#Greg

Wisdom Elder

Dotty is an 81-year-old sober alcoholic born and raised in the Bronx by an alcoholic mother and a working-class father.  Sober one day at a time for over 34 years, Dotty has a New York gruff exterior but a heart of gold.  While she will call out an “old-timer” on his bull-oney, she will take a newcomer, still shaking and baking from detox, under her wing. She always tends to the one left out, the quiet one, those who are so new to sobriety and raw with shame and incomprehensible demoralization that they cannot look you in the eye. She throws fantastic celebrations for people’s sobriety birthdays and shows her love and caring through her cooking, presence, and mentorship.  Dotty has a God “of her understanding” that is in all ways working in and through her. With the mouth of a sailor, a fierce love for suffering alcoholics and a heart overflowing with love, Dotty shows me the Way the Truth and the Life without ever a peep about religion.

by Andrew

Standing With Fr. Greg Boyle

Father Greg Boyle, founder and director of HomeBoy Industries and author of “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,” is one of those people whose lives are powerful templates for bringing about the kingdom of God. In Tattoos on the Heart, he says, “No daylight to separate us. Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.” It sounds like heaven to me.

by Andrew

Listen to Fr. Greg when he visited our parish in 2012:  https://youtu.be/dc6B6B29w7s

“Momma Maria”

We call her “Momma Maria,” the mother of five daughters who, more than thirteen years ago, fled peril and abuse in deep Mexico and came to the United States for safety. My wife and I first met the six of them ten years ago when we catechized three of the girls in our home, readying them for full initiation at the Easter Vigil. She is shy and self-effacing, well under five feet tall, embodying profound endurance and quiet humility.  She works as many as seven days a week as a housekeeper and all five daughters are presently employed and go to college with one just graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelor of Science degree.  Among them, two are undocumented, three are enrolled in DACA and one is here under our asylum laws. Like our Holy Mother who herself fled persecution, she remains faithful and open to God’s will, exhibiting a faith that silently bears witness to truth in the face of power and a love that has forfeited self for her family, her daughters, each one a gift to the world.

by Andrew


 

Extreme Leisure

As a young man, my Mom turned me on to the author Chaim Potok and his many books about Jewish life in America after World War II.  His main characters were drawn from his own New York neighborhood, consisting mostly of Hasidic Jews, a sect known for its austere and fierce orthodoxy.  During Shabbat, a non-Jew, a “Shabbos Goy,” was employed to turn on and off lights, do light house work and other “mitzvahs.” Hasidics couldn’t even drive during Shabbat, having instead to walk to synagogue.  Last Sunday as I was busying myself around the house, I reflected on this strict adherence to the 4th commandment and wondered what exactly “extreme leisure” might look like. Like silent meditation and contemplation, holy leisure is not as attractive as the pinwheels and bright lights of modern life. I pray for the willingness to be. With God.

by Andrew

United by Love

Last Saturday I spent the day pounding nails in Placentia with Habitat for Humanity.  It had been a couple of years since I had worked on a home and, being a lover of Habitat, felt a calling to shed some sweat with fellow builders. Sixteen of us met at 7:30 at the Oak Street site which backs up to railroad tracks.  We spent the day nailing galvanized brackets onto the framed houses tying the bottom floors to the top floors.  We worked alongside one another, up on ladders with the cheerful sounds of laughter punctuated by the rhythm of hammers, power saws, and passing trains filling the air.  I met Anson and his wife who were putting in “sweat equity” hours by helping on this site while their new home is in the process of being built in Santa Ana.  They knew and remembered my son, Myles, who has spent many a weekend working with them over on McFadden street. For me, being with Habitat volunteers is like being with family; united in Spirit on a mission from God.

by Andrew

Invitation to Play

I have been working at the same job for the past 35 years. I was born in 1955, the year our family owned business was started by my Dad. From twelve years old on I remember working summers at the company by filling orders, helping drivers deliver their heavy runs and sweeping out the warehouse. I was hoping to start taking some Fridays off when I turned fifty but our industry saw the recession coming long before 2008, putting these great plans of loafing onto the back burner. Lately, I have been dipping my toe into the “Freedom Friday” pool and I have found the water to be just fine!  I have been surfing with my other slacker pals, puttering in my pottery studio and taking long, luxurious naps out on the deck. Part of me feels guilty for taking this leisure time off but I know in my weary bones that the God of joy and creation honors rest and recreation too. Who am I to say no to His invitation to play?

by Andrew

Eat, Play, Love

My wife and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Orange County Fair last Wednesday afternoon.  The snail-like pace and winding line into the parking lot reminded me of the most dangerous place in Dana Point which is undoubtedly the St. Edward parking lot after the 9 o’clock mass. When we finally found the cherished slot, we once again got to mill amidst the greatest cross section of humanity that you can find anywhere on the planet.  The blend of music, ride inspired screams and a Pentecost of tongues rose with the incense of ribs, sausage, and burgers into the warm summer sky.  Jesus loved people and Jesus loved parties. I imagine Him walking among us at the fair, devouring a sugary churro and laughing with His friends. I have come to love God’s people too and, in imitation of Christ, choose to embrace all the languages and ways that we, the people of God, come together to eat, play and love.

by Andrew

All In Perspective

Today I get to wake up, roll out of bed, make myself breakfast and go to work. As a salesman, I get to drive all over Orange County to visit my customers. I will drop into the gym for a short workout, say “hey” to the regulars. I think I’ll go surfing at Doheny tonight and then have dinner with my wife, watch the tube and call it a day.  On Wednesdays, I have a standing lunch date with my 91-year-old widowed Mom. At 11:30, I pick her up from the home that she and my dad built in 1953 and take her to a café at the Recreation Park golf course in Long Beach.  Arthritis and old age have relegated her to using a walker and needing help in every aspect of her life.  We enjoy watching swallows build nests under the eaves of the veranda at the café and chat about family and friends.  For her, to have the ability to enjoy a “boring day” like mine today would be an extravagant vacation.

by Andrew

by Andrew