Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fake Out Proposal

Among my broader circle of friends and acquaintances who are getting their marriage on, I’ve noticed a mini-trend. When the guys are imminently planning to propose to their girlfriend, it seems that inevitably, one of the ideas that gets tossed around is some sort of fake out where the guy will make the girl think he is about to propose and then doesn’t.

First, some background. In this broad circle (my wife and I included), it is very common for couples to go through some sort of pre-engagement counseling in addition to a pre-marital program. Now pre-marital counseling is nothing new, but pre-engagement counseling seems to be a newfangled thing. Impersonally, it seems to be a pervading value to make the best decision possible with the most information possible. More appropriately, couples usually do it to grow more deeply in their own understanding of self as well as explore more deeply the dynamics of their relationship.

As an aside, I highly recommend it as it was really helpful to “ask the hard questions” outside the context of being “locked in” (ie. a ring) and without the added overhead and the all-consuming process of planning a wedding. Said another way, it was helpful to prepare for a marriage instead of just preparing for a wedding.

Anyhow, doing so much relational processing as a couple will often times take out most, if not all, of the surprise of getting engaged assuming the couple discerns that they will be getting married (it would probably be a shock if they broke up). However, inevitably, the guy will still have some traditionalist sense of wanting to surprise his girl and it seems that the only way to reintroduce any surprise is to try and throw her off the trail.

This is why I think some sort of fake out idea is always tossed around. “I know she knows we’re getting married so if I ‘help’ her continue to think she knows what’s coming and then BOOM! not do anything, then I’ll be in the clear. Problem solved.”

I’m not saying that a fake out always ends up making the final cut. Sometimes, another female is introduced somewhere along the way who provides perspective for how extremely emotional it can be for a girl. But it seems that guys should get a little credit for wanting to keep some chivalry be it a bit misguided.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Awkward Gloria

Does anyone else notice that awkward moment during Peter Jones' Gloria?  I'm talking about the "call" at the 1:16 mark and the "non-response" at the 1:19 mark in the video below.

I mean, this version fills the space nicely with trumpets and other instruments, but most churches usually rock this version with only the piano which doesn't fill the space. And the next "have mercy on us" part is nicely call-and-response just like you'd expect with the rest of the song. What's up with that? Is there a musical or spiritual reason for this? Can someone explain it to me? For this moderately musically trained Chinese boy, it doesn't make much sense except for keeping me on my toes.

Every time we do this Gloria, I always have to intentionally remember not to sing during this part and I always cringe whenver an unsuspecting bystander (or spaced-out Chinese person) accidentally sings, "Lord God, Lamb of God."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Black and White

…So I get ever-so-slightly nervous when I’m around priests wearing their Roman collar.  This usually means that they’re wearing a black button-up shirt and usually a black jacket.  I’ve realized that it’s because I try not to notice, but I look anyways to see if they have a dandruff problem... 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Feet Who Bring Glad Tidings

As we were waiting at the stoplight at a busy intersection on our way to Christmas Day Mass this morning, a woman struggling with a small roller bag walked up to the corner of the sidewalk by the right turn lane in our direction and held up a sign saying she was homeless and needed help. 

Immediately, my mind went through its normal "what should I do when I see a homeless person" inner-monologue routine. 

"Why is she there?  It's Christmas Day, no one should be out there in the rain.  Hm...if you were going to try and take advantage of people, pulling on their heartstrings today would definitely do it.  Stop judging!  I have some cash, I should give her some money.  But wait!  How long have I been at this light?  The light might turn green any second..."
My mind then went into parallel processing mode and I started scanning the stoplights in other directions to figure out when my light was going to turn green while continuing to think...

"I should at least give her some cash now.  Or we'll come back after Mass and see if we can meet a need more deeply - perhaps pay for a motel room for the night.  But no way she's still going to be standing there more than an hour later.  I could just reach out the window and try to hand her the cash.  But I'm in the furthest left lane.  But why am I so worried about inconveniencing a few people for a few seconds while I try to serve someone.  But what about her safety?"
All of this builds and builds (sometimes feeling like this) and then the light turns green.  "Okay," I think, "We'll definitely come back after Mass." 

During the homily at Mass, the priest talked mainly about the first reading from Isaiah 52:7-10, specifically about verse 7:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings"
He mentioned how in about a year from now, at the beginning of next Advent Season, the Gospel reading will be from Matthew 25 and what it means for us to be active in bringing glad tidings this year, feeding the hungry among other things. 

<sigh> My ears were burning.

We went back after Mass to look for this woman.  She was nowhere to be found.  I pray that God gives her what she needs...and hopefully my feet will be the one who can bring glad tidings next time.

Midnight Mass

Chritsmas Eve Midnight Mass is always an interesting one for me.  In my experience, it's rarely at midnight and it's always one of the most heavily attended Masses of the year very frequently being standing room only.  I think it's because in addition to the normal parishioners, there is an additional combination of first time visitors, old parishioners who have been away temporarily or permanently (like in college or working somewhere else), and then all the C.E.O. (Christmas and Easter Only) Catholics come out as well. 

I don't know about you, but for me, I always have a hard time focusing on the liturgy during Christmas Eve Mass.  I tend to find myself looking around at all the people getting distracted by all the new faces and the old familiar ones.  I find myself wondering what old friends who have been away are up to now, but at the same time also totally judging the college kids who I know have gone wild (via Facebook) and those folks that clearly haven't been to Mass in ages and can barely remember what to do. 

Yikes, it gets pretty nasty up there.

This year, I'm spending the holidays with the in-laws who are out-of-state and Protestant.  My wife and I attended "Midnight Mass" (at 5PM) at the local parish where we go whenever we are back.  The children's choir was leading the music which was cute and all, but some of the logistics didn't seem thought through which led to some distractingly bad liturgy (think lots of socializing during the Offering of the Gifts with no music).  In addition, I had a hard time not noticing the large three generation family in front of us who were passing out mentos to each other (adults included) during Mass and laughing to each other during the consecration. 

As I tried to pray, I couldn't help but ask full of judgmental, sarcastic incredulity, "Jesus, we're waiting in 'joyful hope' for you to come back to this <mentally gesturing to all of the things I saw was wrong>?!"

My next thought fully aware of my own negative, hardened heart and becoming so awestruck at the sheer craziness of it all, "Wow.  Jesus, you came into the world for this?  You came into the world for me?"

I guess all of that brokenness is exactly why God sent Jesus for.  I knew that.  But I'm still not done knowing that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wide Eyed Widening Heart

Let's be clear.  Being Chinese-American, I do not have wide eyes.  However, being Chinese American, it is engrained in me to try and anticipate others' needs which makes me sensitive to people and non-verbal communication.  For some reason, I make lots of observations on people and social situations and usually, I try to connect the dots - sometimes accurately, sometimes not.  On the not-so-rare occasion when I share my thought out loud, it is not uncommon for people to never have considered it or they weren't crazy enough to go so far as to intellectualize it or both.  Fortunately (unfortunately?), this same observational neurosis applies to myself as well.  Though I have normal-ish sized eyes, I live in the world with my eyes wide open, observing, judging, discerning, and learning.

Being a cradle Catholic with evangelical sensibilities, I love the Catholic Church and am amazed at the Holy Spirit's work in the Evangelical community.  I strive to grow deeper in my relationship with Jesus Christ and I am unafraid to question my own beliefs, assumptions, biases, and situations.  There are few things that I am afraid to talk about both serious and light-hearted and the hope is that this leads my heart to become wider so that I become the man God created me to be and that I learn to love as God loves.

Clear eyes.  Full hearts.  Can't lose.