new year, new decade

It’s a new year and, for me, the start of a new decade. I celebrated my 60th birthday last week – all week long. After a year of dreading this milestone, family and friends helped me embrace the gift of years. Many glasses were raised. Good food eaten. Candles blown. Hugs and kisses shared.

We baby-boomers like to believe that we are aging better than previous generations. “Fifty is the new thirty!” we proclaim. Sixty is “the new forty”. I look around at our close friends and their zest for love, life and laughter make the words ring true. Sure, there are wee signs of aging. We chuckle at the “brain farts” as we race to remember a name. Events we lived through are now recounted in historical documentaries. When did our present become such a distant past?

In the weeks before Christmas, hubby and I welcomed three more grand-babies into the world. We are now parents of five, and Grammy and Papa to nine. The wee ones keep us hopping, and keep us young. The holidays saw us cuddling the newbies, playing with toddlers and pre-schoolers, and sliding down snowy hills with the older kiddies.

I was spoiled with presents on my birthday, but the one that meant the most came from my five children. It is a book, engraved and bound by my talented artist daughter. Inside are five beautifully written letters, engraved in gold. The kids had a bet that this, of all presents, would make me cry. They were right. I had to explain to the little ones that Grammy had “happy tears”!

I’m no longer afraid of being sixty. I have life and love aplenty. I still have dreams to follow. Goals to accomplish.

And many more words to write…

mea culpa

I love words. I love reading them and writing them. I love new words, and old words with new meanings. Recently, the Merriam Webster Dictionary has been tweeting words of the day that seem to be trolling a certain someone. Who do you know that could use a dose of self awareness of their faults? Who do you know that is “venal”, “abominable”, “obdurate” or a “grinch”? (Other recent words of the day.)

Today’s word, “mea culpa”, is steeped in catholic memory. Remember the thrice beating of the breast during the confiteor?

Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!

I groaned when this gem was brought back with the new Roman Missal. Yes, I’m scum. I’m a sinner. I ooze guilt through my catholic pores. But, as I get older, I resent standing and professing my guilt. I much prefer to point my finger at the real sinners. You know, those who are WAAY more evil than I. The headlines of 2018 were filled with these scoundrels.

We are currently watching one of the world’s greatest democracies implode because of a greedy, corrupt, selfish leadership focused on feeding the rich at all costs while demonizing the poor, migrants and visible minorities. They rationalize their evil agendas with bastardized interpretations of Christianity. The hypocrisy is staggering. There is no sense of personal fault. They do not perceive their acts as sinful.

Within the church, those of us “of a certain age” remember the threats of hell for sins as “grievous” as missing Mass on a Sunday. Now we know that some of those same priests who lectured us from pulpits and confessionals were sexual abusers, moving from parish to parish. Bishops chose to protect their priests at all costs within a clerical culture of secrecy, denial and cover-ups. Again, the hypocrisy is staggering. Where is their sense of sin?

Mea culpa. I am no saint, but I know when I have done wrong. It makes me feel like kaka. Many times I curse my catholic guilt, but at least it keeps me on the straight and narrow – or at least the bumpy and uneven.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary declared JUSTICE to be the word of the year.  A timely word. Our world is hungering for justice more than ever. We yearn for leaders of integrity who will use their power in service for the common good, so all God’s people may live with dignity, security and peace.

The Dictionary’s word of the day for Christmas was BENISON, a “blessing or benediction”.

Blessings to you and yours in this New Year!


inquisitions are not the answer


Blanket accusations and indiscriminate purges are part of the dark history of the Catholic church. From the killing and pillaging associated with the “holy” Crusades, to the mass executions of “heretics” during the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant Reformation, the church showed no mercy in its self-righteous mission to defend the one and only true faith. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Pope John Paul II made a public act of repentance for these sins of the church.

Inquisitorial times, whether in churches or governments, feed authoritarian power in those who hold power and those who seek power. In the desire to purge the named evil, false accusations are inevitable. Whispered rumours morph into fact from sheer repetition. Personal vendettas and ideological battles lead the unscrupulous to name perpetrators with little or no evidence. Officials snitch on other officials. Neighbours snitch on neighbours.

Today it is easier than ever to spread calumny, rumour or innuendo. Social media gives everyone a voice and a platform. It also gives everyone the opportunity to hear all voices, whether true or false. We demand instant reporting and instant responses. Out-of -context headlines are retweeted before sources are investigated or proven, often by well meaning persons.

The recent news on the ongoing sexual abuse crisis has ignited understandable anger. We want it ended. We’re tired of the shock and the disgust. We want heads to roll. And, let me be clear, guilty heads should and must roll.

But, due process must be put in place and followed.

Some are calling for a mass resignation of American bishops. Is this the answer? I don’t think so.  Many of us know, and perhaps are friends with, priests or bishops of integrity. Blanket accusations and assumptions of guilt are unfair, and dangerous. Even if proven innocent, the initial assumption of guilt is seldom forgotten.

Cover-ups or canonical slaps on the wrist for serious crimes of abuse must end. The answer is a due process of law, with punishment suited to the severity of the crime.

Another inquisition is not the answer.