Friday, August 31, 2012

Fr. Benedict Groeschel demonstrates why as a Catholic I cut people slack

Because you find out by perusing the news that a well respected and well liked member of the Catholic Clergy has come out and suggested that abuse victims might sometimes be the seducers.  Well, you can imagine what this will look like to half of the Catholics in the world, and just about everyone else.

Me?  Given his age, I'm willing to cut him some slack.  I also realize he simply may be trying to examine the complexities of the topic at hand, rather than following the post-modern tendency of wanting to reduce all topics of discussion to a Tweet.  But that's me.  Unless a person makes it clear he stands for evil, or she celebrates that which is ungodly, I'm willing to allow for more than a few second chances. I'm certainly not going to take the witness of a friend, relative, or third cousin twice removed that this or that person is a filthy, rotten person.  Nor am I going to limit this to folks I like.  I'll even go so far as to avoid assuming all lawyers, politicians or car salesmen are liars.  I'll try to assume the best take on what people say, and give them a second chance when they may have spoken wrong.

Why?  Because there is no optional section in the Catechism.  Sometimes if you buy a game, there will be an 'optional section.'  This is for extra rules that might make the game more challenging, but you need not use them.  There isn't a section in the Catechism that says 'optional rules.'  So when you see Catholics arguing that the Catechism clearly says lying is wrong, or abortion is wrong, or we should help the widow and the orphan, look a little closer and you will notice this section in the non-optional teachings part:

"To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved."
You see that?  It looks like a good teaching to live by. I know that in the world of talk shows, talk radio, cable news, and the Internet, it isn't as fun.  But still, I think it works, even when it doesn't help us win an argument or make those other people over there look bad.  Because after all, some day it might be someone in our own little circle of 'people I think are cool and hip' who puts foot in mouth or says something that could be used against him (and us). 

A momentous day

Today marks a major turning point in our lives.  For the first time since I can't remember when, we will officially be without insurance.  No  benefits.  Nothing.  With four active boys, that isn't a feeling that keeps me warm and fuzzy.  We're still plodding along, applying and applying for jobs.  But so far, the offers just aren't there.  We could settle for smaller paying jobs and work several of them, but even there we've had difficulties.  Because of the salaries we made, folks are unwilling to believe we won't bolt the first chance we get to snag a better paying job.  I can't lie and say otherwise.  Even if I did, I don't think they would believe me. 

I have applied for some positions in our diocese recently, in parishes, in various ministries and apostolates, as well as the diocese itself, but thus far, they have come through with a 'thanks but no thanks' letter.  Not even so much as an interview.  Why I can't even breach the walls of a sit down interview - or even a phone interview - is something I can't figure.  At this point it is one of two possibilities.  Either the fact that I was a former Protestant clergy means absolutely nothing, or the fact that I was a former Protestant clergy is itself the problem.  Either way, my only hope now lies in the secular work force, a work force peopled by increasingly secularized younger HR folks who either have little experience with religious life, or in keeping with the post-modern tendencies, see religion itself as a major detriment to good will and positive contributions to society.

Therefore, as the last and final savings account quickly dwindles, and the only option left is to raid what paltry 401Ks we have, the only thing left is diligence on our part and prayers on everyone's part.  When I became Catholic, the one thing I didn't want was to have it negatively impact our children.  I didn't want them to see it as the point when everything went to hell in a hand basket. God, I guess, is not without a sense of irony.  It's also tough because some of those who were critical of our decision are able to sit back and gloat about how well this decision has turned out for us. 

Nonetheless, Truth is Truth.  I would rather be able to enjoy my Catholic walk with a job and some benefits, but I know I'm not the only one out there hurting.  I know others are in the pews worrying about the same things we are.  That doesn't mean I'm looking forward to losing our home or ending up wherever we may end up.  Nor does it mean I don't worry that our children, our two oldest at least, are beginning to openly wonder about the wisdom of our entrance into Catholicism.  But it is what it is.  I have made my decision, and can only hope that my wife's efforts and mine will open up something, that someone will hear and help us through a door, that something will occur to save us from the inevitability that seems to be approaching us at this hour.

In thinking this, I'm reminded that in olden days, today was the day of St. Raymond Nonnatus.  He lived at time of hostility and strife between Christians and the Moors.  He assumed the role of ransoming Christians who had been seized by the Moors, only to become a prisoner himself when he refused to leave for safety.  Instead of leaving some Christian behind in captivity, he used himself to ransom those Christians who were left.  While there, he continued to work to convert the Moors to the Faith.  Needless to say, they were none too happy about this development.  Here in an excerpt of what occurred:
"His own life was now in great danger. The Moors of Algiers were enraged that he had managed to convert some of their number. The governor would have put him to death by impaling the saint on a stake. What saved him were others who realized that a rich ransom would be paid for this particular Christian. Even so, he was still whipped publicly in the streets — partly to discourage those who might be tempted to learn from him the Christian faith."
So there you have it.  Could I return to my old Protestant faith for jobs and security?  Sure.  It probably wouldn't take long at all.  Just the testimony of 'I was once lost (was Catholic) but now am found (Protestant) would get me a string of speaking engagements.  In fact, some time ago, I ran into an old colleague who offered me a position in his church.  Right there in Kroger.  It was tempting then, and it would be more than tempting if it happened today.  But I've made my commitment, and I believe that the historical Faith of the Church is True.  So here I stand.  I've endured far less than scourging, and nothing close to being impaled on a stake.  But hopefully somehow, some way, somebody will come in and by the grace of God ransom us from the edge of the pit.  That's my prayer.  St. Raymond Nonnatus, pray for us!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Continuing my non-Catholic blogging blogging

I send out a hearty kudos to my son for sharing MVP for yesterday's game.  Yes, they were mauled by a larger and wealthier school.  Yes, they're only in middle school and it doesn't mean I should expect shaving cream and Ford truck endorsement offers anytime soon.  But here's the thing.  My boy, God love him, is a 6' 4" linebacker trapped in the body of the second smallest kid on the team.  It doesn't help that he's an entire year younger than most of the others, in addition to getting his height from dear old Dad.  But despite that - and this is from the defensive coach and the head coach - there are few kids on the team more motivating, who play with more heart and more fearlessness than he does.  The bigger kids on the other team may swat him down like so many pesky flies, but he bounces right back and hits them again: tackling, diving into the pile, grabbing the ankles, doing anything he can.  Though he also plays wide receiver, it's as cornerback that he shines.  Despite being physically small, the other team learned quickly to run the ball on the opposite side of the field after a few plays.  

So well done young fellow.  Like your older brothers, you make us proud.  And you do it with that little spark, that twinkle in your eye that had an entire section of kids behind us rooting you on and cheering over how popular you are.  Congrats. 

Back in his first season

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some different blogging for a while

At least in terms of the blogs I've been visiting.  I'm sorry, but I've watched many a Catholic blog turn into a Catholic version of fundamentalist Protestant blog.  Just remove King James Bible and insert Catholic Catechism.  Right now, heading into the election, there is a rabid debate on just who to vote for, with many posts centered around a not-too-subtle attempt to suggest that there is only one way to vote, and any other approach must be from folks who don't love Jesus as much as I do.  Sure, they all deny it.  But stand back and watch, and it's clear that the common Christian tendency of trying to stack the deck in favor of my own personal preferences is alive and well and living in the Catholic blogosphere.  Not all mind you.  There are still some who are maintaining a sense of balance and perspective.  But others?  I can read vitriolic and zealous atheist blogs and barely tell a difference in tone and measure. 

I don't need that sort of frustration.  When I go to a blog and see people saying that my vote is meaningless, with the added insinuation that I should vote for a particular independent candidate or it's because I'm too stupid to understand politics or just don't care about my faith, it's time to move on.  There's nothing uplifting or challenging in that.  That's just good old fundamentalist Christianity, Catholic style.  So I'll be spending more time doing anything other than visiting most of the blogs I've been known to visit, including some that were, in their time, instrumental in helping me in my journey into the Church.  The irony?  Had these blogs been this way then, there is a strong possibility I never would have come into the Church, or if I had, it would have been despite such fundamentalism in Catholic garb, rather than because.

Anyway, on a brighter note, our 7th grader had his first home football game today.  Being one of the smaller schools in the league, we don't fare well as a general rule.  And today was no exception.  They got creamed - though in fairness, they were without their quarterback who suffered an early injury.  Still, they played hard and the defensive coach went out of his way to let us know he's doing great, and is one of the favorites of the head coach.  When all else fails in the Catholic blogosphere, I need only turn to those gifts from God to be uplifted and remember what life is all about.  Well done son.  Now we'll see how our oldest does in his first Cross Country invitational this Saturday!

They may have lost, but he knows he had some great plays in the process

Monday, August 27, 2012

For my son's birthday

A science tribute to his love of science, from yet another awesome back to school commercial:

Happy Birthday my second Son

Always the one most able to make me laugh uncontrollably, a joyful and happy birthday was celebrated today for our second oldest.  The gifts were focused on bringing him back to his love of science, a love that has been doused by the strange and counter-intuitive programs of our local public school system.  Despite receiving one of the top scores in his State science exam, and being an all A student, and getting As in science all through school, he was dropped from the gifted program in middle school science.  This set a year long downward spiral as he was yanked from his friends and rescheduled in decidedly lower level classes.  It was probably pulling away from his friends that hurt the most.  For a time he dropped all interest in science, a subject once so dear to him that in 4th grade, he was able to outscore over 70% of high school sophomores in a special exam administered at the Ohio State University.  But such is our public school system.  Like so many institutions today, it is long on bureaucracy and teaching to the test, and short on common sense and education. 

Still, today saw some return to his interests in science, particularly astronomy and geology.  Really.  He was actually excited over a little mineral and rock chart that he received.  If he does pursue a life dedicated to science, it will be the saddest testimony to the ineptitude of our school systems that he did so despite what they did for him, rather than because of what they did for him.

But in any event, that rant over now, here are a few pictures of our wonderful and quite brilliant young son who does make us proud, and helps to bring a ray of light into our sometimes clouded lives right now. 

His sly smile gives an idea why he is able to make me laugh the way he does; that and a razor-like wit

Here he is, the day before, adding some points to his Cross Country team's efforts

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to school

The excitement was forced
One good thing about being in such dire straights is that at least I have time to be around the boys. So today was their first day back to school. They were, as can be expected, less than thrilled. They're good in school, don't cause problems, and get good grades. Still, you can only expect so much on that first day back. So in dedication to them and another safe, good, and prosperous academic endeavor despite all that the public education system will attempt to the contrary, here's a little send off tribute from a truly awesome commercial (no endorsements of the commercial's products or company is intended):

Friday, August 17, 2012

Not much blogging right now

Why?  Well, when you are coming to the end of your financial ropes, and there are no brighter prospects for you than there were six months ago, when you assumed something would happen to change things and at least make them survivable, suddenly everything seems to take a back seat.  Even though there are plenty of things to concern ourselves with beyond our meager material wants, I can't help but admit those wants are becoming needs, and in no way closer to being met.  As a result, my mind is on that, and trying to keep the family's spirits up as best we can.

To that end, we have been focusing on the Faith. We've been trying to make merry where we can, and we've been focusing on helping the boys prepare for the upcoming school year.  At this point, any moneys we need are coming out of what is left of our last remaining savings account.  So prayer is what we are doing, since no other option appears to have worked.  Former Protestant clergy doesn't get you far in the world, and wife of former Protestant clergy gets you even less.  So while I ponder such a shift in priorities in light of the bigger issues of our day, I am keeping my hopes pinned firmly on the Almighty and His grace and provisions, while doing what we can to keep ourselves engaged in a life that still holds many blessings, to wit:

The boys  on a play set, no other words required

Our Youngest giving his cutest look possible

Exploration ho!  The family going through a breach in the trees - symbolic of a new door opening?

The three older boys examining their own portions of the wooded trail

In a sky that looks more Autumn than August, the coming storms cut short our day at the park 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Because modern progressive secularists don't just want the right to die

They want a world in which the state can step in and make it happen.  It chills the bones to see so many jumping into the comments and pining for the right of the machine to make a parent pull a child off life support.  I know that the basic post was just a typical atheist chance to dig at religion.  Most modern atheist apologists are, as in this case, close to the same class and compassion levels as Fred Phelps. It's just that our educational and media institutions, being firmly in bed with the progressive secular cause, are more than willing to brush it under the carpet. But here we see that it is the pipe dream of at least some on the secular left, not just to allow abortion and euthanasia, but rather to set up conditions where outside forces can step in and make it happen.  Again, someone remind me why Sarah Palin was just a bubble-headed idiot for all that talk about death panels?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to the Griffey Family Blog

It seems as if with hunting for jobs, scrambling to keep up with bills, keeping kids going through their myriad obligations and interests, and just trying to hold the family together, I just don't have the time to blog that I wish I had.  Perhaps I do, and these other pressing priorities make ranting on a blog about issues well beyond my control just doesn't seem that important.  After all, who am I?  Why listen to what I have to say?  I have degrees in theology and biblical studies and history, especially with a focus on modern history (as of the 1980s that is), and medieval studies.  Beyond that, am I even close to qualified to speak to things?  Probably not.  At least, not when I have other burdens weighing on me and issues that demand my constant attention and reflection. 

So instead of speaking about this or talking about that, bringing up Biden vs. Ryan, or the Chick Fil A free speech assault, or the million other stories that have happened over the last couple weeks, here is a post dedicated to that which is my main concern at this time.  When things settle, or if I get a temporary reprieve, I might tackle some of these other important issues in the world.  But for now, here they are, my pride and my joy and the reason I'm able to crawl out of bed in the mornings;

Photos from our first camping trip in years; Mom even came along to join the fun
Our oldest getting up from a hearty camping feast

On the other end, our youngest hams it up for the camera

And shortly thereafter, snug and cozy at home, our youngest succumbs to the hustle and bustle of the week

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ross Douthat shoots and scores

In a wonderful piece, Douthat exposes the facade that is the post-modern Left.  Best line:
If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

If you go to websites of the Left, or not a few atheist websites, you will see such swill in all its glory.  Time and again, they will insist there is nothing wrong with any of these encroachments.  Why?  Because nobody is telling  religious types they can't 'believe what they want.'  No, they're telling religious types that they cannot practice what they believe.

But Douthat says it best.  Let's be honest that liberalism is no such thing.  It is simply a revolutionary world view that sees the traditional Western theistic tradition in the same way Western theists saw the Aztecs or cannibals of the Pacific islands.  And thanks to the Supreme Court's spin on the First Amendment, a growing number of people believe that religion has a right to exist silently in a person's mind, but nowhere else in modern, secular, progressive society.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why don't conservatives trust Mitt Romney?

Exhibit A.  The Boy Scouts, an organization that has withstood the homosexual juggernaut for decades, gets blindsided by Mr. Romney who takes a stand against their belief that men who are sexually attracted to other men ought not share close sleeping quarters with teenage boys.  Once again from the top: the GOP has only and ever begrudgingly bought into social and religious conservatism, largely due to Ronald Reagan's legacy.  A growing number of GOP pols would gladly and gleefully jettison all that pesky social conservative garbage, opting instead to continue their priority of eliminating taxes and regulations for large, multi-billion dollar corporations.  Buyer, beware.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Tomorrow, on August 6, is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  In short, that's when the three disciples closest to Jesus during his earthly ministry got a dose of just who and what the Christ really was:

And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.

And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.

And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

Matthew 17:1-8

So there you have it, that wonderful moment we all long for when God gives us a little glimpse of the beyond, the world past this veil of here and now. 

Now this got me to thinking, as I am wont to do.  I admit I had a bit of a rant earlier, and part of me was tempted to delete the post in hindsight.  But I think not.  I admit it, it's frustrating that, at times, it appears I gave everything up in life for this faith that appears to have moved on without me.  Looking at the hardships it has placed on my family, on my kids especially, I can get a bit broody.  But that's the way of it, if you think about it.  Take for instance the passage that will be read for August 6.

Now, the reading ends with Jesus telling his disciples not to tell, which He often did after some flagrant showing of just Who He Was.  What follows this passage in Matthew's Gospel is a little bit of water thrown on the face.  Jesus and His three disciples come down from the mountain, who knows what they're feeling - elation, rapture, the touch of the Divine.  But when they get down, what happens?  A man comes to them and begs Jesus to cast out a demon that has possessed his son.  He explains that he asked Jesus' disciples, but they couldn't do it.  And this is what Jesus  says:

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”

You get that?  You can almost hear Jesus sigh in frustration.  Coming down from this moment in which Jesus was able to be Who He Was, and show his closest followers a brief glimpse, now he had to come back down and deal with reality. 
Well, guess what.  Welcome to religious life.  That's something I need to remember.  For me, my mountain top experience started at a Catholic monastery in southern Indiana on a cool, cloudy November week in 1999.  I hadn't planned on anything too spiritual (it was a Catholic place after all).  But once I was there, the presence of God hit me like a ton of bricks.  From that point on, I wanted to find a way to capture what I felt in such a small portion, eventually taking steps to enter into the Catholic Church about seven years later. 

There have been some more 'Mountaintop' experiences, I must admit.  But there have been some valleys, too.  And I have to say, because of the sheer reality of things in the world, it seems more like valley than mountain in the last several years.  And yet, that's how it is.  We all wish we could, like Peter, just build a little place in the sun on that mountain and stay there.  That's natural.  But that's not what God calls us to be about.  Unlike so much 'spritiualism' of today, that centers on me and how awesomely spiritual I am, God calls us to get down off that mountain and go, go back to the man and the demon possessed boy, and those disciples who just don't have the faith to do what they should be able to do. 

So as we approach the day set aside to remember the Transfiguration, it's worth noting that we'll all have moments in life where we feel like this.  And we wish that it wasn't so.  But it's what we're called to be about.  When we have those uplifting spiritual revelations or experiences, great!  But remember, they're really just pit stops, designed to get us back to the meat and potatoes of our religious lives, and that is the living out of God's love for the sake of all His children.  Just a thought on the eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration.

God bless those at the Sikh Temple

In yet another demonstration of the power of Hell to unleash its terror on an already weary world, the news says that at least seven people were killed when a madman opened fire at their holy place of worship.  May their souls be given peace, and those who grieve find strength in the God whom they seek, who can cover their hearts and minds with all that is needed to carry through the upcoming days.  Grace and blessings of all good people be upon them.

Happy Birthday Little Bit

And one of the biggest days of the last few weeks, our youngest turned a whopping three years old!  So old is he that he's already beginning to contemplate where he will go to college and various stock options that may be available when he's older.  Well, not really.  But he did give up his mooma (that's pacifier in lay terms) and is well on his way toward mastering some other, er, adult pastimes.  Happy Birthday little joy, you are certainly one of the greatest gifts our Catholic turn in life has given us!

Happy Birthday cutie!

Not all is gloom and despair

Despite the possible appearance of pessimism of my last post, it's worth noting that, as always, life goes on.  Here is the proof: The many fun and enjoyable times we've had despite the clouds and storms that life can bring.  First off, we see here our boys enjoying a turn at some fireworks making on July 4th.  Yeah, it's been that long since I've had a chance to sit down and go through pictures.  It was fun, and my family was over for the annual cookout, sparse though it may have been.  With fun kids and proper (if not scalding) weather, any July 4th is a fun July 4th.

Everyone is watching just what is to become of that little spark...

I don't know what caught their attention, but I'll bet it wasn't a fire work

It's been a long time

Since I blogged.  The reasons are legion, for they are many.  Once again, our life is in upheaval.  As it has been for going on seven years (that would be about how long it's been since we entered the Catholic Church).  Some of it continues to be the unenviable task of attempting to start a new vocation in an increasingly hostile-toward-traditional-religion society experiencing a sluggish, if not declining, economy.  Some also, apparently has to deal with the fact that this is not your father's Catholic Church welcoming Protestant Clergy.  Ah yes, we've all heard the stories about how, back in the day, when Protestant clergy came into the Church, they were welcomed with open arms; positions were made, jobs were given, ordinations were handed out, TV shows were established, classes at colleges and seminaries were opened - all on the so cool basis that these were former Protestant clergy converts who were leaving it all to become Catholic!  Woo hoo!

Well, that was then.  Not saying it doesn't still happen, but not like it used to.  Fact is, the Church has turned a corner and gone down a different path.  There's still those, on the parish level, who may be impressed and glad to see someone come in with an arm load of experience, training, and schooling regarding the faith.  But as a 'Church', things have changed.  The 80s convert explosion was, after all, on the heels of Pope John Paul II's New Evangelism.  Reaching out to our separated brethren was the talk of the day.  But that was then.  Our Pope now is not nearly as evangelistic, and what efforts he has spent reaching out has been confined almost exclusively to the Anglican Communion, Secular Europe or the Islamic world.  This could be one of the reasons.

Another reason might just be that the great Protestant Clergy conversion movement was, in the end, a fad.  It was hip at the time.  Sort of like Dungeons and Dragons.  At first, everyone was playing it.  Then, somewhere it became stigmatized, and you couldn't get most guys to play it from a mile away for fear it would end the social life right there and then.  Same here.  Somewhere, somehow, things have changed.  Not that there is nothing.  Of course, by definition of he numbers of those involved, there is still something.  There is at least one lay apostolate dedicated to keeping the issue of Protestant Clergy converts in the loop, no matter what the actual numbers might be, and no matter just how much actual help is really given.

Likewise, there will still be the parish here or the odd diocese there that reaches out and attempt to assimilate these folks into the Church.  But there were never that many.  There has always been a net loss of former Catholic priests leaving the Church, and in all honesty, the numbers of Protestant Clergy converting were usually small.  Those that did often were clergy in the looser sense of the word: a professor, a youth minister, a Christian counselor or missionary.  Often they were folks who had 'non-clergy' vocations, able to more or less step into a Catholic, or secular, version of what they did in their Protestant lives.  I came to find out that the storied full time minister who walks away from his pulpit, loses everything and then finds a miraculous path to fulfillment serving within the Church while making it back on his feet is a rare, rare thing indeed. 

In fact, some have long gone back to other Christian pastures, seeing the need to continue to eat and feed their families.  Some did make it, but again, that was increasingly long ago.  Some are still coming in, and I encourage them.  Because I still believe the Catholic Faith is the true faith.  But be warned: be prepared to give up everything, and get little to nothing in return except a more meaningful walk with God.  You may well find none of your years or decades of ministry background utilized, and you may end up watching your family lose it all.  It may be that giving everything up for that pearl of great value is worth it in the end, but you won't be able to eat it. 

So that's where much of our turmoil is right now, meaning that blogging has been light, and once again, will probably continue to be light as we work toward getting ourselves on a permanent path in life. 

On another front, my brother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer.  Like so many things in the last half dozen years, this has added to our sorrow and stress at a time when we had too much of both.  Prayers for him and his diagnosis would be appreciated very much.  Likewise, continued prayers for us as we, even now, continue to find where it is we are supposed to perch in this not-so-new life as Catholics.  We are ever hopeful that things will work out, though we understand that many in our country, and indeed around the world, continue to struggle, and sometimes more.  Nevertheless, when it is your own hearth and home affected, it weighs on your mind no matter how you attempt to qualify it, and we pray that no less than by the end of 2012, we will finally see the path laid before us how we will see these problems fixed, our vocations established, and the ability to relax and know that the proverbial daily bread will be coming in the future.  Especially as we have a young man two years shy of a college we can't, at this time, hope to aid him in attending.