The Feast of Ignatius

The Ordinary Form of the Mass, at 8AM

During the Mass, I was amused to see one of our altar servers go into the sacristy, wash his face, and blow his nose in the hand towel (start about 3:59 in). Then he busted out a few moves and did his hair. My guess is that he didn’t realize we were live-streaming.

He came back and got back on track, though – one of those “I’m still waking up here, man!” kind of moments one occasionally goes through at the daily Mass. 🙏🏼

Blessed Feast day.

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Facebook is Exhausting

My Facebook Header

As much as I’ve enjoyed Facebook over the years, I have to say the last few months it’s grown to be exhausting.

Do I really have the energy to put up with all of your complaints during Corona-stress? 😎 For a time I did as I have a genuine concern for all of you. But there’s a time to refresh one’s batteries and ‘deactivate’ for awhile. My old Facebook profile is still there… just resting.

Music

A college choir I was in worked on a choral piece last month for which we each videoed our part and sent along to the producer, a fellow alum. They’ll be put soon enough into the grand whole where we’ll all sing together, once again, “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans.”

Several of us commented that going through it, the piece was achingly slow. Back when we sang it in the 80’s the pace was fine – easy, relaxed, meandering like the lazy Mississippi. It never felt slow, or lazy.

Letters

Around the same time last month, I was organizing some things in the Rectory and came across an old stack of letters from pen-pals through the years. I was struck by how much everyone had written, and thought about how unoften I actually write things anymore, except to take notes during lectures, classes, meetings. I remember spending evenings writing thoughtful letters, poems, silly stories. My grandmother Allen and I wrote all the time, big newsy things that were always fun.

But the choir-song-that-seemed-slow wasn’t slow at all; it’s the world that’s sped up. And the reason I don’t sit around writing letters or stories or newsy items is because of things like Facebook, and the Internet – which can produce just as much of a dopamine high as anything else.

Basically, what I’ve found to be a good way to relax during corona stress is to slow down.

Entering into His Rest

Turn off the tv, turn off the 24/7 everything, turn off the internet, the video games, the whatever, etc. Eat well, rest well, stay away from caffeine, alcohol, all the vices. A month of doing so can help reset dopamine sensitivity, you know, and bring about renewed peace and enjoyment of life. Everything has speeded up, and everyone’s complaining about nothing. Especially on Facebook. And it’s all because we’re depleting out dopamine stores I tell you, living fast and non-stop.

It’s a great time to get back to basics, and to make better time for prayer, also.

With that, I’m off to do some reading.

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The Lively Art of Writing

At the same time, I do not wish to intimidate you with my letters. His letters, they say, are severe and forceful, but when he is here in person he is unimpressive and his word makes no great impact. Well, let such people give this some thought, that what we are by word, in the letters during our absence, that we mean to be in action when we are present.

2 Cor 10:10-11

We’ve been experiencing growing pains in our Latin Mass, the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, here at St. Jane, and between that and helping many with coronastress I’ve found myself on the phone or writing letters, e-mails, and texts constantly for months on end. I haven’t written so much since I was graduated Liberal Arts school, though thankfully typewriters are out of style.

It’s helped me to realize I need to sharpen my mad writing skills.

And in the interest of doing so, I looked up an old book we worked through in High School, called “The Lively Art of Writing“. The Yoast readability analysis of my last blogpost recommended I have more structure, which is something right out of TLAoW.

Basically, before you write anything you make an outline – for blogposts that outline basically becomes your headers. I used that formula throughout my life until I kept a weblog, since it was more or less just a weblog, not the self-published magazines they’ve become.

Back to the Terrifying Reality of Writing

Modern sensibilities are terrified of putting things in writing. I get it.

“Look what you said! What did you mean by this word?! What did you mean by that phrase?! He’s talking about me! Me Me Me! You used this word wrong!!!!”

It’s easy to be misunderstood when you write something down. So when you do write things down, it’s best to stick with the facts and simply acknowledge that many will read their own interpretation into things.

Let them. It’s fine when you know that what you’re saying is genuine, non-harmful, and meant to communicate in a healthy way.

Clarifications and Terms

In our ongoing Covid realities, situations are changing constantly and it’s helpful to give updates that aren’t always possible any other way. I’ve done my share of live streams and video messages, but people usually prefer having something in writing.

The video messages go over well, and I’m overdue for another. But what I found is that many liked that the video presentations were there and that I was doing them, but they didn’t/couldn’t always take the time to watch them. The presence they brought was more comforting than the actual message, to most. 😐

Back to our Latin Mass, I was experiencing confusion regarding it. So – the only thing I’ve really done the last few months is to stop acting as a mediator and healer and allow others to start seeing the confusion for what it is. Overall it’s just a growth phase in the spiritual life of the Mass-goers here. It’s a growth phase for myself as well.

Phone Tag Lag

Writing texts and e-mails begs the question “Why don’t you just call?”

The life of the phone message can be exasperating and takes on a cycle uniquely its own. Here, and in many areas I’ve come to find out, phone messages will often show up a day or three later.

So the cycle can go like this:

  • Monday: “Father, it’s Daisy, can you give me a call?”
  • Message shows up Tuesday: “Daisy I’m returning your call, let me know what you need.”
  • Thursday – Message from Tuesday evening shows up: “Father we’re playing phone tag, I’ll try again.”
  • Thursday afternoon: “Hi Daisy, returning your call. Can you leave me a message about what you need, and we can work from there?”
  • Sunday evening message appears along with three calls from the Archbishop that he made Friday, and an emergency call from hospice: “Father, we keep missing each other! I’ll send you an e-mail, you never return your calls!”

Texting

Texting works great, and so many hate it. Immediate responses are possible, or realistically as soon as possible if not immediately. Everyone and their cousin learned how to text after Katrina hit and that’s all we could do.

It can get overwhelming when everyone texts out of the blue all at once, or when you’re exhausted and a random text floats in. But it does work.

But again, it’s writing and you’ve put it down and put it out there for people to misinterpret. “What did you mean by the Latin Mass is going through a growth phase? Are you implying that we’re immature? Maybe it’s you who are immature!”

Granted, I am always growing through life. That’s a healthy given.

The Scourge of E-mail

E-mail can be an energy-sapping reality that needs to be put in its place. Currently, my auto-responder is set to notify senders that I’ll answer e-mails on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, while monitoring for emergencies.

Research shows that in order to work at a level of thought with enough depth to expand the mind, focus, and develop ideas, you need a good three hours for the level of concentration required. If you’re checking email constantly and needing to reply to it immediately you may as well hang up your prayer life, your homilies, your ideas, and any serious work you need to get done.

The Ancient Art of Letters

The art of letter writing is something that currently eludes me.

Every now and again I just have to sit down and get some ideas out to help clarify situations or to state something, draw boundaries, etc. At times I just don’t have the time necessary for it to be an art form, but it’s at least something.

I’ve reached the end of clarifying anything to do with our Latin Mass, which is good.

I can also be extremely strong in my writing, which I’m aware transfers over into my letter writing. I’m intent on working through that into a better style of business writing, but given everything going on these days, sometimes you just have to type something up and send it.

The thing is that I write a lot. I’ll force myself into brevity, but I can sit down over coffee in the morning and type up a five page e-mail in ten minutes, edit it, peruse for misspellings and grammatical errors, then hit send.

Too, instead of sending off a one page letter, I’ll send off a five page one. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I decided to start typing into my little weblog again, and practice readability and structuring while I work on ideas for another blog I’m considering.

A work in progress

Writing is never something to be afraid of. And a lot of people read things into my writing that simply aren’t there. Well, not a lot of people. A few people do that, and I’ve more or less moved beyond worrying over it.

Texts and e-mails can lead to electronic clutter, which is a different story entirely and definitely a task to stay on top of. But writing is healthy and fun.

All the best in your writing adventures. And all the best in mine, too. 😳

Keep it lively.

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Introversion as Physical Reality

Introverts the world over are waking up. It’s not merely a psychological classification, it’s a physical reality.

Backgrounding the Story

At one point in seminary we had to learn our Myers-Briggs type. I considered it complete hogwash and wanted nothing to do with it. But, when I had to do a hospital chaplaincy that everyone loathed, dreaded and feared, I noticed that our instructor was very into it. So, I decided, if I put time into it and learned about it, my life might go a bit easier during my chaplaincy.

My goal was decided! I would learn about my Myers-Briggs type and how it affected my religious leadership style. Was I in for a life lesson, and no we don’t want to put all of our eggs in the psychology basket.

What I learned is that I’m in INFP. That means I’m a type of introvert, and I go on about that sometimes. But it’s rare and most people consider us unusual. As a leader it can work very well, but I also learned that I can drive people nuts if they aren’t aware of it and if I’m not being what I consider to be remarkably over-organized and meticulous with schedules, meetings, plans, etc. One of my friends in the chaplaincy was also an INFP and we had a lot of laughs because we both went through exactly the same things in life and he used a phrase I’ve often quoted, “It’s a recipe for disaster!”

But it’s actually a recipe for success in life, even though introverts have to cope with living in an extroverted world, and telephone calls, and parties, and meetings, and talking, and spending time with other people, and leaving the house for hours on end.

I’m kidding of course, I love other people. Most of you at least.

And if I don’t, you know who you are. 🧐

But my guess is that if you probably think I don’t love you, I actually do, with that impersonal impartial love that goes along with wanting the best for someone.

Where were we again?

So, being aware of the characteristics of my personhood is one thing, but realizing there’s actually a physiological cause for them is another thing completely.

Yes, that’s right, and while introverts the world over are still stuck in the “there’s something wrong with me, I have to change, I need a therapist, I must have ADD, I need a drink” trap, we’re in truth perfectly fine and only need an air conditioner and some books to keep us perfectly happy. And work, and hidden adventure, and friends, and plenty of time to be non-stimulated.

It’s old data by now, and street knowledge. But live science has some of the beta:

Individuals with this highly sensitive trait prefer to take longer to make decisions, are more conscientious, need more time to themselves in order to reflect, and are more easily bored with small talk, research suggests.

Study Sheds Light on What Makes People Shy
By Live Science Staff April 06, 2010

There’s actually science showing that blood flow to the brains of introverts takes a longer and more complex route through the brain. It doesn’t mean we’re more intelligent then the talky, babbly bunch, but it does explain why we can often say something like “Oh” in response to a five minute conversation while we look upwards and consider things some more, then go home and read.

More recently there’s more info on brain chemistry that’s coming to light:

The best way to explain the differences between introverted and extroverted brains is by bringing attention to three key chemicals in our brain: dopamine, adrenaline, and acetylcholine. Let’s start with the “feel good chemical”: dopamine. We love dopamine because it rewards us with feelings of happiness when we engage in certain behaviors. These pleasurable effects reinforce and motivate us to repeat behaviors that stimulated the release of dopamine. Now, if we throw adrenaline into the mix, which is sparked by things such as risk taking, novelty, and physical and environmental stimulation, even more dopamine is released! Herein lays our first difference between extroverted and introverted brain. It turns out that extroverts have more dopamine receptors in their brains than introverts do! This finding means that extroverts need more dopamine to feel happy because they are less sensitive to it. The more they talk, move, and engage in stimulating activities, the more extroverts feel dopamine’s pleasant effects. In contrast, introverts are sensitive to dopamine, so all of that stimulation makes them feel overwhelmed and anxious.

Much like dopamine, acetylcholine is also linked to pleasure, but its effects are much more subtle. Acetylcholine makes us feel relaxed, alert, and content. It also fuels our ability to think deeply, reflect, and focus for long periods of time on one thing. When we engage in activities that are low-key, calming, and mentally engaging, we activate the release of acetylcholine. For extroverts, the pleasurable effects of acetylcholine pales in comparison to the jolt of happiness they experience from dopamine. However, introverts crave acetylcholine. So, while extroverts are out and about enjoying the benefits all those extra dopamine receptors, introverts are happily lounging at home with a book and a pleasant dose of acetylcholine.

Introverts and Extroverts: The Brain Chemistry Behind Their Differences
By: Melissa Hansen, Psy.D. | December 16, 2016

Is there even a story here?

My parents, God rest their souls, would have sighed with relief at this knowledge. Tucked away in my room reading or studying, out in the garden planting something or other, polishing the silver, inside on weekend nights raptly watching old movies while ignoring the parties down on the corner, waxing the floors. Later in life, hours in lap pools, alone at keyboards, all kept them wondering what was up with me.

But being an INFP also helps describe some of my decision making processes, which were usually emotionally based on ideals, and open-ended both in terms of the time frame and in scope. Being introverted, and not understanding it, helped me to not seek out help when I needed it, and not talk about things I really did need to talk about. (And finally did, of course, as I learned about myself and sought both self-knowledge and knowledge of Christ.)

Point Being

If you’re an introvert you’re not alone. And if you’re an INFP you’re definitely not alone though you probably feel a bit weird at times in our extroverted, rational, deadline-oriented world as you type up 5-page e-mails, letters, and texts to the wonderment and/or exasperation of everyone who receives them. In any case, you’re no doubt most often alone or with close friends, but that’s healthier for you anyway.

Prayer for the introverted INFP type tends towards Adoration, silent prayer, unstructured prayer, reading, and meditating on Sacred Scripture. It’s a recipe for holiness when we understand it’s our strength.

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