This year was different and gave me a new perspective on something that I thought I understood already. My Lenten practice this year was to eat as if I had the same food allergies as Olivia, my eldest, who is allergic to animal milk, eggs, most tree nuts, and peanuts.
I didn’t think the practice would be that hard. She’s in second grade. We’ve been dealing with this for a while now. It was amazing how eye-opening this experience has been.
I did horrible at it too. If I was actually allergic to these foods, I would be dead right now. First, we made an early concession. She eats a lot of grains for breakfast (cereal, toast, etc), which are a recipe for me to double my weight in a week, so it was acceptable for me to eat eggs for breakfast.
Then another concession: I’m not in charge of food for the house and Olivia isn’t home for lunch during the school week. Vanessa wasn’t keen and I wasn’t apt to push her to make sure lunches were Olivia-friendly.
Huh, this is already harder than I thought it would be.
Dining out was interesting. With O, we would generally tell her what singular option she could eat, since often there is only one or two, and that’s her meal. I never realized, at least coming from the perspective of having the menu before me, how limiting that really is. Don’t feel like the chicken? Too bad. Don’t like that entrée? Tough, unless you’d rather not eat. Or, if there were other options, they were smaller items that left me hungry.
All in all, I didn’t faithfully follow it. I cheated all the time. Not because I wanted to cheat—I didn’t sneak food one night because I was craving it—but it is so hard to live with food allergies. Did I want to be that guy that grilled the wait staff about what was in each menu item? When I asked someone if it had dairy and they replied “Eh, I don’t think so”, do I push them on it?
I do it for my kid, but we also naturally gravitate to the places we know are safe for the family now. It is one thing to show up somewhere and realize the only thing your kid can eat is the fruit salad and toast when they’re two. It’s harder to get away with that when they’re seven. Before going some place new, we need to check out their menu online, verify if they have allergen information on it (or at least see if their menu even suggests something might meet her needs), then call ahead to verify.
I realized in a fresh and new way how mindful she has to be of food constantly. I vented a bit about it on my daddyblog. To follow this Lenten practice, it wasn’t just keeping sweets out of the house or not buying soda at the store or something relatively isolated. To fully follow it, I would have to transform how I think about food and expand how often I think about it. It radically changed how I think about Olivia and food allergies—this is after growing up in a home with a mom allergic to tomatoes and being co-responsible for Olivia’s food for seven years. I truly thought I understood better.
As the sunsets on Good Friday and Lent 2017, while I’m very eager to eat without thinking about milk, eggs, or nuts, it is going to be a long time until I stop hearing this new voice
A visit to Bishop-Elect David Konderla’s hermitage outside Lampasas, Texas on May 28, 2016 (Part 1 – Cabin Interior Tour)
Bishop-Elect David was the vocations director for the Diocese of Austin when I went through the seminary discernment and application process back in 2004. Back then, he was pretty excited about what he was going to do out on that land; fun to see a bit of it.
It isn’t fair to the Orlando victims or their families to just consider this a random act of terrorism or one of far too many mass shootings. Sadly, there are so many mass shootings and acts of terrorism that they’re going to be lumped into and, all-in-all, forgotten as we fail as a society to work together to reflect on why this is happening here and what do we need to do to reduce and hopefully end it.
The victims and their families are in my prayers.
I’ve read folks saying, basically, prayers don’t matter and that’s only a cop-out to make myself feel better. I’ll grant hearing “thoughts and prayers” from NRA-supported politicians is pretty pathetic. John Scalzi covers this pretty well.
For me, my faith and belief system forms the foundation of my world view. I believe we are a spiritual people that have a connection to a higher being with prayer being the venue for exploring that connection.
My prayers are not a half-second thought or even just a “God, bring comfort to these people” moment. My prayers for Orlando—the murdered, their families and friends, the responding officers, the broader LGBTQ community, the murderer, the Muslim community, our nation and our political leaders—are on multiple levels.
Yes, part of that prayer is asking God to be present in this situation and for the people involved to seek love. Part of that prayer is critical self-reflection on how do we as a people and how do I as a person need to respond.
I believe that God is love, the font of mercy and justice, the one we are crafted from and destined to return to. The latest I read doubted the murderer was religious, just a homophobic bigoted asshole. That said, religion has played a role in hate and shockingly still does. How do we, as a religion, and as religious individuals, need to respond not only to the victims in a compassionate way—which is still good, needed, and required of us—but also form ourselves and our practices to ensure we are not creating an environment that fosters disgusting hatred. What could we do better to make beyond clear that hatred has no place within our communities?
Yeah, I know. I’m Catholic. I am not under any illusion that the Catholic Church is gay-friendly. This is something we must do better. “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” The more I think about that line, the more it is a disservice to everyone. Hate has no place here.
The Catholic Church is celebrating a “Year of Mercy” this year. Rome commonly declares a year for something every so often when there are special thematic elements to remind the whole church of that piece of our tradition. “Hate the sin, not the sinner” puts the focus both on the sin and hate (as the subject which is acted upon and the action verb) and a passing reference to the sinner without any clear direction of the action toward that subject—are we to ignore the sinner?, outcast the sinner?, somewhat kinda tolerate the sinner?, try to “reform” the sinner?, love the sinner?
No, instead, we should love each other. We’re all sinners, so there’s no need to even say that we should love the sinner. We can equally say “love everyone”, “love people”, “love all humans”. God is love and the font of mercy. If we start with love, we can act with mercy to those we interact with that we don’t agree with, don’t understand, or seem “different”, in some way in far greater and more beautiful ways than if we begin with hating the sin.
I have no interest in rehashing sexual theology today. This is more primal than that. We are all different than each other in some way and, in the end, I trust that the vast, vast majority of humanity are good people trying to do their best in the world as they understand it and to each other.
Too often, religious folks understand this to be combative. “My way is right, thus your way is wrong, and that’s the end of it. You’re weird and you’re different and that ain’t right.”
No, we need to stay focused on love and mercy. “Your way is different? Alright, well, I might not understand it or I might not agree with it, but I still love you. We can find common ground, we can be friends.” We’re all different in some way. For my Catholics, none of us could possibly fully live up to the Christian ideal and we all need love, mercy, and forgiveness ourselves constantly. Who are we to withhold that same love and mercy that we profess and need ourselves?
We don’t need to become the same. We don’t need everyone to agree with us in order to act out of a position of love. In fact, our faith demands that that we love unconditionally. We fail to do that far, far too often.
Back to the point, when I say I’m praying for everyone in Orlando, I’m not trying to make myself feel better for a few minutes or offloading the work to a deity that isn’t known for making grand obvious gestures. I am processing it, seeking inspiration on what I can do to make a difference, and offering to them my respect.
That said, it is still a Catholic country and there is a special grace in being able to discover some sliver of the spirit of a place so rich. First, the churches are beautiful. Within the center of the city, at least, there are churches just about everywhere which would be amazing cathedrals by American standards. They were, generally, open most of the time, which does not happen that much stateside anymore.
First, I arrived on Sunday morning and wanted to make sure I had a chance to attend Mass. As soon as the taxi dropped me off, I dropped my suitcase at the front desk and hiked over to John’s Lane Church. [Read more…] about Praying Dublin 🙏
For us, every season is Lent for eggs and milk with multiple kids with allergies, but the celebration continues nevertheless. Vanessa outdid herself with a pancake cake. She made a number of pancakes of different sizes, alternating between vegan vanilla and vegan chocolate pancakes in decreasing size. Flipping the largest pancake is a feat the deserves a medal.
Almost all state-funded primary schools — nearly 97 percent — are under church control, and Irish law allows them to consider religion the main factor in admissions. As a practical matter, that means local schools, already oversubscribed, often choose to admit Catholics over non-Catholics.
Taking this article on face value, as the Times has been known to highlight anti-Catholic angles and gloss over the opposite opinion, this does seem ripe for change.
I’m not Irish and not from Ireland, so I won’t claim to have any solution or real opinion, but I’m curious about the following questions:
- Is there any notion of private schools in Ireland? How are they funded?
- If self/parent-funded, is there any tradition of modestly-priced private schools?
- What percentage of pupils, all things being equal, would choose to attend a Catholic school if it was next-door to a secular school?
- Is there a place for religious “charter schools”, schools that receive funding from the state but are not the primary schools in the area?
I’m Catholic, with a child in a Catholic school, married to someone on a Catholic school board in the United States. At least within Texas, Catholic schools are generally privately funded—there are some public grants that any school—Catholic or otherwise—can be awarded and there may be school lunch money out there that Catholic schools can tap into, I’m not sure. In any event, virtually all operations are funded privately.
This usually comes from parents, donors to the specific school, the diocese (the geographical grouping of individual churches), and, if attached to a specific parish, a local parish.
In our case, we pay out-of-pocket for our daughter’s education, while still paying property taxes to the local school district. Specifically, we paid approximately 130% of our private school tuition bill to the local school district.1
For Ireland, I’m interested in what something similar would look like, the issues that it would generate, and any type of transitionary model.
- Granted, we have five kids. As soon as #2 starts school, the local tax bill would be less. ↩