COVID Lockdown Takeaways

I still find myself saying “What just happened?!” regarding our COVID existence, and am also completely aware it’s still going on. It was the oddest of times, when we all found ourselves more or less making everything up as we went along – to both respond to the developing situations and to help smooth the way for others.

Being an introvert I at first thought it would be a great time to catch up on my spiritual reading, take long walks and get the garden in order. It turned out to be anything of the sort, with long days spent in constant communication with so many people about their concerns, trials, tribulations, joys, sorrows, lessons, prayers, and of course the overwhelming desire for the sacraments by so many.

All of that is completely understandable, but what has happened in our era of instant communication with 24/7 access, a new phenomenon has spring up where everyone is at home in their individualized setting, needing an individualized response, each with separate suggestions, ideas, etc.

For instance, whereas you usually might have suggestions from the morning coffee group, the St. Joseph Guild, the Finance Council, what have you – it became 1,000 or so people with time to consider everything in-depth, all needing, quite validly, to express their opinion to one person. That was overwhelming until I developed new understandings of people’s needs during the lockdown. People needed to vent. They needed the Eucharist. They needed Confession. Some just wanted to talk. Overall it was a beautiful time of getting to know people more in-depth.

At some point also, I developed a new respect for my privacy. I’ve always felt it a pubic service to be on social media, to type things up on my site so that I could keep in touch with people – and I do keep in touch with some of the most amazing people out there, half of whom are parishioners and so many from all over the place.

But there’s that old adage about public living – 20% will always love you, 20% will always hate you, and 60% are indifferent. The numbers vary according to who tells the tale, but it’s the hate that I don’t necessarily have the time for anymore. You have to have a thick skin to be a priest, to begin with, and more so to have the conversations we’re able to have in our Parish and online. I don’t see many other Pastors bringing in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, undertaking historic renovations and working to make sure it all flows well and is built on a solid foundation while at the same time making sure everyone’s spiritual needs are met to the best of our ability.

There was a saying in seminary that “everything you do or say, can and will be used against you.” I didn’t experience it like that to be honest, mostly because I am an open person – guarded, and not necessarily confessional, but open. It’s even more true in Priesthood that everything you say or do can and will be used against you because as a Pastor some will always hate you. The exercise is to respond in charity, to practice understanding, and to plan in hope, with fortitude. Then let it go.

Sharing so personally is not necessary. I remember in Boy’s State back in High School, I was the Library Club geek who was a projectionist at the Star Trek conventions, in the Key Club, gold medal winner in almost everything but math, First in State in French – pourqois je ne sais pas – surrounded by a bunch of jocks who called themselves the Faithful Five. They ruled the roost like a pack of bullies and they were truly just horrible. They especially didn’t like me, and I was the brunt of their disdain which took shape in every way shape or form possible over the course of that one miserable week, which had so many great and wonderful ideas to offer us about leadership.

At the end of the week, there was a huge emotional ceremony at the State Capital building and gradually everyone started bursting into tears. I was thinking “You’ve got to be kidding me,” surrounded by hundreds of high school dudes sobbing their eyes out for no reason. Gradually everyone in our city (or parish? it was a while ago,) came over and started telling me I was the strongest one there – because the Faithful Five had never cracked me, never gotten me to flinch, never caused me to waver from the course. They were humiliated, and everyone forgot about them. Once I realized what was happening, I had some teary moments also.

Being a Priest can be like that at times.

Psychologically, with everyone’s stress levels raised to about 10,000 times the normal limit, I decided to invest in an online course dealing with Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) and addictions, known as the Freedom Model. It’s been an invaluable experience, and CBT is recognized as the future in addiction treatment.

One of the most valuable facts was learning how people start to behave when they believe traditional recovery beliefs. For example – one is told they have a disease that’s incurable, it runs in the family, it’s genetic, it’s an allergy. They will have to hit rock bottom, there’s no way to avoid it. Their family learns this also and is convinced their child has to hit rock bottom. The stage is set.

I’ve seen so many people in this doomed mindset. All personal ability to change – to put on the new man in Christ, to cooperate with grace, to simply make different choices, to acquire new beliefs, to learn new habits and to do new, fun enjoyable things – is taken away. “I’m an addict, I can’t help it.” Science shows otherwise and, in our enlightened world where we give so much lip service to science while rarely taking the time to genuinely learn from it (i.e. abortion actually is harmful to women, and life does begin at conception,) it’s time to welcome bright new ideas with solid foundations, which are completely compatible with our Faith.

So begins the COVID lockdown takeaway series.

I have a few new writing projects away from here, and I have to decide if this site should really stay or not. Maybe it’s best just parked away on some back bayou of the interwebz, for random explorers to find. It generates a surprising amount of traffic from time to time. It was getting a bit more focussed in a new direction when suddenly the techs at Kinsta restored some old posts and the newer ones went into the archives. That happens – but the takeaway is that people do need presence from the introverts fo the world. Whether it’s in a more focussed blog project, steady streams of videos, or both and more.

So much to do and see still in life. This has been a grand and terrible time, with many beautiful lessons, from many beautiful people.

+

Ken-AYE

Random life

When you’re named Kenneth it doesn’t really matter what you prefer, because people make their own decisions on what your name is. (In the same way, the cover picture on this post doesn’t really matter as to the content of the post. But Fox Squirrels are fascinating creatures. Less fascinating than us, but still… More on that later.)

Kenneth

For instance, growing up my family always called me Kenneth which to this day most of my grammar school friends and all of my family still use.

My grandparents were pretty formal on both sides and called me Kenneth. The Monsignor in my Parish growing up also called me Kenneth, as did all of my teachers.

I love it.

I still remember Monsignor Melancon coming into class with our Report Cards, sitting down in the middle of the room as the entire class was rearranged, and calling our names to come up and get our reports, as we trembled in fear and expectation.

“Kenneth?”

*tremble*

“Very good.”

*reflect*

Kenny

Some of my friends shortened that to Kenny. That transferred to music, and all of my music friends have and still call me Kenny. The Archbishop of NOLA is friends with some of my music friends and has always insisted on calling me Kenny.

I love it.

Ken

The business side of the world has always decided they can’t call someone Kenny, and that Kenneth is too formal, and Kenny too informal. So they call me Ken.

I’m OK with it.

At times I’ve encouraged it because I don’t really have the time to deal with people’s personal issues over my name. I can’t help but feel that anyone named Kenneth goes through the same thing.

“What’s your name?”

  • “Kenneth.”

“What would you like to be called?”

  • “?”

Call me what you will, but don’t call me late for dinner. ;-]

But the thing is, my brother eventually took to calling me “Ken-aye”! (A for Allen of course, and a play on Kenny.)

So, to this day I often sign my name as Ken A.

I know you’re fascinated by these tidbits of info. But I’m actually fascinated by the tidbits of info which you all share with me. It’s not that I have a low threshold of excitement, it’s that you are all fascinating people. I’m just trying to share and be open while we’re all going through this COVID shutdown mess. My heart goes out to all who are struggling.

+

KenA

The Courageous Catholic

Calix

I’m always hearing about courageous priests. “The world needs more courageous Priests!” “We need a courageous Priest to defy the Bishop!” That type thing.

What we actually need are courageous Catholics who do something more than complain about the Church. We can find fault in every corner of the Church, and never run out of fodder. We can find fault in the life of every Priest, and never run out of fodder. At some point, one tunes it out and focusses on the spiritual life, and one’s duty, because nothing is ever courageous enough. No deed is courageous enough unless one ends up in prison, and then one is promptly forgotten as the populace turns it’s attention to another Priest in the public’s circus of entertaining commentary.

But the search for courageous Priests is ruining the lives of some Priests.

Defy the Bishop and be assigned to a place of lesser impact – then what? What authority has the time to deal with rudeness, anger, and confusion caused for really no reason other than the fact one is being prompted to disobedience, impoliteness, and lack of charity for the sake of pleasing a populace which is entirely incapable of being pleased?

Many also complain about the Church and deciding that their children will never go to a Seminary, or never enter a Convent unless it’s a “good” one.

But the problem there is – if the Lord is calling one’s child to religious life as a Priest or religious, who is anyone to deny the Lord? If the Church needs betterment, perhaps one’s own sons and daughters are the ones who are going to be changing it.

One is never wrong in praying for and hoping for courageous Priests. One is never wrong also in living their own lives courageously – and dealing with the matters of the world which need to be addressed with great courage, and which can only be addressed by the laity, whilst Priests tend to their own matters.

+

“Just the Flu”

Flew the Coop

“I may speak with every tongue that men and angels use; yet, if I lack charity, I am no better than echoing bronze, or the clash of cymbals.”

1 Cor 13:1 Knox

There’s a growing number of people who simply don’t care about coronavirus – it’s just the flu, it’s a hoax, don’t lock me up – and I get all that.

But why on earth would you not care about getting the flu?

I had the flu once in my adult life and have taken precautions ever since. I cleaned my apartment immaculately and lay around for three or four days with a high fever praying I wouldn’t die. But if I did die, at least whoever found my body would at least see I had a great, clean apartment, and know I’d had some bright spots in music. I don’t want to get “just the flu” and I don’t want to go through that ever again.

If you don’t care fine, that’s your choice. But don’t complain if I wear a mask and/or gloves to give you Communion, especially if you’re coughing all during Mass. It’s a perfectly valid and legit thing for me to do, backed up by history and Tradition itself. And don’t complain about the many people who don’t want to get “just the flu” from your lack of charity in not caring about anyone else.

Does it affect the blood, which is why it appears to affect certain populations more? Or does it simply affect the lungs? Do you know? Is your will written? Your funeral planned? “Just the flu” kills many each year – especially the elderly though I’ve known younger who’ve died also.

Aside from that, I’m very much looking forward – as are we all – to the gradual reopening happening soon, more and more, all around us.

And on a brighter note – these baby birds flew the coop! They’re out of quarantine too – all grown up and flying around the countryside as birds ought to be.

+