Monday, November 29, 2010

A different kind of Advent

This weekend while I was home for Thanksgiving break, I went to Mass at home to kick off the Advent season (read: go to Confession). What I found was that there was a whole lot more changing instead of just the addition of purple banners.

For one thing, the church was almost completely full.

Now, let me explain...I've been going to church there off and on (mostly off until my reversion) for 14 years. I've never seen it full except on Christmas Eve. Ever.

The choir was double the size (I heard from an older gentleman who often chats with me that it's even bigger on Sundays), some of the songs were different and -- miracle! -- people actually sang.

I found myself asking somewhere around the offertory if I was in the right church. Boy, was I impressed.

I've had a lot of uncertainty and mixed feelings surrounding the merger of many parishes in my local Diocese of Camden (you can read more about it at Abide With Us), but I left on Saturday night thinking that it might not be so bad at all. In fact, the effects have been pretty astounding. And this is only just the beginning; we still need to name the new parish and fully combine finances. All that caused this swarming of the pews was the elimination of simultaneous Masses at both churches.

Now, all we need to do is wait to see how the priest situation turns out. I will definitely be praying for good things.

This may very well be the start of something good!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baby Bowen and Gratitude

One of my favorite Christian bands is Sanctus Real, a rock group headed by singer Matt Hammitt. He's famous for capturing hearts with his emotional lyrics paired with powerful melodies. Go on and listen to "Lead Me" on their website to get an idea of what I mean.

Earlier this fall, Hammitt found a new source of inspiration: the birth of his third child and first son, Bowen. He's had so many bumps and triumphs in his first months of life, and tonight his story graces ABC World News during an episode of gratitude.

This resonated with me, as someone who followed baby Bowen's progress on the radio, through Matt's Twitter, and Bowen's Heart, a website the family built chronicling his struggle for anxious supporters. I had a rough start, too -- born 3 months premature, I was under 2 lbs and spent 81 days in the hospital.

We all have a lot to be grateful for this week. I hope all of you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Here's the segment from ABC. Grab your tissues.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You have got to be kidding me.

Journalists see hairy things. We deal with extremists, idiots, tragedy and hatred on a regular basis. I can remember a friend of mine walking out of the newsroom in tears on the second day of her internship following an interview with a man who lost his son in an ATV wreck.

In features, things are admittedly swayed in the optimist's direction -- we focus on those things that make people feel good and showcase the power of the human spirit.

Through all of it, we uphold with a near-religious zeal the freedom of expression, no matter what. When we face an opinion opposed to ours, we have to hold fast to those values and bite our tongues, even when it hurts.

Sometimes, though, I have to draw the line. I have to separate myself from what I've been trained to do and rail a little. My boss always used to tell us that above all, we're still humans with real emotions and it's okay to let them out.

That said, what the hell. My faith in society has just been flushed down the toilet.

My friend Megan alerted me to the rhetorical bloodbath that is Birth or Die, a blog run by a Minnesota couple that has chosen to put the life of their unborn child in the hands of strangers on the Web. On Dec. 4, they will use the results of an on-site poll to determine whether to keep the baby or abort it.

A poll. For a human life!

Naturally, the site has been found and exploited by 4chan (do yourself a favor and don't visit), a notorious forum of organized individuals who thrive on cruelty, sadism, and some seriously perverted ideas. They flooded the poll with votes for abortion, and earlier it was almost even. Pete, the father of this unborn child, wrote that the votes would still count, because every voice deserved to be heard.

This is an extreme example of what happens when there is no regulation on our freedoms. Don't get me wrong; as a rule I am mostly anti-regulation. But this website is beyond disgusting. There are some questions as to whether or not it's even real, but I don't think that's even relevant. The fact that someone would even consider doing this is unbelievable.

Please vote. And pray for this family, who is clearly lacking in guidance.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When it counts...

Pray instead of worry.
Pray instead of worry.
Pray instead of...

Even as I have done my level best to hang on to the incredible changes that took place in me this past retreat, there are some things that even the strongest among us can't ignore right now.

Yesterday, a company that owns the vast majority of newspapers in this area made massive cuts in the form of layoffs. People I know in the industry lost their jobs. The total number of dismissed workers is hovering around 200 now. The vast majority of these open positions will not be filled. People like me who are starting to put out feelers for life post-graduation are suddenly finding many doors shut in our faces all at once. I've heard from a stringer friend at another South Jersey paper that they are quickly running out of money to pay her for the work she's done.

This comes at the heels of a less-than-stellar test grade, a case of sinusitis that hit on my 21st birthday, and reaching the end of my rope on some professional issues. I am praying hard about making some changes in the very near future.

The problem is, I have no idea what to do. May is coming, and with it, a world that seems all too reluctant to offer me a comfortable place anywhere, let alone in my field.

I don't mean to sound dreary -- in all honesty, it's in moments like these where I'm especially grateful for the hope and provision that I will always have because of Christ. The majority of my friends in the journalism industry don't have that assurance like I do, and are despairing after yesterday's punch in the gut. The hardest thing is thinking about where we will be tomorrow. Where this field is concerned, absolutely no one is safe.

But you know what? Faith teaches me not to worry about tomorrow. All I can do is be brave, keep my head up, and surrender the rest to God. He's always taken care of me, and I can put my confidence in that.

I'm still in need of some serious direction as I consider my next immediate step, though. Please pray for my (professional) discernment.