviously there are always people out there who are capable but aren’t willing to work, but if there are people who want to come to our country to work, don’t we want them?  With the lowest birth rate in recorded history this past year, we better at least consider it.
I think what it really is, is that people don’t like the idea of our country changing.  We don’t like the idea of the US no longer being what we think it should be, or what we remember seeing in our little 1950s picture books (that’s when America was great, right?).  We don’t like the idea of America becoming primarily Mexican, or Muslim, or any other group.  We want it to stay with what we are comfortable with, what we know, what we remember from our youth and look back on fondly, with fuzzy, idealistic reminiscence.
This gentlemen does have some semi-good things to offer, but I’m not sure how helpful it actually is.  When you consider that we’re only discussing this because our government invaded and took the land from people who were already living here – each with their own national identities, cultures, and traditions – we’re in a funny position to be saying much at all.  The make up of the people living on this piece of land we currently call the United States, has changed dramatically over the years.  To sit here and demand that it stop changing and stay just the way we want it, seems a little unrealistic.  Yes, we have a valid interest in protecting ourselves, maintaining order, and having safe communities, but I think that is a different question.  Much to ponder and much to pray over.
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Uncategorized



Random thoughts about Catholic social teaching and how messed up things are

In ancient times, the poor and sick were relegated to the streets, begging for what they needed. They were generally looked on as people who were cursed, not worth caring for, or that there situation was the result of sin. 

Then Jesus came and showed people a whole new way. He taught that we are all God’s children and we are responsible for the care of our brothers and sisters. In Matthew 26, a woman is chastised for anointing Jesus’ head with expensive perfume because, they said, the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus says to them, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (v11) Numerous times the New Testament books and letters tell us that we, as Christians, are obligated to care for those who are less fortunate. In our faith, we have the Corporal Works of Mercy. Based on Matthew 25:34-40, and other Bible texts, they are: 

To feed the hungry. 
To give drink to the thirsty. 
To clothe the naked. 
To harbour the harbourless. (also interpreted today as To Shelter the Homeless) 
To visit the sick. 
To visit the imprisoned (classical term is “To ransom the captive”) 
To bury the dead. 

The early Christians, and later various religious orders, built hospitals and shelters for the sick to be cared for, even if they couldn’t pay. The Brothers, Sisters, and priests who ran these institutions worked tirelessly from morning till night, for virtually no pay – only their own food, clothing, and shelter. They often begged themselves in order to raise money and food to care for their patients. 

Now, for the first time in history, the government is expected to take over the care of the poor. This was never the intention of our founding fathers nor anyone involved in the creation of our country. With increased regulations, laws, and paperwork, the government has usurped the ability of charitable organizations to effectively give direct help to the poor. I’m not romanticizing the way things “used to be,” as I’m sure it was not a perfect system, but what has happened has created a virtually impossible situation where religious orders can not afford to truly help the people at ground level. This has happened in food distribution, as well as in healthcare and schools to the point that, even in organizations that still retain a religious name or affiliation, there may be little to no actual involvement by religious persons and it is the name only which signifies who they are associated with. Obviously, it is not only the government intrusion that has made things difficult – declining numbers of people in the religious life have taken a huge toll on their ability to fill the needs of the poor – but the food stamps and Medicaid programs both began in the 1960s, the same time as the number of people responding to call of the religious life began dropping, as well as the cultural upheaval in our country. So much changed during that decade, it’s hard to know where more blame falls or if it is on everything equally. What’s clear though is that we are now in an era where the government is EXPECTED to care for the poor. If a religious organization can help too, that’s great, but the general expectation is that the government should be taking care of us if we can’t do it ourselves. 

To make matters even worse, charitable giving by individuals has decreased over the years, in large part because many people feel like there are “government programs for that,” and they are already paying into those so why should they give more to other charities? The reality, however, is we all know only a small percentage of our tax money actually gets to the people. The rest is caught up in office expenses, payroll for employees, etc. In contrast, if you give $100 to a Sister of Charity, she’s going to turn around and immediately use the entire amount to buy food or clothing for people in need. Outside of any government mandates or regulations, the religious organizations rely on volunteers, donations, and keeping costs low – which is kind of the opposite of government agencies. 

So, where does that leave us? I don’t know. We are our brothers’ keepers, that’s for certain, but it often seems like the people who are the most concerned or who give the most of their time, are also barely scraping by. There’s been a lot in the news lately about Pope Francis’ statement about the “redistribution of wealth.” Contrary to what the media reports, he’s not talking about Communism, a form of government strictly condemned by the Church, but rather the idea that wealth is a gift – and a responsibility. Someone who works hard and earns money is entitled to buy what they like, but is it fair if they have 5 cars, 2 houses, and eat steak every night while someone else starves?  To say this, is not the same thing as saying that everyone ought to be equal, it is saying that every human being is inherently important and deserves what they need to live. It is saying that those who have been gifted with good health, intelligence, and the ability to earn more, need to consider the needs of those who are less fortunate. It is saying that those who are in a position to, provide good paying jobs and fair wages that enable their employees to earn a living, as well as keeping prices fair so that people can afford to purchase their products. It is also saying that we, as individuals, do what we can, volunteer where we are able, give what we can afford, to good reputable organizations that give real help to people in need. 

Everything is so messed up and out of whack. Prices keep getting higher and wages can’t keep up. People talk about raising the minimum wage. I don’t know where they think the money is going to come from. If a business owner is forced to pay all of his employees $3 more per hour, something has to change. They need to either, let some employees go, cut hours, or raise prices dramatically. Think about it – for a small business owner with 10 part time employees, that’s an additional $600/week in payroll they have to pay out (10 employees x 20 hours each x $3). That’s an extra $2400/month. Where will that come from? If he raises prices, he will lose business. If he has to let people go or cut hours, has the raise really helped anyone? And then if everyone raises their prices, that cancels out the wage increase because you’re just spending more on the products you need to buy. It’s all very frustrating and you have to wonder if it will take a crisis of some sort before things change. And when/if that happens, when/if it becomes clear at some point that the government is no longer able to help the poor, guess who will once again step in to fill the gap? 

Deo Juvante, Jen


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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Social Justice



Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 13

But why did I hate the Greek language so much, which I studied as a boy?  I do not yet fully know the answer.  For I loved the Latin; not what my first masters taught me, but what the so-called grammarians teach.  For those first lessons, reading, writing, and arithmetic, I thought as great a burden and punishment as any Greek studies.  And yet where did all this come from, too, but from the sin and vanity of this life, because I was but flesh and a breath that passes away and does not come again.  For those primary lessons were better, certainly, because they were more certain.  By them I obtained and still retain the ability to read what I find written, and the ability to write what I will.  On the other hand, I was forced to learn the wanderings of one Aeneas, forgetful of my own, and to weep for Dido, dead because she killed herself for love; while at the same time with dry eyes, I brooked my wretched self dying among these things, far from You, O God of my life.

What is more wretched than a wretch who does not pity himself, weeping over the death of Dido for her love of Aeneas, but shedding no tears over his own death in not loving You, O God, Light of my heart, Bread of my inmost soul, Power that weds my mind with my inmost thought?  I did not love you, and I committed fornication against You, and all those around me who were doing the same, echoed, “Well done!  Well done!” for the friendship of this world is fornication against You, and, “Well done!  Well done!” echoes on till one is ashamed not to be such a man.  And for all this I did not weep, though I wept for Dido, slain as she sought death by the point of a sword, myself seeking the extremest and lowest level of Your creatures, having forsaken You, earth sinking to earth.  And if I were forbidden to read all this, I grieved that I was not allowed to read what grieved me.  Madness like this is considered more honorable and more fruitful learning than that by which I learned to read and write.

But now, my God, shout aloud in my soul and let Your truth tell me, “It is not so!  Far better was that first study!”  For I would rather forget the wanderings of Aeneas and all such things than how to read and write.  Over the entrance of the Grammar School a veil is hung, it is true, but this is not so much a sign of honor of the mysteries taught in them as a covering for error.  Let not those whom I no longer fear cry out against me while I confess whatever my soul desires to You, my God, and let them agree in the condemnation of my evil ways, that I may love Your good ways.  Let neither buyers nor sellers of grammar education cry out against me.  For if I question them as to whether Aeneas came once to Carthage, as the poet tells, the less learned will reply that they do not know; the more learned, that he never did.  But if I ask with what letters the name “Aeneas” is written, everyone who has learned this will answer me rightly, in accordance with the conventional understanding men have settled on as to these signs.  If, again, I ask which might be forgotten with the least detriment to the concerns of life – reading and writing, or these poetic fictions, who does not foresee what all must answer who have not wholly forgotten themselves?  I erred then, when as a boy I preferred those vain studies to the more profitable ones, or rather loved the one and hated the other.  “One and one are two; two and two are four.”  This to me was a hateful sing-song; but such vanities as the wooden horse full of armed men and the burning of Troy and the “spectral image” Creusa were a most pleasant but vain spectacle.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve realized that I need to be very careful about what I watch and read.  All too often I’d find myself engrossed in a book so much that I could barely put it down during the day – and then would dream about it at night besides.  Or I’d get started on a TV show or two, and before I knew it, my whole weekly plan was made around being home to watch those shows.  And at night, there I was again, laying in bed, thinking about the characters, reviewing the plot in my head, imagining what I’d do if I were them.  Augustine too seems to have struggled with this as he tells of his weeping for Dido, the tragic character in the Aeneid, who falls in love with Aeneas but, upon his leaving for Italy, kills herself on his sword.

When this happened to me, I was generally reading good books and watching good tv shows.  There was nothing immoral or “bad” about them, but they were taking up hours of my life, not to mention the emotional and psychological involvement.  In the same way, the Aeneid is a great and classic piece of literature that is considered required reading in most schools (or at least, it used to be).  The trouble, as Augustine so clearly tells us, is that he allowed himself to become emotionally vested in a fictional story while, at the same time, neglecting his spiritual growth.

See, the problem for me wasn’t the books or the tv shows, any more than, for Augustine, it was the Aeneid.  Reading is a great thing to do, and there’s nothing wrong with watching a little tv, but when we find ourselves so involved with the characters that they start to live in our heads and we have emotional reactions to them, it might be time to re-evaluate their importance in our lives.

Also, when I talk to my kids about this,  I tell them that it’s fine to watch a little tv or spend a little time on the computer, but how much is too much?  They could be watching really good and wholesome, even educational, programs, or they could be playing good games that teach good decision making skills – all really good things – but what aren’t they doing?  If they are spending 3, 4, or 5 hours in front of the tv or computer, or even engrossed in a book, they aren’t outside playing, they aren’t using their imagination to come up with their own stories, they aren’t being creative and building things.

In the same way, if I spend my day (and subsequently, my night) wrapped in the plot of some novel, or if I am so consumed by a character that I find myself rewriting the story in my mind and spending hours analyzing their motives, what am I not doing with that time?  Would my time be better spent with a book about the Saints?  At the very least, do I spend an equal amount of time in prayer or in contemplating God and His wonderful blessings in my life?  What if, instead of planning my week around which tv shows I was going to watch, I would have planned it around times to volunteer with my church at a soup kitchen or around a devotional meeting?

Augustine hits on a common plight in the human condition.  We are all wired with this empty spot inside of us.  All or lives we seek to fill it.  All too often, it gets filled with the wrong things.  For most of us it’s tv shows, books, computer games, but for some it’s shopping, gambling, alcohol, or drugs.  Augustine slipped into a life or promiscuity.  All of these things seem like the answer, and all of them seem like they will fit, giving us a momentary thrill, a stirring in our heart, but none of them do, none of them last.  Nothing will ever fill that hole except for the One it was designed for; nothing will bring us happiness until we look outside of the pleasures of this world and, instead, seek the God Who loves us and cares for us.  Then, and only then, can we be completely happy.

Deo Juvante, Jen

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Confessions


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