Monday, July 03, 2006

In Memory of Fr. Joe Roelke

A good friend and fellow seminarian of my pastor's passed away unexpectedly last week. I met Fr. Roelke at my pastor's 50th birthday party in February ... he seemed like a nice fellow and a wonderful inspiration in perseverance through one's physical suffering.
Roelke, Very Reverend Father Joseph P., M.S.F. ~fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church, Wednesday, June 28, 2006.
Dearest son of the late Ervin and Rose Roelke; dear brother of Robert (Monica) Roelke and Mary (Thomas) Moran; dear uncle of Gina (Phil) Jones and Tony (Katie) Roelke; our dear great-uncle, nephew and cousin.Services: Fr. Roelke in state at St. Wenceslaus Church, 3014 Oregon Ave., Sunday 12 Noon to 9 p.m. Funeral Mass Monday, July 3 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Missionaries of the Holy Family, 3014 Or egon Ave., 63118 are appreciated. www.msf-ame
Please pray for Fr. Roelke, his family, and friends as they cope with this untimely loss.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Just for grins and in the interest of self-improvement/evaluation, I took a distilled version of the Briggs-Myers personality test. Two links on the test results gave information on what my type is like:
INTJ type description by D.Keirsey
INTJ type description by J. Butt and M.M. Heiss

In the latter description, I found this bit particularly spot-on for me:
. . . many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.
I probably am divulging more about myself here than I would usually prefer to by indicating the relevance of that statement to me, but it was such a succinct explanation of something I have perceived about myself, but hadn't named; it was exciting to me to see I am not the only one who behaves this way!

This is also really relevant to me:

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship). To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. :-) This sometimes results in a peculiar naivete', paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

In particular, the bit about not readily grasping social rituals -- that is SO me, especially up through a year or two ago and, to some extent, still today. As I get older and more exposure to people and their needs, I realize how important social interaction, even small talk, can be for other people. While I can not say I really care for small talk that much myself, I use it as a form of empathy. This is where the "surface conformism" comes in.

Also, the last bit about expecting inexhaustible rasonability and directness are true for me as well. Funny.

I also love the list of people of the same type at the end of the second analysis. I am in some odd company.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Are you a details person or a big picture person?

The pastor asked us this question Sunday morning at 8 AM Mass.

I think I am both, but primarily a details person.

Which are you?

Friday, May 05, 2006

About Matthew 24 - the End Times

A co-worker asked me what I thought of Matthew 24. I came up with this response.

Typically, it seems that Matthew 24 is interpreted to discuss the end of the world, or the apocalypse.

To me, there are a couple of things going on in this reading. The first is a warning of the end times; the second is to live a righteous life because you never know when the end times will come.

The thing I find interesting in the Gospels is Jesus often refers back to the old testament as a way to provide validity and weight to his own words at the time. He is reminding the apostles of the teachings they would have already encountered, reinforcing what they already understood from the old testament. Examples of references to the OT are in verse 15 and verse 29.

My own interpretation of this is that there might be a time when people have so ruined the world that it will come to an end, i.e. through nuclear destruction or perhaps environmental devastation. Or, one could interpret this to mean that no one knows when death will arrive. I think the Catholic recitation of "Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" refers to this Gospel (and other places), but to me, I see that the apocalypse could also be interpreted as our own individual apocalypses we experience at death, which is inevitable for each of us.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Take me to the river

"Elizabeth Ann," I hear Father Ron say as he begins to pour a half-gallon pitcher of holy water over my head, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

My eyes are closed. I am bent at the waist over a large font, full of freshly-blessed holy water. Fr. Ron speaks clearly and loudly so the whole congregation can hear. First he says my name, "Elizabeth Ann," which resonates through the hushed church and makes me realize in a surreal moment that this is actually happening -- at age 35, I am actually being baptized!

On the Bridge in my tranquil spot in the woods, I listen to the peaceful sound of water trickling from the creek below. I carefully pick my way through the tangle of weeds and sapling trees, to the edge of the creek's channel, then step-slip-slide my way down the steep sides until I reach the pebbly, coarse sand. I take off my shoes and, at the water's edge, squish my toes into the cool and slippery mud. I watch the minnows and craw-dads scurry about in the water, careful not to step on any as I wade in ankle-deep.

I open my eyes. The water feels cool and soothing on the back of my head. It runs in rivulets through my hair and lightly splashes down in the pool of holy water into which I am gazing. I can hear just two things: Father's words as he says "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" and the soft babbling of the water gently trickling into the font below me. I watch the several streams of water join together, then part again in a watery choreography.

The water is tantalizingly cool on this hot and muggy summer day. I stand as still as possible, trying not to stir the silty bottom. The water is so clear! In the deepest part of the creek, at its center, I can see through several feet to the bottom.

For a time, I enjoy the solitude of this spot. I am tickled by the minnows as they dart between and around my ankles. The heat has silenced the birds and animals of the woods so that the only thing I hear is the sound of the water bubbling between my ankles and over nearby rocks and pebbles.

I am still bent at the waist as Father finishes pouring the full pitcher of holy water over my head.

I bend over and splash handfulls of soothing water on my legs and arms, cooling myself.

The whole church is silent. Someone puts a warm towel on the back of my head and I stand straight, a little dazed.

I am content here, in the creek, with the water dancing by, around, through me.

I fully realize it is done; I am baptized! I am at peace.

Monday, April 03, 2006


On Saturday, April 1, I completed the third of three Rites of Scrutiny. The posture I assumed in the second and third Scrutiny were slightly different from the first one. In the first one, the priest had me stand when he prayed over me. The last two times, he had me remain kneeling, approached me, placed his hands on my hand, and prayed over me. Afterwards, my sponsor, a gem of a lady who I am very blessed to know, prayed over me with her hands on my shoulders.

Prayer is something I am still working on. Not having grown up with prayer as part of my life, developing the habit of prayer is something I have yet to do. I don't remember to pray before all my meals. I don't know many prayers by heart. I even forget to pray the mid-day Lenten prayer that the whole parish is supposed to pray -- you'd think I would remember that one since it mentions me by name!! Maybe I'll start a habit of praying while driving (well, I do some of that anyway since people drive like maniacs sometimes), since I spend about an hour in my commute each day.

People who have been praying a long time might not think too much about prayer requiring submission -- submission and vulnerability to an unknowable, unseen, infinite, omnipotent, and somewhat undefined entity. Who in their right minds would do that? Of course, the independent side of me says to myself, why bother praying anyway, since this being is omnipotent and knows my thoughts and feelings? Why should I have to pray when God already knows everything about me anyway? Then I think to myself, while God may already know everything about me, perhaps God calls us to use prayer so that we can learn more about ourselves, our thoughts/feelings, motivations, take pause to appreciate what we are grateful for, and understand where we need help?

On Saturday, the priest spoke about obedience in his homily. There's another one of those words that sounds my alarm bells. However, at its origin, the word obey means to pay attention to, give ear to, or listen. That makes more sense to me.

In just a couple of weeks, I'll be fully received into the Catholic church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and first communion. More to come on that later.

Friday, March 24, 2006


So in addition to being about fish fries ;), Lent is about introspection, reflection, and personal examination.

As one of the Elect, there are three Rites of Scrutiny for me on the third, fourth, and fifth weekends during Lent. The purpose of the Rite of Scrutiny is to examine one's self and, especially for the Elect, look deep into yourself to scrutinize your readiness for your conversion to the faith.

The Rite itself involved me going to the front of church and kneeling between the gate of the communion rail. The entire congregation, including the priest, also knelt with me. My sponsor also knelt next to me, then later got up to pray over me. Afterwards, the priest had me stand, and he gently placed his hands on my head and prayed over me also.

Since this was the first occasion on which I was involved in the Rite of Scrutiny, I didn't know what to expect. I thought perhaps the priest was going to say something to/about me as he placed his hands on my head, but he said nothing and just closed his eyes, seemingly deep in thought/prayer. Admittedly, there wasn't much in my mind except "is he going to say something?" but then when I realized he wasn't going to say something, I tried to focus on receiving the gift of his prayer.

Our church is very fortunate to have this particular priest as our pastor. He is a good man, trustworthy, thoughtful, considerate, attentive to details, and holy. Sadly, we don't often enough these days hear the term "holy" connected with a Catholic priest.

One of the things I have spent time reflecting on during Lent is the idea that grace may present itself in people in ordinary circumstances; ordinary people doing extraordinary things. For example, I never thought of myself as having grace, but due to my instruction in the Catholic faith, I am able to recognize that some of my talents are grace working through me. This makes me feel more connected to God, and especially the Holy Spirit.

Fish Fry Haikus

Enjoy hot fried fish
at Saint Stephen Protomartyr
Fridays 4 to 7

I love the fish fry!
At my church it is divine.
Stuff yourself with shrimp!

It's Holy Fish Fry
At Saint Stephen Protomartyr
Eat fish heartily!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hanging with the archbishop

I met the archbishop a couple of weeks ago. It was sort of a receiving line type thing for those of us converting to Catholicism in the archdiocese, so there wasn't time for chit-chat or to ask him where he got that cool gold sparkly mitre (hat) he wore during his installation ceremony (January, 2004).

The auspicious event during which I met the archbishop was the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. I, along with a thousand of my closest friends, went through this ceremony at the cathedral basilica, which occurs on the first Sunday of Lent (there were so many of us, there were three such ceremonies that weekend in the St. Louis Archdiocese). The meaning of the Rite of Election is to affirm the catechumen's (me) readiness to move into the final preparation period before baptism/confirmation/first communion in the Catholic Church.

Considering where my life has been (that's between me and my priest!) and what path I have taken leading up to this point, the moment at which my name was called so that I could enter the sanctuary (area beyond the communion rail that contains the altar) was a little surreal. As I stepped into the sanctuary, I, along with my sponsor, passed the Book of the Elect; it lay open and I could see the page where I had signed my name the day before in a Rite of Sending at my parish church. That moment instantly impressed upon my memory and at the same time, it reminded me of the book of the Gospel that lay open on top of Pope John Paul II's casket during his funeral last April. I suppose that sounds a little morbid, but it seems to me to be related, because I am moving from my past life into a new life with God, much as the Pope was passing from his earthly life into his next life with God.

The ceremony itself had a lot of pomp and circumstance, as one would expect from the cathedral basilica, but the most impressive thing (aside from the Book of the Elect moment) was how many people were there, doing the same thing as me. As I mentioned above, the cathedral was full, and in addition to this ceremony, there were two others the same weekend.

By the way, the archbishop is taller in person than I thought he was going to be. He commented that I had a nice Irish name, said hello, shook my hand, and that was that. He also had a better handshake than I thought he would have.

The cathedral itself is a stunning piece of artwork. It is the largest collection of mosaics inside a single building in the world. It took three generations to complete all the mosaics and if you get a chance to visit it, I highly recommend taking one of their tours.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Me, Father!

Some folks might find it interesting I happen to be in the middle of a spiritual journey; I am converting to Catholicism.

So today is Ash Wednesday and here I sit with an ashen cross on my forehead. This is the first Ash Wednesday service I have ever attended, so it is also the first one in which I received ashes on my forehead.

When the service was over this morning, I wondered about the other people who had marks on their foreheads, whether they were going to work, school, shopping, or home. I wondered if they would have to explain to other people why they had a mark on their foreheads. I hoped their explanations would lead those people to a conversation with God.

I work with people of many different nationalities/cultures, so I expected some funny looks and questions. An Indian co-worker smiled when he saw me and said he thought I smudged my forehead with some dirt by accident. I explained to him it was a sign of a Catholic religious ritual. A Chinese co-worker giggled and smiled when she saw the ashes, so I explained to her as well. Eventually, I sent them a link to an article in my local paper about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. She thanked me, saying she learns something new every day. Other co-workers, many of whom are/were Catholic, and knowing I am in the process of converting, gave the "newbie" a hard time about the ashes, asking if I had changed the toner in the copier, etc.

One of my co-workers, whose mother is a former nun, said that I could wipe the ashes off if I wanted to. I decided I didn't want to, because while I try to wear the presence of my faith daily in my words and actions, today is a day when I wear a visible sign of the presence of my faith. I am proud to wear it as a small sign of witness and perhaps as a way to encourage others to re-connect with their faith, whatever it may be.

"By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

God on the web

It was refreshing to see this blog for Biblical Studies Carnival II. I have always enjoyed learning the historical and socio-political context for the Bible's writings and applying that understanding to try to comprehend the meaning of the Bible then and now. Seems like that blog has a lot of that same exploration in mind.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Intro to me

It's a little daunting to put some thoughts down on this thing, since there are so many creative and witty blogs out there . . . but I'll try my best.

I live in St. Louis -- south St. Louis city to be exact. No, it's not important where I went to high school, because I attended school in my hometown of Greenville, Illinois, where everyone went to the same public high school. People in St. Louis like to ask that question . . .

I work in the IT world, as a business analyst. If you want to know what a business analyst does, this Dilbert pretty much sums it up.

I have a husband. He works in St. Louis city government, or as I like to refer to it, "gub-mint". He also is involved in St. Louis city politics, but there are entire blogs and sites about that . . . Husband has two kids from a prior marriage.

I have some cats at my house. They are good girls. I'll post some pics of them soon.