Tag Archives: Minneapolis

From the Midwest to Big Apple

15 Jul Midwest Peace

Daydreams dancing in my head, a rainstorm of heels tapping the sidewalk, the power of the subway passing. I dreamt of the artists of the Lower East Side, the rooftops of East Harlem, the aristocrats of the Upper East. I desired to move into that world, the world where you swim with art, culture and lyrics. I was moving to New York City, and I was moving there with dreams.

The Big Apple  Friday at rush hour, arriving at Penn Station, duffle bag in hand, I stood in a sea of people who moved, dancing with one another, avoiding collisions with wisdom and alertness. Stumbling and toppling, I took refuge in a corner of the station to observe, immediately facing the reality of the city I painted so whimsically in my mind. Run over by high heels and swatted with briefcases, I watched, awakened.

With a year behind me now, I recently climbed the subway stairs with a learned confidence, walking with the wisdom and alertness that I so envied in the Penn Station crowd I had first encountered. A phrase that has visited me often repeated itself in my mind, “I can’t believe I live in New York.”

With this awe lingering, I left the city to visit my new nephew in the Twin Cities. While sharing a beer and dinner in the peace that the Midwest seems always to provide, my brother-in-law inquired, “How is it living in New York City?” Looking up I was brought back to that new moment of confidence, and I realized the dreams I had thought would be life here had disappeared. It is not jadedness that I have found, it is a new wonder. It is not until the projection of ideas for our future are surrendered that we truly encounter the Divine.

While I stood in awe that I had moved to the City, there was a fight between expectation and reality. I had expected to encounter something different, something separate from myself. But standing on the city’s corner, I encountered my true self. For wherever we run, for whatever dream we are going towards and conflict we are running from, there comes a moment where we are asked to encounter reality. This wonder that I was so adamantly in search of was always with me, it was the wonder that comes with the realization that this is all given, all given to us by Christ to explore and encounter. Now, I am falling into a new dream, a dream of the present where beauty is continually given with my surrender.

– Colleen Pesci


Baseball as Partaking in the Sacred

9 Jul

Baseball. The American past time. The All-American sport. The sport I knew nothing about until I had a son. The sport I didn’t even know my husband cared about before we had a son. It all began one fateful evening when our son, who was about 15 months old at the time, dragged our coffee table book about the history of baseball to his Dada and insisted they look at it together.

Baseball as Partaking in the Sacred - Nell Alt

Fast forward a few years to our three year old. It’s a sacred thing, now, the ritual of listening to the game on the radio every day, of putting on my brother’s 25-year-old Twins striped shirt. It has purpose, meaning, an intellectual impact as well as emotional. When they lose, he is disheartened—but vows they’ll win the next game. When they triumph, it is as personal as the blueberries in his oatmeal that are not for his little sister.

I see that same rapt attention at the baseball game at Mass, too. His studied expression when he slowly mimes the pitch, or when he pretends to be incensing the altar. His shrieks of delight when Dozier hits a home run, his eager and earnest whispers when our pastor holds up the Blessed Sacrament and says “Hoc Est Enim Corpus Meum [This is My Body].”
What is this correlation between baseball and the sacred?

Both boast fascinating and vivid characters: a myriad of rollicking players from Babe Ruth to Dizzy Dean, Joe Mauer to Sam Deduno; Jesus and his burly crew of apostles, Saint John Berchmans who died as a young altar boy to Saint Stephen the first martyr who was stoned to death. Both capture the essence and imagination of his identity: he is a baseball player who will someday be an altar boy when he gets bigger and bigger {actual quote}. He loves both so fiercely. First it’s baseball, then it’s church. Good altar boys have to train as baseball players {another zinger from the 3 year old}.

When one thing, in this instance baseball, helps lead a little mind to something truly eternal and infinite, we simply have to be grateful as parents. I had scoffed at parents who let their children wear sports jerseys as TACKY! UNCULTURED!—and now he is one of them! He loves baseball, he loves being Catholic, and somehow the one leads into the other in a sacred and mysterious way. I’ll take it. So take me out to the ball game, and let’s hope the Twins win big time this year. I’ll even drink to that.

-Nell Alt

Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

24 Mar Start Teaching our Children the Faith Early

Spirituality and religion are so profoundly personal.  And many of us are still on our journey of either/both/one.  Given that each person has a particular journey, why start religious instruction early for children?  Why not let them choose their own path when they are old enough to be interested in it?

We have opted to start religion for our kiddos from the get-go for a number of reasons: 1) being part of a larger spiritual community; 2) development of conscience; and 3) reinforcement of our parenting values.

Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

Why Start Religion Early for Your Kid?

Our son who is two and a half has a sweet love of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He doesn’t get the advanced concepts of the hypostatic union or transubstantiation.  He doesn’t need to.  He understands Jesus was once a little boy too.  He understands Mama Mary to be his heavenly mother, and Jesus’ mama, who is there to comfort him when he is alone and scared.  For him, the Saints are not only a great baseball team, but also a team of wonderful people who are dead and whose examples we strive to follow.

 When we consider how the Church can influence the development of conscience, we don’t see religion as a vehicle for shaming or guilt-tripping.  The shaping of a conscience is comprised of delineating desirable behavior from undesirable behavior, and empowering the child to internalize this distinction process.  All parents do this, regardless of creed.  Catholicism provides a blue print to make this go more smoothly.

But why start now when they are so little?  Because I cannot hope that our children come to embrace these values later on as they are not the natural values to embrace.  It is natural for children to be rude, selfish, and wild. Instead of shaping his behavior through punishment (all the time), an external force, we are trying to give him a rooting in the whys behind the don’t-do-that.  Following your base instincts will not bring you closer to a God of love, and will not make you happy.  You have to practice self-discipline, and develop it from the get go, based on something that is higher than your parents.  Someone you are accountable to when no one is looking. If you have surrounded your child with a culture that backs up what you have shown them, then they can see from their friends, their friends’ parents, their school, and their environment a mirroring of values you hold true.

In conclusion, why not have God as a part of their routine?  Even if you are more spiritual than religious, consider how as a parent you give your child parameters and boundaries on all other fronts.  Why not organize their exposure to a Higher Power in the form of organized religion? It’s up to you how you present the routine of the Divine, and which traditions you emphasize, and accordingly you could give your child a better or different or more complete version than what you yourself received.

-Nell Alt

On the Road Again

8 Aug

On the Road Again

Ever since I moved to the Twin Cities in 2009, I have not been certain where to say I am from: NYC, NH, or one of the other places I have lived. Nor have I known where I was going, but I knew I had more steps in my itinerant life. I often wondered: ‘Whereto next?’ and I wasn’t just choosing between Bryant Lake Bowl or Pat’s Tap. Now I find myself without an apartment, my only possessions are my clothes and books. I am moving to Los Angeles and leaving the Cities behind.

What does it mean to move? Most of us are in our twenties wandering from place to place; job to job. It feels like we are a generation of nomads looking for that one oasis where we can pitch our tent. Maybe this sense of searching is what gives people our age a unique insight. We are in the world but not of it, passing from Manhattan to Portland and on to LA. Life is not a set path but a long pilgrimage to the Kingdom.

Like Christ, we are meant to pass through this world without a place to rest our head. This doesn’t mean we ignore the world around us. No wherever we are we should drink local brews, listen to Trampled by Turtles, and eat jucy lucy’s. Love the place where you are but be prepared to give it up for a God who is calling all of us to something beyond Uptown and Cathedral Hill.

It means preparing oneself to leave this world behind. Moving reminds me of the fact that someday I’ll die and my memory will pass from this world. Nothing is permanent. We are going somewhere. We are going home.

How do we get there? A lot of that depends on who we are. A musician playing at 7th street entry has a very different path than chemistry student at the U; however, we all meant to be in the Kingdom with God. We get there by listening to his word, by handing each other along and being handed along, by living a life of hope, faith, and love. At each step along the way we have friends, family, angels, and saints to lend us a hand.

Above all we have the Holy Spirit in our heart, Christ on the altar, and our Father pulling as along. So wherever our pilgrimages takes us, let’s keep drinking Surlys and Summits, keep listening to Roe Family Singers, but we must walking to the Kingdom. If we have let the world distract us then lets slip back into a church and say a prayer. God gives us way stations to rest on the path to His Heart. I’ll be praying for you on your journeys and eagerly await the day when we all meet again in the Kingdom. Hopefully, they’ll serve Minnesota beers there.

-Terence Sweeney

The Sap and Savor of Christianity

8 Jun

The Sap and Savor of Christianity - The Heart of the Matter

We doubt there will be much fanfare; no celebrations in Uptown or parades down Grand Ave. But The Heart of the Matter is a year old. One year ago, a few of us set out to drop off 600 copies of our little piece of propaganda in 50 coffee shops. Where are we now? We are still small, still local, still grass roots. We are a quiet voice tucked into newspaper stands next to Citypages and Lavenders, tacked up on bulletin boards next to posters for The 4onthefloor or Poliça. We are the group near you at Psycho Suzie’s saying grace over a Leiliana’s Eruption and a Suzi Burger or at Amsterdam eating a broodjes and drinking a Founders. We are theheartofthematterblog.wordpress.com with 60+ articles, plenty of photos and other miscellanea with 111 followers, and lot more hits.

We are Christians and our love of God compels us to be His small voice in the Twin Cities supporting Jesus’ Catholic Church. We, like the prophet Jeremiah, must share the Good News. As Jeremiah said, “If I say, ‘I will not mention God or speak any more in His name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” We cannot hold the Lord in, even if we meet Christ in unexpected places like farmer’s markets, the Varsity, or biking on the Greenway.

Jacques Maritain, a Catholic philosopher wrote of Christians that “By our faith, by our baptism, by our confirmation, tiny as we are, we have the vocation of infusing into the world, wheresoever we are, the sap and savor of Christianity.” This is what we are doing here at The Heart of the Matter, tiny as we are, trying to bring the fullness of the faith both in its dogmas (sap) and its cultural life (savor). This is not something easily quantifiable as a success or not. We are having little effects here and there: at coffee shops where most of our issues have been picked up by readers, with baristas that know us when we deliver, or with comments on our blog.

These are little things but they feed into our hope that you, our readers, and all of the people in the Twin Cities searching for God may find some insight with our words, our happy hours, and our charity. In the end, we are just a small group of sinners trying to bring God back into the world. Not by shouting or condemnation, but by listening and talking. So let us know how we are doing, ask us questions, join our evangelizing cadre, and try going to Mass some Sunday. We can’t promise success or fanfare. We can promise you that the Catholic Church has a space waiting for you. We hope that we, at The Heart of the Matter, have been a witness to this truth. We look forward to the issues, events, and conversations of the year to come. We look forward to continuing to rediscover Catholicism with you.