Yuval Levin warns against an individualist understanding of religious freedom.

On January 24, 1774, the young James Madison, twenty-two years old and two years out of Princeton, wrote an exasperated letter to his college friend William Bradford, who lived in Pennsylvania. In Virginia, Madison wrote, a season of intolerance had dawned. “That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages,” and perfectly well-meaning men of religion were finding themselves imprisoned for expressing any deviation from the views of the dominant Anglican Church. He told his friend that he had “squabbled and scolded, abused, and ridiculed so long” about this that he had no more patience for the fight. “So I leave you,” he concluded, “to pity me and pray for Liberty of Conscience to revive among us.”

Of course, Madison ultimately did more than beg for pity and prayer. He made religious liberty a fore­most cause of his political action. And he enshrined in our Constitution, and so etched in our national consciousness, a principled and practical commit­ment to that liberty that has helped us remain a free society ever since.

These days, however, many religious and moral traditionalists in America can easily relate to the young Madison’s anguished plea for pity and prayer—or at the very least for a revival of liberty of conscience. In our time, too, a season of intolerance has dawned. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has actively worked to isolate, vilify, and intimidate opponents of abortion, for instance, making it increas­ingly difficult for them to run a business or operate in the public square in accordance with their convictions. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has declared the tra­ditional understanding of marriage anathema, and left wide open many vexing questions about the standing of individuals, groups, and institutions who continue to uphold that understanding.

Major corporations have launched brazen attacks on communities seeking to carve out spaces for com­peting views on such questions. The key organs of popular culture have declared dissenting views on sexuality and marriage unfit for polite conversa­tion, setting off occasional high-profile witch hunts against dissenters and enabling an environment of in­timidation well beyond those. Prominent academics and civil liberties organizations have raised the pros­pect of stripping churches of their tax exemptions and pursuing litigation to require private companies and civic groups to be led and staffed by people who pledge allegiance to the moral creed of the left. Major newspapers have begun to put the phrase “religious freedom” in scare quotes, as if everybody under­stands that it is just a cover for bigotry abusing the sacred name of liberty.

Much of this might have seemed unimaginable even a decade ago, and that sudden collapse in our standing in society has left many traditionalists reeling. For some, this dark turn offers proof that the American project of virtuous democratic capitalism has always been inherently untenable: Ever since the nation’s founding, if not since the dawn of the En­lightenment, the liberal society has been at war with its own moral foundations, they argue. It is now on the verge of demolishing them altogether, and the only real question is why it has taken so long. Now that the reckoning is upon us, we need to seek refuge for traditional ways of life where we can and accustom ourselves to the manners of exiles in our own society.

Others, on the contrary, see the rise of an op­pressive, progressive anti-traditionalism as a kind of betrayal of the principles underlying the American experiment and the practice of American life as we have known it. To them, recent years have involved a sharp break from our political tradition, and they call for a recovery—not only of our moral order but of our constitutional order, too.

Social conservatives in both groups have turned to religious liberty—whether as a shield or as a sword, as a means of guarding orthodox communities from the corrosive decadence of the broader culture or of reasserting the proper bounds of public power. Re­ligious liberty has therefore become the foremost public priority of social conservatives, and the im­portance of that first freedom has taken center stage in our case to the larger society.

This makes sense, of course. It is right that we should turn just where Madison did in the face of this new persecution. Religious liberty is plainly es­sential for the endurance of our free society and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of the many millions of Americans who dissent from the caustic Gnosticism that increasingly dominates our culture. The cultural revival we yearn for is only imaginable if we fight now against the suppression of dissenting views on moral questions.

But the unavoidable appeal to religious liberty is not without dangers of its own. The emphasis we are compelled now to put upon our first freedom risks distorting the moral message of religious and social conservatives in a number of important ways, and in the process undermining our case for liberty and tolerance. A deeper appreciation of the nature of that message could help us understand and minimize these dangers, and might also bring us to a deeper appreciation of religious liberty itself.

Key to such an appreciation will be taking note of the always uneasy relationship between theory and practice, or principle and action, in the life of a society. Both broad streams of traditionalist responses to the contemporary climate of oppres­sion—those who say our troubles are an extension of liberal principles and those who say they are a be­trayal of those principles—tend to jump too quickly from theory to practice, and so to treat the lived ex­perience of our society as a kind of working out of philosophical premises. Needless to say, however, the actual life of a society is not just a playing out of prin­ciples. It is an experience of living together, in com­munity and in conflict, within boundaries set by our moral and philosophical commitments but also under conditions determined by our vices and virtues, our character, our circumstances, and the habits of our variegated culture.

Both of the major camps of social conservative re­action to the challenges of the last few years are right in part: We have always had to struggle against the inclination of our liberal society to furiously pound itself into what Edmund Burke called “the dust and powder of individuality,” and to resist its elevation of choice above commitment. And we have always engaged in that struggle in part by calling upon the ideals of our founding—principles of both repub­licanism and liberalism, natural law and common law—and by carving out space for family and com­munity, commitment and responsibility, using the tools provided by our Constitution.

The distressing threats to religious liberty in recent years have therefore been both an extension of and a break with the principles of American liberty, because those principles are themselves not perfectly coherent. But these threats implicate not only our principles but our life together in practice, and it is in light of that practice that both the absolute necessity of a commit­ment to religious liberty and the dangers involved in such a commitment become most apparent.

For that reason, we might best reflect on those dangers by considering two arenas in which theory meets practice in the life of our society. One is the law—and the question of religious liberty is in an im­portant sense, of course, a legal question. The other, and surely the most significant arena where abstract philosophy must interact with concrete experience, is community life—where principle and practice come together on a personal, human scale.

The legal arena is where the case for reli­gious liberty seems most straightforward and securely rooted. The First Amend­ment to the Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free ex­ercise thereof.” These sixteen glorious words make for a sword, a shield, and a banner for today’s beleaguered believers. They seem to safeguard the right of every American to live by his convictions. But let us consider what they really demand, and on what grounds.

Our first instinct in the legal battles spawned by the progressive excesses of the last few years is to reach for the free exercise clause, which after all exists to protect religious people’s ability to live out their faiths in practice. It is easy to see why that seems like the right tool: Free exercise jurisprudence has frequently involved the crafting of prudential exemptions and ac­commodations—precisely the carving out of spaces—that could allow religious believers to act on their convictions even in the face of contrary public senti­ments or (up to a point) public laws. In their present circumstances, many religious traditionalists would surely benefit from such prudence and protection.

But the logic of free exercise is, at the same time, highly individualistic, while the problems traditional­ists now confront are frequently communal or (in the deepest sense) corporate problems. The free exercise clause offers a defense of religious freedom rooted in a defense of individual conscience and in turn in the broader liberal logic of individual rights. And those roots run deep.

The English tradition of religious toleration, which is the source of our legal ideal of the free exercise of religion, arose in the wake of long and bloody religious wars to secure some peace among conflicting sects by keeping individual belief out of the state’s reach. This was done in a nation with a strong estab­lished church, so that the freedom enabled by religious toleration at its origins was a freedom of private wor­ship and belief for dissenters, but not quite a freedom of common action in the public square. Religious free­dom was a very liberal liberty—a freedom afforded to individuals to keep them out of one another’s hair and so to keep the commons peaceful and orderly.

Indeed, the exigencies of England in the early Enlightenment meant that this toleration was itself selective: It was intended to protect Protestant dis­senters and Jews but to offer less protection to Catho­lics, and this aim meant that toleration quickly took on a particular form with troublesome implications for our own situation.

Perhaps the most blatant, if not comical, illustra­tion of this ambiguous character of English toleration at its origins can be found in John Milton’s noble case for freedom of thought and expression, which was also among the first explicit statements of the English mode of toleration. Milton’s Areopagitica, published as a letter to Parliament in 1644, in the midst of the English Civil War, was an impassioned case against censorship and the oppression of thought. When Milton applied his arguments to religion, though, he put the matter this way:

Yet if all cannot be of one mind—as who looks they should be?—this doubtless is more whole­some, more prudent, and more Christian that many be tolerated, rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated popery, and open supersti­tion, which as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the weak and the misled.

Tolerate all, but not Catholics. Even the greatest statement of the early Enlightenment’s tradition of toleration, John Locke’s 1689 “Letter Concerning Toleration,” which is much more subtle on this point, draws a distinction that’s relevant today.

Locke argues there is no reason to ban the belief and profession of any article of faith, since beliefs can’t do any harm. “If a Roman Catholic believes that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. If a Jew does not believe the New Testa­ment to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter any-thing in men’s civil rights.” Individuals may believe what they wish.

But institutions formed around such beliefs were not to be similarly tolerated if they were to exist for a purpose beyond the mere expression of faith. This was especially a problem for Catholicism, which is a uniquely institutional religion. And Locke intended it to be such a problem. Catholic beliefs could be toler­ated, but the institutional existence of the Church, and its hierarchy answering to the pope (a foreign prince, Locke says), could not. The Act of Toleration, enacted by Parliament in 1689, set out the same dis­tinction, which remained an element of English law until well after America’s independence.

This tradition of toleration, therefore, es­tablished a highly individualistic under­standing of the right of conscience and of the protection of religious practice. Thus the particular question that has been at the heart of a lot of our religious liberty cases in the past few years—the question of whether institutions in the corporate form are entitled to religious liberty—is not a new question for our political tradition, and the answer that tradition has often offered it is not always friendly to the cause of contemporary traditionalists.

In 2012, when the Obama administration first proposed the so-called HHS mandate, requiring em­ployers to provide insurance coverage that included free access to contraceptive and abortive drugs, it provided an exceedingly narrow religious exemption from the rule that echoed some of the distinctions first made in these earliest incarnations of the English tradition of toleration. An organization could only count as religious, the regulation asserted, if “the inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization,” if it “primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization,” and if it “serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.”

This would effectively mean that only houses of worship, or institutions that otherwise serve the di­rect expression or inculcation of articles of faith, are to be granted religious liberty. Essentially no religious charities could qualify, no hospitals or schools, no adoption agencies—let alone private institutions run by religious people in the service of their convictions.

Religious practice, in this understanding, involves the profession of faith, but it does not extend to par­ticipation in the broader life of the society. It is es­sentially a private intellectual exercise. Freedom of religion here serves the ends of the liberal society, but it is not quite a constraint on the reach and power of that society over its members.

The case law arising out of the free exercise clause has long involved broadening such narrow definitions, which has resulted in requirements for accommoda­tions of various sorts for religious people in the pub­lic square. Accommodations for religious institutions have been somewhat more rare, and accommodations for private businesses owned by religious people all the more so. In this tradition, religion has rarely been treated as one of the things people do together.

And yet, there is in our tradition of re­ligious liberty a set of arguments and categories better suited to the kinds of challenges religious people now con­front. These arguments see religious liberty as demanding some essential limitations on the reach and power of liberalism itself, but they also point out the limits of religious liberty as a legal principle and affirm its breadth and reach as lived communal practice.

James Madison was among the original architects of such arguments. In his 1785 “Memorial and Re­monstrance against Religious Assessments,” written eleven years after his anguished letter to William Bradford, Madison put the point this way:

It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to Him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

Religious liberty, in this view, is therefore not quite a liberal liberty. It is not a freedom to do what you want, but a freedom to do what you must. It describes a duty FIRST THINGS February 2016

of society to retreat and give its members space to act on what they deem essential; an acknowledgment not of a human liberty or right, but of a human obligation that precedes the social obligation and so shapes it.

Madison also recognized that near the core of re­ligious liberty is the freedom not to be coerced into doing that which your religion prohibits you from do­ing. He proposed that a liberal society should make room for a moral code that comes with constraints. Indeed, he seems to suggest that a society that refuses to allow its citizens to be constrained by their reli­gious convictions is an unacceptably coercive society.

But Madison advanced this case not in the service of a protection of the free exercise of religion but rather in opposition to the establishment of religion. His point was that no one ought to be compelled to af­firm as true a religious tenet he took to be false and that no one should be compelled to participate in a religious rite that violated his own understanding of his religious obligations. He was making what we would now recognize as a non-establishment argu­ment, one that was not exactly an extension of the traditional Anglo-American case for toleration. Like the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which Madison authored a few years later, it was a Madisonian addendum to the Lockean ideal of lib­eral toleration in a society with an established church.

Yet it is also the essence of the argument that, say, a wedding vendor who wants to remain free to refrain from participating in a same-sex wedding would ad­vance. The question of the definition of marriage is, for many people, a fundamentally religious question. It is also a civil question in our country. But some religiously orthodox wedding vendors are finding themselves compelled by the civil authorities to af­firm an answer to that question that violates their religious convictions on the subject, and some reli­gious institutions—from universities to social service agencies to private companies owned by orthodox believers—are finding themselves forced to take part in the enactment and enforcement of a moral code they are obliged to reject.

They would like to be relieved of that compul­sion, but that can’t happen, they are told, because the larger society’s understanding of the moral life overrules the understanding prescribed by their reli­gious convictions. If they want to participate as busi­ness owners or service providers in the life of that society, they must give ground. They are more like religious believers under compulsion in a society with an established church than like believers simply de­nied the freedom to exercise their religion. Only now the compulsive state religion, or at least our new civil religion, is supposed to be progressive liberalism.

Of course, liberalism is not literally becoming a re­ligion—but it is approaching the question of society’s moral order from the point of view of a dominant, established power that expects to command formal assent to its views in the public square. People are al­lowed to believe what they want, but when they act together in public, they must abide by the beliefs of the established order.

That liberalism is not an actual religion means the establishment clause will not generally avail contemporary tradition­alists as a legal tool; arguments in court must continue to make the most of the free exercise clause, which offers us vital protections. But Madison’s argument against religious establish­ment speaks powerfully to our situation, and can help those traditionalists understand it better.

For one thing, it brings into sharper relief the dis­tinction between individual and communal religious liberty. In calling for keeping our national life free of the overbearing power of one church, Madison was not suggesting that we should have no churches at all, but rather that we should have many. And by withholding public sanction from any one set of reli­gious institutions, his approach makes it possible for many religious institutions, not just many religious individuals, to populate our public life.

Madison’s implicit assumption, and that of the entire tradition of religious toleration until the last few decades, however, was that religious diversity and conflict would involve competing sects that dif­fer on some important questions of doctrine and practice but nonetheless share in common a basic Judeo-Christian orientation that is also, in very broad terms, our society’s implicit civil religion. The erosion of that common soil, that common culture, is the essence of our modern condition.

That erosion is also why an individualist under­standing of religious liberty is now less adequate, and more dangerous, than it might once have been. Dif­ferences of dogma in an essentially Christian society mostly call for giving individual believers the room for distinctions of belief while allowing genuinely dis­tinct (and inevitably very small) religious minorities broader latitude. Differences of fundamental moral premises in a society no longer unified by basic moral assumptions call for more than that. They require us to carve out broad protected spaces for traditional culture as such—for a way of life, not just a set of beliefs. And that means they require us to carve out spaces for communities, not just individuals.

In some important respects, moreover, carving out room for cultures and communities still shaped by a basic Judeo-Christian orientation is about more than protecting religious minorities. It is about sustain­ing our liberal society itself, and about producing the kinds of free citizens it needs. It is essential to the revival of a liberal society worthy of the name.

Modern liberalism assumes and requires a society with a certain moral foundation, but it does not always reinforce that foundation, and increasingly it under­mines it. This is what critics who argue that liberal­ism has always been driving toward a self-destructive moral chaos have in mind. And yet, American liberal democracy has nonetheless always made available the tools to nurture those essential moral foundations of freedom. This is what critics who argue that today’s progressive radicalism is a betrayal of the American tradition have in mind. The fact that both are right means that it is up to us to use the tools at our disposal to sustain that moral culture, and to cultivate in its soil a generation that will yearn for revival.

That is, without question, a much taller order than what Madison imagined his approach to religious lib­erty would be required to support. Indeed, his com­mitment to religious liberty was at least as much a function of his worry about domineering religious sects imposing themselves on the public square as of any concern about a loss of society’s fundamental moral character. But the foundation he established is nonetheless available now as a bulwark for tradi­tionalists, if we are willing to make the most of what it offers and build on it.

That work must be practical, not just conceptual. And it will need to be more than legal work. Our vital commitment to religious liberty must not blind us to this basic, daunting fact: Religious liberty is as much a product as a precondition of our free society. For that society to endure in a culture at war with the very foundations of its freedom will require more than space for alternatives. It will require filling that space with actual living alternatives—moral commu­nities that help us see what our freedom is for.

Community life is therefore the second arena in which we can appreciate the perils and the necessity of religious liberty.

As a practical matter these days, religious liberty is essential not so much because it protects people’s ability to believe and say certain things but because it protects people’s ability to live a certain way. That way of living—shaped by memory, bounded by tradition, directed to the future, formed to meet obligations both sacred and profane, and ultimately answerable to permanent truths—cannot be em­bodied in the practice of lone individuals, because at its essence it is about relational commitments. It describes a culture, and so can only be given concrete form in a community.

Therefore, in practice, religious liberty now fre­quently describes the freedom of a community to live in accordance with a moral vision shared among its members. This understanding of the practical mean­ing of our first freedom makes it easier to see why the practice it protects so easily outgrows the narrow bounds of the exercise of religion as envisioned by our legal system. And it also helps us see why religious liberty should be so controversial today. Everything about this idea of a morally meaningful community is now countercultural.

The very notion that a moral vision should be em­bodied in community life and relational obligations, rather than in the choices of any given individual, is a direct challenge to the ethic of expressive indi­vidualism that animates our popular culture. And the notion that culture can be local and communal, and so not merely popular, argues against the (closely related) centralizing tendencies of modern progres­sivism. This vision therefore pushes against both individualism and centralization, and seeks human flourishing in the fertile space between them.

Forcing the case for this kind of living moral alternative into the narrow confines of an argument that is just about religion and liberty makes the treasure we seek to pro­tect seem smaller and less significant than it truly is. And it causes traditionalists to underplay what we have to offer.

For one thing, to articulate that case above all in the parlance of religious liberty is to approach our society defensively. We thereby risk appearing to our neighbors to be a plaintive and inward-looking mi­nority asking to protect what it has and to be left alone. But what social conservatives “have” is a vi­sion of the good and a deep conviction that it would be good for everyone and therefore ought to be made as widely available as possible.

That doesn’t mean we can avoid first defending our­selves. A truce on the social issues has never been an option—and it surely isn’t now. But it does mean we should be more than defensive, and should always be careful to highlight the nature and the appeal of what we are defending, and so of what we are offering—the larger human good in the service of which some con­straints on our individual will and power are required.

The struggle for religious liberty is crucial as a means of making possible a more-than-defensive approach to the broader society. It is a prerequisite for the essential work of social conservatism. Its goal is to keep open the space in which cultural conserva­tives might appeal to their neighbors. Yet it must not substitute for that appeal.

This may be the greatest peril we face in championing religious liberty—the dan­ger that our call for sustaining a space for living out our moral vision might be mistaken for an argument that the sus­taining of space for ourselves is itself the essence of our moral vision. As Richard John Neuhaus warned three decades ago, in demanding exemptions, protec­tions, and accommodations, we need to be careful not to be understood as champions of universal non­judgmentalism, or of a naked public square.

The risk of giving that impression has grown great in the circumstances we now confront. In February 2012, at the height of the battle over the HHS man­date, William Thierfelder, the president of Belmont Abbey College, was interviewed by the Washington Post about the school’s legal fight against the man­date. Thierfelder wanted to be certain that people understood the limits of the claim his school was making, but in the process he exposed some of the dangers inherent in couching moral arguments en­tirely in the defensive terms of religious freedom. He told the Post reporter:

We’re not trying to tell anybody else how to live their lives. I, personally, I would hope people don’t seek abortions, but we’re not saying that. We’re being asked to violate our religious beliefs in our Catholic home.

He was right, of course. And he was also wrong. He was defending his institution, first and foremost, as he must. But the idea that a Catholic university is not in the business of telling anybody else how to live their lives can’t be quite right. It may not seek to compel people to live by its moral vision, but it does seek to persuade them to do so. It surely cannot serve its mission if it is not allowed, itself, as a Catholic home, to abide by Catholic convictions. But its mis­sion inevitably looks outward.

Social liberals are right to see institutions like Belmont Abbey as competitors for the souls of the young. If understanding our case as above all a mat­ter of protecting religious liberty rights means that social conservatives don’t think or talk that way any­more, then we are in great trouble.

This means we need to see that we are defend­ing more than religious liberty: We are defending the very idea that our government exists to protect the space in which various institutions of civil society do the work that enables Americans to thrive, and we are defending the proposition that this work involves moral formation and not just liberation from con­straint. That is an entire conception of the meaning of a free society that goes well beyond toleration and freedom of religion. It is ultimately about the proper shape and structure of American life.

Making that clear—to ourselves and to others—will require an emphasis not just on the principles in­volved (be they religious liberty or subsidiarity or the freedom of association), but also on the actual lives of our actual, concrete communities. It will require that we turn more of our attention homeward, away from raging national controversies and toward the everyday lives of our living moral communities—toward fam­ily, school, and congregation; toward civic priorities and local commitments; toward neighbors in need and friends in crisis. It will require us to see that we need to build more than protective walls; we need to build strong, thriving, attractive communities.

The purpose of fighting to defend religious liberty is therefore not only defensive but also missionary: It is to allow the ortho­dox to meet their obligations, and to show the country a better way in practice. And that better way can only be embodied in real, living communities.

Only such communities can model appealing al­ternatives to the lonely decadence of the popular cul­ture’s ideal of the life of a young American. Only such communities can create meaningful norms of respon­sibility and commitment that can help their neighbors see why family matters and what it can make possible. Only such communities can demonstrate how mean­ingful progress can be rooted in collective remem­brance rather than just individual desire, ambition, preference, or choice. Only such communities can give rise to a new generation committed to living out the virtues, or seeking out the wisdom of our moral and intellectual traditions, or continuing the struggle for a free society and a more just world. Only such commu­nities can embody for the broader culture the large, capacious vision of the good made possible by moral restraint and traditional ways of life—the vast and beautiful “yes” for the sake of which an occasional narrow or stern “no” is required.

This broader understanding of what we seek to de­fend should make social conservatives both more and less political than we have tended to be: We should be more political in that we do more than occasionally resort to legal appeals to protect our own freedom of action. We also must advance a compelling vision of society rooted in mediating institutions and a govern­ment that exists to sustain them.

We should be less political, however, in that we need to invest more of ourselves in those institutions. We need to build appealing subcultures rather than advance our own version of the Great Society or spend all of our energy on roiling national debates that stand far apart from the everyday experience of those Americans who could most benefit from what we have to offer.

With such a commitment to a genuine “plural­ism of communities” (in Robert Nisbet’s phrase), we would not treat our inheritance with contempt by insisting that our political tradition has always been headed for self-destruction. And we also would not appeal to any simple confidence that our political ideas, if only fully put into effect, would by them­selves resolve the crisis we confront.

Instead, we must seek solutions at the juncture of principle and practice—where ideals are turned into action in our everyday lives. The law can help us sustain the room we need to find those solutions, and our noble political tradition can reinforce the argu­ment for freedom understood as chosen virtue. But ultimately, it is in the institutions and relationships in which we learn to make those virtuous choices—in the family, the school, the synagogue and church, the civic enterprise, the charitable venture, the as­sociation of workers or merchants or neighbors or friends—that the fate of our experiment in moral freedom will be decided. We would be wrong to think that fate has long been sealed, one way or an­other. It is up to us.

What James Madison described as “that diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution” remains a pri­mary obstacle to realizing this vision of the free society. It has reared its head again in our time, and religious liberty can once more help us push it back. But we would be wise to remember that we require more Than the freedom to be virtuous. We require the will, and the spirit, and the faith, and the humility, and the wisdom to be virtuous, too. We require a culture of flourishing, which will only endure if we never stop building it. II     – Yuval Levin is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and editor of National Affairs. The funding for this essay was provided by the Hertog/Simon Fund for Policy Analysis.



The mountaineers of Hitler’s 16th corps

stood on Mt. Elbrus and admired the view,

confident that peace was near. Case Blue

had gone as planned. In one last blitz they’d tour

the storied Caspian—along its shore,

the vital oil of Grozny and Baku.

Russia would fall in 1942—

the stronger race deserved to win the war.

Though it was clear on Europe’s highest peak, the view was incomplete.                             They were too late: a Soviet collapse could only slow certain defeat.                                            That month, some of the weak—yes, many Jews—began to concentrate up on a mesa in New Mexico.        —Robert W. Crawford


First Things, February 2016, pages 29-36..


Mammon Ascendant – First Things June- July 2016


. . . . The history of capitalism in the history of secularism are not two accidentally contemporaneous tales, after all; they are the same story told from different vantages. Any dominant material economy is complicit with, and in fact demands, a particular anthropology, ethics, and social vision. In the late capitalist culture, being intrinsically a consumerist economy, of necessity promotes a voluntarist understanding of individual freedom and a purely negative understanding of social and political liberty. The entire system depends not merely on supplying means and satisfying natural longings, but on the ceaseless intervention of ever newer desires, evermore choices. It is also a system inevitably corrosive of as many prohibitions of desire and inhibitions of the will as possible, and therefore of all those customs and institutions – religious, cultural, social – that tend to restrain or even forbid so many inquisitive longings and individual choices.

This is what Marx genuinely admired about capitalism: it’s power to dissolve all the in Memorial associations of family, tradition, faith, and affinity, the irresistible dynamism of its dissolution of ancient values, it’s (to borrow a little some praise) “gales of creative destruction.” The secular world – our world, our age – is one from which as many mediating and subsidiary powers have been purged as possible, precisely to make room for the adventures of the will. It is a reality in which all social, political, and economic associations have been reduced to a bare tension between the individual and the state, each of which secures the other against the intrusions and encroachments of other claims to authority, other demands upon desire, other narratives of the human. Secularization is simply developed capitalism in its ineluctable cultural manifestation.

Mind you, part of the difficulty of convincing American Christians of this lies in the generous vagueness with which we have come to use the word capitalism in recent decades. For many, the term means nothing more than a free-market in goods, or the right to produce and trade, or buying and selling as such. In that sense, every culture in recorded history would have been called “capitalist” in some degree. And for many then, it also seems natural to think that all free-trade and all systems of market exchange are of a piece, and that to defend the dignity of production and trade in every sphere, it is necessary also to defend the globalized market and the immense power of current corporate enti­ties—or, conversely, to think that any serious and sustained criticism of the immorality, environmental devastation, exploitation of desperate labor markets, or political mischief for which such entities might of­ten justly be arraigned is necessarily an assault on every honest entrepreneur who tries to build a busi­ness, create some jobs, or produce something useful or delightful to sell.

But, in long historical perspective, the capitalist epoch of market economies has so far been one of, at most, a few centuries. At least, in the narrower acceptation of the term generally agreed on by eco­nomic historians, capitalism is what Proudhon in 1861 identified as a system—at once economic and social—in which, as a general rule, the source of in­come does not belong at all to those who make it operative by their labor. If that is too vague, we can say it is the set of economic conventions that suc­ceeded those of the “mercantilism” of the previous era, with its tariff regimes and nationalist policies of trade regulation, and that took shape in the age of industrialization. Historically, this meant a shift in economic eminence from the merchant class—pur­veyors of goods contracted from and produced by independent artisanal labor or subsidiary estates or small local markets—to the capitalist investor who is at once producer and seller of goods, and who is able to generate immense capital at the secondary level of investment speculation: a purely financial market where wealth is generated and enjoyed by those who produce nothing except an incessant circulation of investment and divestment.

Along with this came a new labor system: the end of most of the contractual power of free skilled labor, the death of the artisanal guilds, and the genesis of a mass wage system; one, that is, in which labor be­came a commodity, different markets could compete against one another for the cheapest, most desper­ate laborers, and (as the old Marxist plaint has it) both the means of production and the fruit of labor belonged not to the workers but only to the inves­tors. Hence the accusation of early generations of so­cialists, like William Morris and John Ruskin, that capitalism was to be eschewed not because it was a free-market system, but because it destroyed the true freedom of the market economies that had begun to appear at the end of the Middle Ages, and concen­trated all real economic and contractual liberty in the hands of a very few.

This is a system that not only allows for, but positively depends upon, immense concentrations of private capital and private dispositive use of that capi­tal, as unencumbered by fiscal regulation as possible. It also obviously allows for the exploitation of materi­al and human resources on an unprecedentedly mas­sive scale, one that even governments cannot rival. And it is a system that inevitably eventuates not only in economic, but cultural, “consumerism,” because it can continue to create wealth sufficient to sustain the investment system only by a social habit of consump­tion extravagantly in excess of mere natural need or even (arguably) natural want. Thus it must dedicate itself not only to fulfilling desire, but to fabricating new desires, prompted by fashion, or by seductive ap­peals to what 1 John calls “the lust of the eyes”—the high art of which we call “advertising.”

Now, without question, capitalism works. It is magnificently efficient at generating enormous wealth, and increasing the wealth of society at large—if not necessarily of all indi­viduals or classes—and adjusting to the supersession of one form of commercial production by another. But this is practically a tautology. That is its entire purpose, and it is no great surprise that over time it should have evolved ever more refined and compre­hensive means for achieving it. It generates immense returns for the few, which sometimes redound to the benefit of the many, but which often do not; it can create and enrich or destroy and impoverish, as pru­dence warrants; it can encourage liberty and equity or abet tyranny and injustice, as necessity dictates. It has no natural attachment to the institutions of dem­ocratic or liberal freedom; China has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that endless consumer choices can comfortably coexist with a near total absence of civil liberties. Capitalism has no moral nature at all. The good it yields is not benevolence; the evil is not malice. It is a system that cannot be abused, but only practiced with greater or lesser efficiency. It admits of no other criterion by which to judge its consequences.

This last point, moreover, needs to be particularly stressed, at least in America, where many of capital­ism’s apologists are eager (perhaps commendably) to believe that our market system is not only conducive of large social benefits, but possessed of deep structural virtues. This belief often leads them both to exaggerate those benefits and to ignore the damages, or to explain them away (like good Marxists preaching the socialist eschaton) as transient evils that will be redeemed by a final general beatitude (“rising tide” . . . “all boats” . . . “supply-side” . . . “trickle down” .. . “Walmart may destroy small businesses and force the formerly well-employed into inferior jobs, but, hey, think of the joy  that all those cheap—if occasionally toxic—Chinese goods produced by ruthlessly exploited laborers will provide the lower middle class in its ceaseless fiscal de­cline!”). But, given the sheer magnitude of capitalism’s ability to alter material, social, economic, and cultural reality, to cherish even the faintest illusions regarding some kind of inherent goodness in the system is to risk more than mere complacency.

Yes, venture capital built Manhattan—its shin­ing cloud-capped towers, its millions of jobs, its in­exhaustible bagels—but the cost of a world where Manhattans are built has to be reckoned in more than capital. And one does not even need to travel any great distance to assess some of the gravest of them. One need go no farther than the carboniferous tectonic collision zones of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky to find a land where a once poor but prop­ertied people were reduced to helotry on land they used to own by predatory mineral rights’ purchases, and then forced into dangerous and badly remuner­ated labor that destroyed their health, and then kept generation upon generation in servile dependency on an industry that shears the crests off mountains, chokes river valleys with slurry and chemical toxins, and subverts local politics. And what one must re­member is that all that devastation was not the result of one of capitalism’s failures, but of one of its most conspicuous successes. All the investors realized re­turns on their initial expenditures many thousands of times over. Those who win at the game can win everything and more, while those who lose—who more often than we care to acknowledge lose every­thing and forever—are simply part of the cost of do­ing business.

None of which is to deny that capital investment can achieve goods that governments usually can­not. While it is certainly not the case that, say, the world’s rising mean life span or the increase in third-world literacy are straightforwardly consequences of globalization, it certainly is the case that global in­vestment and trade have created resources that have made rapid medical progress, improvements in nutri­tion, and distribution of goods and services—by pri­vate firms, charities, governments, and international humanitarian organizations—possible in ways that less fluid commercial systems never could have done. There are regions of sub-Saharan Africa currently enjoying the kind of economic development that once seemed impossible because certain governments and businesses (such as numerous small technology firms) have set aside generations of post-colonial prejudice and finally begun building businesses there.

On the other hand, untold tens of thousands of Africans have died as a result of large Western pharmaceutical firms, concerned for their market share and their proprietary rights, exerting fiscal and government pressure to deny access to affordable antiretroviral drugs manufactured in Thailand and elsewhere. The market gives life; the market murders. It creates cities; it poisons oceans. And throughout the third world, as well as in less fortunate districts of the developed world, the price of industrialization remains (as ever) environmental damage of a sort that cannot be remedied in centuries, along with all its attendant human suffering. The World Health Orga­nization, on very judiciously gathered data, estimates that roughly 12.6 million persons die each year as a result of environmental degradation, particularly pollution from industrial waste products. This being so, it seems only decent to wonder whether a thriving market system might be run on more humane prin­ciples—which is to say, on principles alien to capital­ism as it has always existed.

Perhaps, though, I am allowing myself to drift away from my original point. Even if it were not so—even if fully developed capitalism, per impossibile, operated with­out any destruction of ecologies, communi­ties, and lives—it would still carry moral costs that would render it ultimately antagonistic to any but an essentially secularized culture. At least, it could not coexist indefinitely with a culture informed by genu­ine Christian conviction. Even the fact of the system’s necessary reliance on immense private wealth makes it a moral problem from the vantage of the Gospel, for the simple reason that the New Testament treats such wealth not merely as a spiritual danger, and not merely as a blessing that should not be misused, but as an intrinsic evil. I know there are plentiful interpretations of Christianity that claim otherwise, and many of them have been profoundly influential of American understandings of the faith. Calvin’s scriptural commentaries, for instance, treat almost all of the New Testament’s more consequential moral teachings—Christ’s advice to the rich young ruler, his exhortations to spiritual perfection, and so on—as exercises in instructive irony, meant to demonstrate the impossibility of righteousness through works. Calvin even remarks that having some money in the bank is one of the signs of election. But that is offen­sive nonsense. The real text of the New Testament, uncolored by theological fancy, is utterly perspicuous and relentlessly insistent on this matter. Christ’s con­cern for the ptõchoi—          the abjectly destitute—is more or less exclusive of any other social class.

What he says about the rich youth selling all his possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor, and about the indisposition of camels trying to pass through needles’ eyes, is only the beginning. In the Sermon on the Plain’s list of beatitudes and woes, he not only tells the poor that the kingdom belongs to them, but explicitly tells the rich that, having had their pleasures in this world, they shall have none in the world to come. He condemns those who buy up properties and create large estates for themselves. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Do not store up treasure on earth, in earthly vessels, for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. The apostolic Church in Jerusalem adopted an abso­lute communism of goods. Paul constantly condemns pleonektia, which is often translated as “excessive greed” or even “thievery,” but which really means no more than an acquisitive desire for more than one needs. He instructs the Corinthian Christians to do­nate all their profits to the relief of the poor in other church assemblies. James says that God’s elect are the poor of this world; the rich he condemns as op­pressors and revilers of the divine name, who should howl in terror at the judgment that is coming upon them, because the rust of their treasure shall eat their flesh like fire on the last day. And on and on. This is so persistent, pervasive, and unqualified a theme of the New Testament that the genius with which Chris­tians down the centuries have succeeded in not seeing it, or in explaining it away, or in pretending that it does not mean what it unquestionably means may be among the greatest marvels of the faith.

But, again, even if it were not so—even if there is a way of possessing wealth purely as a blameless stewardship of God’s bounty, or if the system could function as well in a society with more equitably dis­tributed capital, or what have you—the problem with which I began remains. As a cultural reality, late capi­talism is not merely a regulatory regime for markets, but also a positive system of values, necessarily at odds with other orders of desire, especially those that seek to limit acquisition or inhibit expressions of the will. We may think we are free to believe as we wish because that is what our totalitarian libertarianism or consumerist collectivism chiefly needs us to think. But, while our ancestors inhabited a world full of gods or saints, ours is one in which they have all been chased away by advertising, into the hidden world of personal devotion or private fixation. Public life is a realm of pure elective spontaneity, in every sphere, and that power of choice must be ceaselessly directed toward an interminable diversity of consumer goods, and encouraged to expand into ever more regions of fiscal, moral, and spiritual life. We are shaped by what we desire, and what we desire is shaped by the material culture that surrounds us, and by the ide­ologies and imaginative possibilities that it embodies and sustains.

This is not to say that believing Christians, Jews, and other retrograde types cannot live peacefully amid the heaven-scaling towers and abyss-plumbing indulgences of late modernity. Believers of every kind are strangers and sojourners in this life, and should not seek to build enduring cities in this world. Still, all of us must make our livings, and seek to provide for others, and that means buying and selling, hiring and being hired, seeking justice and enduring injus­tice. That is the business of life, and conducted well, it can bring about many good things. And who knows? Perhaps it is possible to reimagine a real market econ­omy on a more truly human and humane scale, of the sort envisaged by E. F. Schumacher or various other religious “economists of the small.” After all, the ex­change of goods, the common commerce of everyday life, the community that exists wherever one person trades one “gift” for another—all of these are natural goods, part of the corporal grammar of community, and can usually in some way exhibit a generosity more original and more ultimate than any calculus of greed or selfish appetite. But, beyond that, the claim that capitalist culture and Christianity are compatible—indeed, that they are not ultimately inimical to one another—seems to me not only self-evidently false, but quaintly (and perhaps perilously) deluded. FT

FIRST THINGS, June/July 2016, David Bentley Hart, pages 34-38.





Of all our major columnists, Peggy Noonan has thought the most deeply about the anti-establishment sentiments roiling our political culture. In last week’s column, “How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen,” she puts her finger on the central issue. Ordinary people in Germany, Great Britain, France, America, and elsewhere aren’t just experiencing the dislocations of economic globalization. They’re not simply responding to cultural change, which is often driven by immigration. They’re losing their trust in those who rule them.

As Noonan puts it, over the last generation there has been “a kind of historic decoupling between the top and the bottom in the West that did not, in more moderate recent times, exist.” Those at the top of society no longer share the interests of those less fortunate. “At its heart it is not only a detachment from, but a lack of interest in, the lives of your countrymen, of those who are not at the table, and who understand that they’ve been abandoned by their leaders’ selfishness and mad virtue-signaling.”

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the American context. It’s striking how often our leadership, both right and left, punches down. Conservatives call half of Americans “takers.” Liberals call them “bigots.” I can’t count the number of columns Bret Stephens has written in the last six months expressing his unqualified horror over the ignorance and stupidity of the Republican voters who have the temerity to reject the political wisdom of their betters.

Noonan admits she hasn’t quite gotten her mind around this decoupling of the leaders from the led. I, too, am struggling to understand. It’s odd, as Noonan says, “that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.”

Viewed humanly, yes, it is odd. We have a need to belong. Loyalty is a natural human impulse. But a recent book by international economist Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, has helped me grasp some of the underlying forces that are driving the leaders away from the led.

Milanovic draws attention to an “elephant graph,” so called because it looks like the hulking body of an elephant raising its trunk. On the horizontal axis, we see global income distribution. The citizens of very poor countries are at the elephant’s back end. Their median income is quite low. Those on the trunk-end of the elephant are the citizens of developed countries. The vertical axis charts the rate of growth of incomes. Here we see a very telling story. Emerging economies have given birth to a new middle class that has experienced rapid income growth. Meanwhile, the rich world is diverging. Middle-class wage growth is stagnant in the globalized economy, while the well-to-do have seen great gains.


Much of the story this graph tells is well known. We’ve heard a great deal about income inequality in recent years. But seeing the whole world at a glance shows something more. Those whom Noonan called “the protected,” which is to say the rich and powerful in the West, share with the rising middle class in the developing world a remarkable harmony of interests. Both cohorts benefit from the new global system. By contrast, in the West, the middle class is losing ground.

In short, the global system—which is committed to the free flow of labor, goods, and capital—works well for the leadership class in Europe and North America, as it does for striving workers in China, India, and elsewhere. It doesn’t work so well for the middle class in the West. Thus, in the West, the led no longer share the economic interests of their leaders.

It’s natural, therefore, to see a decoupling. We’re fallen human beings. We often develop convictions that conveniently correspond to our interests. When it comes to the rising nationalism in Europe, elites there see as much. They don’t interpret the striking new support for right-wing parties as expressions of patriotic fervor, but instead see patriotic rhetoric as a front for, at best, economic frustration, but more often racism and xenophobia.

What elites don’t see is how their own interests are dressed up as cosmopolitan idealism. Noonan points out that German elites compliment themselves on the moral rectitude of Angela Merkel’s decision to admit a million Muslim migrants. True, but they’re also insulated from the consequences. And more than insulated, they stand to benefit from lower labor costs.

Over time, the elephant graph predicts large-scale changes in democratic politics in the West. Elites now have a strong interest in weakening the nation-state, and thus diminishing the power of the voters to whom they are accountable. A radical ideology of open borders is one way to do that. Another way is to increase the power of international human rights tribunals. In a decade’s time I can easily imagine rulings that override national majorities that are deemed “unprogressive.”

But I need not evoke the future. For at least a generation, America’s most elite colleges and universities have explicitly refashioned themselves as global institutions. By implication, they are no longer accountable to America’s national interest. Their mission is more noble: the world’s interest. They same dynamic gets repeated in the corporate world. Silicon Valley answers to the world, not to America.

What goes unnoticed is the fact that a global mission provides reasons to discount the concerns of non-elites in America. Convenient theories about the inherent racism of ordinary people nicely discredit their opinions. The critical fire of a plastic, easily manipulated multi-culturalism can be trained this way or that to degrade patriotic loyalties. Meanwhile, a strict utilitarianism tells us citizenship is a construct designed to secure “rents.” Ordinary people feel abandoned and frustration builds, driving today’s populism.

Noonan is right. The decoupling of the leaders and the led is “something big.” The economic forces driving this decoupling are powerful. The ideological supports—a morally superior cosmopolitanism, a flexible multi-culturalism, and now dominant utilitarian thinking—are strong. As I’ve written elsewhere, odds are good that the democratic era will come to an end. The elephant chart suggests the future will be one of empire.

R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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 Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time       October 30, 2016

The Lord Is Gracious and Merciful LECTIONARY #153C

Focus: To experience God’s covenant love.

Wisdom 11:22-12:2 This passage from Wisdom, written during the first century before Christ, fuses both Greek and Jewish concepts of God, as it focuses on God’s mercy and love of all creation. God, seen through Greek lenses, is all-knowing, all-powerful, and beyond all things. Yet the all-powerful God loves, cares for, and sustains all creation. God, whose “imperishable spirit is in all things” (11:26c), works in and through the created world. The all-powerful God is also full of mercy and compassion, “over­look[ing] people’s sins that they may repent” (11:23b). God’s love relationship with the world is exercised in sparing all things “because they are yours” (11:26a). It also leads God to “rebuke offenders little by little, / warn them and remind them . . . that they may abandon their wickedness” (12:2).

Our all-powerful God is truly gracious and merciful, faithful to all creation, and compassionate towards all. God’s love and compassion are made real and experienced whenever we exercise the same love and compassion for all.

Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 (see 1) The psalmist extols, blesses, and praises God “forever and ever” (145:1c) because “the LORD is gracious and merciful, / slow to anger and of great kindness” (145:8-9). Both “gracious” and “kindness” translate the Hebrew word hesed meaning “ever-faithful,” “enduring,” and “all-giving” covenant love. For the psalmist, God’s hesed or covenant love is manifested in the Lord being “good to all and compassionate towards all” (145:9c) of God’s creation. In response, the psalmist calls upon all creation to thank the Lord. The “faithful ones” (145:10b) those who enter into covenant relationship with God, are also to thank and bless the Lord, and speak of God’s power and might manifested in all creation. God is faithful and holy, lifting up “all who are falling / and raises up all who are bowed down” (145:14). God’s faithful covenant love is good to all especially those in distress, pain, or anguish. Let us thank, praise, and bless the Lord always.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 Paul prays for his Thessalonian community that God’s grace active in them may “powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith” (1:11). For Paul, it is God’s grace and gift of faith that activates ethical living and all good works. Belief in God through Jesus is primary, and through that faith we are gifted with the power to live in fidelity to God’s love and presence. In this manner, God is glorified in them as they become more closely bonded with God in Christ.

Paul also addresses the distress that some seem to be experiencing over the imminent return of the Lord. Either by some proclamation through a “spirit” (12:2), or possibly a letter falsely attributed to Paul, some in the community believe that the Lord will soon return. Anxiety could have resulted from lack of readiness for some, or from a relax­ation of the demands of discipleship, thus doing nothing until Christ returns. Paul says that neither stance is a fitting response for a believer. One is to continue trusting in the Lord and living ethically through God’s grace, so that whenever the Lord returns, all will be ready and will have nothing to fear or be anxious about.

Luke 19:1-10 The Zacchaeus narrative, unique to Luke, highlights a key element of Jesus’ ministry, namely, to seek out and save the lost and marginalized, welcoming them to God’s table of mercy and love. As chief tax collector, the wealthy Zacchaeus was despised by fellow Jews for cheat­ing people, typical of tax collectors, and for collaborating with Roman occupiers. But Zacchaeus’ desire to connect with Jesus, even setting himself up for shame and ridicule by climbing a tree, causes Jesus to connect with him and to invite himself to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. “Today, I must stay at your house” (19:9) connotes a necessity on Jesus’ part to seek the lost and welcome them back to God and community. God’s covenant love is experienced in the person and ministry of Jesus.

Zacchaeus enthusiastically responds to Jesus’ invitation to experience God’s mercy and love by offering to give half his possessions to the poor and by restoring fourfold anyone he has cheated. Jesus, using the word “today” (19:9) a sec­ond time, affirms that Zacchaeus has taken advantage of Jesus’ saving offer, and has reestablished himself as a “descendent of Abraham” (19:9). God’s gracious and merci­ful love activated by Jesus has accomplished what Jesus was sent to do, “to seek and save what was lost” (19:10). As Jesus’ disciples, we too are called to activate Jesus’ cove­nant love in all our encounters.

Connections to Church Teaching and Tradition

♦         “Fidelity to the Covenant represents not only the founding principle of Israel’s social, political and economic life, but also the principle for dealing with questions concerning eco­nomic poverty and social injustices. This principle is invoked in order to trans­form, continuously and from within, the life of the people of the Covenant, so that this life will correspond to God’s plan” (CSDC, 24).

♦         “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed per­sonal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an open­ness to letting him encoun­ter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. . . . ‘No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord– (EG, 3).

Foundations for Preaching and Teaching ® Scripture Backgrounds for 2016, LTP, pages 160-161.

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Reflecting on the Gospel

When do we find ourselves up a tree? When we are in a difficult situation and can’t seem to find a way out. The idea is to climb down, to find a solution. In this gospel story, Zacchaeus does the opposite. He goes up a tree to solve his problem. What’s not to like about this Zacchaeus story? All kinds of things feed our imagination. A “wealthy man” throws aside social propriety and does what an enthusiastic little kid would do—he climbs a tree! And he doesn’t pick an easy tree—he climbs a sycamore tree, a very tall tree, one without branches

close to the ground. He chooses a very difficult way to get what he wants: “to see who Jesus was.” And he gets more than he climbed for—Jesus tells him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Zacchaeus’s short stature kept him from seeing Jesus with his physical eyes. His ardent desire to encounter Jesus, how­ever, indicates that he had already seen him with the eyes of his heart. Encountering Jesus does not depend upon the goodness of one’s life, but encountering him can bring about conversion of life. Zacchaeus chooses to put his life in right order. For this does Zac­chaeus come to salvation. Encountering Jesus and choosing to put our own life in right order brings us to the same salvation. We only need to see Jesus with the eyes of our hearts wide open. All of us are invited to salvation. Those are saved who seek Jesus (Zacchaeus made the first step when he climbed the syca­more tree to see Jesus) and are open to being sought by him (Jesus stayed at his house). Those are saved who change their lives when they encounter Jesus. Seeing Jesus isn’t enough. En­counter must lead to a faith relationship that makes a difference in our lives. Moreover, since Jesus continues his saving mission through us his followers, we must be equally responsive to others. We must put our own affairs in order and care for those in any need. We must also live in such a way that when others encounter us, they encounter Jesus.

Zacchaeus is the last person Luke’s gospel mentions before Jesus enters Jerusalem—it is as though Luke chooses to end his gospel account with a memorable story about why Jesus came: “For the Son of Man has come to seek / and to save what was lost.” If “salvation has come” even for this short tax col­lector, then who would ever be excluded?

Living the Paschal Mystery

Most of us don’t have to be so creative or go to the extreme of climbing a tree to encounter Jesus. However, this gospel forewarns us that we ought to not be complacent about our spiritual lives. Zacchaeus reminds us that we must also always be willing to change and grow and be vigilant about our relationships with others, for these are barometers of our relationship with God. Creativity in seeking Jesus might mean that we are innovative in our personal prayer life rather Than continually reciting the prayers we might have learned long ago. What prayers might better meet our spiritual needs now so that we can grow in our relationships? It might mean that we keep certain days of the year (perhaps the days of the Triduum or some days during Advent) as a “mini retreat” in order to diligently seek Jesus and a better relationship with him. It might mean that we don’t wait for people to come to us and ask for help but that we notice others’ needs and offer to help before they ask. In these and countless other ways we encounter Jesus—and salvation comes to our house.                                                                                                                            

2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page  240.

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Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: seeking to see . . . Jesus, give to the poor . . . repay it, salvation has come

To the point: Zacchaeus’s short stature kept him from seeing Jesus with his physical eyes. His ardent desire to encounter Jesus, however, indicates that he had already seen him with the eyes of his heart. Encountering Jesus does not depend upon the goodness of one’s life, but encountering him can bring about conversion of life. Zacchaeus chooses to put his life in right order. For this does Zacchaeus come to salvation. Encountering Jesus and choosing to put our own life in right order brings us to the same salvation. We only need to see Jesus with the eyes of our hearts wide open.

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: In his encounter with Zacchaeus Jesus embodies exactly what Wisdom reveals about God who shows mercy to all and willingly over­looks sins.

to experience: Zacchaeus shimmied up a sycamore tree to see Jesus. To what heights are we willing to go to see Jesus?

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: Psalm 145 is an acrostic hymn, meaning that each verse be­gins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Consequently, the psalm does not develop any theme in depth but simply offers God general praise. The verses chosen for this Sunday praise God for showing mercy and compassion rather than anger, and for lifting up those who have fallen. The reading from Wisdom confirms this attitude of God when it proclaims that the Lord “over­looks people’s sins” and gently coaxes offenders back to right living. Clearly God prefers reconciliation to condemnation.

In his encounter with Zacchaeus Jesus is the living embodiment of this ori­entation of God. Jesus “has come to seek / and to save what was lost” (gospel). In singing this psalm we are the living embodiment of Zacchaeus’s response. We recognize ourselves as sinners and shout praise to the One who comes to save us.

to psalmist preparation: Psalm 145 praises God for all that God does, but in the context of the first reading and gospel the praise is particularly for God’s mercy to sinners. For what have you been shown this mercy? How have you praised God for it?                                                                   

2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page  241.

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  • How popular is the Empire State Building! It is tall—very tall! Its observation deck provides quite a panorama of New York City. People come from all over the world to as­cend its height and see its view. How popular was Jesus! Zacchaeus, a “tax collector and also a wealthy man,” had social stature. But he was short—very short!
  • Desiring only to see Jesus, Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree—a very tall tree! Jesus wants more, however, than just for Zacchaeus to see him—he initiates a personal encoun­ter with Zacchaeus. Does our desire to see Jesus lift us to such heights as Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree? And even more, when Jesus initiates a personal encounter with us, are we as willing as Zacchaeus to hear Jesus say to us, “salvation has come”? Are we willing to put our feet on the ground and change our lives?
  • We deepen our desire to see Jesus when we chat with someone who already knows him very well, when we experience a need for his Presence, when we feel empty and alone. During all our life, Jesus has an even stronger desire to encounter us in prayer, in good works, in community. Our response to Jesus’ coming to us is concretely shown by rooting out of our lives anything that keeps us from doing the hard work of becoming who he wants us to be: the lost who are saved. In this conversion process we grow tall—very tall!                                                                                                                                                        2016 Living Liturgy ™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, October 23, 2016, page 242.

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Change and liturgy: Change is generally a good thing—it indicates growth and desire for new directions and accomplishments. Even change in liturgy is good because the need for change is a witness that the liturgical assembly has grown deeper in their relationship with God and each other. Change is a fact of life and of liturgy! Change is good and necessary. But too much change too often in liturgy can actually work against fruitful liturgy.

After a change (especially something rather major), we must give ourselves time to “settle in” and make the change a natural part of the rhythm of our ritual celebra­tions. If we are always adjusting to something new during liturgy it is very difficult to internalize the fruits of liturgy. We must give ourselves time to “settle in,” not in the sense of becoming complacent or resting easy (liturgy is always hard work) or getting sloppy, but in the sense of having the luxury of fine-tuning what changes we have introduced. As we grow in familiarity with our rituals we are free to enter more deeply into the liturgical mystery itself.

While change is necessary and good for the rhythm of our liturgies, novelty and innovation (especially for their own sakes or just to hold people’s interest) generally work against good liturgy. We must always remember that liturgy is given an essential ritual structure that has been tested through the centuries of tradition and this struc­ture must be respected. It ensures that we are maximizing liturgy’s purpose to make present the paschal mystery and that we are celebrating with the whole church.

About Liturgical Music

Change and liturgical music: The same principles given above about the pace of change in liturgical ritual apply to changes in liturgical music, but with some further comments that are specifically musical. First, we must always remember that music stands in a secondary, supporting role. Its purpose is to enable the assembly to sur­render to the liturgical ritual. When we change the music too much or too often, we divert the assembly’s energies from the ritual demands. We sidetrack the liturgy. When we change the music for its own sake, we give it a position that doesn’t belong to it by making it primary. Again, we sidetrack the liturgy.

Second, the demands of the ritual are intense; and repetition and consistency in the music are meant to facilitate surrendering to these demands. For the average as­sembly this means introducing two or three new songs a year is enough. In a year when a new setting of the Mass is being introduced, that alone may be sufficient. Any change in service music or introduction of a new song must be related to the goal of enabling deeper participation in the rite, not to the mistaken goal of keeping people “entertained.”

Honoring these principles takes discipline. New music should be introduced to sup­port the assembly’s liturgical and musical growth. But it is their growth (and the de­mands of the rite) which must dictate the changes, not the desire for novelty.

Music suggestion: Herman Stuempfle’s “When Jesus Passed through Jericho” (HG) turns the story of Zacchaeus into our story. The text needs to be sung in a light story­telling fashion. The tune, the American folk melody DOVE OF PEACE, will probably be unfamiliar to most members of the assembly. Let alternating cantors sing verses 1-4, telling the story of Zacchaeus, then have the assembly join in for verses 5-6 when the story becomes theirs. The hymn would be very suitable either as a prelude or dur­ing the preparation of the gifts.

2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page  243.

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Jesus intended to pass through Jericho, but stopped instead for someone who “was seeking to see who Jesus was.” Wisdom says that God rebukes offenders little by little, and reminds them of their sins so that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in him. Thus, Jesus stops, looks up, and speaks. And as Zacchaeus peers into the face of Jesus, he recognizes his “Lord and lover of souls.” In his soul he prays, “You have mercy on all…and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.” The effectiveness of Christ’s mercy is seen in the fact that “sinners drop from the trees like ripe fruit” (Father Stephen Dominic Hayes, o.P.). May God “powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every ef­fort of faith,” especially when we stray. Even in those moments, may we always seek the Son who “has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Magnificat, October 2016, page 407.


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Look at Zacchaeus, who climbed up a tree in his de­sire to see our Savior. He was filled with gladness and deeply touched with a special grace, to the great profit of his soul, when Christ called out loud to him and said, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for I must stay at your house today (Lk 19:5). All the people were muttering complaints about this, that Christ would call him and be so familiar with him as to offer, on his own initiative, to come to his house….

But that was a rash, presumptuous, and blind judg­ment they made on him, for no one could see his inner disposition and the possibility of a sudden change in it. Zacchaeus, by a prompting from the Spirit of God, and in reproach of all such judgment, immediately proved them all wrong. He showed that with those few words spoken out loud to him, our Lord had so changed his heart that, whatever he had been before, he was then, unbeknownst to them all, suddenly turned good. For in a hurry he came down and gladly received Christ and said, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold (Lk 19:8)….

It is good always to be doing some good thing right now, while we are thinking about it. When we do this, grace more solidly takes hold in us, and it also increases, so that we can then go on to do some other good thing.

SAINT THOMAS MORE –  Saint Thomas More (†1535) was a British lawyer, judge, chancellor, and martyr.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Magnificat, October 2016, pages 410-411.

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Saints Who Were Friends with Other Saints

Saint Who?   Saint Simplician, Bishop († 400)          Feast: August 16

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine recounts how he went to Simplician, “the spiritual father” of Bishop Ambrose. “I recounted to him all the mazes of my wanderings.”

Knowing of Augustine’s struggle with the Christian Faith, Simplician told him about his friend Marius Victorinus, an esteemed professor of rhetoric, who had been drawn to the truth of the Catholic Faith, but not the Church. “You must know that I am a Christian,” Victorinus had told Simplician, who replied, “I shall not believe it, nor shall I count you among the Christians, until I see you in the Church of Christ.” “Is it then the walls that make Christians?” Victorinus asked, with evi­dent sarcasm. But Victorinus continued to read and ask questions, and, as he pondered the Faith more deeply, he came to see that his desire to remain “outside the walls” was nothing but pride. And so Victorinus entered the Church at Easter, publicly declaring his belief with the other catechumens. “They received him with loving and joyful hands.”

Simplician’s story moved Augustine greatly, prepar­ing the way for his own humble acceptance of baptism at the hands of Saint Ambrose. Ambrose himself held Simplician very dear, and, on his deathbed, he approved Simplician as his successor in the See of Milan. The elderly Simplician governed Milan for three years until his death.

Father of all mercies, through the intercession of Saint Simplician, purify my heart of pride.                   Magnificat, October 2016, pages 322.


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Leader: Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.                                                                             I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.                                                                       I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.                                                                            I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.                                                                          I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.                                                                             I want to belong, yet I must be myself.                                                                                      Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.

All:      O Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

Leader: O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?                                             Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.                                                                   Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me go.                                                               Let me understand myself, but don’t let me despair.                                                                     Come unto me, 0 Lord — I want you there.                                                                                   Lighten my darkness — but don’t dazzle me.                                                                                Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.

All:      0 Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

Bernard, SSF, © The European Province of the Society of St. Francis.


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THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME           Year C             October 30, 2016

Wisdom 11:22 — 12:2;  Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14;  2 Thessalonians 1:11 — 2:2; Luke 19:1-10


(An unlit candle, a Bible open to this week’s gospel and a googled image of Zaccheus in a sycamore tree looking down to Jesus rest on a cloth-covered table in the gathering place)

In this week’s imagery of Jesus, Zaccheus in the tree and the crowd, we are reminded that working out our salvation sometimes calls for us to be willing to be vulnerable and exposed. No one is beyond Christ’s mercy. It’s all good. We prayed last week with the humble tax collector. How did you live humbly this past week?


(The candle is lit. Members pause in silent attention to the presence of God. After a time of quiet, the prayer continues as follows)

Leader:  O Lord, In seeking you we often need to take risks, opening ourselves up to the scrutiny and judgment of others, fair or unfair, warranted or not. Give us the courage to be open and the courage to speak and follow the truth on our path to you. Make us ever mindful of just what others might experience as they follow this same path. Let us be among those who encourage rather than discourage such seeking. By your Spirit, we pray.

All:     Amen.


(The scriptures are proclaimed aloud with a pause after each reading Following a pause after the proclamation of the gospel, the leader invites members to name a word or phrase from the gospel that stays with them, but without any additional comment. Some may repeat what another has already said.

When this naming is complete, the leader passes out copies of the scriptures of the week as needed. Pausing between them, the leader then poses these two questions: “What draws you to this gospel?” “Where do you resist this gospel?” The community pauses for a time of silent reflection. After about a minute, the leader invites members to consider the Reflection and Questions for the week. After a time for silent reflection, the leader invites members to re-arrange themselves in groups of three or four for sharing The small groups move off so as not to intrude on one another.)


In this week’s gospel we see both pride and humility at play. The prideful see Zaccheus, the despised tax collector, as someone to be written off Zaccheus protests, saying in effect, “You don’t really know me!” He tells Jesus that if he has extorted anyone, he will repay them fourfold. Even before that, he promises to give half of his wealth away. Humility seems to be driving him. He is lacking something. Maybe this Jesus can help him. He swallowed his pride and climbed a tree just to get a look, and he caught Jesus’ attention.

Was Zaccheus truthful in responding to the grumbling of the crowd? Were his words just defensive rhetoric? Maybe. The truth will be known. Jesus seems to know the truth already when he says, “[S]alvation has come to this house.” Its all good.

Sometimes we witness awkward or painful situations where we question what is going on and how people involved are faring. We wonder. We question. And the response that we often hear is, “It’s all good!”

For people of faith, “It’s all good!” also has meaning on a very basic level. As part of God’s good order, we are essentially good, but we are also prone to selfishness. This can often present us with a perplexing and contradictory picture of ourselves and others. In the midst of perplexity and contradiction we need to treat each person we encounter as an unfinished story.

No one created by God is beyond God’s love. No one is outside of Christ’s initiative to grasp and save. His mercy reaches out to whoever is lost or distant from him. Pride is often at play in our inability to recognize this. Appearances can deceive us. We can easily fall prey to passing judgment on others. Humility, seeing ourselves as we really are, is key to escaping this trap. When we see ourselves clearly, it is easier for us to have patience with others, and to find some good in everyone we encounter.

Questions for Reflection and Conversation

¨         How challenging is it these days for you to believe that God “loves all things that are”?

¨         When have you ever gone out on a limb to seek and follow Jesus?

¨         When have you ever been part of the crowd who judged someone as beyond redemption?

¨         If Jesus met you in the street and said, “Today I must stay at your house,” what would you do next? What would you hope for? What would you fear?


(After about fifteen minutes of sharing in threes/fours, the leader re-gathers the community. Once back together, members pause for a moment. The leader then poses these questions: What do you want to hold on to for yourself from this session?” “How are you/we being called to live in response to God’s word?” After a pause, the leader invites the community to a time of conversation. When this sharing is complete, the community moves to a time of prayer)

Response in Action Suggestions

¨         Advocate with UCAN Caring Families Coalition as they organize people  around health care reform (www.ucancLorg).

¨         Learn more about the plight of those who remain in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a crime through the Innocence Project (www. Provide some support or take some action.

¨         Do an honest and full assessment of the stewardship of your treasure. Do you tithe? Increase your financial support for the life and mission of your parish.


(After a brief pause, the gospel or a portion of it, either of the other readings as appropriate or the responsorial psalm are proclaimed. The idea is to select a text that lends itself to inviting members to the time of silent prayer that follows. Following the proclamation, the leader poses these questions to the members: “What does Christ in his Spirit say to you now?” “What do you say to him in response?” The community pauses for a full five minutes of prayerful attention to God A brief instrumental selection may be played during part of this time. After this time of silence, the leader invites members simply to mention a word or two, or a brief expression that captures what they hear Christ saying to them personally. The community receives this without additional comment.

Following this sharing, members join in singing the MusicQuest selection, Have Loved You.” See p. 95 for lyrics. When the song is complete, the prayer continues as follows)

Leader: O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of indifference, meddling, lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Your servant, a spirit of integrity, humility, patience and love. 0 Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother or sister. For blessed are You unto the ages of ages.

All:     Amen.                                                            Adapted from a Prayer of Saint Ephraim 373 A.D.

(The session concludes with the exchange of a sign of peace)



A Reflection Booklet for Small Christian Communities,  Fall Edition, pages 29-32. The Pastoral Department For Small Christian Communities,      Archdiocese of Hartford, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002.                         860-242-5573×7450;;


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Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18 • 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 • Luke 18:9-14                                                                         30 Ordinary C ‘16

“Did you know God collects all the lost balloons that float into the sky, and if you have a big ladder and a lot of friends to help you,              you can climb into the sky and get them back?”

The gospel parable today is about two people praying side by side.  One is identified as a Pharisee.  The other is identified as a Tax Collector.  The third figure in the parable is that Gracious Mystery we name “God.”

Pharisees were devout, pious Jews. Their way of life and teaching were probably closer to the way of life and teaching of Jesus than any other group of that time.  However the Pharisee in the parable is clearly “narcissistic.”  “Narcissism” is a mental disorder that holds a grandiose view of one’s own talents and accomplishment.  The narcissist is focused on self, motivated by a craving for admiration and adulation.  Obviously the Pharisee is not offered to us as a model to imitate.

Near him another man is praying.  He is identified as an “IRS” man — a “tax collector.”  Simply because of their complicity with Imperial Rome, “Tax Collectors” were despised and shunned by their peers.  That may explain why the “tax collector” in this parable appears to be so self-denigrating.  The “tax collector” is not offered to us as a model to imitate.

Both the Pharisee and the Tax Collector address their prayer, as do we, to that Gracious Mystery we name God.  I like that phrase –“Gracious Mystery” because it reminds us this reality we call “God” is totally and absolutely beyond our comprehension.  We can speak about this Gracious Mystery only with metaphorical language and imagesTo hear this parable in a new and fresh way, I offer you images from the fanciful imagination of a small child as a guide.  I have no idea where she got these images, but I think it is wonderful!

                       “Did you know God collects all the lost balloons that float into the sky,                                                and if you have a big ladder and a lot of friends to help                                                                      you,  you can climb into the sky and get them back?”

We are people who believe there is a Gracious Mystery we name “God.”  This is the one who, in the little girls imagery, “collects all the lost balloons that float into the sky.”

The image of “lost balloons” includes the unfulfilled dreams, unrealized hopes, impossible tasks, untaken risks, all the good we have done, and yes, even all the bad we have done.  All of “the lost balloons” are collected in the heart and memory of that Gracious Mystery we name God, and saved!  This is a powerful image of that One who loves us and treasures everything about each of us.  Our “lost balloons” contain all we have become – fully human or less than fully human.

“If you have a big ladder and a lot of friends to help you, you can climb into the sky and get them back.”  This also is a wonderful image, especially the “lots of friends” part.  Among our friends are those alive and dead; those who steady the ladder for us; climb alongside us; strangers we haven’t met; those we think of as enemies, and even narcissistic politicians. “God collects all the lost balloons” and one day, when we “climb into the sky,” these are the ones who will help us get “our lost balloons back! 

The parable exhorts us to be humble.  Humility means living a balanced life, recognizing and embracing one’s own truth.  Humility means being genuinely and fully human.  It means loving and treasuring everything about yourself just as that Gracious Mystery we name God does.  Jesus of Nazareth is our model.  It seems quite clear to me that he lived what he taught.  He knew that…..

“God collects all the lost balloons that float into the sky                                                                      and if you have a big ladder and a lot of friends to help you                                                               you can climb into the sky and get them back?”

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R. (12b) Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
Why, O LORD, do you stand aloof?
Why hide in times of distress?
Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted,
who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
For the wicked man glories in his greed,
and the covetous blasphemes, sets the LORD at nought.
The wicked man boasts, “He will not avenge it”;
“There is no God,” sums up his thoughts.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
His mouth is full of cursing, guile and deceit;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He lurks in ambush near the villages;
in hiding he murders the innocent;
his eyes spy upon the unfortunate.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
You do see, for you behold misery and sorrow,
taking them in your hands.
On you the unfortunate man depends;
of the fatherless you are the helper.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!

“A prayer and picture for today as we prepare to elect a new president.”


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O Spirit of Wisdom, enlighten our hearts and minds,

As we prepare to choose our leaders.

Guide those who seek office,

Those who have power to influence others, and

Those who cast votes.

Protect the rights of all citizens.

Give us insight and good judgment to overcome all that divides and degrades us.

Grant that all may set aside self interest in favor of the Common Good.

O Spirit of Wisdom, seep into our souls,

Renew our democracy.

In God we trust.




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HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD Europe Set Free   —    Anthony Esolen

THE YOUNG PRIEST QUIETLY OPENED THE DOOR to the private chambers of his superior. He was holding a tray with some bread and cheese and wine. Before him, kneeling on the floor, was an old man in a white robe. His head was bowed, and his lean countenance bore the furrows of long habits of severe self-discipline. In his hands was a black ro­sary. His fingers moved from one bead to the next.

“Holy Father,” said the priest, “I have brought you some refreshment.”

A slight nod from the old man was the only reply. The priest set the tray on a table and left the chambers, shut­ting the door. In the halls he met one of his fellow servants. “On his knees,” was all he said. The old man had been on his knees all night.

From an open window came the fresh breeze of the fall, a sunny, musty scent of hayricks and ripening fruit. A man with a cart full of apples trundled down the street, calling out his wares. Children played a noisy game with a ball. Women came back from the baker’s with baskets of loaves, balancing them on their heads with one hand, the other hand free for Italian conversation. All over the city near the sea, and in a hundred seaport cities all over Europe, there were these sights and sounds and smells; but in Rome that old man knelt and prayed, because on his shoulders lay the burden of this decisive morning, October 7, 1571.

Then he rose and joined the cardinals in consistory. Work to be done.


Sometimes, the once in a week when Joao smiled, you could see that he had been a beautiful youth, with glossy dark hair and high cheekbones, but in a moment that hint of beauty would harden into settled hopelessness and hatred, like a mask. He was a merchant’s son from Oporto, and had had the rounded muscles of a young man used to loading and unloading ships, with their barrels of wine and oil and casks of spices, muscles softened by the sleek flesh you get when you eat well and drink well. Now all that was left of him was bone and sinew, and the mask. Most of his hair had fallen out. His skin was taut and yellow, with hardly a shred to hide his nakedness. The stench of human excretion round about him was abominable. Lice nested in his hair and crawled upon his flesh, but he had ceased to care. His feet were in irons and his hands dared not let go of the oar.

A turbaned Turk with a whip lashed about him left and right, crying, “Pull, pull!” In the hull of that galley were two hundred prisoners, many of them Christians seized by Turkish raiders from ships at sea or from the ports ex­posed to their piracy. Joao was one of those galley slaves. He’d once hoped to be sold back for ransom, but the hope had passed. All he knew of the outside world was what he managed to pick up from the scattered Turkish he had learned in the past two years. He would die in this stinking hull. There was no question of that. But he prayed that his tormentors would sink to the bottom of the sea with him. For this morning they were going into battle.

He had no idea what day it was. He had no idea what month it was, though it seemed, from the little he could glimpse through the oar-holes, that the days were grow­ing shorter.

“Break their teeth in their mouths, 0 Lord,” he prayed, “break the teeth of the lions!”

♦         A MORE PLEASANT MEETING      ♦

It’s the same day, in Vienna. A small congregation of men have gathered in the cellarage of a local nobleman whose protection they enjoy.

Farther down the Danube River, the Turks are well es­tablished, so that Vienna has long been a city under siege. Its people have been riven with dissent; some are Catholic, some favor Luther, some favor Calvin, and some, like the men in the cellarage, look upon all of the others alike as dreadful heretics. These men are called by their enemies Anabaptists, meaning people who baptize themselves all over again, considering the baptism in infancy to be of no effect.

“Don John and the fleets from Genoa and Venice set sail ten days ago,” says their leader. Don John is the brother of the Hapsburg king of Austria, Maximilian.

“Then the League of Evil meets the infidel upon the high sea,” he continues. “If the League should be victorious, then the Turks will be hungry for vengeance. We should then ex­pect the Danube to run red with Austrian blood. That may well be to our purpose. We shall be masters then, since the Turk will never be able to hold the city without our assis­tance. If the Turks are victorious, then Don John is put to shame and the Archpriest of Satan is foiled.”

“Either way,” says one of his fellows, “there is something to seek, and something to fear.”

“Let us then pray that the will of God be done.”

They are not thinking of men such as Joao, but then, Vienna is not a town on the seacoast.

♦         QUEEN AND DEVOTED SUBJECT          ♦

The royal court in Windsor. A woman with red hair, some­thing too pointed of a nose, shrewd active eyes, and restless hands, looks at the young seaman before her.

“So,” she says, “you have been peppering Spanish ships in the Indies, have you?”

“Yes, my liege.”

“Yet you return to my court with holes in your shoes and a hat that a bargeman would be ashamed to wear.”

“We must both give and take in battle, my liege.” But he was smoldering.

“You should be more careful than to measure your might in battle with my brother of Spain,” said the queen, with a wry grin. The king of Spain, Philip II, was the husband of her none too beloved sister Mary, who now lay moldering in her tomb.

“I shall be to them like a fiery thorn,” he replied. “If you will help me to rig a ship. Your majesty, only a few thousand pounds”—but she stopped him. She squeezed the pommels of her throne as a man might squeeze an orange.

“I do not finance pirates,” she said. “But if you should like a ship to bring me news and commodities from distant islands and coastlands,” she said, wryly, “I shall not take it amiss. I cannot afford anything lavish, you understand.”

“Perfectly, your majesty.”

Then she twisted her form upon the throne as her mind returned to a preoccupation. “You have been defeated by Spaniards,” she said, with some scorn.

“As I said, my queen, we gave and we took.”

“The Holy League, we hear, will set upon the Turk in the Greek seas. Perhaps they are even now at it. What think you?” She seemed to be asking a sailor about naval warfare, but in her mind’s eye she saw an old crabbed man penning the writ that excommunicated her from the Church, her, a throned monarch! Yet she knew that England was stuffed full of cousins with royal blood. The pestilent Cardinal Pole himself had been one of them. Indeed, her firmest legal claim to the throne was that she happened to be sitting upon it.

“No cause for worry,” he said. ‘The Turks are unmatched on the water.”

“God’s blood!” she spluttered. “You take much upon you! You think I wish the death of Christians at the hands of in­fidels?” But she calmed down and motioned him to come forward, extending her hand to kiss.

“Master Drake,” she said, “you shall have your ship.”

♦         YOU TEACH MY FINGERS TO FIGHT          ♦

We are on board the royal ship of the Christian fleet, off the port of Lepanto, on October 7, 1571. The pope had ordered that all the men aboard should be shriven before battle, and should pray the rosary. Strict discipline must be maintained. No coarse or blasphemous language; no grum­bling; no excess of meat or drink. Don John was meeting with the other chiefs. What should they do? The weather was poor, and they appeared to be outnumbered, and the Turk had long been master of the sea. Many of the chiefs recommended delay, to wait for a more propitious time.

“My lord,” said one of the admirals, “I am not a learned man, nor can I tell the future, but Peter has commanded the attack, and I will put my trust in him!”

“So be it then!” said Don John. “We will attack!”

And they did. Far away in Rome, the old man suddenly rose from among the cardinals, looked out the window, and cried, “Enough of business! We must now thank God for the victory he has given the Christian army!”

The Battle of Lepanto marked the beginning of the end of Turkish dominance in the Mediterranean, setting the ports free of the terror from the east. Thousands of galley slaves like Joao were liberated. A young Spanish nobleman whom we know well as Cervantes fought valiantly in the battle and lost the use of one hand; he was ever after to boast that it was the greatest thing he had ever done in his life. The Poles would, time and again, drive the Turks back down the Danube, saving Europe from the east. Merchants in the north of Europe could ply their trades because Spanish, Italian, Austrian, and Polish soldiers made it possible. They saved the continent for freedom.

When confirmation of the victory reached Rome, the city erupted into joyous celebration. A new feast day was declared: the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

The old man in Rome died the next year. We call him Saint Pius V.

(Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College, a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine. He is translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House) and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).

Magnificat, October 2016, pages 204-209.


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On the 27th day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(From the Roman Missal, Third Edition, Appendix I)    Magnificat, January 2016, page 45.


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 KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners for:

One-Liners in Faith; (July 2016)

Lavender Iris

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”
– Matthew 11:28

“Do not accept anything as the truths if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”  – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

“The most beautiful ACT of faith is the one made in darkness, and sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”  – Padre Pio

Take KNOM with you – read the KNOM newsletter on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other Internet-capable mobile device — visit in your web browser.

One-liners in Faith: (August 2016)

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  – Mother Teresa

“I will willingly abandon this miserable body to hunger and suffering, provided that my soul may have its ordinary nourishment.”  – St. Kateri  Tekakwitha

“that Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.”  – Pope Francis’ “evangelization” prayer intention, August 2016

One-liners in Faith: (September 2016)                                IMG_0020_edited-1

God does not love us because we’re valuable. We’re valuable because God loves us.

As we go out to take God to others, know that we will meet Him through them.

“That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.”
— Pope Francis’ “evangelization” prayer intention, September 2016

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
— Thomas Merton


One-liners in Faith: (October 2016)          Cactus_tmp17A

“Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”     – Matthew 28:20

Decisions can take you away from God’s will, but never out of his reach.

“That journalists, in carrying out their work, they always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.”    – Pope Frances’ “universal” prayer intention, October 2016

St. Teresa, The Little Flower, realized that anything we do, no matter how small or insignificant, if done out of love for God, is of great value in God’s eyes.


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A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk)  “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – ­”You don’t go to church as often as I.”


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The Apostleship of Prayer Monthly Intentions for October 2016:


Journalists: That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.
Journalists are obligated to provide news and commentary that are truthful. To do otherwise is to sin against the eighth Commandment. The Catechism says: “By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information.” In other words, though it is important to report news honestly, the journalist must also respect the dignity of others.
The Catechism continues: “The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good. Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity. The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and—within the limits set by justice and charity—complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld.”
Like the journalists, the consumers of media also have a serious obligation. We are to be discerning in our use of media.
The Catechism says: “The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.”
As we pray for journalists this month we also examine ourselves and ask whether we spend an inordinate amount of time using media simply out of curiosity and an appetite for the sensational? Do we use reputable sources of information? Where do we receive our information about the Church?
What resources are available to help me understand from a Christian perspective what is going on in the world and the Church?
2 Peter 3: 14-18 “Be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled”


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World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.
In his Message for the 90th World Mission Day which will be celebrated on October 23, Pope Francis called the work of evangelization an “immense work of mercy, both spiritual and material.” He went on to say that “all of us are invited to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples, each generously offering our talents, creativity, wisdom and experience to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family. By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love.”
This is what motivated Jesus, his disciples, St. Paul, and the Church throughout the centuries. It is what motivates us—an all-consuming desire for the salvation of every human soul. Pope Francis wrote: “As they travel through the streets of the world, the disciples of Jesus need to have a love without limits, the same measure of love that our Lord has for all people. We proclaim the most beautiful and greatest gifts that he has given us: his life and
But how can we have such “a love without limits”? We find it when we encounter Jesus in the Scriptures and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. As the Pope wrote: “When we welcome and follow Jesus by means of the Gospel and sacraments, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, become merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful; we can learn to love as he loves us and make of our lives a free gift, a sign of his goodness.”
Every day, we can “make of our lives a free gift” by offering its minutes and hours for the salvation of every person. In doing this we become missionaries without even leaving home and our entire life, joined to Jesus’ perfect offering of himself on the cross and in the Eucharist, becomes a sign of merciful love in a world that desperately needs it.
How is evangelization an “immense work of mercy”?
2 Corinthians 5: 14-21 “The love of Christ impels us.”


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Model Prayer of the Faithful

Proposed for The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 23, 2016,

 (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)




That through the Church’s announcement of the Gospel, God’s Word may increase love and give full meaning to pain and suffering,

For the Church, that it provide refuge and salvation to all people,

That all members of the church be honest about themselves before God and be authentic in their prayer,

For Church leaders, may they continue to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as they guide and lead the Church in its mission of spreading the Gospel,

For all members of the Church, that, strengthened by the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we may be living signs of God’s mercy,

That all members of the Church will surrender fully in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, devoting their lives to love of God and others,

That all Catholics will strive to set a good example by continuing to grow in love for Jesus and practicing his teachings in all areas of our lives,

That all members of the Church may shine as a beacon of God’s love to those who have fallen away from the faith,

For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, our bishop, (Robert) ________, and our priests, deacons and religious, that they may continue to build unity in the Church through their teaching and leadership,

That all members of the Church may seek to give a faithful and effective witness to the Gospel by following the teachings of Jesus in their daily lives,

That our Church will be an instrument of Christ’s healing and reconciliation,

For the grace to believe the Kingdom of God is alive and growing in our world,

For those who meet resistance in their ministry in the Church,

Renew in our Church the courage to preach the Gospel of peace in a violent world,

That the Word of God will find a welcome dwelling place in our hearts,

That our Church will be a sacrament of Christ’s presence in our world,

For a spirit of inclusivity and collaboration within our Church,

For our Church, that all the people of God will be gifted with the grace of true humility and awareness of divine mercy,




That lawmakers will protect people from being forced to violate their convictions,

For government leaders, that they hear the cry of the poor and oppressed,

That all peoples of the world come to salvation by being in right relationship with God and each other,

For government leaders around the world, may they work to ensure that all people can worship God in peace and freedom,

For government leaders, that they might turn to God for guidance and provide for the needs of their citizens, especially the poor,

That world leaders will turn to God for guidance and wisdom so they may enact just laws and policies that promote the common good and foster greater peace in the world,

That those in public office will deal fairly and considerately with those they represent as they make laws and policies,

For our government leaders, that they seek peace in the world through negotiation and nonviolent means to end conflict,

That government and civic officials may work together to identify and respond to the needs of their people so that justice and peace prevail in our towns and cities,

For our world, that people of every nation will seek truth, make peace, and reverence life,

That our world will be released from the bondage of violence and injustice,

For civic leaders, that they work toward the common good,

Challenge all civic leaders to work for an end to injustice and oppression,

For an end to oppressive social systems in our world,




For those facing difficult decisions: that the Lord will stand by them and enlighten their minds and hearts,

For those who suffer from the cold, that their needs be met this fall and winter,

That the proud be humbled and the humble be exalted,

For all who are persecuted for their faith in Christ, may the Holy Spirit strengthen them and assure them of the prayers and support of the whole Christian family,

That those who have become disconnected from the life of the Church may open their hearts to God’s healing grace and mercy and be moved to return to the practice of the faith,

That those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ may be strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit to remain steadfast in faith,

That farmers will be blessed in their work with bountiful harvests to provide food for the hungry,

For all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, that they will experience the strength and healing power of faith,

For believers of every religious tradition, that they will grow in understanding, tolerance, and respect for one another,

That the bondage of poverty, abuse, and oppression will be overcome through the power of Christ at work in all people of good will,

For those encountering difficulties in their relationships with coworkers,

For those who are judged unjustly,

Sustain those who suffer from the effects of famine, disease, and natural disasters,

Protect us from all evil, we pray: • Console all who mourn the loss of loved ones,

That all who are without adequate food, housing, or employment will soon have access to what they need,

That those who are fleeing from violence and oppression will find in our country a place of refuge and opportunity,

For greater understanding, respect, and dialogue among diverse religious traditions,




That our parish community will hold fast to our con­fession of faith and draw many to friendship with Jesus Christ,

For members of our parish, may our hearts be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit so that we may receive the grace to be kind to others in all areas of our daily lives,

That God will protect members of this faith community who serve in the military, and that they will return safely to their loved ones,

That during this Year of Mercy, our community will strive to show love and concern for one another through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,

That those who are estranged or in conflict with family members may turn to Christ for the strength needed to foster healing and reconciliation,

For members of families who are experiencing conflict and discord, may they turn to God for the grace and strength needed to forgive and reconcile with one another,

That members of this parish community may grow in an understanding of what it means to live as a follower of Jesus, and bear good fruit for the Gospel by setting aside time for daily prayer and spiritual reading,

That members of our parish may feel empowered to spread the Gospel in our homes, schools and workplaces in spite of the conflict it may cause,

For the grace of loving patience within families and communities of faith,

That families will grow together in faith, hope, and love,




For the grace this week to live humbly with a healthy sense of sin,

In return for our sins, you send us your son: grant us the grace of to abandon sin and remain faithful to him, have mercy on your people Lord,

In return for our self-centeredness, you give us your love: Grant us the grace to abandon the small shell of self for the wideness of your mercy, have mercy on your people Lord,

In return for our death, you give us eternal life: grant us the grace to live for that future, have mercy on your people Lord,

For our assembly, that we pray constantly and with humility,

That each of us admit our sinfulness and in prayer beg for God’s mercy,

For the grace to believe our efforts to be faithful disciples of Christ contribute to the coming of God’s reign on earth,

For those who need support and guidance,




For the poor, the sick, the elderly, the grieving, the lonely, the hungry, the homeless, the addicted, and the unemployed: that the Lord will help them in his mercy,

For the sick and for their caregivers, that they be healed and strengthened,

For the sick and all who suffer, may God restore them to the fullness of life and health and liberate them from all afflictions,

For people burdened by hardships in body, mind or spirit, may they experience God’s healing grace and love through the compassion of caregivers,

That those experiencing physical and emotional pain will find comfort in prayer and in the support of caring professionals, family and friends,

For the vulnerable in our society, especially the very young and the elderly, that their lives be protected from conception until natural death,

That those who are held bound by any form of physical or mental illness will be set free,

That our words and actions will inspire, encourage, support, and heal,

For the grace of strength and hopeful endurance among all who suffer,

For the grace of truthful self-knowledge before God,

For strength and healing for all who are suffering in body, mind, or spirit,




For our beloved dead, may they come to share in the fullness of Christ’s glory in heaven,

For those who have died, may they come to experience perpetual light, joy and peace in heaven,

That those who have died may enjoy eternal peace and joy with the angels and saints in heaven,

That those who have died may be warmly welcomed into God’s heavenly kingdom,

For our brothers and sisters who have died, may they enjoy eternal rest and peace in God’s heavenly kingdom,

That those who have died may join the angels and saints in heaven in singing God’s praises for all eternity,

For our deceased relatives, friends, and community members, that they will rejoice in the light of God’s loving presence,

For the grace of a peaceful death for those nearing the end of their lives,


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2012 May 22_2281



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General Intercessions for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

16 October, 2016 – Cycle C

Presider:           As Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses, we lift up our own arms to you for help.

Deacon or Reader:

  1. For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, with the support of our archbishop, Robert, and our priests,deacons and religious: that they will persevere in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word;                                              We pray to the Lord.
  1. That all levels of our county’s judiciary may be people free from political bias, so that they may produce bountifully the first fruits of justice and compassion, which are pleasing in your sight;                                     We pray to the Lord.
  1. For all who are growing weary in seeking relief, justice or healing: that the Holy Spirit will inspire and renew them so that they may persevere in their waiting;                                          We pray to the Lord.
  1. That all members of the church “pray always” and come to the fullness of relationship with God;                                      We pray to the Lord.
  1. For all the sick and dying of our parish, especially .    .    .    .            May they be surrounded byGod’s grace and healing love;              We pray to the Lord.
  1. That the faithful departed may rest in eternal peace in the arms of the heavenly Father.  We remember  .     .    .    .            We pray to the Lord.
  1. That a successful Beyond Sunday campaign will bring our archdiocesan schools system-wideinnovation to build a brighter Catholic future;           We pray to the Lord.

Presider:           Father, with persistent but humble hearts, we ask you to answer the prayers we place before you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


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Lectionary 150:   1)   Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18;   2)   Ps 34:2-3, 17-19, 23;  3)   2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18;    4)   Luke 18:9-14.

FOCUS:  Only those who truly know they need God will come to trust in his word.

When we approach the Lord in prayer, whether it be for help or strength, we should avoid false pretenses. Instead, we should recognize who we are – in our struggles and achievements – and stand before the Lord in honesty. This posture allows us to recognize our need for God’s grace and mercy, grow in faith, and give a more faithful witness to the Gospel.

Humility is the recognition that no matter what our accomplishments, we still stand in need of the Lord (3). God hears the cry of the poor (Ps) and of the oppressed, especially those who acknowledge their depend­ency upon him (1). Having heard Paul’s cries for help, the Lord crowned him with eternal salvation (2).


The first reading from Sirach reminds us that God has a special love for the weak and oppressed, the orphan and the widow. The second reading exhorts us to persevere in faith and keep our eyes fixed on heaven. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector.


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Reflection – Sunday, October 16, 2016        Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We may smile at the bold and tireless widow who wore down the resistance of the dishonest judge. But her persistent tactics worked and a just decision was finally awarded. Our persistence in prayer must be rooted in complete trust that we matter to God, whose relentless love for us is without end.            2016 Daily Prayer, October 2016, page 323.

Persistence in Prayer

In the more consoling phases of…simplified prayer the soul is enjoying God, and this is an exercise of the will very pleasing to him and most profitable to the soul.

If, however, the prayer becomes dry and distracted, and devout affections of any sort almost impossible, then the soul is driven to praying with its will alone. This it does, as Father Piny, O.P., writes, “by willing to spend all the time of prayer in loving God, and in lov­ing him more than itself; in willing to pray to God for the grace of charity; in willing to remain abandoned to the divine will.

“One must clearly understand that if we will to love God (leaving aside for a moment the consideration of the part that grace plays in this action), by that very action we actually do love him; if, by a real act of the will, we choose to unite ourselves in loving submission to the Will of him whom we love, or desire to love—by that very act of the will, we immediately effect this union. Love is in truth nothing else but an act of the will.”                                        –  Dom M. EUGENE BOYLAN, O.C.R.             Dom Boylan († 1964) was a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Mount Saint Joseph, Roscrea, Ireland.     Magnificat, October 2016, pages 250-251.

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Monday, October 24, 2016        MONDAY OF 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME                          Optional Memorial:  Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop

Lectionary 479:   1)   Ephesians 4:32–5:8;   2)   Ps 1:1-4, 6 Lk 13:10-17;             3) Luke 13:10-17.

FOCUS:  We are called to live as children of the light. Christians are children of the light. We are called to treat others with kindness and compassion, and be ever-willing to forgive. Unlike greed and selfishness, which lead one away from God, walking in the light of Christ’s love helps us become beacons of hope that invite others to know the joy, peace and salvation we have found in Jesus. Live in the light and love one another (1) as the Lord loves us (Ps). He is full of compassion and mercy (2).


In today’s first reading, Saint Paul exhorts the Ephesians to imitate God by being compassionate and avoiding immorality. In the Gospel, Jesus heals a suffering woman, refuting those who criticize him for doing so on the Sabbath.

Anthony Claret, † 1870; from Catalonia; vigorous reforming bishop of Santiago, Cuba; founded (1849) the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary [C.M.F.] (Claretians), today numbering about 3,000 members; fostered credit unions and the apostolate of the press.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2016        TUESDAY OF 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 480:   1)   Ephesians 5:21-33 or Ephesians 5:2a, 25-32;              480: Ps 128:1-5 Lk 13:18-21.    Lectionary 122:   2)   Luke 13:18-21.

FOCUS:  Through simple acts of kindness and love, we help build up God’s kingdom on earth. Today’s Gospel parable of the mustard seed reminds us that good things often start small. None of our daily acts of kindness and love to others are insignificant. They are seeds that, with God’s grace, grow and help build up his kingdom of love and peace on earth. Marriage (Ps) foreshadows the love of Christ for his Church (1). The kingdom of God will experience extensive growth (2).


In the first reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, Paul talks about some of the precepts for marriage. Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke relates the parable of the mustard seed. Just as the seed becomes a large bush, the kingdom of God will continue to grow.

  • (USA) At Mass, the approved alternative shorter reading from Ephesians (see Lectionary, vol. I, no. 122), excludes the first part of the longer version, namely: “Be subordinate to one another…so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.”


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016      WEDNESDAY OF 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 481:  1)   Ephesians 6:1-9;   2)   Ps 145:10-14; 2)   Luke 13:22-30.

FOCUS:  We are to seek to enter through the narrow gate.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that to be judged worthy of entering into eternal life in heaven, we must strive to enter through the narrow gate. This requires loving God above all things, and letting go of attachments to the things of this world that hold us back from living in the way Jesus calls us to live.     General recommendations on family life are offered (1). All who do good and seek justice are assured (Ps) a place at the eschatological ban­quet (2).


In the first reading, Paul offers instruction on how members of a Christian household should relate to one another. In the Gospel, Jesus warns his listeners that in order to attain the kingdom of God, they must strive to enter through the narrow gate.


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Thursday, October 27, 2016     THURSDAY OF30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 482:   1)   Ephesians 6:10-20;   2)   Ps 144:16, 2, 9-10;   3)  Luke 13:31-35.

FOCUS:  The force of God is with us. Being on the right side is not the same as being on the winning side. Someone can win an argument, a battle or a game and still be wrong. Being right in matters of faith far outweighs winning. When the love of God prevails, everyone wins.  Remain steadfast in the battle (Ps) against sin (1). Jesus is resolved to accomplish his Father’s mission, even to the point of death (2).


The first reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians calls for an all-out assault on the evil ways of the devil. This requires being clothed in God’s righteousness. In the Gospel, Jesus will not be dissuaded from carrying out the mission given to him by his Father.


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Friday, October 28, 2016    SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES – FEAST

Lectionary 666:   1)   Ephesians 2:19-22;    2)   Ps 19:2-5 Lk 6:12-16;                  3)   Luke 6:12-16.

FOCUS:  The Apostles are the foundation upon which the Church is built.  Jesus, after spending a night in prayer, chose twelve men whom he named as Apostles for the purpose of one day being the chief shepherds of the Church. Saints Simon and Jude were numbered among the Twelve. By their teaching, preaching, example and leadership, they are the foundation upon which the Church is built.  The Twelve are chosen (2) to preach (Ps) the good news. They form the foundation of a temple with Jesus himself as the cornerstone (1).


In the first reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, Paul reminds the community that they are united with the holy ones as members of the household of God, of which Jesus is the capstone. In the Gospel, after a night of prayer, Jesus chooses the Twelve Apostles.

Simon, † 1st c.; called “the Canaanite” and also “the Zealot,” an anti-Roman party; possibly preached in Egypt and Persia; mentioned in the Roman Canon.

Jude, or Thaddeus (“Courageous”), † 1st c.; may have preached in Palestine and Persia; mentioned in the Roman Canon; patron of those in despair or in hopeless situations (perhaps because of the similarity of his name with that of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus and despaired).


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Saturday, October 29, 2016        SATURDAY OF 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME                Saturday in honor of BVM

Lectionary 484:   1)   Philippians 1:18b-26;    2)    Ps 42:2-3, 5cdef;                        3)   Luke 14:1, 7-11.                                                                                                                                          

FOCUS:  Authentic humility involves using our gifts and talents to help build up God’s kingdom on earth.  Humility is an overriding theme in today’s Gospel. Unfortunately, the virtue of humility was not well understood at the time of Jesus nor is it in our society today. What is authentic humility? It is recognition of God’s grace working in our lives to develop our gifts and talents in order to help build up his kingdom and draw us closer to himself. In all we do, let Christ be proclaimed (1), the one for whom we long (Ps). Humble yourselves that he might be exalted (2).


In today’s first reading, Saint Paul speaks eloquently to the Christian community in Philippi concerning the joy he experiences in seeing the Gospel proclaimed among them. In the Gospel, Jesus, while dining at the home of a Pharisee, tells a parable relating the consequence of taking the seat of honor at a banquet rather than the lowest seat.

  • Tomorrow, announce, All Saints Day, Tuesday next, is a holy day of obligation this year (USA).


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Lectionary 153:  1)   Wisdom 11:22–12:2;   2)    Ps 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14;                                          3)    2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2;   4)   Luke 19:1-10.

FOCUS:  The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost. Jesus came to free us from sin; he continues to save his people through his word and sacraments. Even though we sin, his mercy fills us with his grace – continually making us worthy to serve each other and to build up his kingdom.  The Lord is full of mercy and compassion (1), slow to anger and of great kindness (Ps). He has come to search out and save what was lost (3). Let us be more concerned with doing the Lord’s work than with idle speculation about when he will come again (2).


The Book of Wisdom reminds us that God has mercy on all because he loves all that he has made, and his Spirit is in all things. The second reading exhorts us to pray for one another always. In the Gospel, Jesus sees the tax collector Zacchaeus, and, after hearing his promise of repentance and restitution, assures him of salvation.


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Reflection – Sunday, October 23, 2016                                                                                Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The men in the parable assessed the external differences between them. What really mattered was not so obvi­ous to either one. Jesus revealed the surprising reversal in his judgment of both. The tax collector who honestly faced his complete dependence on God asked for divine mercy and received it. The Pharisee who mistakenly believed his accomplishments were due to his efforts alone asked God for nothing and received nothing. Jesus teaches us that prayer needs to be rooted in humility, which means accepting the truth of who we are before God.    Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 330.



 Reflection- Monday, October 24, 2016                                                                                    Optional Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop

Most of the healing miracles worked by Jesus took place after someone explic­itly requested him to intervene in their lives. In today’s Gospel, the very pres­ence of the crippled woman in the syna­gogue with Jesus must have been the expression of faith that moved him to compassionate action on her behalf. Sometimes prayer can be silent. It is not always necessary to come before the Lord with many words. Our desire and trust in God’s mercy is what opens the door of our hearts to grace. From what do we desire to be set free?                  Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 331.



Reflection – Tuesday, October 25, 2016           Weekday

When I was a young child, I often watched my mother and grandmother make bread. It is a time-consuming process involving much patience and effort but yielding wonderful results. Little did I realize at the time what a profound Gospel lesson they were teaching me! It is fascinating and some­how reassuring to realize that Jesus drew his images for the Kingdom of God from his experience. Both mustard seeds and yeast are incredibly small in size but hold great promise within them. They work invisibly and on their own timetable. Whether we are asked to be bakers or gardeners in partnership with God, let us never forget who provides the increase.                   Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 332.



Reflection – Wednesday, October 26, 2016          Weekday

Jesus makes it clear that attempts at deciding who will be saved and who will not are misguided. Our assessments of self and others are too often way off the mark. Such judgments are reserved to the One who alone can see into the heart and the actions of each person. Whether or not we understand God’s inscrutable criteria is beside the point. Our respon­sibility is to strive to enter through the narrow gate while being alert that others are also trying to do the same. Our pil­grim journey is not an isolated affair but one we share. Will we help or hinder our companions today?               Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 333.



Reflection – Thursday, October 27, 2016        Weekday

Unfortunately, scriptural images drawn from battle have, too often, been mis­interpreted or taken literally throughout history. But when properly considered, vivid metaphors such as those in the Letter to the Ephesians continue to offer believers encouragement and support in their daily struggle to be faithful disciples of Christ. Echoing the epistle is the prayer of St. Catherine of Siena: “Clothe me with Yourself, Eternal Truth.” Let us pray with her for the strength that comes from a deep relationship with Christ and for feet ready to carry the Gospel of peace wherever we go.                         Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 334.



Reflection – Friday, October 28, 2016       Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

With the call of Simon and Jude as well as the other Apostles, Jesus laid a sturdy foundation on which to build a com­munity of faith. How blessed are we to be sisters and brothers in the same household of God that is held together in Christ and through Christ. As the famous icon of Rublev so eloquently reflects, our Triune God invites us to share in the very life of the Trinity through grace and chooses to make a home with us. What does it mean to be built into the living dwelling place of God in our time and place? Together, we must discover the answer.             Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 335.



Reflection – Saturday, October 29, 2016       Weekday

Once again, Jesus offers a teaching about truthful self-assessment before God versus ascribing to oneself greater importance than is deserved. The first is humility; the second, arrogance. In the society of that period, a social sys­tem of honor and shame predominated. Jesus used those mores to make his point about honorable behavior. Even today, status seeking is a zero-sum game, requiring some to be degraded for others to be exalted. Such social conventions are always flawed and unre­liable. At the banquet of the table of the Lord, we are assured of our place as beloved daughters and sons who have no need to compete for love or status.                                                         Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 336.



Reflection – Sunday, October 30, 2016                                                                                     Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

The unconverted Zacchaeus would probably have fit right into the company of the extortionists of our day. How he must have been despised by his people. It was out of their pockets that he had grown rich. No wonder they were scan­dalized when Jesus interacted with him. And no wonder they found it hard to believe in the sincerity of his transfor­mation. But clearly, Jesus did. He rec­ognized the invitation of grace in this corrupt and powerful man who swal­lowed his pride and climbed a tree to get a better look. How blessed are we to be among those whom the Lord con­tinues to seek and to find.                                                       Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 337.



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UNC Study Shows Enormity of Abortion’s Impact on Public Health, Minorities

Study included abortion in nation’s mortality statistics

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Director of Education & Research

OJPM5Public health statistics do not, as a rule, take account of the unborn lives lost to abortion when calculating mortality. A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina has challenged this omission and published a paper examining just how much the correction of this omission would change our perceptions of America’s most preventable health crises.

The consequences are enormous, across the board, but the impact is absolutely devastating on black and Hispanic communities. When one considers not only the lives, but the years lost, the loss is staggering.

Something missing from death stats

The paper, “Induced Abortion, Mortality, and the Conduct of Science” was written by James Studnicki, Sharon J. Mackinnon, and John W. Fisher and was published in the June 2016 online edition of the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine.

It starts with a statement both bold and obvious: “There is no credible scientific opposition to the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism begins with fertilization and that, simply stated, human life begins at conception.” The authors then affirm that, barring natural fetal losses (e.g., miscarriage), “conception usually results in a live birth.”

Given that, the authors draw the logical conclusion that abortion results in a human death.

Despite this undeniable truth, these deaths are not counted in the nation’s mortality statistics. When added back in, some astounding conclusions are revealed.

Research the major causes of death in the United States for 2009, as the authors did, and you will find that the top two causes are “diseases of the heart,” which accounted for 599,413 deaths, followed closely by “malignant neoplasms” (cancerous tumors) at 567,628.

Not surprisingly, cancer and heart disease are considered major health concerns, and with good reason.

But when one considers abortion as a cause, it is almost equivalent to the government’s top two causes combined! Using estimates for 2009 from the Guttmacher Institute, Studnicki and colleagues calculate that the 1,152,000 deaths from abortion easily make it the nation’s leading cause of death, responsible, when added back in, for almost a third (32.1%) of all the deaths recorded that year.

Abortion leading cause of death among minorities

While abortion has harmed society as a whole, the impact on minorities is even more significant.

As many pro-lifers know, abortion rates for minorities are considerably higher than they are for whites. Figures cited by authors from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), combined with data from Guttmacher, showed that 11.9% of non-Hispanic white pregnancies were aborted, 17.1% of Hispanic pregnancies, and 35.5% of those of non-Hispanic blacks.

Applied to the overall pregnancy figures, this translates into 383,000 abortions for whites, 252,000 abortions for Hispanics, and 445,000 abortions for blacks. Looked at in relation to other causes of death by race and ethnicity, this makes abortion responsible for 16.4% of white deaths–the third most significant cause behind heart disease and cancer. But abortion is by far the leading cause for Hispanics, responsible for 64% of deaths, and for blacks, at 61.1%– close to two out of every three deaths experienced by these communities.

Lost years as well as lives

The authors point out that much more is involved here than abortion simply increasing the numbers of deaths.

One of the reasons that mortality statistics are carefully collected and scrutinized is to determine how best to focus research and public resources. If cancer, heart disease, or the like constitute the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, it makes some sense to focus attention and funding on those conditions and diseases.

Another way researchers measure the impact of disease is to count not only the lives lost but the relative years lost. This calculates how many additional, potentially productive years of life people would have experienced if they had not succumbed to that particular malady.

“Years of potential life lost,” or YPPL, is the standard used by the NCHS, now pegged as “YYPL 75” to reflect the idea that 75 years is now closer to the average American’s longevity.

However, when abortion is considered and contrasted with other causes of death, the disparity is even more jaw-dropping.

For everyone in the U.S., cancer was responsible for nearly 4.4 million YPLL. Heart disease was responsible just over 3 million. All other remaining causes of death (accidental, homicide, diabetes, respiratory diseases, etc.) were responsible for only about 13 million YPLLs.

The calculations of these researchers on the years of potential life lost due to abortion? Even after subtracting for estimated “natural fetal losses” — a staggering 68.4 million years!

Minorities were hit the hardest. Of the 17.7 million YPLLs lost by Hispanics, nearly 15.5 million (or 87.4%) were due to abortion. Of the 29.4 million YPLLs lost by blacks, 25.4 million (or 86.5%) were from abortion.

The cost is extraordinarily high

No disease, no kind of violence comes close to having the impact on these communities that abortion does. Not only lives are lost, but years of creativity, productivity, and love.

Billions are spent to try to eradicate heart disease, to end cancer, to stop violence. To the extent we succeed and families enjoy a few more years with their loved ones, we all celebrate.

But if the figures are telling us that abortion is, by far, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, wouldn’t the prevention of abortion represent one of the best possible uses of our time, resources, and efforts?




Francesca Aran Murphy argues that liberalism
and a market economy are based on Christianity

The only viable vehicle of conservatism in modernity is a market-oriented liberalism that regards freedom within law as the means to the common good. Some religiously engaged conservative intellectuals cannot accept this. What drives their animus against the only workable form of conservatism in modernity? They cannot accept that this version of conservatism is at all conservative.

But how conservative is it to refuse to act in and through the givens of our historical moment? Is the paradox of liberalism as the way of being conservative too whimsical for conservatives to wrap their bookish noodles around? Could it be rationalist irritability with the irrationality of liberalism? Is the conservative affronted by liberal­ism’s vulgar historical success, like a Ph.D. student who cannot enjoy a popular movie? Is he like the teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, who cannot bear the boisterous eccentricity of his family? Does lib­eralism’s cheerful, can-do lack of a rational founda­tion drive the conservative into dark Nietzschean foreboding? Does he share the Marxist’s contempt for the bourgeoisie who are at home in the market economy? Is he too logical to be persuaded that the only human beings who actually and historically ex­ist are individual persons?

The fact remains: For at least two generations now, the most politically effective conservatism in the West has largely been a conservative liberalism. This political success has not been accidental. As a social, political, and economic form of life, liberal modernity does justice to important truths about the human person.

At the origins of modernity lie the market economies of late medieval Europe. A mixture of the rule of law and respect for personal freedom enabled market economies to emerge. People readily took to the roles of buyers and sellers of goods, be­cause buying and selling involves the kind of role-play in which human beings flourish. The market econ­omy involves an exchange of goods in which both parties benefit. The seller trades his goods for what he really wants, payment, and the buyer hands over his money for what he really wants, the goods. Because they obtain what they desire, both buyer and seller gain more than they give. Appealing as that may be, market exchange has a still greater allure. However well-meaning the administrator, we would exchange an administered life for the tension of auctions, the drama of negotiations, and the stratagems of the salesman that test our self-discipline. Buying and sell­ing became a driving force and expressive feature of modern societies, because the clever play of conceal­ment and exposure through language and gesture it entails fits our social, dramatic natures like a glove.

Modern philosophers reflected upon modern eco­nomic practice. Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling took homo economicus to be “humanity” as such. They rightly drew the lesson that human beings are made for praxis, for action, and for dramatic role-playing. But these bookish philosophers were not men of action themselves. In their recoil from the sheer inscrutability of the free play of market exchange, they exaggerated the fact that exchange involves competition for marginal advantage. They mytholo­gized this into a conception of human culture as a life-and-death struggle, and reinterpreted the role-playing in free-market exchange as competition. That hypes up role-play into a battle of wills. According to them, the marketplace trains us to think of life in terms of winners and losers, masters and slaves.

In all of this we find part truth, part Gnostic fantasy. On the one side, our exercise of freedom in the particularity of daily life makes us enigmatic to others. A market society is built around this relative inscrutability. Whether the exchange takes place at the local fish stall or in large-scale transactions of complex financial instruments executed by comput­ers, buyers and sellers play their parts. Each seeks to take advantage of an exchange, wanting as much as possible without scuttling the deal by eliminating any benefit for others. Human nature is expressed in this serious play of exchange—the brinksmanship of negotiation, the uncertainties of market conditions—which liberal philosophies capture in their emphasis on freedom and its drama.

Yet the marketplace and our roles in it look like a Gnostic melodrama when the play of exchange is inflated into a metaphysical drama rather than a hu­man one. A German idealist like Schelling pictures God-and-humanity as the single “playwright.” The struggle to get the best deal on day-old bread becomes the engine of human history. For Hegel, God storms through history in the guise of strug­gling and ascendant human desire. Sellers seek to incite desires in buyers. Seventeenth-century vendors during the tulip mania in Holland asked, how can one do without the exotic tulip bulbs? Buyers seek to satisfy their aroused desires, often for goods they never even knew they wanted. This pattern of desire evoked is the fuel of a market economy. Hegel inter­prets the open-ended nature of our market desires as a metaphysical desire for divinization. He made the further assumption that we play for keeps, and thus the market game of angling for advantage becomes the struggle for mastery, which is the world’s story.

For two centuries, Christians have quarreled over how to deal with the mixture of imagi­native half-truths, philosophical errors, and Gnostic heresies that make up modern phi­losophy. Between Vatican I and Vatican II, Catholics tried to sort things out and develop a philo­sophically cogent and spiritually sound approach to modernity in two different ways. Fortified by Thomis­tic encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII, Thomists thought that the way forward required a rejection of liberal philosophies and a revival of the premodern philoso­phy of Thomas Aquinas. They assembled a litany of errors that they ascribed to liberalism: making man the major of all things, exalting will over cognition, denying are created nature and more. . . .  (Pages 39&40)

Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs:

. . . Do we encourage liberalism to remember its birth in a market economy that drew ordinary people into habits of free action for the sake of satisfying desires, or do we anathematize it for itself self-caricature as a Gnostic capitalist heresy? . . .

Liberalism is no heresy, and the market ex­change from which it emerges does not sin against the light. It is a healthy byproduct of Christianity, and the only means by which Christians can fight Marxist-capitalism, that stage-managed freedom in which the benevolent will of the powerful consults reason, discerns what people “truly” need and want, and then superintends over and administers the al­ways vulnerable freedom of ordinary people. If one were searching for Gnostic heresies, surely this tech­nocratic political economy, which is very much with us today, is a good candidate for anathema. RR

Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS.

First Things,  June /July, pages 39-45.



Family and faith. These are two powerful ways of belonging, one natural, and the other supernatu­ral. But they, too, are weakened by the dissolving forces of our time. Pope Francis’s recent Apos­tolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, represents an effort to combat this trend. The document affirms many aspects of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including permanence. But it also seeks to increase scope for pastoral discretion so that those in “ir­regular” situations can participate as fully as possible in the Church’s sacramental life.

The effort to be more pastoral characterizes this pa­pacy. Francis wants to emphasize the power of God’s love, even in circumstances when we’ve wavered, failed, and fallen. Unfortunately, Amoris Laetitia participates in the dissolving trends of our times rather than resisting them. This is an unwitting complicity, no doubt. But we can see it in the way in which the exhortation turns marriage into something we aspire to rather than a sacramental reality we can rely on. The Church seems to become a plastic instrument of mercy, not a stable anchor.

When the document was released, journalists fixed on chapter eight, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness.” There, Francis takes up the controversial ques­tion of whether those in “irregular” situations can receive Communion, including those who have been civilly di­vorced and remarried, but have not received an annulment.

There’s been lots of commentary on just what is implied in the often technical and sometimes muddy verbiage of the chapter. Canon lawyers and moral theologians have parsed what Francis has written in different ways. But one thing is clear: Francis makes an ill-considered conceptual move. In order to create an atmosphere of flexibility and welcome, he speaks of marriage as an “ideal” rather than a sacramental reality.

This approach makes permanence itself into an ideal. Divorce betrays this, of course. As Francis writes, “It must remain clear that this is not the ideal which the Gospel proposes for marriage and family.” Moreover, “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.”

These seem like decisive affirmations, but they’re not. Remarrying after divorce is an “objective situation” that the Church teaches is an impediment to the reception of Communion. The reasoning is straightforward. The Church does not recognize civil divorce, and therefore regards the first marriage as ongoing. Thus the second marriage (without an annulment) isn’t a marriage at all, but instead an adulterous relationship.

To avoid this summary judgment based on the “objec­tive situation” of divorce and remarriage, Francis implies that what really matters is the “ideal.” The driving ques­tions become subjective, not objective. Divorced and re­married? Yes, that presents serious difficulties. But there is a way out (perhaps). Are you appropriately penitent for the past failure to live up to the “ideal,” and now newly committed to the “ideal” in a sincere way? A person’s conscientious discernment of the answer to that question, Francis suggests, is what’s important. One’s relation to the “ideal,” determined in “conversation with the priest,” can open the way to further discernment about “what hin­ders full participation in the life of the Church and [about] what steps can foster it and make it grow.”

Will this process of self-examination mean that di­vorced and remarried Catholics will receive Communion in some circumstances? The debate goes on, and it’s an important one. Yet I find myself concluding that the most important dimension of Amoris Laetitia is found in the fact that Francis adopts and affirms what most of us now experience. This is not helpful. In our culture of divorce, permanence is only a distant ideal to which we can aspire. Marriage is no longer a trustworthy institution we can rely on.

What’s true for marriage is true for a great deal of our experience. We suffer an increasingly atomized, fluid, and vul­nerable existence, because we lack in­stitutions we can trust. We have plenty of ideals, some quite noble. But we have very few stable places to stand and little in the way of reliable permanence.

At one point, Francis writes about “the values of the Gospel.” One understands why. Values-talk is popular these days. It’s a way of signaling moral aspiration with­out focusing on the troublesome “thou shalt not’s.” Along with ideals, “values” allow us to imagine a moral outlook without law, moral failure without shame, and moral dis­cernment without negative judgments.

Which is why our therapeutic age is awash with ide­als and values. They’re in university mission statements. Corporations proudly tout their values, and “ideal­ism” becomes a marketing tool. Buy these shoes or that toothpaste, and Company X will make a contribution to eradicate polio, plant a tree, or bring Internet connections to Africa. It’s a dangerous misstep for Christianity to get into the business of marketing ideals and values.

Parmenides was one of the Greek thinkers who flour­ished before Socrates. His philosophical task was revealed to him when the goddess Justice whispered into his ear, “Cling to that which is and cannot not be.” “Unite your­self with permanence” was her message. That’s precisely what a man and a woman seek when they make their wedding vows. They desire a covenant that is, and can­not not be.

This desire is for a reality, not an ideal. For this reason, the Church’s teaching on marriage, strict though it may be by the standards of our time, is good news, a gospel in a way ideals and values can never be. We’re finite creatures, often sabotaged by our own deformed desires and bad choices, and always vulnerable to suffering and death. The sacrament of marriage anchors us, fusing our fragile lives to something that will not be eroded, will not fail us or betray us, even if we betray it. To refuse divorce, as the Catholic Church has done, is to reassure us that permanence in mar­riage is not an elusive ideal, but an accessible reality.

Francis misjudges our era. He seems to think we’re enclosed within rigid institutions and beaten down by legalistic systems. To my mind, the situ­ation is otherwise. We live in a dissolving era. The problem is not that divorce is judged harshly. It’s that young people experience marriage as a fragile institu­tion, one incapable of protecting them from the relentless flux of life.

This is part of life without a reliable inheritance. Few institutions are trustworthy today. The endless flow of power and money rules in our fluid world. Whatever per­manence is possible now depends upon steadfast personal commitments—a terrible burden for anyone with enough self-knowledge to recognize the unreliability of our fallen nature. It’s a sad irony that Francis gravitates toward no­tions such as “ideals” and “values.” They’re part of the contemporary toolkit for dissolving permanent truths. They serve the master-ideal of our time: the solitary in­dividual navigating on his own toward goals of his own.

St. Augustine observed that we’re all pilgrims in this world, journeying toward our home in heaven. But he did not think us alone and homeless. In Christ, God was made man, not an ideal. His sacraments make real what they sig­nify; they do not symbolize values. His Church is an “objec­tive situation,” a civitas with her own cult, rites, and laws.

Pope Francis speaks often and eloquently about “accom­paniment.” As so many other institutions weaken in our dissolving age, the Church’s greatest gift is to accompany us with a stubborn givenness, an inflexible permanence. Rusty R. Reno.

First Things, June/July Issue, pages 6-7.

“Food for thought as we work our way through gaining an insight into mercy, in this year of Mercy.” Editor’s Note.

Modern Treason: The Corporate Moral Person Denies Any Allegiance To Our Country.



A nasty new species of “jumping bean”                 Carrier and Nabisco close US plants,                      hop to Mexico and stoke the anger of working-class America.

When I was about six years of age, my Uncle Earnest showed me some­thing that made my jaw drop, my eyes bug, and my mind boggle: four beans that, on their own, moved. Leaping legumes!

It wasn’t trickery (or deviltry), but an odd twist in the natural world that creates the novelty of “Mexican jumping beans.” They’re not beans, really—they’re brownish seedpods from a desert shrub in northwest Mexico. A larva from a small moth invades a pod, hollows it out, attaches itself to the inner wall with a silk-like thread, and waits in relative coolness for its metamorphosis into mothdom. When you hold the “bean,” however, the warmth of your palm discom­forts the larva so that it twitches and pulls on that thread, causing the pod to “jump.” It’s actually more of a mini-hop or a rollover—but still, pretty astonishing to a kiddo. Decades later, I find myself wide eyed again, astonished by the odd movements of a new species of Mexican jumping bean I’ve named Corporados Greedyados. Far from being a creation of the natural world, these jumpers are enormously profitable, brand-name manufacturers. Native to our land, they’ve long reaped the benefits of being US corporations, including having highly skilled and loyal blue-collar workforces, corporate-friendly labor and consumer laws, publicly funded education and training, an interstate highway system, legal protection of special corporate privileges, extensive tax breaks, on-call police to safeguard their corporate order, military defense of their worldwide commercial pursuits, and much, much more. But now they’re twitching in their conglomerate pods and abruptly jumping to Mexico. Giving no more notice than a cursory shout of adios, they’re leaving US workers, communities, the future of our middle class, and our unifying ethic of fair play in the dust of their corporate greed.

Taking avarice to a new level

Yes, perfidious corporations have been jumping to cheap-labor countries for years, particularly since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and other policies incentiv­izing corporations to export our blue-collar jobs. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, 50,000-plus US factories have closed and more than 5 million jobs have been lost to the offshoring fad.

Unfortunately, that was just a warm-up. During the past decade, corrupted and compliant legislatures, courts, and regulatory agencies have effectively removed our society’s reins on these profit-seeking powerhouses. Not since the robber barons of the late 1800s have those in executive suites felt so free (and even entitled) to work their will on the rest of us. And they are not hesitating. Their recent surge in abandonments of the Good 01′ USA is different from the offshoring of only a dec­ade ago—today’s are bigger, cruder, greedier, and wholly narcisstic.

The real difference is a fundamental, regressive shift in the ethos of the elites who run major corporate empires. These inordinately rich executives and investors believe that what they think and do is what’s best, and everyone else should just get out of their way. This has led them to adopt a thoroughly unethical ethic of social irresponsibility, unilaterally decreeing that they and their corporate entities owe nothing to the country and the people who have nur­tured and even coddled them.

They’ve even packaged their conceit in a hokey doctrine they’ve dubbed “shareholder hegemony” (see the Lowdown, February 2016). It asserts that corporations exist strictly to benefit their shareholders—ergo and hocus pocus, corporate managers bear a “mandate” to do whatever is necessary to increase stock values, no matter what this costs everybody and everything else.

Consequently, we’re presently witnessing the murder of our country’s manufacturing prowess by industry’s own leaders. CEOs of even the most iconic, well-established, financially secure corpora­tions—companies with deep roots in our communities—have gone honkers, asserting a “moral duty” to shut down factories here, dump the workers, desert our hometowns, and hightail it out of country to any low-wage, low-environmental-standard refuge on the map.

Of course, the beneficiaries of this Kafkaesque doctrine of share­holder supremacy include not only the large stock owners, but also the very CEOs whose paychecks and bonuses depend on jacking up stock prices at our expense. It’s a socially suicidal system, providing both an irresistible incentive and a moral excuse for executives to commit corporate treason, even as their moves expand the ever-widening chasm of inequality that cleaves our society. And, by the way, CEOs and billionaire shareholders aren’t moving south with their bottom-wage factories, preferring instead to enjoy their life of luxury in America the Beautiful. Apparently unaware that their elimination of middle-class wages is eliminating their own custom­er base, they also expect you and me to continue being the primary buyers of their now foreign-made products.

And they wonder why an angry, populist rebellion is spreading like a prairie fire.

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

If the chieftains of industry and their political henchmen want to know what’s roiling the riffraff, they could read Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s landmark, 1,000-page book on inequality, or listen to one of Bernie Sanders’s hour-long, tub-thumping speeches.

Or they could just spend 3 minutes and 32 seconds watching an online video showing a Carrier Corporation executive speaking to hundreds of workers in the air-conditioning giant’s Indianapolis manufacturing plant this past February ( v=Y3ttxGMQ0rY). The proud Steelworkers union members thought maybe they’d been called to the factory floor to hear about new orders for their quality products. After all, sales at parent-company United Technologies (UTC) were zooming—expected to jump at least $2 billion to $58 billion in 2016.

Instead of receiving praise and good news, however, they got an ugly surprise. In the fuzzy video (recorded on a worker’s phone) UTC/Carrier honcho Chris Nelson doesn’t bother with any open­ing pleasantries. He gets right to the point, reporting in the dry tones of a corporate lifer that the bosses have decided, “The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for the long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico.” KABLOOEY! He couldn’t finish his scripted sentence, for ­the entire assembly exploded like a human cluster bomb, with cries of disbelief, paroxysms of anguished working-class rage, raucous booing, and a steady barrage of “x#@! you.”

“Please quiet down,” the obtuse functionary instructed. But the devastated workers, realizing in an instant that Carrier is kicking their families right out of the middle class, just get rowdier. Then, as though he’s delivering a line from The Godfather, Nelson assures the angry crowd that the corporation means nothing personal by taking their jobs: “This is strictly a business decision.”

No, it wasn’t. This was a calculated greed decision. Severing this workforce of 2,100 top-quality, experienced, and dedicated producers (1,400 at the UTC/Carrier factory in Indianapolis and another 700 near Fort Wayne) makes questionable busi­ness sense: The move to Mexico is expected to save UTC only 2.W.theCREM $70 million a year in labor costs—a blip on the spreadsheets of a global behemoth that hauls in $56 billion a year in revenue and has an uninterrupted, 22-year record of increasing dividends. But UTC’s greedy Wall Street investment bankers are demand­ing that the giant go on a cost-cutting binge aimed at generat­ing a 17-percent hike in its stock price over the next two years. And what better way to please big institutional shareholders than to show a cold willingness to whack payroll.

Making such cuts is “painful,” mused Carrier’s top financial executive (though not to him personally, of course). But, he ex­plained, they are necessary for “shareholder value creation,” adding cheerfully: “We feel good about being able to execute on that.” So a city must suffer a factory abandonment, and workers must have their decent-paying jobs taken from them just so some distant, don’t-give-a-damn, rich shareholders can see a dollar rise in UTC’s stock price. “Execute” seems like just the right word.

There’s also an unstated motivation in play: Gregory Hayes’s pride. The UTC chief had taken heat from a board of directors con­cerned that the stock price hadn’t climbed as high and fast as Wall Street wants. Indeed, last year, Hayes took a “haircut” (corporatese for a pay cut). The board sliced his executive bonus in half!

“It’s embarrassing,” a financial analyst noted. “He got dinged.” But no need to cry for Greg, however, since his 2015 paycheck still totaled nearly $6 million. (A typical Carrier worker would need to stay on the job 150 years to earn that much.)

Welcome to the new, phantasmagoric Wild Kingdom of Corporate World, where prideful executive royals are empowered to uproot the livelihoods of commoners in a ploy to (1) please Wall Street, (2) manipulate corporate stock prices, (3) collect extrava­gant bonuses, and (4) save face.

Notice that such whimsy was pulled off autocratically. Despite a unionized workforce, UTC/Carrier simply commanded the workers to assemble so they could be unilaterally dispatched—there was no negotiation, consultation, or any other say-so by them, the community, public officials, or anyone else. This is our new norm of plutocratic rule, envisioned and implemented by the rampaging forces of corporate avarice.

Don’t think this is just a one-time Indiana problem. Carrier’s chief financial officer blurted out to a New York Times reporter that top executives are eying other factories to move to Mexico. Look out Charlotte (NC), Collierville (TN), and Tyler (TX)—UTC and Wall Street will be punching a one-way bus ticket to Monterrey for your Carrier jobs next.

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

For generations, kids from 3 to 100 have loved munching on chocolaty Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of milk. But just over a year ago, the tasty treat suddenly went sour.

In May 2015, bakery workers in Nabisco’s monumental 10-story plant in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood had been expect­ing some sweet news from corporate headquarters. Rumor had it that their renown facility—after more than half a century and millions of Oreos—was about to receive a $130-million modernization invest­ment to upgrade equipment and add new production lines. So the future looked bright and spirits were high on May 15 when management convened members of Local 300 of the Bakery Workers Union to announce that the investment was indeed going to be made. In Salinas, Mexico.

For 104 years, the Marquette Park community has been proud that the delectable smell of “milk’s favorite cookie” wafts through their neighborhood. But the noses of Nabisco’s corporate brass are clogged with greed, incapable of sniffing out anything but ever-fatter profits for themselves and other rich shareholders. So, taking the NAFTA low road, they intend to move the iconic Oreo brand—and the jobs of 600 top-quality bak­ery workers—from Chicago to Mexico, where the minimum wage is a bit more than $4. Not per hour, but per day.

This is the tyranny of corporate globalization in action. In 2012 Kraft Foods split off its grocery business, which retained the Kraft name, and rebranded its remaining snack-food empire as Mondelez International, which includes Nabisco and its many brands includ­ing Triscuit, Planters nuts, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos.

Such corporate empires now reign over millions of working families, arrogantly and even lawlessly making self-serving decisions from within the shrouded confines of faraway executives suites, wreaking havoc on workers, local economies, democratic values, and our sense of community. People affected get no input or warn­ing (much less any real say-so) in the profiteering that now routinely strikes us like lightning bolts from hell.

Worse, the so-called humans who’ve enthroned themselves with this autocratic power find it amusing to toy with those they rule over. Mondelez executives did exactly that after their sneak attack on Chicago’s bakery workers. In a crude gambit to shift blame to the union, the plutocratic powerhouse claimed it had made an offer to Local 300 to keep producing Oreos in Chicago, but that recalci­trant union officials had refused.

Of course they did, for Mondelez essentially proposed that the workers commit mass financial suicide. Here’s the “offer”: Since the move to Mexico is expected to save $46 million a year, the con­glomerate would graciously let the 600 ransom their jobs by paying that $46-mil themselves. Just slash your annual pay and benefits (as well as your throats) by that amount, the executives told the union, and you can keep making Oreos for us. At a poverty wage. This from an outfit that banked $7 billion in profit last year!

If Mondelez executives are so inept that they can’t find an honest way to fill a $46 million hole, here’s a suggestion: They could start by docking executive pay. The three top honchos—whose com­pensation last year totaled $37 million—can damn sure afford it. CEO Irene Rosenfeld alone took a $20 million paycheck in 2015, bringing her eight-year total to almost $200 million.

I’d say her gluttony is hoggish, but that would be unfair to swine, which have far better manners and more delicate appetites.

CORPORADOS GREEDYADOS SUCH AS Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

This is OUR fight

In a March protest outside Nabisco, a bakery worker held a hand-lettered poster aloft, proclaiming: “Crime Scene.” She’s right, but it’s not just true of her Chicago workplace—the entire United States should be enclosed in yellow tape.

Corporate America is now openly flouting our laws, violating our ethics, and rampaging over our society’s unifying sense of com­mon decency … because they can. Almost no one is telling them “no”—not Congress, the White House, Republicans, Democrats, the courts, the clergy (with the exemplary exception of Pope Francis), the police, the educational system, or others with power (and responsibility) to stand up to thugs.

We tell children to be good, to follow the Golden Rule. We teach that proper social behavior is essential, and that wrongdoing will always be punished.

But every day they see that America’s biggest, richest, most pow­erful, and most influential institutions—giant corporations—are free to be as bad as they want to be. Corporations bully their way over anyone, anything, and any rule, creating the vast inequality that presently disgraces America. Yet, perversely, rather than being punished by our society’s various authorities, Corporados Greedyados such as Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

The carnage on working-class Americans won’t stop until we actually start punishing these corporate malefactors. And that won’t start until We the People overthrow today’s clueless, elitist political establishment. The good news is that the current populist upris­ing—having spread from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 through Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, Bernie 2016, and soon to What’s Next—is the way to get that job done. Let’s keep at it.


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Here are some ways to help unions battle runaway Corporados Greedyados:

SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS IN THE USA. To learn more, check out the Made in America Movement: www.themadeinamericamovementcom

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NABISCO FIGHT and to sign a petition in support of the Nabisco workers, visit:

By the way, you can still buy American-made Nabisco products. To learn what to look for when buying groceries, check out the Check the Label campaign: or

And for more information on rebuilding a strong manufacturing economy in the USA, visit this site:


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ALTHOUGH, UNITED TECHNOLOGIES SAYS it must skip off to Mexico with its Indiana factory jobs to save $70 million in labor costs, the conglomerate has actually been exceptionally generous to its workers. Workers in the executive suite, that is. For years, the CEOs of UTC have ranked among America’s high­est paid.

Consider the corporation’s cosseting of Louis Chenevert, who stepped down in November 2014 after six well-compensated years as CEO. The corporate board eased him out of his cushy executive chair for being too disengaged from the affairs of UTC and too focused on living the good life of wealthy swells. (The final straw came during a business trip to Asia, when he suddenly skipped over to Taiwan to check out progress on a sleek, 100-foot, 20-passenger, luxury yacht he was having built there.)

Rather than being bounced, though, Louis was squeegeed out with money: $31 million in pension benefits, $136 million in stock options, and $28 mil­lion in other compensation. Sadly for him, he got no severance pay. Still, that tidy $195 million goodbye kiss is more than twice the annual salaries all of UTC’s 2,100 displaced Indiana workers.


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The Hightower Lowdown (ISSN 1524-4881) is published monthly by Public Intelligence Inc. at 81 San Marcos Street, Austin, TX 78702. ©2016 in the United States. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions: 1 year, $15: 2 years, $27. Add $8/year for Mexico or Canada; add $12/year for overseas airmail. Back issues $2 postpaid. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Hightower Lowdown, P.O. Box 3109, Langhorne, PA 19047. Moving? Missed an issue? Call our subscription folks toll-free at (877)747-3517 or write Send mail to the editor to 81 San Marcos St., Austin, TX 78702 or to Printed with 100% union labor on 100% recycled paper.


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Oxeye Daisy FlowersTwenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time   August 21, 2016

All Are Welcome                                          LECTIONARY #123C

Focus: To learn what God desires.

Isaiah 66:18-21 In addressing the returned Babylonian exiles who felt that separation from other nations made them more pure in their relationship to God, Isaiah chal­lenges them with an extraordinary gathering of people who come from Gentile lands to Jerusalem. They are brought together by the Lord, to experience God’s light and glory. God will then commission some of these Gentiles to other lands who have not yet heard of the Lord, so that more peo­ple will come to know God’s glory. All the nations will stream to Jerusalem by various means and join with the Israelites in making offerings to God in the Temple. The passage concludes with the astonishing statement that the Lord will choose priests and Levites from the Gentiles who have come to offer themselves to God.

Isaiah’s inclusive vision of God must have challenged the people of his day as it continues to challenge us even today. What was to happen to ritual purity? How could priests and Levites be of Gentile origins? How could non-Jews regulate Temple worship and sacrifice? Today we ask: Can Muslims can be saved? Are Catholics the only people that God truly favors? Can people who do not believe in Jesus enter into full relationship with God? Often, it is difficult for most peo­ple to imagine God as being radically inclusive of all. Yet that is the challenge offered to us by both Isaiah and Jesus.

Psalm 117:1, 2 (Mark 16:15) Psalm 117, the shortest psalm in the Psalter, consists of these two verses. It calls upon all the nations to praise and glorify the Lord who has manifested great love and mercy upon Israel. God’s endur­ing faithful love showers upon Israel, assuring them that God is always faithful, never gives up on them, and is always abundant in mercy. These loving manifestations of God towards Israel are observed by all the nations, causing them to marvel at Israel’s God and be drawn to praise of the Lord. God’s choice of Israel is not exclusive of others, but rather Israel becomes the means through which all nations are blessed and brought to the Lord.

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 How to best understand and endure trials within a faith perspective seems to be the gist of this passage from Hebrews. The traditional understanding of trials and suffering as punishment for sin is rejected in favor of seeing trials as “discipline” training (see verse 6). Trials provide the opportunity for disciplined training that enables those engaged in it to arrive at the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (12:11). In our trials, God acts as a loving parent who provides the necessary conditions for us to grow into loving, mature human beings. While not inflicting tri­als upon us, God guides us through trials the way a loving parent guides and directs a child through the difficulties of life. Through these experiences, we are to be like athletes who, for the sake of the prize, build ourselves up to endure whatever it takes to become people of God. This growth process involves having to learn and exercise discipline so that we can walk through trials with faith and confidence in our loving God.

Luke13:22-30 On his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus is asked the question of how many will be saved. Jesus’ response focuses on what is required for salvation and not on how many are to be saved. Similar to the Old Testament text, Jesus asks all who would be saved to “strive” (13:24) for that heavenly prize. Similar to athletes, salvation requires that we strive to commit ourselves to living the values and life style that Jesus models. Halfway or luke­warm attempts at righteous living will not cut it. Wholehearted commitment to God’s ways of acting and viewing things is essential. God’s ways are different from our ways of thinking and acting, usually involving a rever­sal of our mindset and worldview. Such reversal requires a great deal of effort on our part, demanding a discipline that strives to know and carry out what God desires.

The passage ends with a familiar proverb emphasizing such reversal—”some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (13:30). We are warned against presuming that just because we have some familiarity with God, we are on safe ground. Jesus warns his disciples that this is not enough. If we do not strive continuously to take on the mind and heart of Jesus, we will be left outside, while those we least expected enter and join at the table festivities in the kingdom of God. God’s love is not restricted to one ethnic group or nation but is available to all who strive to live as God desires.

Connections to Church Teaching and Tradition

◊         “Since the human race today is tending more and more towards civil, economic and social unity, it is all the more necessary that priests should unite their efforts and combine their resources under the leadership of their bishops and the Supreme Pontiff and thus eliminate division and dissension in every shape and form, so that all humanity may be led into the unity of the family of God” (LG, 28).

◊         “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG, 20).

Foundations For Preaching and Teaching ® Scripture Backgrounds for 2016, LTP, page 140-141.


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Reflecting on the Gospel

God has promised salvation from that first fateful fall of humanity. God has never forsaken us. While salvation is a gift freely given by God, we must choose it, work at it, desire it with all our hearts. This Sunday’s gospel uses two images that indicate to us that we have work cut out for us: a “narrow gate” and locked door. We must squeeze and push our way through life if we wish to be saved. We must squeeze out any weakness that leads us astray; we must push aside anything that gets between God and us. To squeeze and push our way to salvation, we must be strong.

What strength is needed to enter “through the narrow gate,” the locked door? The strength that comes from living so that the “master of the house” knows us and opens to us. The strength that comes from faithfully living “in the kingdom of God.” The strength of con­viction in following Jesus and seeking his way over our own way. This strength only comes from God who offers it to everyone, those “from the east and the west / and from the north and the south.” Because of this strength we choose to journey “to Jerusalem,” we choose to pass through death to Life, we choose salva­tion. Only this strength is truly “strong enough,” for it is God’s very Self, God’s very Life. Yes, God desires that we be saved. The door of salvation is open to all those who have chosen to pass through the “narrow gate” of self-surrender and the locked door of curbed passions and false desires. So, why would we choose this journey? Because the immediate destination (Jerusalem, with its promised death) is the way to a greater destination (new and eternal Life).

By “making his way to Jerusalem” Jesus is being faithful to his own mission; by going to Jerusalem he fulfills his Father’s will even when that means he must suffer and die. Jesus walks the journey with us and shows us the way to what we desire most for our lives—salvation. Our salvation is a great gift from God, but it is not without cost. We must pass through the “narrow gate” of conform­ing ourselves to Jesus and participating in his dying and rising. Being disciples of Jesus, then, demands more than being in Jesus’ company (for example, being faithful to personal prayer and celebrating liturgy); it means we must take up the mission of Jesus to die and rise, that is, we must be on the way to Jerusalem.

What limits the scope of salvation is not God’s reach (which is to east, west, north, and south—that is, salvation is offered to all people) but our response. We gain eternal salvation by the difficult and demanding path of following Jesus on his way to Jerusalem; we do this by dying to self and being faithful disciples.

Living the Paschal Mystery

We all claim to know Jesus; after all, we are for the most part faithful church­goers who weekly eat and drink in his company. This gospel warns us that this isn’t enough. There is an urgency about our paschal mystery living; we don’t have forever to make up our minds to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Each day we must take up our own cross, die to self, and live for the sake of others. This is how we enter through the narrow gate and how we get to know Jesus intimately enough to receive salvation: we must live and act like Jesus. Becoming least is a metaphor for dying to self; this is what Jesus asks: that the first become the last. What limits the scope of salvation is not God’s reach but our weak response. We must beg God for the strength to respond fully. Our strength comes from God.

2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 200.

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: to Jerusalem, narrow gate, strong enough, open the door for us, know . . . you, people will come, kingdom of God

To the point: What strength is needed to enter “through the narrow gate,” the locked door? The strength that comes from living so that the “master of the house” knows us and opens to us. The strength that comes from faith­fully living “in the kingdom of God.” This strength only comes from God who offers it to everyone, those “from the east and the west / and from the north and the south.” Because of this strength we choose to journey “to Jerusalem,” we choose to pass through death to Life. Only this strength is truly “strong enough,” for it is God’s very Self, God’s very Life.

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: Both the first reading and gospel reinforce salvation’s wide reach: “from all the nations” and “from the east and the west / and from the north and the south.” All anyone needs to do is follow Jesus to Jerusalem, through death to Life.

to experience: Athletic coaches train us to have physical strength. Mental health counselors train us to have emotional strength. Spiritual directors train us to have spiritual strength. Jesus trains us to have the greatest strength pos­sible—God’s very Self, God’s very Life.

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: Jesus challenges us in this Sunday gospel with the harsh reality that not everyone will be admitted to the kingdom of God. His message, however, is for those who have heard the Good News of salvation, not for those who have “never heard of [God’s] fame, or seen [God’s] glory” (first reading). To these God will send messengers to tell them the Good News and gather them to the holy dwelling, Jerusalem. For those who have already heard, radical de­mands are in place (Jesus has been spelling these out in previous Sundays’ gos­pels). And the responsorial psalm gives yet another command: we are to be the messengers who spread the Good News of God’s salvation to all the world. The psalm reminds us that we are a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation for all. It also suggests that we cannot recline at God’s table if we have not invited everyone else to be there with us.

to psalmist preparation: In singing this psalm you command the assembly to tell the world the Good News of salvation. Who in your life is especially in need of hearing this news? How do you tell them?                             2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 201.

Homily Points

  • Health care personnel constantly remind us of the necessity of exercise and strength training for physical well-being. None of us denies the validity of what they are saying, but how many of us follow their advice? Strength training is also necessary for our spiri­tual well-being and journey. How many of us follow Jesus’ advice about this?
  • Following Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem is arduous. The gate is narrow; the door is locked. We must undertake the spiritual training that makes us “strong enough” for this journey. To be “strong enough,” we need God’s strength—God’s very Self, God’s very Life. We must encounter Jesus and change our lives accordingly. We must constantly strive to know him more deeply and live more perfectly his word of salvation.
  • People can be in Jesus’ company, but not of his company. In the gospel, apparently some people ate and drank with Jesus without letting this change their lives. What assures us that we are of the company of Jesus? Transforming encounters with him that change how we know him, how we see ourselves, and how we live. This is the spiritual strength train­ing we need. Again. And again. And again . . .                 2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 202.



About Liturgy

Prefaces: During Ordinary Time there are eight prefaces given in The Roman Missal for Sundays. Because these prefaces are used with a wide variety of Sunday Lection­ary readings, they tend to be “generic,” speaking more generally of the mystery of sal­vation. On festivals the prefaces always open up for us the mystery being celebrated.

The dialogue before the preface proper begins is one of the oldest of all liturgical texts. The dialogue invites the assembly to prayer, but much more elaborately than the usual “Let us pray” that begins the collect and prayer after Communion. First of all, the invitation to pray the eucharistic prayer is truly a dialogue between presider and assembly. The dialogue unfolds in three parts: greeting (“The Lord be with you”), com­mand to a specific prayer sentiment or stance (“Lift up your hearts”), and an invitation to pray in a particular way (“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God”). The eucharistic prayer is our great thanksgiving to God for the work of salvation.

The body of the preface then unfolds as an act of thanksgiving and praise and in­cludes reasons why we have these sentiments toward God. Often the preface includes a reference to God as Creator, to Jesus as Redeemer, and to the Holy Spirit as sanctifier.

Originally the Latin word which we translate as preface (praefatio) meant “proc­lamation” and was sometimes ascribed to the whole Eucharistic prayer. Our English translation can get in the way here; rather than being merely “preliminary” (like the preface in a book) which can be skipped over or discarded, the preface to the eucha­ristic prayer is the first invitation to give God praise and thanks. It sets the tone for the whole prayer.

About Liturgical Music

Changing service music: At this point in Luke’s gospel Jesus begins making his way intentionally toward Jerusalem, where he will face his death and resurrection. When asked who will be saved, he responds that the gate is narrow and great strength will be required to pass through it. It will not be enough merely to have eaten with him and listened to him speak. To enter into risen life we must journey with him to Jeru­salem; we must join him in his self-emptying on the cross.

Jesus’ turn toward Jerusalem in the gospel passage makes this Sunday an ideal one to change the service music that has been sung for Mass (note, for example, the change in music for the universal prayer in this resource). This shift in service music is not arbitrary, but liturgy-driven: the change of musical direction expresses our willing­ness to turn with Jesus and walk with him toward Jerusalem. Some catechesis would be important to help the people realize why the change in the service music has been initiated on this particular Sunday. One way to do this would be to run a short blurb in the bulletin explaining the liturgical reason for the change. It would be good to run this blurb both this Sunday and next to give people time to grasp it.

 2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 203.

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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Perhaps the most horrifying scenario imaginable is to stand out­side knocking on a locked door only to hear the Lord respond, “I do not know where you are from.” Through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord assures us: “I come to gather nations of every language.” But some resist that invitation. In order to join God’s gathering, we must “enter through the narrow gate”—that is, we must say yes to the relationship that Christ wants to have with us. The Letter to the Hebrews says that “God treats you as sons.” When we change and conform our life to our calling to be God’s children, then those who are last will be first. We will re­cline with them at table in the Kingdom of God.    Magnificat, August 2016, page 311.

The Narrow Gate

Since illnesses are cured by their opposite remedies, as we had been put to death by the wicked counsel of the Evil One, we were made alive again by the good counsel of the good Lord. The deadly counselor had at his disposal pleasure, glory, and comfort, which enchant­ed mankind and dragged it down. So the Counselor of true life himself led the way along the strait and nar­row way which leads to life above, and guided us in it. Strive, he says, to enter in at the strait gate (Lk 13:24), and strait and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, for wide and broad is the way that leadeth to de­struction (cf. Mt 7:13-14).

Elsewhere he warns more clearly against that path, saying, Woe unto you that are rich! Woe unto you, that are full Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you (cf. Lk 6:24-26), thus declaring wretched all lovers of glory, pleasure, and money. Again he says, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth (Mt 6:19), and Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunken­ness, and cares of this life (Lk 21:34), and How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? (Jn 5:44).

With such words as these he snatches us back from the way leading to death.

SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS                        Saint Gregory Palamas († 1359) was a monk and archbishop of Thessalonica.   Magnificat, August 2016, page 315.


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SMALL GROUP GATHERING      Year C             August 21, 2016

Isaiah 66:18-21;  Psalm 117:1, 2;   Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13;   Luke 13:22-30.

Gathering  Prayer

All:      Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Leader: Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation

We ask this through Christ our Lord.       ALL:    Amen.


Have you ever noticed that discipline and disciple have the same Latin root, disciplina. It means pupil. While we commonly think of children as pupils, no matter what we might think, regardless of our age, we are all still pupils, students of life. We study life in all its complexities. We study history to learn about where we came from. We study science to understand how we got here. We study philosophy to understand the meaning of things. As people of faith, we study theology to understand ultimate things. Theology is faith seeking understanding.

As Christians, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. As disciples, we are pupils of Christ. We study his word. We listen to his voice. And in doing so he teaches us to find our way “through the narrow gate.”

Children often do what their parents tell them because they are afraid of the punishment that they will receive if they don’t. Love sometimes chastises to protect. Until my mother died, I still did what my mother said — not because I was afraid of what she would do to me — but because I loved her and I was afraid of what I would do to her by my disobedience.

Life itself has a way of chastising us from time to time. When we act against life’s basic values, it has a way of calling us up short. God works through the events of life. Paul tells us: “God treats you as sons. For what `son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?” While some people grow up fearing God, because they think God is there to punish us, hopefully, we have come to see God as a loving parent who disciplines to teach. Each day presents us with new opportunities to learn, to do what God asks of us. “Endure your trials as ‘discipline,”‘ Paul tells us. When we do, “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” awaits us in God’s good time.

Questions for Reflection and Conversation

◊         What has being disciplined taught you?

◊         For better or worse, how have your parents influenced your image of God?

◊         How do you relate to God today? As judge, as father?

◊        What have been the benefits of mental, physical or spiritual discipline in your life?


(Pose these questions: “What do you want to hold on to for yourself from this session?” “How are you/we being called to live in response to God’s word?”)

Response in Action Suggestions

◊         Help a young person develop parenting skills. Volunteer at a local office of Birthright ( or 1-800-550-4900).

◊        Discipline yourself in prayer this week by taking 10 minutes each day to just listen for God. Sit down and do nothing. Ask nothing, just listen.

◊        If your parents are still living, call them to say thank you for the guidance they have given to you over the years. If they have died, pray your thanks for them and share a story of what you have learned from them with a child in your life.


(Pose these questions to the members: “What does Christ in his Spirit say to you now?” “What do you say to him in response?”)

Discipleship Prayer

All:      Loving God, I thank you for choosing me to be your disciple and for the gift of your Son, Jesus.

Help me proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel by word and by deed today and every day. Open my heart to the outcast, the forgotten, the lonely, the sick and the poor.

Grant me the courage to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, joyfully obedient to you.                   Amen.

Adapted from a family of Pope Francis, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, April 14, 2013.

A Reflection Booklet for Small Christian Communities, pages 57-60. The Pastoral Department For Small Christian Communities,      Archdiocese of Hartford, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002.                         860-242-5573×7450;;


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Ramon Llull, Missionary to the Muslims

As told by Anthony Esolen

RAMON SAT UPON THE SHORE, looking southward upon the broad and sunlit sea. Palm trees with their dark green and glossy fronds rose high above him, their roots sent deep into the gray volcanic stone that is the island of Majorca. A fire was burning within him.

“What are you doing here, Ramon?” asked a cool and knowing voice at his side. “Are you thinking about one of your mistresses? Composing a new song, my fine young troubadour?”

“No, I am not composing a song. My heart is troubled.”

“Then I’ve come in good time to set you at ease,” said the voice. “Come back with me to Palma. There is a young lady who cannot sleep, all because of you. Are you wor­ried about your wife? She knows, too. She is no fool. Come with me and live life as the world lives it. Bring your lute and sing for love.”

Ramon felt at once how easy it would be to lie back and love with the half-hearted love that the world knows, for things that fall away, one day like the next, until death ends the song. But there came into his mind the vision that troubled him. On five days, one after another, he had seen love in the person of the crucified Christ, suspended in space before him. The blood from his pierced heart and hands trickled upon him, and his soul was stirred to new life.

“I have never loved,” said Ramon.

“You are a fool,” said the voice, grown suddenly cold. “I will be a fool for love,” said Ramon.

“You have your freedom now,” said the voice, as if with a smile or a sneer. “You are the seneschal of the king. You are handsome and intelligent, and there is hardly a lady’s chamber door that you cannot penetrate with your music. Sing, and it shall be opened unto you.”

“I will be the slave of love,” said Ramon.

“Tell us, Fool! What is love?” He answered: “Love is that which throws the free into bondage, and gives liberty to those who are in bonds.” And who can say whether love is nearer to liberty than to bondage?

Blessed Ramon Llull would write those words, in a re­markable book of poetic meditations, one for each day of the year. But that was yet to come.


Ramon Llull became a lay Franciscan, inspired by the story of that most amiable of God’s fools, the high-living young poet and singer Francis who gave up everything to marry his Lady Poverty, and who strode unarmed before the sultan to persuade him of the truth of the Christian faith. Everywhere Ramon looked, there was the sea, and beyond the sea, the followers of Mohammed, learned, wealthy, and implacable. His father had been a crusader. I will not join the easy despisers of the crusader knights, who often im­poverished themselves and left their homelands never to return, to win back the Holy Land for the Faith. Yet after more than a hundred years, what had they gained for all their effort? A narrow strip of land between the desert and the sea, surrounded by enemies.

Ramon decided he would fight with a different sword, the sword of love.

He did not adopt the slack modern habit of the shrug, seeing no difference where there was all the difference in the world. The religion of Mohammed was radically defi­cient. It was, however, in possession of some of the truth about God. So Ramon Llull decided he would conduct a powerful attack against Islam by employing the truths of Islam itself. He would conduct this attack in love, and love would be also its intellectual center.

That meant that he would have to learn what the Muslims knew. So he spent his next nine years, mostly in Majorca, learning Arabic and immersing himself in the works of such great Arabic philosophers and theologians as Averroes, Avicenna, and Al-Ghazali. His friend Saint Raymond of Penyafort encouraged him in this, as he had also encour­aged another young scholar, a man from Aquino, named Thomas; and Thomas obliged him by writing the great Summa Contra Gentiles.

Ramon traveled to France and to Rome, everywhere urging that missionaries be prepared by learning the ge­ography, the languages, the customs, and the beliefs of the people to whom they would go. He founded schools for those missionaries. He wrote a religious novel, Blanquerna, and beautiful works of mystical devotion, in his native tongue of Catalan. He wrote treatises on logic and on what would come to be called computational theory. He had not the brilliance of Thomas Aquinas, but who has? Yet no one of his time wrote works of such high quality in so wide a range of genres and on so wide a range of subjects. This tireless work occupied him for nearly thirty years.

Then at last Ramon, now a gray-haired man approach­ing old age, had his chance. The ship was in the sunny har­bor of Genoa. Ramon’s friends and students had loaded his books on board. Across the sea lay Tunis, a city of some two hundred thousand souls, and the seat of the most powerful Muslim ruler in the West.

But Ramon, sensitive soul that he was, was stricken with terror. It should endear him to us all the more. He could not board the ship. He spent the next night in a sickness of fear and shame, the desire to preach the love of God burn­ing within him, not allowing him a moment’s rest. When he heard that another ship was bound for Tunis, Ramon, against the pleadings of his friends, set himself upon it, and at once his heart was filled with peace and joy.

The sea glinted and the waves sloshed against the hull. Only the helmsman Love could steer the way.


So Ramon Llull arrived in the public square of Tunis. “I challenge to prove by reason alone,” he cried out, “that the Christian faith is the full truth, and if I am overcome by reason, I vow that I shall myself become a Muslim.”

The Arabs took up the challenge. “You are correct,” said Ramon, “in your belief that God is almighty and is all-wise. But you have neglected his love and goodness. How can you say that God is preeminent in all things worthy of praise, but when it comes to love and goodness you have nothing to offer but contradictions?”

“Old man,” said the imam, not without a man’s respect for the brave opponent, “you are walking into the trap that you yourself have set. You grant to us that we are right to uphold the might of God, may his name ever be praised, and yet you believe in an absurdity, that this same Lord should become a man like us, a baby who could not walk, a boy who could not swing a sword, and then the man on the cross, who could not smite his enemies. You pride your­self upon your logic,” he continued, glancing at a fascinating device that Ramon had invented, made up of wheels within wheels of propositions leading to inevitable conclusions. “But this is worse than an error in logic. It is blasphemy. Recant, and you shall enjoy the favor of the sultan.”

“It is not error but truth,” said Ramon. “Consider. Is it not a mark of the power of God, that he should do what seems unimaginable to us? When the sultan descends from his lit­ter to assist a beggar in the street, does he not rise in the favor of God, the compassionate, the merciful? Then God showed his power at one with his goodness and his love, when he not only descended from his throne to share our life as one of us, but also submitted to be scorned by us, and scourged by us, and put to death by us. And he rose from the dead, so that we see that his might is his love, and his love is life. For he who loves not, lives not.”

The imam left, troubled at heart. This fellow might be dangerous. But when an advisor to the sultan recommended that the old man be cast into a dungeon and then put to death, he intervened. “My lord,” he said, “consider the zeal of the man, and how much we would praise the Muslim who showed such courage.” So Ramon Llull was merely banished from the country.


The sea would beckon again, and in the year 1315, Ramon Llull, a frail man of more than fourscore years, was stoned to death by an angry mob of Muslims in the North African city of Bugia. His bones lie in the Church of Saint Francis, in Palma, where he sang of his merry and carnal loves when he was young, and then sang all his lifelong of the love of God. It is hard to imagine any more promising way than his, to reach the heart of the Muslim. But I will end this essay by letting Llull speak, in one of his most beautiful meditations:

The Lover cried aloud to all men and said, “Love bids you love always—in walking and sitting, waking and sleep­ing, in speech and in silence, in buying and selling, weeping and laughing, joy and sorrow, gain and loss. In whatever you do, you must love, for this is Love’s commandment.”

(Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College, and a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine. He is translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House) and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal.                     MAGNIFICAT, August 2016, Pages.   212-217.


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R. (12b) Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
Why, O LORD, do you stand aloof?
Why hide in times of distress?
Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted,
who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
For the wicked man glories in his greed,
and the covetous blasphemes, sets the LORD at nought.
The wicked man boasts, “He will not avenge it”;
“There is no God,” sums up his thoughts.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
His mouth is full of cursing, guile and deceit;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He lurks in ambush near the villages;
in hiding he murders the innocent;
his eyes spy upon the unfortunate.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
You do see, for you behold misery and sorrow,
taking them in your hands.
On you the unfortunate man depends;
of the fatherless you are the helper.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!

“A prayer and picture for today as we prepare to elect a new president.”

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HOMILY  by  Father James Hogan Sunday, For  August 14, 2016

 20 Ordinary C ’16          (Sunday, August 21, 2016, coming shortly) EntranceSculpture_St_Marys_2010 05 23_0454

Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10 + Hebrews 12: 1-4 + Luke 12: 49-53                                                                        20 Ordinary C ‘16

The Sun around which our planet spins is a glowing, hot furnace.  Without the energy of that primordial fireball, without fire there would be no life on this planet.  Fire, even wildfire like the Roaring Lion fire south of Hamilton, creates and cleanses.

Again today the text from Luke’s gospel continues the narrative of Jesus journeying to Jerusalem with his close companions.  Along the way he spoke of the effect his life and ministry and that of his disciples would and were having upon the world.

Be careful with this text. Don’t misread his question — “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? — and the statement that follows.  He proclaimed “good news,” trying to awaken love in all of us, for the good of Earth and all people, regardless of the consequence.

Among the consequences: some refused to accept the fire he was igniting.  He knew this and humbly and sadly acknowledges, “I came to bring division.”

Some weeks ago I was in a conversation about various things Catholic –(surprise!!)  Someone noted the absence of young people from Sunday liturgy.  That is when a very sincere Catholic woman asked: “Is the Catholic Church still relevant?”

In 1962 John XXIII convened the II Vatican Council because the signs of the times told him the church was becoming irrelevant.  Those who elected him Bishop of Rome presumed he would continue the defensive posture of the church toward anything that was not uniquely Catholic.

John surprised everyone.  He was inspired to set a new course for the church, and convened the II Vatican Council.  With the phrase “aggiornamento,” he ignited a fire.  The Council summoned us to live in the present and look to the future “without fear.”  New life blossomed among us.  The gospel became relevant once again — until the long pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict applied the brakes.   We still experience the negative consequences.

“Is the Catholic Church still relevant?”  Currently I think the answer is both yes and no.

With the exception of the current Bishop of Rome, I think the institutional, hierarchical church has become safe, but irrelevant.  Perpetual war!  Income inequality!  Decaying social infrastructure!  Lack of housing, basic health care, nutrition and quality education!  Political campaigns contradict the gospel. To the extent the institutional church does not risk providing inspirational gospel leadership, the Catholic Church is irrelevant. Most American Catholics still think of Christianity as a way “to save my soul,” to qualify for the promise of heaven when we die.

However, at the same time, the Catholic Church remains very relevant.  Many who gather around the Table of Eucharist, work courageously with others for a better, more just world.  They promote life and serve people in multiple ways.  They resist war and nuclear weapons.  They clean up our highways.  They care for the aged and dying.   You know them.  Through them the Catholic Church is very, very relevant.

This gospel text is so important for us today.  “I came to bring fire to  Earth.”  Fire is a familiar biblical symbol.  It creates and cleanses.  It is a metaphor for God’s presence, for God’s activity and most of all for “God’s unconditional love.”  In other words, Jesus to came to change everything, to awaken love in all of us, for the good of Earth and all people, regardless of the consequence.  When the church spreads the fire of Christ, the fire of love, it is relevant!

The Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin contemplated this text and wrote:                       “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity,                                   we shall harness for God the energies of love.  And then, for the second                                time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Editor’s note: In the Church (Christ) there always has been forgiveness and love, Sin and Grace – it has not been “either or” but “both and!”

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O Spirit of Wisdom, enlighten our hearts and minds,

As we prepare to choose our leaders.

Guide those who seek office,

Those who have power to influence others, and

Those who cast votes.

Protect the rights of all citizens.

Give us insight and good judgment to overcome all that divides and degrades us.

Grant that all may set aside self interest in favor of the Common Good.

O Spirit of Wisdom, seep into our souls,

Renew our democracy.

In God we trust.





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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001



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The Announcement of Moveable Feasts


On the 27th day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(From the Roman Missal, Third Edition, Appendix I)    Magnificat, January 2016, page 45.


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 KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners for:


One-Liners in Faith; (June 2016)

It’s not enough to count your blessings. The point is to make your blessings count.

God should be our steering wheel, not our spare tire.

Love is like the five loaves and two fish: it doesn’t start to multiply until you give it away.

“That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for the mission.”  – Pope Francis’ “evangelization” prayer intention, June 2016.

One-Liners in Faith; (July 2016)

Lavender Iris

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”
– Matthew 11:28

“Do not accept anything as the truths if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”  – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

“The most beautiful ACT of faith is the one made in darkness, and sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”  – Padre Pio

Take KNOM with you – read the KNOM newsletter on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other Internet-capable mobile device — visit in your web browser.

One-liners in Faith: (August 2016)

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  – Mother Teresa

“I will willingly abandon this miserable body to hunger and suffering, provided that my soul may have its ordinary nourishment.”  – St. Kateri  Tekakwitha

“that Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.”  – Pope Francis’ “evangelization” prayer intention, August 2016

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A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk)  “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – ­”You don’t go to church as often as I.”


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The Apostleship of Prayer Monthly Intentions for August:


Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.

Many people are obsessed with sports. A tremendous amount of money is spent on stadiums, player and management salaries, tickets, and clothing—not to mention gambling. Sporting events are entertainment, but can be blown way out of proportion. Moreover, the competition inherent in sporting events can lead to cheating, drug use, disrespect, and even violence.

Yet sports also have potential to do good. Pope Francis sees them as an opportunity for “encounter” in which the other person is recognized as good. Speaking to the International Olympic Committee, he said this.

“Engaging in sports, in fact, rouses us to go beyond ourselves and our own self interests in a healthy way; it trains the spirit in sacrifice and, if it is organized well, it fosters loyalty in interpersonal relations, friendship, and respect for rules. It is important that those involved at the various levels of sports promote human and religious values which form the foundation of a just and fraternal

society. This is possible because the language of sports is universal; it extends across borders, language, race, religion and ideology; it possesses the capacity to unite people, together, by fostering dialogue and acceptance. This is a very valuable resource!”

Sports carry the potential for promoting “peace, sharing, and coexistence among peoples.” This is so important to Pope Francis, that the Vatican will be hosting a first-ever conference this October—”Sports at the Service of Humanity.” As we pray that sports may always be used, in the Pope’s words, to “build bridges, not walls,” we pray in a particular way for this October conference.


How do sports help or hinder me in my love for others, both friends and enemies?


1 Timothy 4: 7-10 “Physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect.”


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Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that “the word of God is living and effective” (4: 12). This “word” is first of all Jesus himself. Jesus is

the word that God spoke to the world      God’s
perfect communication of who he is. This “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1: 14).

Through the Church, the Body of Christ, the word takes flesh and is “living and effective” today. The words which Jesus taught us are not meant simply to be repeated, but lived, for, as the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”

In this intention, Pope Francis says that there are three things that show Christians are living the Gospel. The first is “faith.” This is more than believing that God exists. It involves a relationship with God that includes trust. Jesus told us not to worry (see Matthew 6: 25-34) and the trusting peace that follows will lead people to wonder what our secret is.

Secondly, living the Gospel involves honesty. Jesus said he was the truth (John 15: 6) and

that he came to witness to the truth (John 18: 37). Our honesty with God, others, and ourselves is a hallmark of our Christianity.

But perhaps the greatest witness to our living the Gospel is our love for others. As Jesus said, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).

We pray with Pope Francis that all Christians may live the Gospel, for we may be the only Gospel that some people will ever see or hear.


How am I living the Gospel in ways that others can read?


Colossians 3: 12-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”


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Model Prayer of the Faithful

Proposed for The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time,  August 21, 2016,

 (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)




May your living Body know and follow you each day,

For a Church that embodies the One born of Mary and whose temples we are,

That Church leaders have a heart for the poor made visible by dwelling with them,

May our pope and bishops manifest the faith of Bartholomew and the Apostles,

For Church leaders who are courageous in the face of opposition and attack,

That Church leaders model how to live the foolish wisdom of the Cross,

May our Church leaders live in ways that invite us to follow Christ more closely,

That the Church will act as mediator in problems af­fecting peace, social harmony, the defense of life, and human and civil rights,

That all members of the church grow in the strength needed to follow Jesus faithfully through death to new Life,

That Holy Scripture and the sacraments nourish and strengthen all believers,

For the leaders of our Church, that they may continue to proclaim the Gospel boldly to all the nations of the world,

For Pope Francis and our bishops, that they may continue to be attentive and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as they guide the Church,

That the Church in developing countries may be blessed with the grace and resources needed to continue its work of assisting those in need, and working for justice for all people,

For all faithful members of the Church, may we, like Saint Bartholomew, continue to have the sure faith that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and, like Saint Philip, the determination to share that news with all those we encounter,

For all the faithful, may the Holy Spirit lead us to greater awareness of the spiritual gifts with which we have been blessed so we may give a more effective witness to the Gospel,

For the missionaries in our Church, may they be blessed with the grace needed to continue giving witness to the Gospel, and may those to whom they proclaim the Good News be receptive to its message,

For all members of the Church, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, that we will be conscious of the gifts God has given us and use them to reach out to those in need,




May all people experience your justice, healing, and hope in their lives,

For leaders who seek to assure that all people will be provided basic human rights,

That we, rich and poor alike, will be moved to care for the needs of all creation,

May the power of love dissolve rivalries between nations,

For world leaders who make educating all citizens among their highest priorities,

That people may find strength in what seems to offer only weakness,

May people of all faiths and no faith be blessed,

That people of good will may work together against the increasing threats to conscience rights and reli­gious liberty rights,

That world leaders may have the strength to open the doors of justice and peace,

That home, hearth, and hope for the future be restored to exiles and refugees,

For world leaders, that they may work to ensure religious freedom in their countries, and support the right of all to worship freely in neighboring nations,

For our political leaders, may they set aside differences to enact policies that serve the common good and provide for the basic needs of those whom they serve,

That those in government positions model the qualities of mercy, judgment and fidelity that Jesus spoke of in today’s Gospel,

For the leaders of countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith in Christ, may their hearts be moved by God’s grace to end the violence and persecution,

For government leaders at the local, state and national levels, that they will turn to God for guidance, wisdom and grace,

For our nation’s leaders, that they will seek God’s wisdom as they govern, and encourage a spirit of cooperation and tolerance,

For leaders of nations, that they use their skills and leadership for the betterment of their populations and not for their own gain,

For those who live in nations torn apart by war or violence, that they find strength in their faith and the efforts of people of good will to assist them,




May believers give you life service instead of mere lip service,

For the living Body of Christ to see the Real Presence of Christ in one another,

That we will follow the example of St. Rose of Lima and live Jesus’ love for all,

That God blesses the Dominican family as we remember St. Rose of Lima,

May all who live under the patronage of St. Bartholomew be blessed,

May farmers and harvesters enjoy the fruits of their labors,

For rulers and teachers, judges, and arbitrators who are just and fair,

That we will embrace our cross and ask the Crucified One for healing,

May mothers, concerned for their children, give them to God for help and guidance,

For Christian husbands and wives: that the Lord will assist them in their struggles and make them witness­es of Christ’s love,

For those who are unemployed: that God will keep them from discouragement and enable them to find good jobs,

That those in need may find strength in the promise that Jesus will open the door of Life to them,

That favorable weather and bountiful harvests bless the farmers and ranchers who feed our nation and the world,

That students and teachers starting a new school year make Christ and his truth the center of their studies,

For all those who trust that material goods will satisfy the longing of their hearts, may they be inspired by the Good News of the Gospel and turn to Jesus as the source of their deepest desire,

For police, firefighters and first responders, that God will protect and bless them and their families as they put their lives on the line for others,

For parents whose children are no longing practicing the faith, that they not lose heart, but, like Saint Monica, persevere in prayer,

For all students returning to school, that they use the many talents God has given them to consider how they can best serve God and others,




For those for whom Sts. Louis and Joseph are patrons,

May we ask God to change us where our faith needs to grow or we need to change,

That our community not lose heart under the Lord’s discipline but learn humility and patience through it,

That our parish will be rededicated to going to the periphery and serving the poor,

For our parish families, that prayer and guidance in the home may bring peace and growth in virtue,

For the young people in our parish preparing to return to college, may the Lord bless them with knowledge, insight, confidence and faith,

That families in our faith community, during this Year of Mercy, may treasure the gifts we have been given and share our time and talents to assist those in need,

For those in our parish community with family members who serve in the military, may the Lord bless them and keep their loved ones safe,

For our parish, that the Holy Spirit may enliven us to be a more vibrant witness to the truth and love of Christ in our community,




May we have good mentors to help guide our living the Reign of God,

For strength to turn away from anyone or anything we have put in the place of Christ,

May we be the signs that help people see and come to know Jesus Christ,

For fidelity to God’s call, even when others question or oppose us,

That we will trust God’s call to be a living Gospel revealing God’s Good News,

For the grace this week to be able to endure our trials with confidence in God,

That all of us here strengthen each other by seeking encounters with Jesus that trans­form how we live,

For each of us, that we take the time to pray each day, so we may continue to grow in our knowledge and love for the Lord,




For the sick and suffering in our community, that they may find strength in prayer, and comfort in the support of friends and neighbors,

That those suffering as a result of natural disasters may be reassured of God’s love and care for them by people who assist them,

For those who are gravely ill, that Christ will draw them to himself and comfort them with his love,




May those who have died make it through the narrow gate,

For those who rejoice with Mary, the angels, and the saints in heaven,

That those who die today will know the joy of God’s eternal dwelling place,

That those who have died will be raised up with Christ forever,

May we entrust our deceased loved ones to God as did St. Monica,

For those who have gone before us in faith, that they may come to enjoy eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom,

For those who have died, may they enjoy eternal rest and peace in heaven,

That those who have died receive a place at the eternal banquet in heaven,

For those who have died, may they find eternal comfort in the presence of God, the saints and the angels in heaven,

For those who have died, may they come to see God face to face in heaven,

For those who have died, may they come to experience the fullness of life and love in heaven,

For those who have died, that they might now rejoice forever with all the angels and saints in heaven,



2012 May 22_2281



1)         For the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks in Nice, France, may they know that God is with them in their pain and grief, through the prayerful support of people of faith throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord.

2)        For who were injured in the Bastille Day attacks in France, may they find strength and healing in their faith and in the support of compassionate caregivers as they begin to recover from their physical and emotional wounds, let us pray to the Lord.

3)        For the leaders of France and all nations, may God give them grace and wisdom as they face difficult decisions about how to protect their people in the face of terrorist acts, let us pray to the Lord.

4)        For all members of the Church, that, as followers of the Prince of Peace, we will steadfastly oppose the misuse of God’s name as an excuse for terrorism or any acts of violence, let us pray to the Lord.

Faith Catholic Online, 2016 Daily Prayer, Magnificat, Living Liturgy, &  Liturgical Press                for July  31, 2016.




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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001

 General Intercessions for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 August, 2016 – Cycle C

Mass Special Intentions

 At Saint Peter – Kirkwood

5pm               Betsy Jordan;    7:30am    Edward Druhe;

9am               Fran Noonan;   11am          St. Peter Parish Family

6:30               Brett Hefele

Celebrant:            Sisters and brothers, as we run the race of life with strife all around us, let us not lose sight of Jesus, but with faith bring to him our prayer for all in need.

Deacon or Reader:

  1. For the Church who proclaims Jesus to the nations: that under the leadership of Pope Francis, she will do so with words and actions,            We pray to the Lord.
  2. For nations divided in ancient conflict: that their divisions may be healed;                             We pray to the Lord.

3 .For the liberation of those who are victims of war, hu­man trafficking, drug running, or       slave labor;                           We pray to the Lord.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 4. That extended families be blessed with healthy, tension-free relationships;                        We pray to the Lord.

5.  That the sick, especially those near death, may sense God’s compassion in the loving hands of their caregivers, especially remembering  .    .    .    We pray to the Lord.                                                                                                                                                               6.  For those from our parish who now live in the fullness of God’s heavenly reign:

7.  That our parishes and our parish schools will be strengthened by a successful Beyond    Sunday campaign;                              We pray to the Lord.

Presider:        God of all the nations, you rescue the lowly and needy from injustice and tribulation. Surround us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we may have faith to live by your word in our time, courage to persevere in the race set before us, and endurance in the time of trial. We pray in the name of Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.

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