Eva’s Regrets

I stood there, alone and trembling, in the fading light, gazing with unseeing eyes at a world I had ruined forever.

It was a simple choice: yes or no.  But it put it in such language and so many words that by the end, even I scarcely knew which I picked.  It told me first that it was a choice between me and him; my will and his will; my decision versus his command.  Then, ever so slightly, I was invited to think, not of an objective decision, but of potential personal changes that could happen within me.  Look inside yourself, it said.  See the worlds you have yet to discover.  There were rooms, halls, and whole chambers within my soul that I had never thought were there before.  I could see with my heart names — names such as ecstasy, trauma, elation, terror, passion, frenzy, and yes, even hate — names coupled with very vague sensations which left me tantalized but yet unfulfilled.  I wanted — I felt that I needed — to know more.  I needed to experience more of what I could be — not who, but what.  I needed to discover more.

Then it became an opportunity to look beyond myself at the vast world around me.  There was a terrestrial universe yet to discover, and all of it was given to me as my domain.  It might take a million years to travel on foot — but who said I only had to travel on foot?  All creativity was placed in my hand.  I could harness the fire of the sun, I could travel through the wind on wings of my own devision, I could skim along the ground as easily as the angels.  I could explore, not only the earth, but the heavens as well.  I could push beyond, erupting in among the stars in a device only I could have created.  And oh, what a difference I could make.  My children down through all the years and generations would look back to me and be eternally grateful.

I felt his presence behind me.  “What are you thinking about?”


“That sounds magnificent.  Everything you say sounds magnificent.  For everything is magnificent.  Eva, in time we will travel this world.  We will mark it out as our own.  And when our time comes, we will teach our children to do the same.  Perhaps in their time, or in their children’s time, our line will stretch to the heavens — maybe the sun, maybe the moon, or maybe the vast lamps in the sky.  Every piece will fall into place according to the plan.”

“I see the plan.  Yet the plan is so distended — we have time now.  We have vigor now.  We have passion now.  Why wait and waste our time traveling by foot our whole lives when we can create wings like the birds?  Why hope that our children’s children will touch the stars when we ourselves may do so tomorrow?  We can uncover more of the plan if we hurry it along.”

It looked at me again as I turned away from him.  He will never understand.  Neither of them will.  Not unless you make them.  Do you will to see?  Do you will that he should see?

“Yes, I will it.”

Then let me enter you.  Let me know you in your uttermost depths, where even he has not yet attained.  Do you will it?

“I do.”

At that instant, it came into me.  It flooded my senses so that every single chamber was illuminated with the most brilliant light of self-knowledge.  I felt ecstasy, trauma, elation, terror, passion, frenzy, an yes, even hate.  I understood them all in an instant.  Everything was clear.  Everything was. . . unexplainable.

And then I turned to him.  I uttered it to him.  I motioned it to him.  Yet it did not leave me; it merely replicated itself and entered him.  It was now they.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked him.


And then we felt his presence.  A terror such as the universe had never known flooded us at that moment.  They trembled inside of us and threw us to the ground.  All in an instant, I knew who it was that had made me, and I knew how inadequate I was to face him.

You know what happened next.  Every easily attainable joy flew an eternity beyond my reach.  My ability to hold back tears vanished and the despondency fell unchecked over my flushed cheeks.  My heart beat erratically and stabbing pains afflicted me.  Animal skin covered my body and scratched at my flesh.  I heard the voice of the almighty, “Eva. . . Eva. . . Eva. . .”  Those words burned in my soul.  And all of the crystal clarity was consumed by the it that had become they.  Instead, the only thing that remained clear to me was the stinging, prophetic shame that told me it would multiply itself, just as it had when I first spread it to him, unto every child my line would ever see.  It had become they.  They would now become legion, for they would be many.

Outside the gates of Eden, I stood there, alone and trembling, in the fading light, gazing with unseeing eyes at a world I had ruined forever.

They whispered across the desolation, I will never leave you.

Adam touched my hand and whispered, I still will never leave you.

And a tiny whisper of peace promised,  I will return.

Reflections on the Sunday Gospel, 9/10/17

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew: Jesus said to his disciples: “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”  

Yesterday’s gospel goes further than this, but I want to stop here.  This one little passages — five sentences — provides the solution to so many of the dramas and conflicts in the world today.  Don’t believe in simple solutions?  Maybe you haven’t given them a try.

The entire modus operandi of this passage is respect.  Simple, common respect.  You value the person’s privacy and reputation enough to pull him aside and say one-on-one to him, “Hey, you hurt me” or “Hey, you weren’t right in what you said earlier.”  Instead of immediately telling everyone else or confronting the person in front of a large group so as to create humiliation, you’re treating him the way you’d like to be treated — with respect.  This should send a clear message to the person.

But suppose he doesn’t listen to you, as will (sadly) most likely be the case.  Well then, that’s when you start asking for help.  Get just a couple people — people who are involved in the problem and who you can trust to keep level heads instead of flying off the handle if the person gets upset with them.  Then, have another private conversation/intervention.  Again, this shows respect for the person who hurt you — the golden rule isn’t hard to remember, y’all.

Suppose even this isn’t enough.  In the Gospel passage, it says to refer to the church.  Sadly, in our case, many people won’t listen to the idea of a God at all, let alone any authority from an organized church.  But perhaps there’s still some kind of higher authority in that person’s life, whether it’s a parent, a boss, a principle, an RA, or whomever.  Maybe it’s the police, who knows.  Go to this person, whoever it might be.  Give the case over to that individual — notice how you’re still not making a public humiliation out of it.  Even when the case goes to someone outside the situation, you’re still keeping it more or less private.

And some people still won’t listen.  So what does Jesus say to do next?  “Treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”  What’s your immediate thought about that?  Tax collectors and Gentiles — the ‘bad guys’ of the bible.  They were always the corrupt ones, the pagans, the dogs, and the unclean.  So treating your offender like a Gentile or a tax collector surely must mean to cast him out of your life and shun him for his action, right?  Wrong.  Look at what Jesus did to these people: he loved them, ate with them, cured their diseases, led them to conversion. . . but not once did he commend them for their ways.  He only commended them once they had faith in him and repented.

So what does that mean for us?  You guessed it: WWJD.  It sounds so cliche and Protestant, but it really is the way to go.  If that person who hurt you refuses after all your polite attempts to change or apologize and make amends, then your last resort would be to do what Jesus did: love the person as a child of God, respect him for who he is, but never commend him for his work.  This may take the form of talking or sharing less of your personal self with the other person (e.g. a former best friend would become simply an acquaintance).  It might hurt, the other person might view it as an injustice, but in reality, all you’re doing is treating that person as a child of God — one who has broken your trust, but a child of God nonetheless.

Respect.  Privacy.  The Golden Rule.  It means giving up gossip.  It means giving up drama.  It means giving up sleepless nights worrying about your reputation with another or angrily venting to whoever will listen.  It means giving up a toxic outlook on life.

It’s strange.  To many people, it’s unheard of.  And there will be many times it doesn’t seem to make sense because our emotions are our own worst enemies many times.

It’ll be hard, but I dare you to try it out.

St. Rita’s May Crowning, 2017!

At St. Rita’s Youth Mass this evening, we had a Mother’s Day/May Crowning of the Blessed Mother statue outside the church.  Special thanks to. . .

~ Ms. Rita Bernauer ~

For decorating Mary’s crown with fresh flowers and making it look so lovely!  You really are an artist.

Us with wreath



~ Fr. Jerry Bell ~

For letting us have the procession and crowning and for leading us in prayer!

Fr prayingFr Reading



~ Little Natalie and Bella ~

For leading the procession with us and crowing our Blessed Mother!

Crowning 2Crowning


Remember, oh most gracious virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, oh virgin of virgins my mother.  To you I come – before you I stand – sinful and sorrowful. Oh mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me.  Amen!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Mary!


Your kids — the Circle of Life

Twelve Hands, Six Sharpies, one Mission (and an iPhone!)

I’ll start with this: if there’s one thing the Circle of Life is horribly bad at, it’s making people feel left out.

Now for the story.  If any of you have ever been to the Casper Center “Dungeon,” you probably noticed the large Circle of Life symbol painted on the wall.  But you might or might not have noticed is “Circle of Life” — the words — written on the wall as well.

Three years ago, Briana Baker (former student at St. A’s, currently at Bellarmine) offered to do this paint job to make the youth group room more our own.  And she really did a magnificent job — the letters are perfectly proportioned and just the right size.  The only problem was that it was left uncompleted.  You couldn’t read the white words on a pale yellow background.  But her life pulled her in a different direction and she left the group.

Flash forward to May 3, 2017. I bargained on coming to the Dungeon and letting John and Shane do their little middle schooler thing while I, armed with five sharpies, two rulers, and a protractor, outlined the words on the wall.

“Why’d you bring so many sharpie markers?”  I can’t tell you which of the kids said this because I’m sure it was more than one.  I took a lot of comments on how many markers I brought — but semper paratus is a good motto for everyone.

Well, their “little middle schooler thing” and my “draw-on-a-wall thing” ended up becoming the same thing.  Huge thanks to Amber (St. R), Stephanie (St. A), Nathan (St. R), Daighre (St. A), and John for making it such a fun and quick event.

We got the whole job finished in under half an hour, even amid classic Circle of Life distractions (read: screams, laughter, deep conversation, too many ‘your face’s, and a spontaneous dance party).  And of course, my description wouldn’t be complete without mentioning James’ wonderful DJ skills – just think frantic video game music and looped Spongebob to give you an idea.  (By the end of it all we wondered why he was allowed an iPhone, but it’s not like we had any better music to offer).

So thanks again, everyone.  That’s how a project three years in the making finally got completed. 🙂


Group pic with wall

You can read it now! *little party*


Hello.   You’re pretty sure you don’t know me — I don’t blame you.  We haven’t talked in a while.  But I thought I might as well send you this.

We used to be best friends when you were younger — remember that?  No, I don’t expect you to.  But maybe you remember a little bit.  You had all those imaginary friends?  All those make-believe worlds?  All those fanciful lives you loved to pretend you had?  I was all those friends.  I took you to all those worlds.  I showed you all those lives.

Remember when your parents took off your training wheels?  Remember how unsteady you felt, but how you somehow managed to stay up?  That was me.  I held you better than any training wheels could.

And then when you got old enough to walk around the streets by yourself — you were never by yourself.  But it was around that time that you started forgetting about those imaginary friends.  You started settling for the life you were given instead of pushing out of it to what might be.  That’s when you started to forget me. . .

I’ve been working overtime since then.  Why don’t you sleep as much as you used to?  When you were sleeping, there was less to worry about.  Now I have to be behind every wheel wheel, in all the stores, at all the friends’ houses, around all the TV’s, between every hand you hold, nearly every hour of the day.  There are a million perils I’ve helped you avoid and you don’t even know it.

Other people recognize me more than you do, and I’m not even focusing on them.  I guess they see the effects.  You and that one “friend?” — everyone but you realizes that I’m the only one that’s prevented you from going out with each other.  How that wreck was somehow not your fault? — you’re the only person who doesn’t see my hand in that.

I can’t honestly blame you for a lot of your attitude, though.  You must find it hard to see someone who, honestly, can’t be seen without years of practice.  But I encourage you — be like those other people who see what I’ve done.  Accept that there’s someone there working on your side all the time.

And see me in other people.  I said I don’t particularly focus on others, but sometimes they help me work a lot better than I can on my own.  Because, you see, you listen to people who look like you.  That one friend who’s advice stuck in your mind for some bizarre reason?  I bet you can guess who told him to say that.  Or that driver who slammed on her breaks with inhuman strength and speed so you could safely run that red light?  Yes, I had a hand in that.

I love you.  You’re worth all the effort.  You’re worth all the trying and failing.  You’re worth all the headache and heartache.  Because I see something absolutely beautiful — something precious, something that deserves to be guarded by one of the strongest forces on earth.

Everyone needs a guardian.  Call it a rule of thumb.  Call it a necessity.  Personally, I prefer to call it a principle.

I have a name, but I’d be happy if all you ever remembered was,


Holy Thursday Mass and The Passion of the Christ — TONIGHT!

Just a reminder that we’re going to be watching The Passion of the Christ tonight at St. Luke’s. The showing will begin right after Holy Thursday Mass, which starts at 7pm. We will be watching the movie in the church, and there will be Eucharistic Adoration in the adjacent Mercy Chapel at the same time.

God bless, and see you there!

Ms. Rita Day

What’s special about April 9, 2017? Oh, right — it was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of the holiest week in the church year. It was (this day in history) but was there anything, anything else important about that day?

Of course.  It was the 152nd anniversary of Lee’s surrender in the Civil War. It’s the 136th anniversary of Billy the Kid being convicted of murder. It’s the eighth commemoration of Honda winning the Green Car Award in 2009. Could there possibly be another special occasion on that day, though?

You bet.

April 9, 2017, was the day on which thirteen people in Okolona, Ky, commemorated Ms. Rita Appreciation Day for the first time ever.


Ms. Rita Bernauer is the sacristan at St. Rita’s where we have youth Mass. It was Ms. Rita who taught Michael Schultz how to play organ. It was Ms. Rita who took over piano and organ when he left for seminary. And it’s Ms. Rita who comes hours early every Sunday in order to prepare the altar for Mass, turn on the lights and sound, say a Rosary, and be there to welcome us all when we come. She’s there no matter what. Are John and Michael in Poland? Is the entire choir gone on a pilgrimage? Did her cousin just pass away? — She’s still there.  And in addition to all that (as if it wasn’t enough already) she’s always got a smile on her face. She might be stressed about finding us palms to have blessed, she might be in grief, or any other number of things, but she always wants to be there and talk to you.  In the words of several choir members, “she’s the glue that holds us all together.”

Ms. Rita Day was Holly Ray’s idea. One Sunday, she said, “we all need to show Ms. Rita how much we love her.” And this was the idea borne.

They were small gifts – a box with jewelry, chocolates, a Rosary holder, and an icon of St. Rita, a card, and a little planter of spring flowers. We hid them on the steps to the choir loft.

After Mass, most of the choir took Ms. Rita back to pray in the sacristy – something the choir’s been doing for a while now. John and I ran back to the choir loft and got intercepted by Mary P’Oryem, who needed her daily hug. She got conscripted into carrying the flowers. All our rushing attracted Olivia Ulrch and Matthew Flaherty, who followed us into the Adoration chapel.

“What’s with all the rush?”

“Shhhhh! It’s Ms. Rita Day!”

“Why are they praying for so long?”

“Go go go go go!!!!”

“Actually, Ms. Rita, Zoe and John left to get something. I don’t think you know, but today is Ms. Rita Appreciation Day, and we just wanted to give you a little something to show you how much we love you.”

“What did I do?”

This one reply, repeated at least three times, sums it up best: “what didn’t you do?”