pinionmarcTWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME            September 24, 2017

God’s Holy Ways Are beyond Our Understanding              LECTIONARY #133A

ISAIAH 55:6-9 Seek the Lord while he may be found! Isaiah reminds the people that one cannot conjure up the divine presence. God’s self-revelation occurs in God’s time, not on a human timetable. Those who try to understand God on their own are doomed to failure and risk the idola­try of worshipping a god of their own making. They must rely on God for revelation, not on their own will. Those who have been unfaithful are to turn to God while there is still time.                 Verses 8 and 9 reiterate the same message from a differ­ent angle. God’s thoughts and ways are as different from the human point of view as the heavens are from the earth; they are beyond ordinary human understanding. Nevertheless, as the earlier verses assure us, it is absolutely possible to encounter God, just not on our own agenda.

PSALM 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 (18A) This psalm, among the last in the Psalter, sings God’s praises. An apt response to our reading from Isaiah, it proclaims God’s goodness, mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, justice, and holi­ness. Most of all, while Isaiah warned that one must seek God at the appropriate time—the time God has chosen—this psalm assures us that all who seek, all who call upon God in truth, will be rewarded by knowing God’s presence.

PHILIPPIANS 1:20C-24, 27A In the opening lines of this reading, Paul is facing the fact that he very well may die soon. Thus, he assures his community at Philippi that no matter what happens, Christ will be glorified.                                                                                                              Many of us may have heard the elderly or suffering say that they would just as soon die as live on. That sort of wea­riness of life is not what Paul is talking about. He knows that Baptism has given him unending life. He admits that he is torn—to die would be to enjoy the fullness of union with Christ that he longs for, but to live offers him the opportunity to bring more people to Christ. What he asks of the Philippians is that they share his sense of closeness to Christ and mission. That is how they can live in a way wor­thy of the Gospel of Christ.

MATTHEW 20:1-16A This parable is unique to Matthew’s account of the Gospel. In some ways, it complements what Jesus taught about rewards for discipleship in 19:27-30, which ends with the same teaching as today’s reading. The parable also reiterates the message of our reading from Isaiah: God’s ways are not our ways.                                                                                            The scene of hiring workers is familiar to anyone who lives in a town or city where there are migrants or poor people looking for work as day laborers. There are particu­lar areas where they congregate, waiting for someone to come to hire them. When a boss shows up, many will run to the truck to be among the first to be hired. It is entirely conceivable that, if they find no work at one setting, they may move on to another where their luck may be better. As the day wears on, those still seeking work may well feel jeal­ous of those who got hired earlier.                                 That is very similar to the scene Jesus described nearly two thousand years ago. The vineyard owner went out sev­eral times during the day to find workers. Interestingly, to the first group the owner promised the usual daily wage. With the second and presumably the third, he promised “what is just” (v. 4). With the five o’clock group he made no agreement, but simply sent them to the vineyard. In the end, all the workers received the same remuneration.                                      If we assume that the owner represents God, there are at least two potential interpretations of this. The first reflects back to the First Reading: God’s ways are not our ways, and God is free to do what God will do. God’s generosity cannot be limited by human expectations. The second interpreta­tion presents a different conception of divine justice.                                                        The owner had promised the first group the “usual daily wage” and to others he promised “what is just” (2, 4). Not surprisingly, those who had worked all day expected more reward than the others. Nevertheless, the daily wage was what one needed to survive. The owner chose to ensure the life of those he had found looking for work. No matter when they were encountered, they all needed to survive.                                                                                                                       This parable, combined with the reading from Isaiah, invites us to stop judging by our own rules and try to under­stand God’s perspective on what is right and just. With that in mind, we can also hear Paul’s appeal that we learn to con­duct ourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.


•         “Catechesis is a process of formation in faith, hope and charity; it shapes the mind and touches the heart, lead­ing the person to embrace Christ fully and completely1” (EIA, 69).

•        “We are convinced that the Church must look with penetrating eyes within itself, ponder the mystery of its own being. . . . But it can never claim to be suffi­ciently investigated and understood, for it con­tains ‘the publication of a mystery, kept hidden from the beginning of time in the all-creating mind of God2” (ES, 9).

•        “By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, ‘a kingdom of jus­tice, love, and peace.’3 They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love” (CCC, 2046).

•         “Economic injustice . . . keep[s] people from attaining their basic human and civil rights” (JM, 9).

1 Propositio 10.        2 Cf. Ephesians 3:9-10.           3 Roman Missal, Preface of Christ the King.

Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 146-147.


Reflecting on the Gospel

We can’t buy our way into the kingdom of heaven—we must work our way into it! The “work” we must do is active waiting while we remain open to God’s call, and responding generously whenever and wherever that call comes. In this Sunday’s gospel a most generous landowner is sensitive to the plight of others as he hires day laborers for his vineyard. Presumably at dawn when he went out to hire laborers, he would have hired what he thought he needed for the day. But he goes out four other times of the day, and hires laborers because they were “standing idle.” In God’s kingdom there is no cause for idleness, no limit on “wages,” and no reason to regard waiting as an unproductive effort.

The workers, like the landowner, are persistent. Instead of giving up and going home, they remain in the market­place seemingly “standing idle.” Actually their idleness was not simply doing nothing—theirs was an active waiting; these workers persistently remain ready and willing to work. Of such is the “kingdom of heaven.” The “kingdom of heaven” consists of those who persist in awaiting God’s recurring call, and who respond will­ingly no matter what hour the call comes. The last are first not because of the number of hours they work, but because of their openness to God’s call no mat­ter when it comes and their faithful response. The “kingdom of heaven” sub­sists in persistent openness, active waiting, and faithful response. The laborers’ wage is beyond monetary expectation—it is salvation.

In this gospel parable the landowner’s behavior is remarkable in two ways: his care for idle workers not able to put their skills and energy to good use, and his manner of paying wages. His behavior describes aptly the kingdom of heaven: God calls each of us to use whatever our gifts are to advance the growth of the kingdom; God “pays” us not in dollars and cents, but with the free gift of salvation which is immeasurable, unlimited, endless, and overflow­ing. Yes, in God’s kingdom there is no cause for idleness, no limit on “wages,” and no reason to regard waiting as an unproductive effort.

We might think that the gospel landowner is just to those he called first and generous to those he called last. In fact, our gracious and saving Landowner-God is both just and generous to all the laborers simply because the divine “wages” are always a free gift, undeserved, and more than we can earn or ex­pect. God’s “wages” are a share in divine Life.

Living the Paschal Mystery

Most of us think of work as a necessity: we need a paycheck to pay the bills, procure the necessities, and maybe have a little left over for some entertainment. This parable invites us to think of work in a different way: by our labors we are building up God’s kingdom, spreading God’s reign in our world, “earning” our salvation. God calls us to be laborers in the divine vineyard—a call we first an­swer at baptism and then continually answer throughout our lives each time we say yes to the divine call, reach out to others in imitation of God’s goodness and generosity, and cooperate with all God asks of us. This divine, saving “work” is a privilege—we actually share in God’s saving deeds! God uses us to bring sal­vation to the world. This work has a great dignity about it. This work is a privi­lege. This work is a lifelong response to God’s invitation to be God’s laborers.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays And Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 214-217.


Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: kingdom of heaven is like, landowner, hire labor­ers, standing idle, So they went, usual daily wage, I am generous

To the point: The workers, like the landowner, are persistent. Instead of giv­ing up and going home, they remain in the marketplace seemingly “standing idle.” Actually their idleness was not simply doing nothing—theirs was an active waiting; these workers persistently remain ready and willing to work. Of such is the “kingdom of heaven.” The “kingdom of heaven” consists of those who persist in awaiting God’s recurring call, and who respond willingly no matter what hour the call comes. The laborers’ wage is beyond monetary expectation—it is salvation.

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: The first reading challenges us to expand our thoughts and ways to the limitless reach of God’s manner of dealing with us. The gospel makes this specific by showing us a God who is merciful and generous in call­ing everyone to salvation.

to experience: We tend to be very impatient with waiting for anyone or any­thing. We deem it a waste of time, a waste of opportunity, a waste of energy. Yet, sometimes it is only through patient waiting that we come to new insight, that a complex situation resolves itself, that life-giving relationships grow.

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: Like a parent sitting at a child’s bedside ready to respond to the slightest cry, God is ever near, answering our every need (psalm refrain). Once we recognize that God is giving us all that we need, we no longer find ourselves grumbling about what God is giving to others (gospel). Instead we rejoice that everyone’s needs are being met and bless the One who is “just in all his ways” (psalm). We turn away from rivalries with one another to cele­brate the limitless expanse of God’s care and generosity. Then the “ways” and “thoughts” of God that are far above us (first reading) can find a place very near, in our own hearts. May this be what we call upon God to give us (refrain).

to psalmist preparation: “The LORD is near to all . . . who call upon him in truth” (psalm). What truth about God are this psalm and these readings invit­ing you to ponder? What truth about yourself? How during this week might you call upon God to show you this truth more clearly?

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays And Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 215.


Homily Points

  • “They also serve who only stand and wait” is a famous last line from English poet John Milton’s sonnet “On His Blindness.” Milton is saying that waiting is not an idle or empty activity but can be, in its very essence, a form of active doing.
  • The laborers in the marketplace in this parable can be thought of as merely “standing idle,” but they can also be interpreted as actively waiting to provide a laborer’s service. Their wait is productive, for the landowner persistently returns to the marketplace throughout the day to hire laborers for his vineyard. They are hired. That is one surprise of the gospel. Another surprise is that, no matter the hour of being hired, they are all given the full daily wage. This parable is likened to the “kingdom of heaven.” God is persistent in calling us and giving those who are faithful the full wage of salvation. All we need to do is wait, respond, serve.
  • We are actively awaiting God’s call when we, for example, remain persistent in prayer, patiently listen to others in their need to go on and on about their life difficulties, engage in careful discernment about something important in our life rather than act on a hasty deci­sion. Our patient response in these and many other daily situations strengthens us to be faithful on our journey of salvation. Our very waiting is a way we already serve God and others and receive the full wage God offers—salvation.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays And Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 216.




About Liturgy

Liturgical ministries as responding to God’s call for laborers: Many of us take for granted those who minister at Mass each Sunday—assembly, presider, deacon, hospitality ministers (or greeters or ushers), altar ministers, music ministers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Sometimes, too, because we min­ister when our name appears on the schedule, we might fall into the trap of thinking we are just getting necessary jobs accomplished. GIRM 91 speaks of the eucharistic celebration as an action of the whole church in which different orders and offices un­fold and the ordained ministers and lay Christian faithful fulfill “their function or their duty” according to what “pertains to them.”

Whatever ministries are exercised by different persons during liturgy, they are always undertaken after careful discernment of one’s abilities, prayer to do God’s will (hear God’s call to minister), and appropriate preparation for the ministry itself. In ad­dition to fulfilling ministries at Mass, then, liturgical ministers also witness to God’s persistent call to followers of Jesus to be laborers in the divine vineyard who make present the kingdom and continue Jesus’ work here on earth.

About Liturgical Music

Music suggestions: One of the most fitting hymns for this Sunday’s liturgy is “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” (found in most resources) in which we sing that there is “plentiful redemption” and “joy for all” because “the love of God is broader than the measures of our mind.” This well-known hymn would be a good choice either for the entrance procession or during the preparation of the gifts. “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending” (OF, WC, W4) speaks of God’s boundless generosity and our call to labor as servants using our talents and treasures “to spread the gospel word.” This hymn would work well for either the preparation of the gifts or the recessional. The text of James Chepponis’s “Called to Labor in God’s Vineyard” (W4) is based on this Sunday’s gospel. In it we call one another to “labor in God’s vineyard, eager to accept the task,” willing to “give ourselves completely to the work that is at hand.” We also ask God to “Send more workers called by you.” This hymn would make an appropriate recessional song.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays And Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 217.



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Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

What is most striking about the landowner is the relentless way he himself goes out to find laborers (five times), his willingness to hire the “rejects,” and his desire to pay them a full day’s wage. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of heaven is like this landowner. The love of heaven takes the initiative in seeking us out. The love of heaven chooses us despite our utter unworthiness. And the love of heaven is lavish in its self-gift to us. To love the Kingdom of heaven is to love this landowner and the way he acts. The temptation is for us to measure our life and “the way things should be” by a standard at odds with God. Instead, “seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near,” because, for us, “life is Christ.”                                                                        Magnificat, September 2017, page 336.

 God’s Generosity

 God is represented here as the treasury of all good, the Lord of the world, the Father of all creatures, the Supreme Good: Am I not free to do as I wish…be­cause I am generous? He is a most provident Father: He went out at dawn to hire laborers. The corporeal world is described under the image of a marketplace, where idle people are found. Actually, all people, even though they may seem intensely busy, are still very idle in the eyes of God, unless they are busy working to acquire goods for eternity: They sleep their final sleep; the hands of all the mighty have failed. The in­corporeal or spiritual world, the Church, is described under the image of the vineyard, for: The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel. And, finally, the celestial world, Paradise, is described under the image of the house of the landowner, where the reward for labor done is given at the end of the day. Paradise is a place of rest and the reward for the merits of virtues and good works….

[The Savior] reminds us that God is very concerned about the cultivation of his vineyard, i.e., he is desirous of good works and, consequently, he goes out to hire laborers at the first, and third, and sixth, and ninth, and even the eleventh hour. And he does not send someone else, but goes out personally to hire them. Hence, from the very beginning of the world God required good works from all mankind. He placed Adam in paradise to till the garden; he commissioned Noah, a herald of righteousness, to build the ark; he gave a law to be ob­served. Finally, he sent Christ into the world to cleanse for himself a people as his own eager to do what is good. He tells us that God does not force a man en­dowed with free will to do good works, but encourages him by promising a reward.

SAINT LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI  —  Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (†1619) was minister general of the Capuchin Franciscans and preached throughout Europe. He is a Doctor of the Church.                        Magnificat, September 2017, pages 339-340.



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Guide to Lectio Divina:

Choose a word or phrase of the Scriptures you wish to pray. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as you have no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God’s hands, not yours.

Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today?’ Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence. God does not reach out and grab us but gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.

Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

It is not necessary to assess the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were “performing” or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

—Fr. Luke Dysinger   –   Luke Dysinger, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California.       Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April 2017, Liturgical Press, page 441.


  1. Lectio: Read a Scripture passage aloud slowly. Notice what phrase captures your attention and be attentive to its meaning. Silent pause.
  2. Meditatio: Read the passage aloud slowly again, reflecting on the passage, allowing God to speak to you through it. Silent pause.
  3. Oratio: Read it aloud slowly a third time, allowing it to be your prayer or response to God’s gift of insight to you. Silent pause.
  4. Contemplatio: Read it aloud slowly a fourth time, now resting in God’s word.

Throughout his life, Jesus taught the impor­tance of forgiveness, offering it even to those who had crucified him. Important as universal forgiveness is, Jesus’ instruction here explains a process of reconciliation within the church, bringing a sinful member back into communion.  2017 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word® LTP, page 242.



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The Greatest                  (NEW)  

Chihuly Glass

John Martens,SJ,       Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Wis 2:12, 17-20; Ps 54:3-4, 5, 6-8; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

“But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.” (Mark 9:34)

It feels good to belong—to one’s family, to a group of friends, to a team—to be part of something bigger than oneself. Belonging creates feelings of comfort, joy, peace, and purpose. How good must it have felt to be chosen as one of the twelve apostles? And to have an inkling, then the growing certainty that the one who chose you is not just a man but the Son of Man, the Messiah. The one who called you to be among the inner circle, to be at the heart of the kingdom-building project, was the one prophesied throughout the ages.

Whatever the ancient Jewish equivalent was of the fist-bump or the “Yes!” while you high-five someone, it’s hard not to imagine the apostles getting a little pumped up about being the chosen Twelve.

This is the general context for understanding their behavior on the way through Galilee, when Jesus was telling them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” The Gospel of Mark tells us that they did not understand what Jesus was saying and that they “were afraid to ask him.”

Was this fear simply a desire not to hear Jesus, not to distract from their own scenarios of the future? It turns out that they had been arguing among themselves about “who was the greatest.” But this is normal, isn’t it? “I don’t want to be a football player, I want to be the greatest football player!” “I don’t want to be an ordinary baker, I want to bake the greatest loaf of bread this city has seen.” And it does not seem inherently problematic to want to fulfill one’s human abilities and gifts to the best of one’s ability.

So what is the problem with arguing, “I am not just one of the Twelve, I am the greatest apostle”? Jesus presents to his apostles a spiritual world 122 The Word on the Street

in which true greatness is measured not by human striving or boundless ambition but by servanthood. This is a gift and an ability that does not rely on preeminence or superiority but on presence for those in need.

It is in caring for the little ones, Jesus says, that his apostles live up to the call of the Gospel. Jesus offers as an example a “little child” (paidion) and says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” The treatment of the child becomes the measure of greatness because it demands true humility and service. Loving a child does not offer prestige, honor, or wealth, especially when a paidion in antiquity was generally in the care of mothers, nurses, or slaves. This was not the work of a man, certainly not the hand-picked viceroys of the Messiah.

Yet the deep wisdom of God is at work here, for we are all children of God, dependent at all points in our lives on the service of others, in vary­ing and different ways. Spiritual humility is not the manifestation of a lack of self-esteem or a sense that we are unloved and unlovable but the acknowledgment that we are dependent upon God and others, even for the genuine gifts and vocations we are to express for others. Our boast must be that we are children of the Lord and that God is our father.

To recognize that we are called as disciples of Jesus is to be at the service of others, especially children and all others who are vulnerable, marginalized, and otherwise forgotten. Servanthood orients our relation­ships with others, for when our desires are out of order, as James writes, our relationships become disordered: “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?”

We fulfill these cravings when we belong, when we are loved, and when we are part of something. Jesus calls us to the church for this purpose, to care for those whose own hopes for belonging have been dashed. When we bring our manifold human gifts to the service of others, true greatness emerges with every act of love and every word of compassion.

We all yearn to belong, to be known and loved, but sometimes this can devolve into unbridled ambition, desire for human greatness, and even fear that we are unlovable. How do you understand greatness in the context of the kingdom of God and God’s love for us? How can you demonstrate the greatness of those considered “little ones” by your society?

The Word on the Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 121-122.



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Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains:     As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.                                                                                    They came forth from your all-powerful hand;                                                                                   they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.                                                    Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.                                        You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,                                                                               you became part of this earth,                                                                                                                  and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.                                                                           Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.                                                                 Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light                                                                                               you guide this world towards the Father’s love                                                                                          and accompany creation as it groans in travail.                                                                                  You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.                                              Praise be to you!                                                                                                                                           Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,                                                                         teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,                                                                for all things speak of you.                                                                                                                    Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.                                      Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.                                                       God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love                                             for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.                              Enlighten those who possess power and money                                                                                that they may avoid the sin of indifference,                                                                                         that they may love the common good,                                                                                                  advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.                                                                The poor and the earth are crying out.                                                                                                      0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,                                                                                              help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,                                                                          for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

Praise be to you! Amen.



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Sunday, September 24, 2017                               (NEW)

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Know that God is present with you and ready to converse.

From the beginning, people have come to God from every nation, every people, and every age. In their hearts, people have always known that they were made to know and love God, and God has always sought those who will worship God in spirit and in truth. God is merciful and good, Lord of all the earth.

“Lord, I place myself at the end of the line, for I come to you now behind all those who came to you before. But I am with you now to worship you in spirit and in truth.”

Read the gospel: Matthew 20:1-16a.

Jesus said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vine­yard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grum­bled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.

Speaking of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus concludes that the last will be first, and the first last. Does it make a difference who and when as long as they enter the kingdom? To enter is the great thing, the only thing to be desired. What difference does it make whether you work all day or just for the last hour? God is just, merciful, and generous.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“Lord, it is beautiful that you continue to call people to your kingdom. You pour out your mercy early and late. I pray for those who have served you long . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

I came to call people to the kingdom of heaven, an eternity of peace, love, and joy in God. This is the nature of God. You are invited, my beloved. Enter into the joy of God. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“Lord, I willingly take up my work today. I work to enter your kingdom, a blessing I cannot earn and cannot deserve except through you. I praise you for your generosity, my Savior and King. Amen.”

Sacred Reading, The2017 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 332-333.



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Last Homily till early October – Fr. Jim Hogan –  For September 3, 2017

Art Walk – Portland, Oregon

 Jeremiah 20: 7-9* Romans 12: 1-2 * Matthew 16: 21-27 22 Ordinary A ‘17

As a youngster I was a Boy Scout. I both enjoyed and benefited from the program of camping and merit badges. We learned how to tie knots and many other skills that I still appreciate. The Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared” fostered an attitude that has remained with me. That motto: “Be Prepared,” primed us to be available and to contribute to whatever was asked of us. As a Boy Scout I was learning attitudes matter. Attitudes shape thoughts. Thoughts shape actions. Actions shape character.

In our gospel text today Matthew’s Jesus speaks of his own suffering at the hands of the chief priests and the elder. The other disciples probably agreed with Peter as he pounces on Jesus, telling him, “No, this is not how it will be.”

It is clear that Peter’s attitude was not in harmony with the attitude of Jesus. Apparently he (and the others) had much to learn! Jesus rebukes Peter (and implicitly the others.) “Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Some years later Paul addressed the issue of “attitude” in his letter to the Romans. He urged the Christian community in Rome to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Attitudes matter.

Attitudes shape thoughts. Thoughts shape actions. Actions shape character. Peter and the other disciples still had much to learn! So do I!

Peter and the other disciples provide a spiritual mirror in which to consider our own attitudes. The metaphor I used in my homily last Sunday can assist us here. Computers are run by an operating system. Peter, like all of us, came into existence with an “ego operating system” fully installed. As he learned how to run this “ego operating system,” Peter had the illusion that he is the center of reality. Peter had not yet put on “the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.”

That task of “putting on “the same mind that was in Christ Jesus” still confronts all of us, and everyone who claims to be “a Christian.” For seventeen years I was privileged to be the chaplain of the Grizzly football team. Most of those young men, and many of their coaches were satisfied with their “ego operating system.” I subtly tried to provide them opportunity to upgrade their operating system and adopt alternative attitudes. It was very satisfying when my efforts were supported by the attitudes of the coaching staff. Sometimes the coaching staff did not understand and fostered attitudes diametrically opposed to mine.

For some years I also was privileged to teach a course at the University of Montana. The course was titled: “Gandhi, Martin Luther King: The Ethics of Nonviolence.” In the first class I asked the students to be open-minded and told them I hoped to motivate them to upgrade their “personal operating system” by adopting an attitude of nonviolence. Every year in their final papers, some students wrote something like this– “I appreciated this course and learned a lot, but I don’t buy that nonviolent stuff. If someone threatens me, I will respond with violence.” Attitudes matter. Attitudes shape thoughts. Thoughts shape actions. Actions shape character.

I am a strong supporter of the Poverello Center. The Pov serves good meals, so when I encounter street people asking for loose change, I kindly direct them to go to “the Pov.” Recently I realized that in doing so I am second-guessing the person asking. I presume they will spend my dollar on junk food, alcohol or a doomed lottery ticket. Recently Francis, the current bishop of Rome said: “for that homeless person, maybe a glass of wine is the only happiness in life!”

My attitudes matter. Attitudes shape thoughts. Thoughts shape actions. Actions shape character. Peter and the other disciples still had much to learn! So do I! I have resolved to carry some loose dollar bills in my pocket and hope to change my attitude. So far it has not been easy to do. It seems that “putting on the same mind that was in Christ Jesus” requires long, persistent practice.


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Parishes: That our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.

In his Message for the 2017 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis wrote: “All Christians are called to be missionaries of the Gospel! As disciples, we do not receive the gift of God’s love for our personal consolation, nor are we called to promote ourselves, or a business concern. We are simply men and women touched and transformed by the joy of God’s love, who cannot keep this experience just to ourselves.”

We experience God’s love in prayer and community, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. There, our intimate encounter with Jesus leads us to share the concerns and desires of his Heart which move us beyond focusing just on ourselves or our own parish community.

In 2001 Pope St. John Paul II wrote: “our Christian communities must become genuine `schools’ of prayer. By opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God’s plan.”

Strengthened in faith and charity at the Eucharist, we look outwards to the millions who do not know Jesus. We reach out to them with our prayer and acts of charity. At the same time, we form a parish community that will attract people to Christ and his Body, the Church.

In a General Audience last October, Pope Francis offered the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the Apostleship of Prayer’s patrons: “she reminds us that the real mission is never proselytism, but rather attraction to Christ, beginning with strong union with him in prayer, adoration and concrete acts of charity, which is service to Jesus present in the least of our brothers and sisters.”

Reflection and Discussion

 What is meant by “a missionary spirit”? In what ways is my community a place “where faith is communicated and charity is seen”?


 Acts 2: 42-47 “All who believed were together and had all things in common Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Prayer of the Month

May spouses pray to obtain the love necessary to carry out the vocation they have received from God.

May children find in our parish a larger family home. May they absorb in catechesis the Word of God. May they be nourished with the Body of the Savior.

May the young seek in this parish support for their ideals and commit themselves to animating with their new life, with their witness, with readiness to serve God and humanity.

May the sick and the suffering find their consolation and relief here. May Christ visit them, by means of our service, and explain to them the dignity and significance of their sufferings.

May all in our parish become aware of being members of the Body of Christ and realize that the Kingdom of God is approaching them—that, in fact, it is already present in them.    –Pope St. John Paul II

Saint of the Month: Korean Martyrs of the 19th Century

 When he canonized these martyrs whom we honor on September 20, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople.”

In 1784, Yi Seung-Hun, a Korean diplomat in China, learned about Christianity and was baptized, taking the name Peter. He returned to Korea with religious books, shared his faith with his neighbors, and began baptizing. Ten years later a Chinese priest finally arrived and found 4,000 Christians eagerly awaiting him. After seven years of ministry he was martyred, as was Peter. Despite persecution, the fervent Christians wrote Pope Pius VII begging for priests. French missionaries arrived in 1837.

In 1846 St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest, was martyred. Before dying he said: “We have received baptism, entrance into the Church, and the honor of being called Christians. Yet what good will this do us if we are Christians in name only and not in fact?”

Daily Offering Prayer

God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for this month’s intentions proposed by the Holy Father. Amen.

Traditional Offering Prayer

0 Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

To register as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, to subscribe to leaflets, or to order additional leaflets for distribution to others, please contact us. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.

Apostleship Of Prayer                                                                                                                               1501 S. Layton Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924                                                                         



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


One-Liners in Faith; (September 2017)

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.



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Model Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful)

Suggested Prayer of the Faithful

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






That all members of the church respond generously in working for the growth of God’s kingdom,

That the Church will go forth toward those who are wounded and in need of an attentive ear, assistance, forgiveness, and love,

For all who proclaim the Gospel with their lives, especially teachers and missionaries,

For all members of the Church, may we be inspired to give witness to the joy of the Gospel and share our faith with others,

That our Church will continue to be a light of God’s love and mercy in our hurting world,

For all members of the Church, may we seek to share Christ’s light and love with others by treating all we encounter with kindness, love and compassion,

For all bishops, may they fruitfully continue the mission of the Twelve through their words and actions,

For the Church, may she continue to courageously proclaim the Gospel and to be Christ’s presence in the world,

For all members of the Church, may we, as members of the Body of Christ, embrace lives of faithful service as we joyfully await the return of Christ in glory,

For Pope Francis, may he be blessed with the grace needed to continue to challenge each of us to live the Gospel message,

May the Church engage in action on behalf of justice,

For the Church, that her members may serve as peacemakers,

That the Church be open to the gift of continual conversion,

May the Church remain in solidarity with the poor and marginalized,

May God’s will guide the Church,

That the Church may be as angels and proclaim tidings of great joy,

For Scripture scholars,






That all peoples use their gifts wisely and come to fullness of life and salvation,

The civil rulers will work to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral devel­opment of the poor,

For all who labor in the vineyards of peace, especially national leaders and elected representatives,

For people yet to believe in God, may they come to know God’s saving love, mercy and forgiveness by placing their faith in Jesus, and in turn showing mercy and forgiveness to others,

That rulers of every nation will promote and protect religious liberty for everyone within their borders,

For those who do not yet know Christ, that they may hear the Word and believe in him, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life,

For elected officials, may they support policies which protect the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,

For all those around the world who are persecuted or imprisoned for their faith in Christ, may the power of the Resurrection fill them with courage and hope,

For government leaders, may they recognize families as the fundamental building block of society and seek to enact policies and programs that support and strengthen family life,

For our nation’s leaders, that they consider the needs of the working poor,

For our parish staff,

For our nation’s leaders, that they will listen to the Church,

For legislators, that they advocate on behalf of the poor,

For our nation’s leaders, that they may put their trust in God,

For all missionaries who preach the Gospel throughout the world, may they be strengthened by the prayers and support of the Church as the people of God,






That the unemployed find work and be able to provide generously for those entrusted to their care,

That the sacredness and dignity of all human life will be protected and revered in our laws,

For the conversion of all those whose lives are domi­nated by envy, violence, or hatred.

That those who are unemployed maybe protected from discouragement and may find gainful employment,

For those who have lost hope, may hope be restored through God’s grace and the goodness shown to them by God’s people,

For those who mourn the loss of a loved one, may their faith in God’s enduring love and mercy bring them consolation,

For those who have been displaced by acts of war or natural disaster, may they be fed and sheltered through the generosity and caring of others,

For those who are incarcerated, may the Church’s outreach assure them that God loves them unconditionally, and that God is ever-willing to forgive,

For migrant workers and those subsisting on minimum wage or less,

For those whom no one has hired,

For religious dialogue among Christians, Muslims, and Jews,

For peace for all in the Middle East,

For those living in exile, may they be able to return home,

For those who serve as Vincentian priests and brothers,

For the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society,

For seminary faculty and staff,

That disciples will make the Reign of God the first priority in their lives,

For architects, builders, and construction workers,

For those who struggle with issues of anger,






That this faith community wait patiently to hear God’s call and respond faithfully to what­ever God asks,

For parish families, may they continually put God first in their lives,

That families torn apart by conflict may turn to God for the grace to bring healing and reconciliation,

For this faith community, may we be blessed with the humility to trust in God’s mercy and place our lives in his hands,

For those in our faith community who are nearing the end of their earthly journey, may the hope of the Resurrection give them strength and comfort,

For the teachers in our community, that they will lead their students into lives of virtue through both their words and actions,

For this faith community, may we experience the greatness of the love of God in the sacrament of reconciliation,

For all who are discerning a call to priesthood or religious life, may the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts and give them the courage to answer freely,

For parish Bible study and reflection groups,

For parishes under the patronage of St. Jerome,

That our parishes be perceived as spiritual centers within their local community,

For refugees and immigrants, that nations look after their needs,  

For lay leaders who freely serve in positions of parish leadership,

That our community leaders will listen to the prophets in our midst,

For parishes celebrating their patronal feast today,

That our resentment be transformed into joy,

For all who work to protect the vulnerable,






For the grace this week to conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,

For all who gather at this table, especially the sorrowful and the lonely,

For attentiveness and awareness of our liturgical space,

 That the baptized earnestly engage in evangelization and announce the Good News,






For all who strive to end disease and suffering, especially doctors and medical researchers,

That all of us gathered here will strive to lift up those in our community of faith who are sick, forgotten or far from home by our prayers and service,

For the sick, may their faith in God bring them strength, hope and healing,

For all who suffer chronic pain or serious illness, may they be encouraged and comforted by the healing mercy Jesus showed toward the sick,






For all who suffer and die for their faith, especially Christians in the Middle East,

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

That the faithful departed will come to enjoy perfect peace and joy in heaven,

For our beloved dead and all who have died, may they enjoy the eternal banquet of the Lord in heaven,

For those who have died, may they experience peace and joy for all eternity in the kingdom of heaven,

For those who have died, may they experience the joys of the heavenly kingdom today and forever,

For all who have died, may they come to join all the angels and saints in singing God’s praises for all eternity in heaven,

For all those who have died, may they receive a place at the eternal banquet in heaven,

For all the faithful departed,  




Chihuly Glass

Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

 1)   For those in our country and around the world affected by recent natural
disasters, may the support of relief agencies , neighbors and loved ones who
come to their aid provide them the care and hope needed to recover and rebuild
from the devastation they have experienced, let us pray to the Lord.
2)   For all those who have died recently as a result of flooding, hurricanes, earthquake and other natural disasters throughout the world, may they live in the light and warmth of God’s love for all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

3)   For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …

4)   For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …

5)   For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …


Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2017;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.



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General Intercessions for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

17 September, 2017 – Cycle A

 Presider:      Sisters and brothers, the word of Jesus, following the tradition of  the wisdom of his own people, compels us to have forgiving hearts in our relationships with each other. Mindful of the mercy we have received, we ask God’s mercy on the Church and the world.

Deacon or Reader:

  1. That the Church will be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged to live the life of the Gospel;           We pray to the Lord.
  2. That world leaders will seek peaceful resolutions to problems and reach out in a spirit of forgiveness rather than retaliation;                                We pray to the Lord.
  3. For all who have been impacted by hurricanes, floods or wildfires: that God will give them strength, protect them from harm and give them hope;                     We pray to the Lord.

Add for 9am Mass only

That, on this National Catechetical Sunday, God may bless all those engaged in the work of education in the Faith;                       We pray to the Lord.

4. That each of us will turn away from hate, bear no ill-will against others, nor hold resentment or anger in our relationships;                We pray to the Lord.

5. For all the sick, especially .    .    .    .           And for those who are approaching death: that they may cling to the faithfulness of God as they are birthed into life eternal;                                    We pray to the Lord

6. That in life and in death we will always belong to the Lord, as we entrust our departed relatives and parishioners into God’s loving hands, remembering .    .    .    .                                        And in a special way, remembering:

5pm                Marian Blanchfield;                7:30am          Mark Jackson, Jr.;

9am                Kevin Hadler;                          11am             our St. Peter Parish Family

6pm                Coralene Boshara

for whom this Mass is offered;                           We pray to the Lord.

Presider:          O God of Joseph and all his brothers, your forgiveness transcends whatever wrong exists between us. Grant us the courage to forgive others, and to practice reconciliation by the kindness of our speaking, the sharing of our resources, and the honoring of your desire for good. Amen.   We ask this through Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.



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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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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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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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Lectionary 130: 1) Sirach 27:30-28:7; 2) Ps 103:1-4, 9-12; 3) Romans 14:7-9; 4) Matthew 18:21-35.

FOCUS: As God has forgiven our sins, so we must forgive others. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God freely and generously pours out his love and forgiveness upon us through our faith in Jesus and the sacraments of the Church. These gifts are given to us, not only for our salvation, but so we may share them with others, and so peace may be built up more fully in the world.As the Lord is kind and merciful (Ps), so should we be forgiving toward one another (1). Our forgiveness is to be without limit (3) and so reflect Christ’s eternal love. He alone is Lord (2).


In the first reading, we are reminded that we will be forgiven as we have forgiven others. In the second reading, Saint Paul tells us that we belong to God in both life and death. In the Gospel, Jesus uses a parable to illustrate that our generosity in forgiving those who have wronged us must be lavish if we are to hope for the same consideration from our heavenly Father.



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Monday, September 18, 2017       MONDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 443: 1) 1 Timothy 2:1-8; 2) Ps 28:2, 7-9; 3) Luke 7:1-10.

FOCUS:         We are called to pray for others, and to bring others to Christ. In the first reading, we hear that Saint Paul is urging members of the early Church to behave virtuously and to conduct themselves as model citizens. In the same way today, we as Catholic Christians are called, by virtue of our baptism, to be Jesus’ hands and feet on earth, and to bring others to Christ through our example of loving service. Through his own personal supplication (1, 2), the centurion requested the healing of his servant. Blessed be the Lord who hears our prayers (Ps).


In the first reading, we are reminded to pray together without anger or argument. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus acts to heal a centurion’s servant who was near death.



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Tuesday, September 19, 2017     TUESDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Optional Memorial: Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr.

Lectionary 444: 1) 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 2) Ps 101:1-3,5-6; 3) Luke 7:11-17.     

FOCUS: Jesus is our help in times of need. In tough times, we tend to forget how compassionate Jesus is. He is fully human like us in all things but sin, and thus is readily able to understand the hardships we face. He is with us always, and ever-willing to give us a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on. Let us not forget to turn to him. Qualities desired in leaders of the faith community are discussed (1) Jesus restores life to the son of the widow of Nain (2).


Today’s first reading outlines the personal qualities and virtues those aspiring to the office of deacon and bishop should have. In the Gospel, Jesus raises a young man from the dead and gives him back to his widowed mother.

Januarius, † c. 305; according to his legend, thrown to bears at Pozzuolo under Diocletian; bishop of Benevento; as early as 1389, his blood has liquified on this and other days each year; patron of Naples.



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017        WEDNESDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs.

Lectionary 445: 1) 1 Timothy 3:14-16; 2) Ps 111:1-6; 3) Luke 7:31-35.    OR:                                          see 642A: Wis 3:1-9 or Rom 8:31B-39; Lk 9:2. (Scripture for Saints Masses.)

FOCUS: We are called to respond to God with love. Although the people of Jesus’ time made excuses to reject him and his teachings, we are called to respond to God’s word with faith, love and action. Our response cannot be passive. Instead, we must find ways to bring kindness and compassion to others, helping to build up God’s kingdom on earth. Paul quotes a liturgical hymn which speaks of great deeds (Ps): incarnation and resurrection (1). His advent is met with criticism indifference (2).


In the first reading, we hear that the Church is the household of God, and is proclaimed to all people, both Gentile and Jew. In the Gospel, Jesus says that the people of this generation will make excuses to reject John the Baptist as well as him.

Andrew, born in Seoul, Korea, was a convert to the faith and ordained Korea’s first native priest. His father was a martyr. In Andrew was tortured and beheaded along with his lay associate, seminarian Paul Chong Ha-sang. Between 1839 and 1867,103 martyrs, gave their lives for the faith in Korea.



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Thursday, September 21, 2017      SAINT MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST – FEAST

Lectionary 643: 1) Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; 2) Ps 19:2-5; 3) Matthew 9:9-13.

FOCUS: All of us are uniquely called, gifted and empowered by the Spirit to build up the Church. There are a variety of ministers in the Church. Each is blessed with unique gifts so the Church is not lacking in its mission. We not only acknowledge and celebrate these gifts manifested in people’s lives, we also seek to know our own Spirit-given gifts, develop them and offer them for the good of the Church. Matthew (or Levi), the tax collector, is called (2) to be an evangelist to proclaim the good news (Ps) by word and deed.


In the first reading, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to lead lives worthy of the call they have received from the Lord, and to bear with one another through love. In the Gospel, Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector, who was sitting at the customs post, to follow him. Matthew responds to Jesus’ call by getting up immediately and following him.

According to the bishop Papias (c. 125), the Church’s canonical text of Matthew draws upon the Aramaic traditions associated with his name. Composed c. 85, the gospel is generally arranged in an alternating pattern of narrative and discourse. Intended for a largely Jewish-Christian audience, it seeks to portray Christianity as consistent with the Jewish tradition and a continuation of it. Tradition holds that Matthew preached in Judea and in Ethiopia where he was martyred; symbolized by the winged human being (cf. Ezekiel 1); mentioned in the Roman Canon; patron of accountants and customs officers.



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Friday, September 22, 2017      FRIDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 447: 1) 1 Timothy 6:2c-12; 2) Ps 49:6-10, 17-20; 3) Luke 8:1-3.

FOCUS: From the perspective of the Gospel, wealth is a means to further God’s kingdom, not the goal of life. Saint Paul warns us in the first reading that the love of money is the root of all evils. The holy women who supported Jesus and the Apostles, however, are witnesses to how wealth can be used as a means to help build up the kingdom of God on earth. Understanding this, may we see wealth as a gift from God to be shared generously and used for good purposes. Paul reminds Timothy of the values which should animate his ministry (1, Ps). Women join the Twelve in following Jesus (2).


The first reading exhorts us to embrace our faith more fully and pursue a life of virtue. Today’s Gospel tells of a group of women who traveled with Jesus and the Apostles and supported them from their wealth.



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Saturday, September 23, 2017    SATURDAY OF 24TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest.

Lectionary 448: 1) 1 Timothy 6:13-16; 2) Ps 100:1-5;  3) Luke 8:4-15.  OR:                                         see 737-742, esp. Gal 2:19-20 (740.5) Mt 16:24-27 (742.6)

FOCUS: We must do our part to nurture the seeds of faith planted in our hearts so we may grow in holiness. God planted the seeds of faith in our hearts when we were baptized. It is up to us to continue to nurture these seeds so we may continue to grow in faith and holiness. We do this by praying daily, reflecting upon sacred Scripture and by being responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Serve the Lord (Ps) and keep his commandments until the Day of Jesus Christ (1). His word has been planted in our hearts to bear fruit in faith and love (2).


Saint Paul addresses Timothy in our first reading, encouraging him to keep God’s commandments without stain or reproach.  In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the sower and the seed, which reminds us of the importance of continually tilling the soil of our hearts so the seeds of faith planted within us may bear good fruit for God.

“Padre Pio” was born Francesco Forgione in 1887 in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina. A Capuchin priest who had received the stigmata. he spent fifty years at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he was much sought after as a spiritual advisor, confessor, and interces­sor. Despite such notoriety, he would often say, “I only want to be a poor friar who prays.” His life was devoted to the Eucharist and to prayer. He died 23 September 1968 at age eighty-one. Pope John Paul II announced the inclusion of his Memorial in the General Roman Calendar in June, 2002. He is considered the patron saint of civil defense volunteers and Catholic adolescents.



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Lectionary 133: 1) Isaiah 55:6-9; 2) Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18; 3) Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a;                   4) Matthew 20:1-16a.

FOCUS: God’s ways are not our ways. We must be mindful that the Lord’s ways truly differ from our ways. They are wonderful and mysterious. This is shown in the fact that God loves us unconditionally, and is ever-willing to forgive. God continually works by the power of the Holy Spirit to draw all people closer to himself. And God is near to all who call upon him. How different are the Lord’s ways from our own (1)! Gracious and good to all (Ps), the Lord is equally generous in compassion and love to those who are quick to respond to his invitation, as well as to those who are slow to hear his call (3). May the Lord Jesus always be our life (2).


In the first reading, Isaiah exhorts sinners to repent and turn to the Lord for mercy. The second reading reminds us of the importance of conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the good employer, which speaks of how God freely and generously bestows his love and forgiveness on all who are open to receiving it.



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FAITH CATHOLIC ONLINE; PAULIST ORDO;                                                                                                                                                                       MAGNIFICAT for the 24th Week In Ordinary Time .



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Reflection – Sunday, September 17, 2017                                                                                              Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To forgive one brother seventy-seven times may have seemed to be a lot to Peter. It continues to appear to be a plentiful number to us. We might ask ourselves how one person could need to be forgiven so many times. But then we could consider how many times we have asked God to forgive us. If we are to image God in our encounters with others, we will need to forgive as much as we have been forgiven. The number of times, then, that we will forgive surely will be more than seventy-seven. But that forgiveness will allow us to move on in our relationship with our brother or sister.                          Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 295.



Reflection – Monday, September 18, 2017 Weekday

The centurion’s faith so impresses Jesus that he gives high praise to a non-Jew while insulting his own people. “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Certainly the remarkable faith of Mahatma Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Etty Hillesum, or Anne Frank can both teach and chide us for our lack of faith, dedication, and witness to the Reign of God. It is rare for a young movement to acknowledge the fidelity of those beyond its fold. Yet this awareness is part of our faith from its origins. Who are the non-Christians that inspire you? How and why do they touch your life?     Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 296.



Reflection – Tuesday, September 19, 2017 Weekday

This passage illustrates both that Jesus is Lord of Life and his concern for the poor. In the first century, it was expected that children would provide for their elderly parents. With the death of her son, this widow faced certain poverty. In returning life to her son, Jesus insured the widow’s ability to live out her days in dignity. Ponder the implica­tions of this account in light of Jesus and his mother, who also was a widow.                           Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 297.



Reflection – Wednesday, September 20, 2017                                                                                 Memorial of Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chang Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs.

It is unclear how Christianity was intro­duced to Korea. A leading theory posits that Japanese soldiers introduced the faith when they invaded Korea in 1592. When the first missionaries arrived in the 1800s they were astounded to dis­cover several thousand Catholics. The faith had been established and survived without the Eucharist and without clergy. Families and catechists had passed on the faith through the Scriptures. Andrew Kim was the first native priest of Korea. He, together with Paul Ch6ng and 102 others were martyred in 1846. Without diminishing the centrality of the Eucha­rist, the history of the Korean Church is a testimony to the power and sublimity of the Word of God.     Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 298.



Reflection – Thursday, September 21, 2017                                                                                       Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

In the Gospel bearing his name, Mat­thew is identified as a tax collector. As a Jew collecting taxes for Rome he would have been viewed as a traitor to his people. Tax collectors made their living by overcharging the people and keeping the extra money for themselves. This helps us to understand the conster­nation of the Pharisees. It also helps us to understand one of the tensions played out in Matthew’s Gospel: judgment or mercy? Read cover to cover, a great deal of judgment can be found in Matthew, yet this Gospel consistently emphasizes mercy over and against judgment. Are we perceived as people of judgment or as people of mercy?       Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 299.



Reflection – Friday, September 22, 2017 Weekday

Is “rich Christian” an oxymoron? Paul warns against those who abuse religion for personal profit. He also urges us to be content with having food and cloth­ing. Beyond that, “love of money is the root of all evils.” Wealth can distort our view so we can no longer see the world from the perspective of the poor and oppressed.                                                                              Some mistakenly equate wealth for security, but true security comes from God. Some confuse wealth with power, but true power is “the ability of love to bring about justice” (Paul Tillich). Wealth is a blessing when it is used to bless others, especially the poor.                                            Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 300.



Reflection – Saturday, September 23, 2017                                                                                     Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Having entered eternal life in 1968 and canonized in 2002, Padre Pio, as St. Pius of Pietrelcina is more com­monly called, is a recent saint. Known for bearing the wounds of Christ in his body, the stigmata, Padre Pio was sought after as a confessor, spiritual counselor, and intercessor. He was sub­ject to numerous investigations and his spiritual gifts were discounted even by some popes.       Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 301.



Reflection – Sunday, September 24, 2017               Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It is easy to be troubled by the parable and wonder why the owner is not pay­ing the men for the time spent in labor. Rather than being troubled by this par­able we should consider our response to it. Why are we so quick to side with those who labored all day? Reading the parable from the perspective of those who worked just one hour might provide another insight. Do not the families of these workers have the same need for food, clothing, and shelter as those who worked longer? Would we deprive them of these necessities just so some can have more?      Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 302.


Faith Catholic Online  September 17-24, 2017

Daily Prayer 2017, pages 295-302.

Ordo pages   197-201.



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The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie Dumont

Who still reads the great French prophets of the 201h century? Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomi­nation: “their” civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called “personal development”) was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues. The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civili­zation to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone. Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral com­pass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thornton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.

. . . .the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds. He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seedtimes and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables. Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it—and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?    Magnificat, July 2016, page 432.



Novena Prayer for Voting – Judy Butler

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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An Independence Day Prayer

We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.

Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,

that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.


Archbishop Carroll (†1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States.

Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.


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Ordinary Time      (As of May 23 Ordinary Time Continued)

Wasted time is not a prized commodity in American society. We are a people ruled by the clock. Time is money because time is to be filled with purposeful controlled activity which is productive of things which can be sold. We are convinced that we must be in control of time. The last thing the productive American would want to do is waste time playing around with realities that do not pro­duce a saleable commodity.

But the Creator of heaven and earth is described by the scriptures as the original and the best of players. Creative activity is playful, and creative people do not feel that what they do is a job. Creative peo­ple also have a sense that their creativity and all that they fashion in the creative spirit are gifts they have received. The Christian can speak of this and the contemplative vision which sees all reality as gift or grace. Our thankful response we call worship or eucharist.

We cannot speak of Ordinary Time without speaking of Sunday. The every seven-day celebration of the Lord’s Day is the basic struc­ture upon which the Church Year is built. The great liturgical sea­sons of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter are more expansive cele­brations of particular aspects of the one paschal mystery which we celebrate every Lord’s Day. These special seasons focus our atten­tion upon critical dimensions of one mystery, a mystery so over­whelming that we are compelled to separate out its various ele­ments for particular attention. These seasons in no way minimize the critical importance of the Sunday celebration throughout the rest of the year. Ordinary Time is not very ordinary at all. Ordinary Time, the celebration of Sunday, is the identifying mark of the Christian community which comes together, remembering that on this first day of the week the Lord of Life was raised up and creation came at last to completion. Sunday as a day of play and worship is a sacrament of redeemed time. How we live Sunday proclaims to the world what we believe about redeemed time now and for ever.

What happens in our churches every Sunday is the fruit of our week. What happens as the fruit of the week past is the beginning of the week to come. Sunday, like all sacraments, is simultaneously a point of arrival and departure for Christians on their way to the fullness of the kingdom. This is not ordinary at all. This is the fabric of Christian living.

Taken from the Saint Andrew Bible Missal, reprinted with permission of William J. Hirten Co., Inc., Brooklyn, New York, Brepols IGP. 0 1982. All rights reserved.

Paulist Ordo pages 30 and 31 and 125.



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What can I do to fast in communion with others?

Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet.

Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do:

They apply to us all…

  1. “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  2. “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
  3. “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  4. “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
  5. “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  6. “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  7. “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
  8. “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  9. “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.

Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!

Monsignor Jack 1-3-5


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Slave of the Ethiopian Slaves  —  Anthony Esolen
“THIS BOOK WAS OWNED by the happiest man in the world.”

Before I tell who wrote that, we might wonder what would justify such a claim. Was the man rich, admired, the father of many children? Did he enjoy the pleasures of the world in moderation, living to a good old age and dying peacefully, as a ripe apple drops softly from the tree?
Saint Peter Claver was none of those things. He could have lived the comfortable life of a wise and kindly teacher at MontesiOn, the Jesuit college in Palma, on Majorca in the Mediterranean. Think of that for a moment. Fresh salt breezes, palm trees, no snow, no swelter; and Spain, your homeland, a short voyage away.
You could achieve holiness in Palma, too.
The elderly doorkeeper at MontesiOn did. We honor him as Saint Alonso Rodriguez. Alonso was a widower who gave up his life in the world to join the Jesuits. For twenty years he kept the door; he was the first and immediate servant of all who came to visit Montesion. The world would not now appreciate a man like Alonso, with his childlike humility and docility. But Peter Claver understood him. They became fast friends. It was Alonso who told Claver that the harvest was plentiful in the New World, especially among the poor
Africans transported there by the slave ships, and that he should appeal to his superiors to send him. Father Claver, in his humility and docility, had balked at urging it too boldly.
They were alike, these two. Alonso’s job was utterly mundane, nothing spectacular about being a doorkeeper. But his childlike sweetness and his unceasing life of prayer won the hearts of all who met him. Meanwhile it was said of Peter Claver that he was a novice from first to last. He never questioned a command, so his superiors never needed to worry about who would clean the latrine or the stables. They had only to ask Father Claver.
So he did as Alonso recommended, and two years later he found himself in Cartagena, the swarming slave port on the Caribbean.


“Hurry, son,” says Father Claver, his shoulders bearing one end of a pole upon which are slung big baskets of fresh vegetables, lemons, bread, flasks of wine, bandages, and other necessaries. “They’ve already arrived! Let’s not be late!” His eyes are wide with good cheer, as if he were a boy running to the carnival.
“Yes, Father,” says the young Jesuit at the other end of the pole, his knees buckling and his shoulder chafing against the wood. He can hardly keep up.
That was Peter Claver’s routine for thirty-five years. Nobody knew how he managed it, since he slept very little and ate only one or two pieces of bread and some fried potatoes each day. Love and holiness were like fire in his veins, giving him a stamina that was supernatural. He did 204
not waste away, or succumb to scurvy from his bad diet, or contract the diseases that riddled the wretches he served.
“Here they are!” he cries, as more than a hundred miserable human beings are led staggering from a ship by their guards.
Imagine the horror. The Africans are naked—men, women, and children. The men are in chains. A third of them died at sea. They were cramped below deck to eat and drink and evacuate themselves, stewing in their filth, puking from the stench and the rolling sea, ravaged with dysentery, the men’s legs ulcerous from the shackles; blood and mucus soaking the floors; fed nauseating stuff and flogged if they refused to eat it; knowing nothing of what was happening to them or why.

It is the hell on earth that men make for one another. Then they meet Father Claver.

The slave traders were horrible Catholics, but they let Claver do his work.
He smiled upon the Africans, speaking to them in Angolan Portuguese, using African interpreters for a few other languages, but mainly communicating in the universal human language of gentle touches, to comfort them, soothe them, give them heart.
He fed them the first good food they had had since they were captured. He washed their wounds with wine. He cleaned the filth from their bodies. He bound up their sores. He clothed their nakedness. The stench was so choking that no one but Claver could endure it for more than a few minutes. He didn’t notice it, or if he did, he took it as a gift from God.
He kissed them. He sucked the poison from their sores, the way you’d suck the venom from a snakebite—but this poison was from disease and putrefying flesh.
If they could not walk, he carried them. He made carts for the sick so they would not have to hobble along under the lash. To those who were dying he ministered first of all, ready with the water and oil of baptism, if they could be made to understand the merest notion of their sin and of Christ’s salvation.
In the days when they were herded into barracks before being sold, Claver would preach the Gospel, using for illustration a medal of Jesus and Mary that his friend Alonso had given him.
“If the Spanish are in heaven,” a native once said, “let me go to hell, so I will not have to see them anymore.” He could not have been referring to Peter Claver. The blacks never said, “He is one of our tormentors.” They listened to him. Africa had its own horrors, and Africans were sinners too.
Only a love beyond human reckoning could have won their hearts. It is a love that the world does not know how to give, a love the world had never heard of before Christ.


“Humanitarianism,” said Walker Percy, “leads to the gas chamber.” Peter Claver was not a mere humanitarian. He had no agenda for the social improvement of man. He was consumed with love for the individual, and the more miserable and needy, the more ardent was his love.
The humanitarian does not sit at the bed of a dying man; he gives him morphine to be rid of him most efficiently. But human beings are not objects of efficiency. Jesus would have  borne the cross for one sinner alone. Was that efficient? He suffered and died for Alonso and Peter and you and me, individually. All of that, because he wanted our friendship.
Lepers will flush out the humanitarian from his covert every time. See the grotesque disfigurement; fingers, noses, ears missing; the glorious human body reduced to clots, cleft and pocked and burst open like rotten fruit. Only a saint would go among lepers. Many of the slaves had contracted leprosy, and were sent to live out their last days in a colony. Claver went among them.
Of course in those days there were no latex gloves, goggles, and antiseptics. We can imagine a very good person in our days on a temporary mission, bolstered with the protections of modern industry, going among lepers, and being satisfied with himself for years after. But Peter Claver did more than to go among them, to perform the necessary medical tasks, and then to leave in a cold sweat of relief. He was eager to go among them. To prove it, he did for them what no humanitarian would ever do. He touched them. He kissed them. He gave them back their dignity as human beings. His actions said, “You do not disgust me. You delight me, you are valuable to me, you need not be embarrassed in front of me. You are my brothers.”
He did not run away from the plague. We run away from suffering as if it were the plague.


Father Claver made himself a slave in more ways than one. He placed an African in authority over him, and obeyed his decisions. He would awake in the middle of the night to hear confessions for eight hours, saying Mass in the morning and then Mass again at noon, before taking a drink of water. If one of the Africans was so ill he made the others nauseous, Father Claver lodged him in his own room, giving him his bed while he slept on the floor. People say of a generous man that he would give you the shirt off his back. But Claver would use his own robe to veil the sickest from the sight and smell of others; or let them use it as a pillow, or a cushion to sit on.

Sinners too are lepers. They too need the touch of love.

So I will end this essay with a story. There was a Spaniard who was sentenced to a horrible death for counterfeiting. Father Claver ministered to him in his cell. On the day of the hanging the rope broke, twice, and each time Claver was there to hold the man in his arms. The second time it broke, it must have done its job first, because the man gasped out his last breath while the priest was holding him.
It was that man, not Father Claver, who had written in his prayer book the night before, “This book was owned by the happiest man in the world.”
(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., 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).


■ Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College, a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine, and a regular contributor to MAGNIFICAT. He is the 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, September 2017, page 202-207.






FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore


Faith in the Public Square

Russell Moore has written a very good book. Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel seeks to orient us in the changing culture of twenty-first-century America. It’s written with the folksy verve of a very good Southern Baptist preacher, which Moore is. I can’t count the number of memorable sentences I underlined. After a thoughtful analysis of the fatal temptation to confuse God’s Kingdom with the United States of America: “Jesus promised those who overcome a crown of life. But he never said anything about a ‘God and country’ badge.” On put­ting political power ahead of Gospel truth: “It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ.”

Onward is more than mellifluous; it’s also astute about the moment in which we live and the kind of Church we need to become. Moore’s analysis has a strong critical thrust. Again and again he observes that the days are over when Christians could imagine themselves at the center of a “Christian nation.”

Moore emphasizes our post-Christian cultural context because he’s a son of Biloxi, Mississippi, which was once part of the Bible Belt, that wide swath of God-haunted America that runs from West Virginia to Texas. In those communities, being Christian and being an upstanding American citizen often seemed fused together. As Moore points out, this can make us complacent “have-it-all” Christians who want to follow Christ while fitting in with mainstream culture. The problem is that this can tempt us to dilute the Gospel so that we can remain “normal.”

The Moral Majority approach tried to solve the problem by “taking back” the mainstream culture through political action. Moore thinks that project failed. The bad news is that this failure has made America increasingly post-Christian. That’s as true in the Bible Belt as elsewhere, as he illustrates with vivid anecdotes. The good news is that we can no longer fool ourselves. We’ve got to make a choice. Will we live according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of the American way of life?

By Moore’s reckoning, this is a renewing choice. It pro­vides us with the opportunity to rediscover the power of the Christian message. The choice also winnows. He re­ports that Evangelical churches are undergoing “a mirror image of the Rapture.” Nominal Christians are vanishing from the pews, and those who choose to be defined by the Christian Gospel rather than “Christian America” are “left behind.” This clarification will not weaken Christian engagement and influence in American public life; it will strengthen it. A post-Christian context is a forcing ground: “Once Christianity is no longer seen as part and parcel of patriotism, the church must offer more than ‘What would Jesus do?’ moralism and ‘I vote values’ populism to which we’ve grown accustomed. Good.”

Moore fleshes out the “more.” He argues for an expan­sive understanding of our duty to defend human dignity. It includes a wide range of efforts on behalf of the weak and vulnerable. We should attend to the needs of the poor, migrants, the disabled, and the homeless, as well as the unborn. To be pro-life is to be whole-life, to paraphrase one of his lapidary formulations. But Moore avoids a fac­ile “seamless garment” approach. Defending the lives of the innocent, especially the unborn whom our legal cul­ture has abandoned, is the foundation of a culture of life. Without a pro-life commitment, no “whole-life” stance can endure.

His treatment of religious liberty and freedom of con­science draws upon the Baptist tradition. From its incep­tion it recognized the dangers that flow from too close a connection between religious authority and civil authority. Moore provides theological justification for our constitu­tional principles of non-establishment and free exercise. But he draws attention to a deeper truth about religious freedom: Our greatest freedom comes from the strength of our faith in God, not by way of rights given to us by constitutions. The freedom of the martyrs is the founda­tion of the Church’s freedom.

Sex, marriage, and family are today’s battlegrounds. They’re the reason why we’re arguing over religious lib­erty. They’re the reason our society ignores the claims of the unborn. There are moral arguments to be made, and they should be made. But at root these battles are spiritual, not merely moral, as Moore helpfully reminds us. Far from being a liability, the Bible’s countercultural sexual ethic and theology of marriage may end up being the Church’s greatest tool of evangelization. The day is coming when more and more people damaged by the sexual revolution’s false promises will seek a gospel promise they can trust.

Onward suggests a sober rethinking of pub­lic engagement by conservative American Protestants, one that moves in the direc­tion outlined by Stanley Hauerwas over the last four decades. Put succinctly, Hauerwas has argued that the Church fails to leaven society when it poses as culture’s friendly chaplain, because in that role it gets coopted. The same is true when the Church poses as culture’s stern, disciplining chaplain, which is, perhaps, a way to sum up Moore’s appraisal of the Moral Majority’s approach to influencing society at large.

Hauerwas’s genius was to see that living a faithful Christian life explodes the pretensions of the world. Going against the grain—as sojourners or pilgrims, to use the bib­lical image—is a public statement that does more to shape the future of American society than “cultural engagement.” Moore’s insight is similar. He points out, rightly, that we can fix too much attention on discussions about how to get cultural leverage. We forget that, in a society in which aborting Down syndrome children is taken for granted, pastoring a Church that forms Christian parents to wel­come them is a powerful way to claim cultural territory.

Unlike many who recognize the de-Christianizing main­stream culture, Moore does not shy away from the culture wars. As he knows, we can’t avoid them. Secular progres­sives wish to conquer all the territory in American society. That means they cannot help but battle with Christ-formed communities for our spiritual loyalty. The battle is coming to us, even if church leaders wish to avoid controversy. We see this in the contraceptive mandate and gay marriage. Here Moore is admirably clear. The Moral Majority may no longer show the way to stand for what we believe in public life. But stand we must. “If we do not surrender to the spirit of the age—and we must not—we will be thought to be culture warriors. So be it. Let’s be Christ-shaped, Kingdom-first culture warriors.” Amen. – Rusty Reno           Pages 6-7.

(The preceding article which appears in the April 2016 Issue of First Things is the author’s rationale which makes clear how and why we have come to the conclusions about a number of issues such as Secularism,  the loss of a Christian-based society upon which our Constitution was founded, marriage of same sex couples, the black eye which has been administered in our culture to rule out religion and the values which our Constitution was based upon and the stalemate in our political system, not to mention the establishment of individualism in place of the common good in our social systems, nevertheless you may want to become a bit more real by reading the other articles  (2) which I recommend to you.)   —



Pope Francis – “Amoris Laetitia” – Exhortation On the Family


Pope Francis’ Exhortation on the Family an ‘Organic Development of Doctrine’

When I talk with friends about Pope Francis and issues in the church, a common question asked in is “Why doesn’t he just change doctrine?”.  I think it pretty safe to say that the man values his life and also that of the unity of the church…..nuff said.  This article I think explains very well what PF was doing in writing his recent Apostolic Exhortation in the way that he did, which I describe as “pushing the envelope” of what the Synod in the fall of 2015 came up with, especially the German language small group, emphasizing the role of discernment.  And discernment plays a large role in what Francis has done with this document.  He is a Jesuit, after all ,and that is a hallmark of their spirituality.  Francis knows that changing the doctrine of the church would be a dicey proposition.  He is also a man who begins processes and values what a process can do.  He is not personally invested in a process such that he needs to see the result.  He knows that the history of almost all of the doctrine of the church really does come out of the lived experience of the faith of, as he says, “God’s holy faithful people”.  That is what this article is referring to as “organic development”.  I see a lot of hope in this.  PF knows that if he can just tip the scale of the balance between pastoral practice and doctrine a little bit towards the pastoral practice side, the lived faith for many people will change and ultimately doctrine will change.  Yes, processes take time but a process like this effects exchange that is hard for some future pope to undo.  When I hear the word “organic” I think of a well-rooted healthy plant, maybe even one slightly aggressive as far as some “gardeners” are concerned, especially those who are in high places in the church, a plant that they would have a hard time uprooting…..reyanna

By Gerald O’Connell            April 8, 2016                         America Magazine on-line

At a Vatican press conference to present Pope Francis’ new exhortation on the family, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said there is “an organic development of doctrine” in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) when compared to a similar text, “Familiaris Consortio,” written by St. John Paul II after the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The archbishop of Vienna’s words are highly significant, since he is considered an authority in such matters. He is one of the theological heavyweights in the College of Cardinals, was chief editor of theCatechism of the Catholic Church, is very close to Benedict XVI and played an important role in the 2014 and 2015 synod of bishops. For all these reasons, Francis chose him, and not Cardinal Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to present his post-synodal exhortation on the family to the international media.

His statement on the development of doctrine came in response to a question as to whether paragraph No. 84 of “Familiaris Consortio” is still valid given that in footnote No. 351 of “Amoris Laetitia,”

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

If you would like to access the official translation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, click on the link below.  The document is lengthy to print out at home, although I did so.  I had a stack of paper almost 2 ½ inches high!  It should be available in bookstores soon and is available for ordering online now.  I posted the link here so that you can begin to read the document now especially in relation to all of the news stories and sound bytes that have come out about it.  My advice to you is to read the document in fall and Pope Francis’ advice in the document is to take your time to read it.  Chapter four I found especially profound.   This chapter is a meditation on the famous First Corinthians passage on love and his own thoughts on love.  For an almost 80 year old celibate male he doesn’t do badly in explaining human love and sexuality, yes, sexuality and, speaking from 40 years of married life, he explains the birds and bees in married life quit well…..reyanna

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE




 with the Bishops of the United States,
 let us pray for the continued freedom to bear witness,
 keeping particularly in our hearts those Christians throughout the world who continue to be martyred for love of Christ.
Let us remember that freedom is a gift
 from our Creator that calls us to
vigilance, responsibility, and service to our neighbor.



Be free people! What do I mean? Perhaps it is thought that freedom means doing everything one likes, or seeing how far one can go…. This is not freedom. Freedom means being able to think about what we do, being able to assess what is good and what is bad, these are the types of conduct that lead to development; it means always opting for the good. Let us be free for goodness. 

And in this do not be afraid to go against the tide, even if it is not easy! Always being free to choose goodness is demanding, but it will make you into people with a backbone who can face life, people with courage and patience…. 

Be men and women with others and for others: true champions at the service of others.


-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!


Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

The Fourth of July—America’s Independence Day—is a joyous time to celebrate with family and friends.

John Adams, a Founding Father and our second President, wrote that Independence Day,

“…ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

As you celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, please remember —

The Price of Freedom.

Take the time to honor the sacrifices for our freedom made by our fighting men and women throughout our history — From Lexington and Valley Forge, to Iraq and Afghanistan — and today, by our Special Forces in harm’s way in places known and unknown.

On behalf of all the Thomas More Law Center staff, I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

From the Desk of Richard Thompson

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A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America — By Ian Dowbiggin

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. I reviewed Prof. Dowbiggin’s remarkable book for the National Catholic Register way back in September 2003. “Success” for euthanasia proponents was very limited at that point. Since then, however, they have enjoyed a number of victories, especially in the Netherlands and Belgium and, more recently, Canada.

I am hoping by the end of the day to obtain permission to reprint a withering letter to the editor Prof. Dowbiggin wrote to a Canadian newspaper to rebut a scurrilous attack which, ironically, proved that Prof. Dowbiggin’s “slippery slope” was 100% accurate.

mercifulendbookDo not be thrown by the off-putting title. Professor Ian Dowbiggin’s book is not only a carefully researched and scrupulously fair-minded treatise, but it’s also a highly engaging read. It functions as both a social-science lesson and as a cautionary tale of what happens when “reformers” convince themselves they’ve discovered a formula for pure utopian bliss.

Though short, A Merciful End comprehensively traces the twists and turns primarily of the Euthanasia Society of America. While euthanasia proponents often trimmed their sails to the prevailing winds, the destination for many, if not most, has remained constant: active euthanasia for the willing and in certain circumstances, the unwilling. (The “distinction” to many euthanasia supporters, Dowbiggin writes ominously, “was incidental.”)

The book explodes the myth “that the modern euthanasia movement began only in the 1960s and 1970s with the introduction of life-prolonging medical technology, the decline of the doctor-patient relationship, the rise of the ‘rights culture,’ medicine’s inept handling of end-of-life care and the AIDS epidemic.”

In fact its roots go back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Support for euthanasia was frequently a package deal for members of the avant garde. In Dowbiggin’s words, euthanasia “was a critical component of a broad reform agenda designed to emancipate society from anachronistic and ultimately unhealthy ideas about sex, birth and death.”

We forget how many prominent Americans were supporters of euthanasia and (frequently) its ideological twin sister, eugenics. “Progressives” all, they believed passionately that death would be the “last taboo to fall in the struggle to free Americans from what birth control activist Margaret Sanger, herself an ESA member, called ‘biological slavery.’”

Greasing the skids for euthanasia was the embrace of eugenics — “evolution in a hurry” to many supporters. With a childlike faith in science and technocratic expertise, eugenicists were supremely confident the human race could be perfected through selective sterilization and euthanasia.

The idea of “improving the race” served the interests of the euthanasia movement well until discredited by the Nazis. And while Dowbiggin cautions about “playing the Nazi card,” the similarities in language can be striking.

Until recently, the center of gravity for the euthanasia movement in the United States was Manhattan. Elitist to the core, its membership strongly supported active euthanasia: direct killing and physician-assisted suicide.

But the Euthanasia Society of America and kindred organizations made minimal headway until retooling and softening their message in the late ’60s. By repacking their pitch as a “right to die” issue, they capitalized on our culture’s obsession with individual rights and “choice,” which first took hold in that decade. Rejecting “unwanted treatment” combined an appeal to individual decision making with a fear of an insensitive medical bureaucracy.

From the beginning people of faith and, especially the Catholic Church, were seen by the euthanasia movement as primary opponents. Such people, they complained, exerted a “stranglehold of tradition and religious dogma” that, they decided, had to be broken. What euthanasia proponents may not have anticipated was the virtually uniform opposition of the Disability Rights Community.

A Merciful End offers two explanations for the very limited “success” of the American euthanasia movement. One is a bitter division between the “radicals” and the “moderates” within the euthanasia movement. The other is the rise of a broad-based coalition that came to include the pro-life movement and disability-rights activists. This resistance was aided immeasurably by a 1994 report by the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, an out-of-control Jack Kevorkian and a unanimous 1997 Supreme Court decision that found no right to assisted suicide in the Constitution. And in the last decade, there has been a stunning turnaround with far greater attention paid to pain relief, palliative care and hospice treatment.

These much-needed reforms have changed the chemistry of the debate and offer reason for hope. The same might be said of Dowbiggin’s book.

September 2017
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