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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace . . .

27 December 2014

St. John's witness for today

   "we have seen it and testify to it
   and proclaim to you the eternal life
   that was with the Father and was made visible to us
   what we have seen and heard
   we proclaim now to you,
   so that you too may have fellowship with us;"

                              First Letter of St. John

Interestingly, over the last several days as I peruse the Flipboard categories,  I have encountered a number of articles addressing the reality of Jesus, the virgin birth, and a whole host of skeptical notions about the beginnings of the Christian era.  In today's secular world, I suspect that these are just normal machinations of folks who really don't believe in much else that the secular manifestation of "what ever feels good must be OK".  Of course, this selfish, inward view of the world really doesn't address anything but satisfying that persons  own wants and needs and doesn't even come close to addressing all of the issues we encounter each day in our society.  I think that a major problem today is that selfish, inward direct world view.  That, "what's in it for me" attitude that keeps a person so wound around  satisfying their own wants and needs that they can't  be concerned about anyone else.  

OK, OK, yes, I would be the first to admit that the "Christians" generally don't do so well either and certainly haven't set a very good example over the years, well centuries.  But, as we re-examine our lives, we can change - all of us - and place a different focus on what really is important.  I think that generally American society agrees that things are not going very well right now - violence, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, middle class fading away, poor job opportunities, and the list goes on.  Many folks blame our current president and his administration for all of this, but I think it's more deeply rooted in the selfish, inward looking attitude of most people today.  The "me" generation has turned into the "me first" generation.

Now, you may call me naive about all of this if you like.  I do know and believe from my own  experience that caring for others before myself is highly satisfying.  Having taught in  schools and  adult ed for over 40 years, I recognize that self sacrifice to help out someone else is the only way to go.  Why do I believe that way?  Because I believe what St. John wrote all those years ago.

Indeed, he and the others witnessed something remarkable.  It dramatically changed their lives so that they couldn't keep it in.  They had  to tell others about this new way of life that they had learned.  I believe their  story.  After 2000 years of witness and looking at all of the good that sincere, holy folks have done, I just know that this way of life is really worth trying.  I don't like what the secular option offers at all.  So, yes, I really believe in Jesus Christ with my whole heart, mind, and soul.  I really believe that He walks with me every day, whether I recognize  it  or not.  I really believe that He helps me make right  choices when I rely on him  rather than my  own resources.  All I know is that this truly Christian way of life is far more satisfying than seeking all the money, power, and prestige in the world.  I've tried the other way and it just doesn't cut it.  I am more at peace now than I have ever been.  Yes, my physical abilities and energy  prevent me from doing much about it right now, but the attitude and disposition is critically important to "getting it  right".  

My only wish is that everyone would step back from all that  is going on right now in our country:  the bitter  political struggles, the  hate, the anger,   the selfish pride, the  influence peddling, and so.  Stop ! Look at what is really important in your own life.  Now, stop and look again.  Turning your outlook to others and accepting what John talked about - the real Christian life - not the one that has been perverted by secular values.  

Pope  Francis talks about this all of the time.  We really need to listen to what  he is saying!  He is calling us to care for the less fortunate, the poor, the helpless.  He is calling us to turn our backs on the glamor and glitter of modern, consumer society.  He is calling us to convert our lives from the selfish, wasteful, wanton, and destructive lifestyle; open ourselves to the Love of God, and create a new economy that really cares for all people as  being a precious gift from a loving  Father.  Wow.  Wouldn't that make Christmas really meaningful.    Well, I guess it's something to hope for and spend time working towards.  Try it.

20 December 2014

Salt & leaven

From Sacred Space on Wednesday:

And, if Jesus was totally incarnated in the world so that he could communicate the message of God’s love to the world and for the world, then we, too, must be totally incarnated. We are not true to our calling if we think that, in order to be true to Jesus, we have to separate ourselves from a material and sinful world. We cannot be the “salt” of the earth, unless we are fully inserted into it. But only when we also fully identify with the values and concerns of the Kingdom. Otherwise we are salt without taste.

This got me to thinking a little about the OFS "From Gospel to Life and Life to Gospel" motto.  I think that there is a strong corrollary between the concept of being salt and leaven and the OFS motto.  The thing that struck me when I read the passage from Sacred Space is the concept of being "fully inserted into it."  One of the things that I have heard over the years is to not to allow the world to insuinate itself into your practice of faith.  I think that too often it means try to competely avoid the  world altogether.  Now, I know that we have religious comtemplatives who do separate themselves from the world and how important that it is for them to do so.  But, we who are lay people cannot really afford to do that.  We do have to be in the world and to a certain sense of the world, because without being "fully inserted" we cannot effect the kind of change that we seek.  When you look at it, we are the only ones who can effectively reach into every corner of today's world.  That's why the Vatican Fathers emphasized our role in the evangelization of the church.  After all, if you add salt to a dish or leaven to the dough, you really mix it in to get the full  effect of its characteristics.  Interestingly, the dish or the dough doesn't change the salt or the leaven, it's the  other away around.  So, that becomes our mission.

So, we come from our faith, from our Eucharistic celebration, from our prayer, and from our study of the Magesterium of the Church into the daily lives of people.  Through our example, our words, and our witness we affect the kind of change envisioned by God - to create a more loving, compassionate, and  grace filled environment which ultimately allows us to fully praise and  worship His unimaginable greatness.  Because of our strong faith, our strong witness to the love of God, and the compassionate care for everyone that emanates from that love, we can effect change  in today's society.  We are immersed in the daily lives of our family, friends, co-workers, fellow students, and even strangers; but, when we truly act as salt and leaven, we do become "totally incarnated" in those situations and because of our overwhelming joy, grace, and love toward others, we make a big difference.  Because of this difference, we can affect all of the situations and issues that present themselves in our daily lives, even those that seem so intractable today.  So, we must step our to become salt and leaven and be "fully incarnated" in the world today.

15 December 2014

Gaudete Sunday - 2014

Most of you will recognize the title as the name of the third Sunday in Advent.  Even though I propose that we  talk about current events, sometimes these topics do overlap.  As I was listening to the homily on the TV  mass yesterday and idea struck me that seems especially appropriate for the way things have been recently in our county.  

As you all know, there have been many demonstrations about the death of young minority men at the hands of white police officers. A few days ago, I viewed a YOUTUBE clip from a campus security video of an "arrest" on an empty street in Iowa City.  It's pretty clear from the video that the officer did just about everything wrong to this young man.  But what it highlighted to me was just how agressive some of our police officers have become, when a little more tact, gentleness, and simple  kindess would probably work just as well.  Emphasizing this point was the piece on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday where a real Secret Santa gave officers $100 bills to randomly distribute to people. The piece shows the officers stopping people and then giving them the $100.  There were a lot of police personal cameras showing the hugs (best kind of interaction with the cops).  It reminded me, and really anyone who cared to draw a conclusion, that most of our trusted officers are still trusted to do the right things.  Too often we hear about the bad apples, like with the priest child abuse situation, that we forget that most, except that few, are doing what they should be and in many times going beyond to help others in their chosen field.  We need to remember that the bad new sells and that we don't hear about all of the good that is done on behalf of others.  

Now, the question is kind of how did it get this way.  One of the major issues that I continue to see is that of selfishness.  We have so emphasized personal rights that we have nearly forced everyone into the corner of being selfish.  When I was teaching I could see this transformation over the years between 1970 when I began and 2012 when I retired.  Students became more and more self centered and so rights conscious that they could indeed proclaim, "You can't touch me."  Unfortunately, our self centered nature manifests itself so easliy.  I think it's called pride.

In any event, in this season of Advent we are challenged to re-think how things have been going and make efforts to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  For many people, that last sentence is just a bunch of fancy religious words, but let me share my idea that I alluded to in the first paragraph.  Usually, we talk about getting ready for the Christ Child as a physical fact, you know, putting the statue in the crib in our Nativity display.  But what I think that we really need to do is to prepare ourselves by turning away from our own selfish desires and find something to do every day to help someone else's life become easier to live.  Not a big revelation really, but just making that effort every day (kind of like the old Boy Scout's Motto "Do a Good Turn Daily) to make a real difference in a persons life.  Looking outward away from one's own personal needs, wants, and desires completely changes ones outlook.  It is so easy to make this change.  Folks just need to do it.  

Once a person make this shift from inward to outward, they can really begin to prepare their heart to become the manger to receive Jesus.  A generous heart is a great repository for the love that God showed us with the incarnation of Jesus.  The Great Love comes to us every day when we have that generous heart.  The incarnation settles within us and grows and makes us more loving, forgiving, patient, and kind.  What better solution to our societal enmity that this.  But, we must freely choose to make this change.  It cannot be forced by God or any one else.  Freely chosen to let our hearts become the manger that receives the Lord, not just on 25 DEC, but every day.  That is our salvation!

09 December 2014

The Lost Sheep

Today's Gospel message is the story of the 99 sheep and the one lost and how the shepherd will go look for that lost  sheep and be jubilant when it is found.  I have always found great  comfort in this scripture, because is demonstrates the lengths to which God will go to bring us  back to the fold.  I  mention this because as I read the incoming news messages from the various feeds in my e-mail, I occasionally encounter comments from someone who espouses "reproductive freedom" for women and whose comments are full of anger, emnity, maybe even hate and a real lack of compassion for those who do not believe as they do.  Part of what I find so disconcerting is the violent language that they use against their particular target that day.  The "choice" folks are so vociferous about everyone understanding their belief but do not understand the contradiction in their refusal to allow others of us to hold similarly stong beliefs about the need, the charge, the command to honor the "seamless garment of life."  Of course, the "life side" hasn't helped this discussion with its  proponents who claim violence in behalf of their cause as well.

I miss the compassionate and moderate voice of  Cardinal Bernadin who first proposed this consistent ethic of life in January, 1984, at a lecture at Fordham University and then amplified it on March 11, 1984, at a lecture in St. Louis.   Unfortunately, many of our pro-life folks have  been successful  in narrowing our focus to the single issue of abortion and all of its ramifacations.  I  sincerely believe that we need to harken back to that day in 1984 and re-exame Cardinal Bernadin's comments and fully understand just how comprehensive our belief in the life issues of today must be to fuflly realize the validity and truth of our position on life.  For God did not create a minisicule, singular entity with a narrow range of vision.  He created us in  "our image" and that behooves us to understand just how comprehensive our practice must be.  

We must include all of life in our efforts, for to do otherwise ends in the political position that we find ourselves today: a party in control of legislation who says that they suscribe to life issues, but  in reality ignore the large expanse that is Catholic Moral Tradition.  Our Tradition is inclusive.  When we narrow it down to a single issue, no matter how important, we indicate our willingness to give in on all of the other important issues that comprise our life on earth today.  With all due respect to our leaders in this field who claim otherwise, I believe that the good Cardinal had it right, much more so that any of us admit.  

Our challenge, our call, or mission is to promote the entire value of life from its natural beginning to its natural end.  WE CANNOT COMPROMISE ON THIS TENET !!!!  All of life is precious and must be protected from attacks it receives from secular society and the "throwaway culture" of today's world.  Unborn babies, poor children, homeless, unemployed, immigrants, and so on and on are part of our comprehensive and grace filled ministry.   When I look back at the charge from the Old Testament prophets, they always say "take care of the widows, the alien, and so on".  God has always been consistent.  He loves all of us equally well.  How, then, can we do any less.   When we single out a single issue (repetition  intended) we say that some are less important of our prayer, action, and ministry.  That is just not so.  Our faith is a comprehensive one - NOT a single issue.  Our God calls us to love all equally well, not just some.  

And so back to the coarse language of the "repoductive freedom" author from yesterday:  we must love her with the same gracious,  caring compassion that we do the pre-born child.  We must extend our compassion to all who need a deserve our care.  We must believe and live  a CONSISTENT ethic of life to properly fulfill our obligation to love God and others.

May God Give You Peace!

08 December 2014

Immaculate Conception - 2014

Well, today is one of those very special days in the life of the Church.  We celebrate something rather miraculous.  Today, we celebrate the fact that Mary was conceived without sin.  Now, that is quite remarkable when you look at it, because all of us are admitted sinners and she was one of us.   But to do what He has to do, God needed a special way to accomplish it.  How could He truly show us His love, without becoming one of us - fully, wholly, completely, undeniably?  So, he blessed Mary so much that in his perfection, he could enter this world and show us that love he had been showering on us from the beginning of time.

We heard in the first reading today that Adam ate the apple and then hid from God, in his shame.  Interestingly, right away God is out looking for  Adam.  Yeah,  He finds him and  boy is Adam (and us) in a lot of trouble, but already God is trying to repair the broken relationship caused by our selfish choice.  Today's celebration is just another step in the holy search for our soul - to return us to the original happiness in which God created us.

Our response can be really simple, but we usually choose overthink everything and make it all so complicated.   We could just as easily follow Mary's lead and say "OK, I will do whatever you want."; but, too often we just think that we know better and let all of those vices, you know, pride, etc. get in the way of our true relationship with God.  Wouldn't it be nice, if just once, we could let go of our selfish desires and look toward this loving, creator God who only wants us to be in union with Him in joy, peace, grace, and hope.  Why do we have to always think that we know better.?

Today, let each one of us look beyond the complexity of the theology of today's mystery and just simply accept the love given, open our hearts fully to this love, think of others for a change, and rest in the peace of this wonderful Grace.  Be nice to someone today out the greatfulness of God's love for you.  It doesn't hurt and you might just learn a new way to interact with other people.

May God Give You Peace !

03 December 2014

God's Love

"Our  culture has lost its sense of God's tangible persence and activity in our world.  We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships.  But, if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises.  It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God's tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can  be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ's passion, death, and ressurection ."
                                                                    Pope Francis - Lumen Fidei - #17

What this says to me is that those who have become so involved in the secular style of our social fabric have turned their back on the reality of God's love being so involved in our lives that it makes a definite impression on our lives.  This is not helped by those who call themselves Christian but spend all of their time worrying about getting into heaven and all of the scrupulous activites that will get them there.  In such an effort, they overlook how each day we can and should express the ineffable love of God to each other in our reactions to other needs, compassion to their circumstances, and  activity to help improve their lives over our own personal needs.  In other words, personal faith has  become so prevalent that the faith and love of abiding communites has been shifted to a secondary level of experience.  It is the communal love of the Trinity that provides us the example of our own communal experience and how we are to interact with each other in grace, charity, and goodness.  As we move through our daily lives, we must refocus on the action of God's love in our lives and its persitent pursuit of us to become involved in the sarament of living the shared life, not ony with Him, but with each other as equals and brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are reminded today in the last two lines of Psalm 18 into day's Office of the Readings, "With you I can break through any  barrier, with my God I can scale any wall."  So when we fully cooperate with this pervasive love of God, we can defeat any obstacle to bringing this love into our world.  May God help us learn to give up our own pride and follow His gracious, generous, and fulfilling infective love.

30 November 2014


One of the many concepts recently in discussion is the diversity that we can each celebrate.  This concept, although enobling in some aspects, may lie at the heart of many of our troubles in our country today.  I say this not to diminish that which make us different, but when we emphasize our differences, we tend to make those the concepts that we can use to exclude others from our group.  

One of the key philosophies originated  by the founders of this nation was that of "e pluribus unum" ( out of many, one).  Until 1952, this was the defacto motto of the United States.  It was originally voted on by Congress in 1782 as one of the sayings of the Seal of the United States.  When one carefully considers this concept, it reminds us that our founders were more interested in setting aside our differences to join together  in making this experiment work by emphasizing our similarities. (or, at least that is one way of looking at it.) When we have been great as a nation in the past , it has been this idea that has shown through to all.  

Perhaps we need to look at this overarching concept one again to get ourselves back on track.  Too often, in today's world, we look at how we are differenct and how we can distinguish ourselves from the other.  Not only is that harmful, because we take the idea of exceptionalism to the personal level, trying to make ourselves better that all others, based upon these distinctions.  In our social lives, in our church lives, when we separate, we cause conflict, i.e., "you are not as good as I am". This attitude creates dissension.  That just divides us from each other.  We need to be finding ways to get along better to prevent things like Ferguson Missouri from happening.  Not just here, but world wide.  

I've said it before and will repeat here again, we need to look at ways to think of the other person first and look to their needs and requirements before our own.  To get out of the selfishness of today's world and move toward one of caring for others first, can only help us improve our overall society.

25 November 2014

Fergson, Missouri (Misery)

Well, the grand jury heard all of the testimony, examined all of the evidence, talked, discussed, and decided that there wasn't enough evidence to send  Mr. Wilson to trial.  Today, I am getting all sort of e-mails encouraging me to reject that verdict and jump on the band wagon to have the FEDS move in.  I am probably naive, but I think that if the FEDS think that Mr. Brown's civil rights were violated, they will move in anyway.  

What bothers me is the tone of the e-mails, i.e., that grand jury was wrong, wrong, wrong.  These writers seems to have some other information that no one else is privy to so that they can reach the foregone conclusion that Mr. Wilson should have been sent to trial, NO MATTER WHAT!  Now I readily admit that the number of bullets he shot is probably "overkill" (in reality) and indicates that he has a serious problem that needs to be addressed.  According to some information I saw, Mr. Wilson had issues at a previous employment that may relate to this case.  So, he probably needs to have intensive counseling and a different line of work.  However, where was Mr. Brown coming from when the encounter happened?  What had HE been doing?  How many of us are privy to all (no ALL) of the testimony and evidence?

A few things are clear to me:  

1) For those who think electing a black president cured our race problems, you are plain wrong.  WE still have serious issues between the races and there is enough emnity on both sides to cause friction.  Until we get past that, we will never have ultimate social peace and justice.

2)  Someone was looking for an excuse to burn down Ferguson.  The extreme reaction only supports the radical factions that would keep us apart.  ML King still had the best approach and it remains the best approach to resolving these issues.

3) The police in this country need to re-examine how they approach young black men.  Not all of them are vicious criminals.  Why is the first instinct to draw a gun and "shoot first and ask questions later" which usually ends in death.  Why not ask those questions with a little less hostility in their tone?  Young black men need to re-evaluate their "gangsta" image; is there another way to express their difference? Is there some way to demonstrate their independence without appearing threatening?  Mutual respect is an interesting concept for both police and young folks both with big chips on their shoulders.  I don't know - these interactions are very serious, between police and the public, and I know that it's not all one sides' fault.  There is enough blame to go around.  Perhaps, if folks stepped back and reconsidered how ML King would have approached these issues and did more talking and less confronting we would have less of these incidents.

4) Everyone needs to have a moment of quiet to re-evaluate their beliefs regarding other folks.  We so quickly move to our prejuidices about others.  We need to look at them as Jesus did - as gifted creations of a merciful God, FIRST.  Assume the best first, rather than the worst.  Sometimes those first impressions become self-fulfiling prophecies because of how we react to our inital "gut" instinct.  

5) Finally, we need to change from our self-absorbed life to one in which to other persons becomes more important to each one of us.  When I taught Boy Scouts, many years ago, I always stressed the motto, "Do a Good Turn Daily".  That may be old fashioned, but I do know that its approach to life certainly is preferential to the "me-first and only" attitude of today's world.  Caring for others first is a really radical way to live ones life.  Maybe, just maybe, more of us need to try living this way.

20 November 2014

Why is abortion so important to the women's movement ?

I just thought that I would read a little about Margaret Sanger, the progenitor of the women's movement for procreative rights.  I had some ideas based upon things that I had heard, but the Wikipedia article (clearly a positive one & seemingly balanced) showed a different view.  I had always thought that she was a proponent of abortion, but according to the article,  "Sanger noted that her opposition to abortion was based on the taking of life: "[In 1916] we explained what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way no matter how early it was performed it was taking life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way—it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun."[115] And in her book Family Limitation,Sanger wrote that "no one can doubt that there are times when an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception. This is the only cure for abortions."[116]

The  earlier part of the article indicated that after having returned to Sadie  Sachs apartment to deal with a second self induced abortion resulting in death, Margaret determined to work for the cause of contraception, which she held was a free speech issue due to the Comstock laws passed in the late 1800's.

Now, my whole point is not to glorify Margaret Sanger or the movement she spawned.  I am just explaining what I found doing a little research.  

My big question is especially in the light of Saint John Paul's magnificent Theology of the Body which was a 2 year explaination of Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, why does the women's movement insist on screaming for abortions as a necessity to be able to fully liberate women to become the professional working person that they want to be?  I just don't understand why abortion is so important to them!  Why is it so important to kill a life (even Margaret Sanger believed this simple fact way before science has proven its truth!)?

Now, I understand that contraception is frowned upon by the Church and with good theology behind it.  But there are proved family planning techniques, taught even by Blessed Mother Theresa taught the people of Calcutta how to do these techniques to limit their families.  And they are a whole  lot more safe and certain that even "the Pill".  Why can't these women who don't want families understand these processes and use them if they are so dead set against having children?  

OK. OK.  Just don't get all huffy on me.  Yes, I understand that "free sex" is supposed to be the thing.  Whenever and whatever feels good is OK.  Well, that's where I have a concern.  Why not take the time to really understand St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body and try it for a while.  I am convinced that this secular relativism is not really working from what I can see in today's society.  Perhaps, we ought to just try it the way that God intended it for a while.  Maybe much of the selfish issues that  create today's problems would be transformed and have a transforming effect on our society.  

I don't know, Just asking.  No. I do know that my faith and following theologians like JPII, Benedict XVI, and Papa Francis is the right thing to do for a full and rewarding life now and in the future.  Hey, ladies, get out of your selfish attitudes.  Hey, every one, get out of your selfish attitudes.  Think of the other person first for a change.  Why not try it?  Might make a big difference in your lives and others.!!

14 November 2014

What should a progressive have as a background?

  • “Anyone who is so “progressive”* as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.”  2  John 9.

Excerpt From: various. “Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition.” Fairbrother. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

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  • "Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son."  2 John 9

Douay-Rheims Translation

I thought that this was an interesting passage today.  My original read was from the New Amereican Bible, the footnote of which says "progressive" literally means "goes ahead".  In today's political parlance, I suppose that makes some sense, i.e., this group wants to move ahead in the social arena. I wonder if that means that "conservative" means "stay behind"?

Of course, the most interesting thing, for me, is the rest of the sentence: the "not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God" part. This may be the fatal flaw of the modern Progressive movement: they have separated themselves from the teachings of Christ. They have tried to make all of their ideas based upon a strictly secular philosophy with no thought of God, or Christ, or any theological being as being the underlying foundation for their activities. When they (modern progressives) make themselves or man ("persons" in their fastidiously political correct parlance) the basis for their philosophy, it allows folks to decide everything for themselves without any reference to anything eternal. All is "in the moment" as it were.  I suggest that this is folly of the grandest scale. Although I understand and respect others beliefs, to exclude something larger and more permanent that ourselves in light of the overwhelming universal evidence, is just nuts!

Well, perhaps that is part of why modern progressives were so thoroughly trounced in the recent election. Not that what we got is a whole lot better (see my earlier reference to a proposed meaning for conservative - "stay behind"). Or, maybe even worse "go backwards"!

How nice it would be if we who really believe in the scripture like St. Francis did, could organize a political organization based on real Gospel values. Folks wouldn't even have to be Catholic to join in. Francis is good for everyone!  An interesting concept. Any ideas out there?

17 October 2014

Controversy over Pope Francis & the current Synod of Bishops

"For when [Christ] came, not to judge, but to save the world, (41) was He not bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners?"  Humanae Vitae  (#29)

Much has been written in that last few days about the release of a document (midterm report of the Synod of Bishops) and Pope Francis' earlier statements about gay people and divorced and remarried people.  I'm afraid that too many people want to focus on the condemnation of Leviticus and forget about the mercy of Christ.  For Heaven's sake, what is Divine Mercy Sunday about anyway?  Are folks so focused on the form of things that they forget about the major principles of our faith?  Do we compartmentalize our faith so much that we can't remember from one Sunday to the next what this faith of ours is all about?  Is each devotion held so much unto itself that we are unable to apply it to the general principles of our faith?

Even in one of the most controversial documents of the last century to come from a Pope, the above statement by Blessed Paul VI shows that this is not a new idea from Pope Francis.  Paul recognized and taught that mercy is more important above all other things. AND - St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI continued to teach the mercy of Christ as being important beyond other aspects of our structure. 

Interesting words, "bitterly severe".  Does this describe the condition where one screams most loudly about that of which they are most afraid in their own inner being?  It seems that some of our Catholic brethern would take the tact of Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Church toward all who sin.  Why is it so improtant to single out a certain class of sinners, e.g., homosexuals and divorced-remarried persons, for full excoriation of the penalities of the church?!  I thought that we all are sinners needing the full mercy of our loving Saviour.  Do we really need to classify each other in the conservative and liberal camps to justify ourselves.   Hmmmm. Sounds like a bunch Pharaisees to me - hollowed whitened sepulchres.  Perhaps we just need to remember the quote from Paul VI that began this reflection.  Or even better the words of our Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ.   "Love others as you would love yourself."

14 October 2014

Marriage in today's society

With all due respect, please don't call me a bigot because I don't agree with your definition of marriage, sexual activity, relationships, life issues, and a whole host of other contemporary views.  According to Merriam-Webster a bigot is "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."  I happen believe in a Supreme God who established rules of right and wrong over 6,000 years ago, who has defined a complementary way of looking at marriage, who reminds us that licentious sex is wrong, and who loves all of His creation equally well.  I do not hesitate to point out that I have a son, a sister, a nephew, and a former student who have declared their same sex attraction for others.  My sister is married to her longstanding partner.  I wish for my son, nephew, and former student to find someone whom they can love as much as I have loved my wife of 44 years.  However, I happen to believe in Saint JPII's Theology of the Body and the church's interpretation of sexuality.  Just because I don't believe, as many do, that "what feels good" is also "what is right" doesn't make me a bigot!  We are talking about basic morality here, what is right and wrong, according to about a 4000 year old philosophy.  I do not condemn those who believe differently from me; on the contrary, I love them, as I do my son, sister, and nephew.  But, that does not mean that I have to accept their actions with regard to morals and values.  Mine  are different - and that does not make me a bigot!

I recognize that modern society has co-opted the 4000 year old meaning of marriage.  Modern society can, of course, say what it wants, but that doesn't make it necessarily right.  Modern society says that it's OK for the rich to get richer and companies to put as much money into politics as they want,  but that doesn't make it right.  I suggest that the current re-definition of marriage by civil society does not accurately reflect on the concept of marriage as it was first envisioned - not in who can be married, the sacredness of marriage, and the overall importance of a family composed of a man, a woman, and children.  In our system of government, civil society can not tell the Church and its adherents how do define "marriage" especially when we take the point of view of a 4000 year old faith based moral code.  What civil society should do is to claim a different word to sanction the civil union between two people who wish to receive all of the rights that civil society offers.   I do not argue that civil society cannot legislate the benefits of two people joining together in a contractual arrangement can receive.  I do argue that civil society does not have the right in our system of government to tell our Church how it must define this contract when the secular definition is completely contrary to our 4000 year old definition which, we believe is based upon the moral principles given to us by our Creator (GOD).
So, because civil society has co-opted the true meaning of "marriage", I suggest that the church  should consider that political reality and take steps to correct the errors of this new definition.   Consequently, the church, considering marriage as a Sacrament, should define marriage as "consecrated marriage" and simply insist that those who wish to marry in the church must adhere to its tenets to obtain the consecrated blessing of the church, e.g. no cohabitation before marriage, taking  intense courses in marriage and married life, understanding and accepting the church's positions on sex, children, long term commitment and so on.   If people don't want to do that, fine, but then they can not have a consecrated marriage in the church.  If one wants to espouse the modernist philosophy of sex, contraception, abortion, and, loose commitments, then join together using the civil society option.  The church has the right to expect those who marry under its auspices should accept and adhere to a set of beliefs that are consistent with its longstanding philosophy.  Like the consecrated single life, the virgin sisters, and celibate priests, the consecrated marriage has certain boundaries that must be lived within.  

To suggest that this moral position is the same as those who  espoused slavery and the superior position of whites over coloreds in the last century is a blatant misunderstanding of the church and a gross misrepresentation of its values.   Such  positions are so set in their view that the morals of modern society must be accepted at face value that the demonize anyone who take a different view.  I would sugget that they tend to treat those who do not subscribe to their view with hatred and intolerence.   One wonders who the  bigots really are? 

08 July 2014

Life issues continued

So, another entry from the same source proclaims that contraception is required to allow women the freedom to explore their lives outside the home.  Here are three of the long list of reasons that contraception is required for women today:

  • The entire singles scene in the bars of the Upper East Side of Manhattan would not have been possible without access to dependable contraception.  
  • The sexual revolution which enabled men and women to explore the beauties of sexual expression for its own sake, or as an expression of love or passion, would be far less a part of our existence without contraception.
  • The enrichment of our society by the contributions of women - in science, law, medicine, education, athletics, business, even religion - would be far less absent contraception and how women were thereby empowered.
The entire article can be read at:

I believe that these assumptions are based upon the wrong premise, one that excludes  יהוה  (God)from the equation of our lives.  But, again, I would like to pass on the article from the USCCB that addresses these issues from a point of view that proclaims the validity of following the tenets established by  יהוה  so many thousands of years ago.
LIFE ISSUES FORUM                                                       July 3, 2014
For Immediate Release
 Much Ado About Hobby Lobby
By Richard M. Doerflinger
The ink was not dry on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision before the attacks began.  “The immediate effect… is to deny many thousands of women contraceptive coverage vital to their well-being and reproductive freedom,” intoned The New York TimesWe must “keep bosses out of the examination room,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Employees’ beliefs have been “effectively overruled by the religious beliefs of the boss,” said talk show host Rachel Maddow.  
            In fact, what the court did was faithfully apply a law passed almost unanimously by the people’s elected representatives.
            That law is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.  It says a federal policy cannot “substantially burden” a person’s religious freedom, unless it serves a “compelling state interest” in a way that is “least restrictive” of that freedom. 
            The court applied that law to a situation in which unelected officials of the Obama administration tried to force family businesses to provide insurance coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives – even if their religion rejects the drugs and devices that can attack early human life. Three businesses filed suit under RFRA. 
They prevailed because, even assuming that the government has a “compelling” interest in maximizing birth control coverage, it failed to show it was furthering that interest by a means that is least restrictive of religious freedom.  Among other things, the government could provide that coverage itself, as it already does to millions of Americans. 
            The court also had to decide: Can a for-profit family-owned business have religious freedom rights?  It noted the following: Courts treat corporations as “persons” in various ways; they treat nonprofit corporations as having religious freedom; they have said that people don’t lose their religious freedom just because they run a business; and the Supreme Court itself has said that for-profit companies can have First Amendment free speech rights.  So the logical answer to the question is yes. 
            So far, so good.  But what about the charges we began with?  They run afoul of some basic facts.
             First, this is not about employers intruding into employees’ private health decisions on contraception.  The employers are doing just the opposite: Staying out of those decisions and leaving them to the individual. Far from trying to stop others from purchasing or using contraceptives, they are leaving them alone.  Isn’t that what “private” means?
            Second, this is no war between employers and employees.  The companies have been providing excellent health coverage to their thousands of employees for many years, excluding only the few items they see as harmful to human life. And their employees have chosen to work for them, due in part to these good wages and benefits.  The only party trying to force other people to violate their beliefs is the government itself.  That government also forces employees to buy coverage, for themselves and their minor daughters, that they may find morally objectionable.  Why assume that Christian-owned companies have no employees who share their values?
            Third, this is not about whether people who want contraceptive coverage can have it.  As the court noted, the government can provide that coverage without making these families violate their beliefs, so that the number of women deprived of coverage they want would be “zero.”
            So the indignation of politicians and pressure groups is misplaced.  It is they who seem to assume that they know how other people should live, and can use the coercive power of government to boss people around in accord with that superior knowledge.  The world their agenda may create – a flat, homogenized world lacking spirit and diversity, where no one believes in anything more strongly than in “progress,” where life and sexuality lack deeper meaning – is a world I don’t want to see.  I’m glad a twenty-year-old law, and a court that knows how to read that law, have provided at least a speed bump on the way there.

07 July 2014

Ongoing commentary about SCOTUS decision about Hobby Lobby

Well, I've read a lot of stuff recently from some of the very liberal websites I visit to keep informed about social issues that relate to care of the poor and so on.  The last few days, there have been a plentitude of negative comments about the Church, private beliefs, and so on.  Many of these commentaries say that it's not right to have a faith based belief system shoved down "out throats".  What these folks forget is that they are trying to force feed, as it were, their belief system onto those of us who still follow the Church's Magisterium regarding these issues.  Well, I have found a few items from the USCCB that I would like to share, just in case folks are linked to their information.  The first one is from a WOMAN who has some very interesting things to say about women's health issues.  Here it is.  (Others will follow in future days.)

LIFE ISSUES FORUM                                                                   For Immediate Release
Speaking for Myself                                                                                     June 20, 2014
By Erin Stoyell-Mulholland
The Obama Administration has branded the HHS contraceptive mandate as a huge advancement for women’s equality. In a 2012 presidential debate, when President Obama was asked how he was going to promote women’s equality in the workplace, he responded by talking about the mandate and his efforts to ensure that all women have access to contraception. According to such statements, contraception leads to women’s equality. The subtext is that if a woman wants to be successful or equal in the workforce, she must suppress her fertility, which is viewed as a hindrance to her goals and her fulfillment. Women are sent the message –  that there is something wrong with their bodies that needs correcting if they are to be equal. To be equal to men, they must become like men.
This view is demeaning to women. We are being told that if we want to achieve equality, we should be contracepting. We are told that if we do become pregnant, whether planned or unplanned, somehow we are unsuccessful, in effect we have failed.  If we choose to pursue motherhood, we are clearly not pursuing success – at least not as the government defines it.
If the government truly saw the choices for and against motherhood as equal, there would be more support for women who become pregnant. Contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and devices are offered for free through the HHS mandate, but not all pregnancy-related costs are covered. By only offering full coverage of options promoting the prevention or interruption of pregnancy, the government is sending a subtle but clear message about what it means to be a woman and what a woman's success looks like – and it doesn’t include her fertility.
            The Catholic Church’s teaching reflects a much more beautiful and pro-woman view, upholding the dignity of women. The Church endorses Natural Family Planning or NFP, which allows couples to plan to avoid or achieve pregnancy.  Natural Family Planning also helps identify women's health issues, helping them to find real healing and health management. NFP teaches women to understand their own bodies and to identify times of fertility. It does not require women to ingest potentially harmful hormones, risking their health, in order to attain so-called women’s equality. The Catholic Church supports and upholds an authentic understanding and appreciation of women’s whole being. The HHS mandate, by contrast, reduces and limits the healthy functioning of women’s bodies, redefining fertility as a kind of disease.
To claim that contraception is key to women’s success is demeaning to all women. We need to promote real resources to support women who are pregnant or parenting. Our efforts need to be focused on providing mandatory paid maternity leave, better prenatal care, better financial aid and medical care for women and children, and better, more affordable childcare. Those avenues support all women’s success in the workplace.
The government claims to speak for all women and women’s needs, but on this issue it does not speak for me. I am a woman, and I support the more than 300 plaintiffs that have filed suit against the HHS mandate. Rather than telling me that my success is contingent upon rejecting a part of my femininity, I wish the government would respect me for who I am and how my body naturally functions. All women deserve that respect.

01 May 2014

St.Joseph, The Worker - MAY 1

I read this on a prayer site that is sent to me each day (Bubbhaz Daily Prayer).  I thought that it is worth sharing.

        The Christian view of work is the opposite of the materialist view. A worker such as St Joseph is not a mere lump of labour – “1.00 human work units.” He is a person. He is created in God’s own image, and just as creation is an activity of God, so creation is an activity of the worker. The work we do echoes the glorious work that God has done. It may not be wasted; or abused; or improperly paid; or directed to wrong or pointless ends. To do any of these things is not oppression, it is sacrilege. The glory of the present economic system is when it gives so many, of whatever class, the chance to build and create something worthwhile, whether from their own resources, or in collaboration with others, or by attracting investment from others. But its shame is when that does not happen: when people are coerced, by greed or by poverty, into being “lumps of labour.” Whether the labour is arduous or not makes no difference; whether it is richly paid or not makes no difference.

      Because she must combat the anti-humanist Communist heresy the Church is sometimes thought to be on the side of capital. Reading the successive Papal encyclicals on labour and society, from Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards, will soon dispel that illusion. The enemies of the Church have no reason to read them; all too often we feel too comfortable in our present economic state and refrain from reading them also.

16 April 2014

Holy Week - 2014

For Christians, this week concludes a time of prayer, penance, and almsgiving (the period called Lent).  This week, called Holy Week, is of special significance to all Christians because it is the time that we celebrate and commemorate the saving action that our Lord took for our lives.  In today's age that may seem an unlikely event or happening,  but it is very important to the world.  After the historical event of Jesus' death and resurrection , the lives of a few people were so radically changed that they continued a movement so  strong that it lasts to this day, some 2000 years later.   Peoples' lives have been radically changed by this movement, because it is  based upon an unshakable truth and reality - the Truth and Reality of God.  Today,  many people belittle this concept as  being the imagination of weak men's frightened minds. But, something  very significant happened 2000 years ago, and the world has not been the same since.  Yes, the naysayers will point out all of the division, animosity, and, violence committed in the "name of God", but I suggest those activities are NOT the result of a proper understanding of the message of Jesus.  He talked about love and grace and forgiveness, not hate.  He showed us how to interact with all sorts of people to produce a better world; and there have been many witnesses to these qualities throughout the centuries, e.g., Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, Martin Luther King, to name a few.   Mankind has had a really hard time understanding this important concept.  However, our current Pope Francis, once again, reminds us of the importance of that message each time he speaks or acts.   So, as we approach the time called Easter, put aside the concerns with chocolate eggs and bunnies and look toward the message of the Church - that salvation is real and for each of us.  If you are Catholic, go to the Holy Week services, the Triduum, and renew your commitment to this caring, grace-filled faith.  If you have ever identified with the  Catholic Church, take a long look at why you are no longer active, listen to the message of grace and forgiveness proffered by Pope Francis, and talk and pray about your situation with someone you trust; you are invited to return to the table.  If you are a non-Catholic Christian, take the time to renew your commitment to the selfless service to others that Christ calls us to do.  If you are Jewish, renew your understanding of  the meaning of Passover, which begins this week, and heed the Commandments of Moses.  If you believe in another faith, look at the "other" aspect of its tenets and recommit yourself to the service of others.  If you are not a believer in any faith, or of the very popular secular humanism that pervades our country today, ask yourself  if this seeking of power, wealth, status, and collection of things has really been all that satisfying.  Ask yourself is "doing what feels right" really working.  Ask yourself is your life really all that fulfilling.  Ask yourself if this is really what you want.  There is  another way! Why not try serving someones else's needs today and see how that feels?    For all of us, this is a week to think about how different our lives would be if we thought of others first and tended to the poorest of our community before regaling ourselves in fancy Easter dress and traditions.   No matter what you have done, forgiveness is offered and reconciliation is possible.  Jesus' actions over 2000 years ago and God's response shows us that there is a better way to live our lives; there is a better way to relate to each other; there is a joy to be had by being "other" directed and especially caring for the poorest and least fortunate in our midst.  When we really believe that loving God and expressing that love through our service to others, we can change our world.  When we do this, we really understand the meaning of Easter and can experience that same radical conversion that those folks had many years ago.  What they learned is that life is about relationships: with God and with each other.  Think about it.  No, really stop and think about it.  Now, go visit a Church and become a part of a different sort of Easter Parade this year - one that will change your life and that of others.  May God Give You Peace!