Mammon Ascendant – First Things June- July 2016

MAMMON ASCENDANT   (excerpt)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

FIRST THINGS COLUMNIST RECOGNIZES COUNTRYS CORE ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  September 25, 2016

The Threat of Complacency                            LECTIONARY #138C

Focus: To listen to God’s call to justice.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092516/cfm

Amos 6:1a, 4-7 Amos is a prophet so attuned to the violation of justice that it underscores all his words and actions. In these memorable verses, he excoriates the self-indulgence and complacency of the rich and powerful, who also manifest a total lack of concern for the land’s social and economic collapse (“the collapse of Joseph” [see verse 7]). Amos’ words in the form of a dirge (“Woe”), recount the numerous manifestations of their extravagance: lying on beds of ivory, eating meat regularly, drinking wine from bowls, not goblets, and anointing themselves with the best oils. Such personal extravagance while the land languishes in social and economic disarray shows their disregard for God and fellow Israelite. Since they have placed themselves first in extravagance, they will be the first to go into exile, once the Lord enacts punishment on the land for violating its covenant promises. We too must be ever vigilant against the threat of complacency, lest we lose touch with all those who do not have what we are used to having.

Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10 (lb) Psalm 146 invites us to “Praise the Lord, my soul” (antiphon; 146:1b) This “hallel­uiah” or praise psalm lists the many reasons why we are to stand in communal praise of the Lord. God’s gracious, faithful, ever-reliable covenant love is manifest in securing justice for the poor, giving food to the hungry, and setting captive free. All these things God did for the people in their Exodus from Egypt, and continues to do today. The Lord gives sight to the blind, raises up those bowed down, loves the just, and protects strangers. Our God pays attention to and reaches out to those who find it difficult to live life fully, yet are attuned to covenant demands and act justly. Along with protecting strangers, the Lord also sustains the fatherless and the widow. Those who have no voice and no economic, social, or political power have the Lord as their protector and sustainer. The wicked are ultimately thwarted by the Lord for their lack of attentiveness to covenant love and care of others. The psalm ends by affirming that these characteristics make up the essence of our God, who has entered into covenant relationship with us for all time.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 The directive given to Timothy, presumably by Paul, exhort Timothy, a minister in his com­munity, to pursue all those virtues that are demanded of anyone who has taken “hold of eternal life” (6:12) by being plunged in the waters of Baptism (the noble confession). Timothy is to “compete well for the faith” (6:12) the way any athlete would compete for the cherished prize, eternal life. Key to this lifestyle is the keeping of the command­ments. In so doing, one gives one’s all to the journey of faith, ever ready to meet the Lord when he comes again at a time designated by God. This final union with God in Christ is the culmination of a life lived in fidelity to God and others. Such rich abundant life is for all who listen to God’s call for justice and follow through with their lives.

Luke 16:19-31 The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, unique to Luke, is a classic tale of the reversal of fortunes, along with the demands of covenant relationship. Purple garments, fine linen, and sumptuous dining each day are clear indicators of the rich man’s extravagance. His complacency manifests itself by refusing to acknowledge Lazarus’ great need at his very doorstep. Lazarus’ sores clearly indicate his low estate, not having enough to care for his physical needs, willing to settle for scraps, and even allowing dogs, unclean animals, to lick his sores. Upon their deaths, Lazarus is welcomed to the bosom of Abraham while the rich man is in torment. Recognizing Abraham as his father indicates the rich man is Jewish and responsible for faithful covenant living. Care and concern for the poor is an essential component of covenant relationship that the rich man violated and for which he now suffers as Lazarus suf­fered at his doorstep. The rich man did not listen to God’s call for justice, the core of covenant relationship. In asking Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, Abraham responds that they have Moses and the prophets as a guide for covenant living, and that if they do not listen to them then they would not pay any attention to one who returns from the dead. The ultimate lesson for the rich man and for us is that if we claim to be in covenant relationship with God, then we are in covenant relationship with all human­ity, most especially the poor and the powerless.

Connections to Church Teaching and Tradition

◊         “To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain . . . that selfish ideal, a glo­balization of indifference has developed. Almost with­out being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The cul­ture of prosperity deadens us” (EG, 54).

◊         “‘The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love . . . hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might’ . . working to elim­inate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter” (EG, 188).

◊         “One must never forget ‘the duty of charity . . . to give from one’s “abundance,” and sometimes even out of one’s needs, in order to provide what is essential for the life of a poor person'”. (CSDC, 359).

Foundations for Preaching and Teaching ® Scripture backgrounds for 2016, LTP, Sunday, September 28, 2016, pages 150-151.

 

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Reflecting on the Gospel

Someone who is “in our face” is bold and aggressive toward us about some­thing, won’t let go, keeps pushing. Sometimes our response is to shout at them to get out of our “personal space,” meaning the person is too close, invading us pushing us too far. Sometimes it takes someone who is in our face to get us to see something important. Sometimes someone has to invade our personal space in order for us to see that person. And, sometimes, even someone being in our face or invading our personal space doesn’t capture our attention enough to make us notice. In this Sunday’s gospel, the poor man Lazarus is invading the rich man’s personal space—he is “lying at his door.” He is right there. He is in the rich man’s face. We can well imagine the rich man literally stepping over Lazarus. The rich man is so busy, so self-absorbed that Lazarus did not affect him. Until the rich man died and was tormented by his punishment for not responding to Lazarus. Only in torment does he notice Lazarus. He begs that the very man whom he ignored during his life should come to alleviate his torment, should bring him some cool water to ease him. Yet, he offered nothing to Lazarus while he was living.

The rich man in torment also begs Abraham to send “some­one from the dead” to warn his five brothers to repent and change their way of living. In fact, during his earthly life, the rich man had “someone from the dead” warning him to repent and change—the sick, suffering, starving Lazarus “lying at his door” who was as good as “dead” to the rich man. The message of “Moses and the prophets” about how we are to live comes not only in the word of Scripture, but also through those lying at our door. And, unlike the rich man in the parable, we do have Someone among us who has “rise[n] from the dead.” We need only to listen. This is how we gain the insight to see those in need at our own door and choose how to respond.

There is a great “chasm” between selfishness and self-surrender, between evil and good, between the lost and the saved. This chasm is a metaphor for lis­tening to God’s word and allowing ourselves to be guided by its demands. The time to respond decisively to God and others is now; after death it is too late. Indeed, “someone from the dead” has come to warn us. Who? Do we listen?

Living the Paschal Mystery

There is no need to be frightened about eternal Life if we allow God’s word to guide us in our responses to others in need. Thus do we prepare for eternal Life. This is what is amazing about choosing to help others, no matter how in­significant the help might seem: whatever we do for others is a preparation for eternal Life.

God’s word comes to us in more ways than the proclamations at Sunday Mass or taking time to read the Bible—as important as both of those are. God’s word also comes to us through others. It can be presented as someone in need. God’s word might come in some challenge to our self-centeredness or values. It might come through another’s encouragement. It might come by someone being in our face about a behavior we need to change. In all these ways and countless others we are invited to listen. Listening is guidance for how to respond with compassion and care for those who are lying at our door.                                                             2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 220.

 

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: rich man, lying at his door, poor man named Laza­rus, died, torment, warn them, someone from the dead, repent, listen

To the point: The rich man in torment begs Abraham to send “someone from the dead” to warn his five brothers to repent and change their way of living. In fact, during his earthly life, the rich man had “someone from the dead” warning him to repent and change–the sick, suffering, starving Lazarus “lying at his door” who was as good as “dead” to the rich man. The message of “Moses and the prophets” about how we are to live comes not only in the word of Scripture, but also through those lying at our door. Indeed, “someone from the dead” has come to warn us. Who? Do we listen?

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: The first reading parallels the gospel teaching. The prophet Amos warns “the complacent in Zion” who, in their “wanton revelry,” ignore the sufferings of the Hebrew people.

to experience: Oftentimes we are blind and ignore the needs of others, even those who are suffering greatly. What opens our eyes is an encounter with Jesus, the One raised from the dead, who moves us to repent and change our lives.

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: Those who are suffering and in need are beloved by God (gospel, psalm). If we separate ourselves from the poor and needy, as do the complacent in the first reading and the rich man in the gospel, we separate our­selves from God and from the possibility of blessed Life in eternity. Had they heeded Moses and the prophets (gospel), these individuals would have lived differently and secured a different future for themselves. By praising God who is never indifferent to human suffering, Psalm 146 is a message from Moses and the prophets to us. We must do more than merely sing this message, however. We must hear it and heed.

to psalmist preparation: As with last Sunday’s psalm, this psalm holds God up as the model of behavior for faithful disciples. Disciples of Jesus are called to act on behalf of the poor and suffering just as God does. In singing this psalm you invite the assembly to respond to this call. In what ways are you responding? In what ways do you need to grow in your response?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 221.

 

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Homily Points

  • Who doesn’t dream of hitting the lottery? of being so wealthy that life would have no worries? of being able to retire young with complete security? Given the choice, who of us would not choose to be rich? The real issue of the gospel, however, is not about riches or poverty. It is about how we respond to the person lying at our door.
  • This gospel contrasts two life circumstances: rich or poor, basking in abundance or liv­ing in misery. It also contrasts two choices about how we relate to others: self-centered or other-centered. We often have little control over our life circumstances. But we have com­plete control over how we choose to relate to others.
  • It is not only self-absorbed rich people who walk by those in need. How do we respond to the cashier in the grocery store? the wait staff in a restaurant? the housekeeping staff who cleans our hotel room? Sometimes we might be surprised by who is lying at our door. Like the rich man in the gospel, our response determines how we will spend eternity. 2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 222.

 

CATECHESIS

 

About Liturgy

Purple and Advent: This gospel’s description of the rich man has him “dressed in purple garments and fine linen.” The mention of the color isn’t simply a nice detail about a man whose favorite color was purple. Purple dye was very expensive at that time when there were no inexpensive substitutes for natural dyes and so only the wealthy could afford clothes dyed purple. Purple clothing, then, proclaimed a status in society. Because purple was also frequently associated with emperors and kings, it also became a color associated with Jesus (see Mark 15:17 and John 19:2, where Jesus is clothed in a purple cloak during his scourging in mockery). When we celebrate Jesus as King (which we will do on the Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solem­nity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe) we recall Jesus’ victory and reign of glory. Purple, then, is a liturgical color that reminds us of eschatological glory and the end times when Jesus will come again to reign forever.

We make the distinction between royal purple (blue-purple) and violet purple (red-purple). We use the royal purple during Advent because it is a season that celebrates Jesus’ victory and eternal reign. Already in late September the liturgy turns our atten­tion toward the end times and Jesus’ eschatological victory.

About Liturgical Music

Music suggestions: The rich man who ignored the poor man dying on his doorstep finds himself condemned to eternal torment after his own death, when it is too late to change the choices he made in life. There are a number of songs available which call us to act now on behalf of the poor and needy in our midst. “God of Day and God of Darkness” (in most resources) offers an excellent text; its length indicates it might work best during the preparation of the gifts. “Abundant Life” (G3) calls us to live in such a way “that all may have abundant life”; its gentle melody and tempo would be best suited for the preparation of the gifts. A superb choice for either the entrance or the recessional would be “God Whose Purpose Is to Kindle” (G3, W4), in which we ask God to “overcome our sinful calmness” and “disturb” the “complacency” we feel in face of “our neighbor’s misery.” Other good choices for the recessional include “We Are Called” (in most resources); “What Does the Lord Require” (W4); “The Church of Christ in Every Age” (in most resources); and “Go, Be Justice” (OF, WC, WS).                                                         2016 Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 223.

 

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Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Perhaps the most scandalous thing about the parable of the rich man is that the sore-ridden beggar “lying at his door” was not some anonymous, faceless stranger, for the first one to speak the name of the “poor man”—”Lazarus”—was the rich man! “Woe to the complacent in Zion,” for their complacency not only de­prives the poor of what they need—it goes so far as to deny their very humanity, their personal dignity. To steer clear of this temp­tation, we “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” “The King of kings and Lord of lords” dwells in unapproachable light—a light that he shares with us so that we will approach the poor who dwell with us.                  Magnificat, September 2016, page 357.

The Rich Man’s Sin of Omission

Often…or perhaps even usually, sins of omission do not occur “with full knowledge” or even with “delib­erate consent,” but rather out of carelessness or self-centeredness, which blinds a person to his neighbor’s need. The rich man who feasted sumptuously was per­haps not even deliberately cruel to poor Lazarus, who was lying at his door. He had grown accustomed to seeing him there, and his wealth and comfortable life had made him insensitive to the suffering of his fellow man (cf. Lk 16:19-31).

Sins of omission are usually the poisonous fruit of pre­vious sins of omission. Therefore, the Catechism says: “Mortal sin…also implies a consent sufficiently delib­erate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin” (CCC 1859). Failure to perform works of mercy results from a hardening of the heart. We have arrived again at the point that al­ready in the Bible was the decisive point: a hardened heart is a rebellion against God. Someone who hard­ens his heart against his neighbor has rebelled against God, even though he may still be externally “pious.” Someone whose heart is not shut off from his neigh­bor’s need is close to God, even if he considers himself to be an atheist and professes to be one.                                         CARDINAL CHRISTOPH SCHÖNBORN  –  Cardinal Schönborn is Archbishop of Vienna and editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.                                                                        Magnificat, September 2016,  pages 361-362.

 

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Amos 8: 4-7; 1 Timothy 2: 1-8;  Luke 16:13.                  25th Ordinary C ‘16

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092516.cfm

EntranceSculpture_St_Marys_2010 05 23_0454

I presume you may consider the gospel text of today somewhat confusing and perhaps difficult to understand. So let us see what we can do about that.

This “steward” or “estate manager” in the parable was skilled in the art of crooked business dealings. He is narcissistic, lies and cheats –“a con man,” and apparently was caught by his boss.

We can presume it did not matter to him that he put the owner of the estate in a predicament. Once caught with his hand in the till, his primary concern like that of some politicians was himself.

Commentaries on this parable offer different insights.  Some suggest Jesus simply enjoyed spinning a yarn with extravagant details — 900 gallons of oil — a thousand bushels of wheat!  Other commentators suggest that Jesus simply had heard of “con artists” who took advantage of others by filing the equivalent of what we today call “bankruptcy at the expense of others.”  Perhaps you know of people accused of doing that.

Telling this tale does not mean Luke’s Jesus approves of the “the steward’s” behavior.  He is not urging us to be crooked schemers or con men. The point he makes is this.  “No servant can serve two masters.”

The task now for all of us is to apply this parable to our own behavior patterns.  As I read and reflected on the tale, it became more and more obvious to me that the key figure — “the steward” – like most narcissistic people lacked respect for his own personal integrity.

So I suggest that among other reasons, Luke’s Jesus directed this parable to his listeners, all of us, challenging us to be people of personal integrity.  I will try to explain what I mean and in doing so leave it to you to apply my ideas to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and other politicians.

I claim, as you do, to be a Christian.  This parable challenges us to be what we claim to be!

Personal integrity means faithfully and consistently embracing the core values Jesus lived and taught.  Examples to illustrate what that means are many, but time restrains me to offer only several. Personal integrity for all who claim to be Christian means being honest in all our dealings.  It means always speaking the truth clearly. It means being trustworthy and reliable in all things.  It means caring for others and being generous and sharing with them.  It means being fully alive – and – fully human!!

“No servant can serve two masters.”  Perhaps this gospel motivated the Trappist monk Thomas Merton to write, “a life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.” It really is that simple.  “A life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.”

I referred earlier to both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.  You know as well as I do it is very important to measure these and other political candidates and all public servants, secular or religious, by the personal integrity of their lives.  As you prepare for the November elections, I encourage you to do that!

However remember this. When we gather and try to break open the scripture texts for one another, these texts are addressed primarily to us.  Gathering here or in any other community of faith is authentic only if I put all my energy and talents into assuring that my own life is fully committed to and in harmony with “the reign of God.”  Surely Jesus had “God’s new reality” in mind when he warned his listeners: “No servant can serve two masters.”

My “life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.”  I encourage you to continue your efforts to seek and embrace the core values of the gospel. In doing so you make it possible for “the reign of God,”“God’s new reality” to emerge among us in our world today..

 

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SMALL GROUP GATHERING               Cycle C                September 25, 2016

Amos 6:1a, 4-7;  Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10;  1 Timothy 6:11-16;   Luke 16:19-31.

This week we come face to face with the unsettling story of Lazarus and the “rich man”. The gospel reminds us that we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper. Last week, we considered the call to serve but one master. How were you called to be single-hearted this past week?

Gathering Prayer

Leader: Blessed are they who keep faith forever and secure justice for the oppressed.

All:     Lord, open my eyes to recognize and speak out against injustice and exploitation.

Leader: Blessed are they who keep faith forever and willingly give food to the hungry.

All:     Lord, open my heart to give freely and generously to the

hungry and homeless.

Leader:        The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord raises up

those who are bowed down.

All:     Lord, help me to recognize and ease the burdens that

weigh down people I encounter each day.

Leader:        The Lord loves the just and protects strangers.

All:     Lord, give me the courage to change, to abandon any

prejudices I may have about those different from me.

Adapted from Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

HEARING THE LORD’S GOSPEL

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

When this naming is complete, the leader passes out copies of the scriptures of the week as needed. Pausing between them, the leader then poses these two questions: “What draws you to this gospel?” “Where do you resist this gospel?” The community pauses for a time of silent reflection. After about a minute, the leader invites members to consider the Reflection and Questions for the week.)

Reflection

We are all witnesses to the growing divide between the rich and the poor and the increasing divisiveness in a society that is willing to turn its back on the most vulnerable.

Pope Francis bluntly captures the impact of this widening gap between the haves and have nots:

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 202.

The message of this week’s readings is clear: Woe to the complacent. Surely, they prompt some serious soul searching.

How much of a 21st century complacent (i.e. someone who is primarily focused on self-satisfaction) are you? Or do you live with a Christian spirit of sufficiency (i.e. grateful for what you have), rather than in a hankering spirit of insufficiency (i.e. perpetually needing more)?

The gospel calls us to live with compassionate hearts; it challenges us to respond to injustices. When we respond to this call, this conversion of heart allows us to see with the eyes of Jesus. This is the call that animates our Jubilee Year of Mercy. Let us open our hearts more fully.

As compassion grows, the complacency which breeds smugness, indiffer­ence, apathy or prejudices toward others wears away. As heartfelt awareness expands, we begin to recognize and appreciate our similarities with the needy and suffering, understanding that we are all broken in some way and need the caress of God’s mercy. In being builders of community, advocates for others, we become “merciful like the Father,” and in so doing/being, we join Abraham on his side of the eternal chasm.

Questions for Reflection and Conversation

        How do you react/respond when scenes of gross poverty flash on your television screen?

        How do you respond to down and out people asking for money on the street? Why?

        What chasms separate or divide you from people who are different from you? How can you begin to close that divide?

        How has this Jubilee Year of Mercy challenged you to be “merciful like the Father”?

HEARING THE GOSPEL’S LORD

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

Response in Action Suggestions

       Spend 10 minutes each day this week in reflection and prayer. Consider God’s goodness to you. Recall the things you are thankful for. Acknowledge your fears about material uncertainty. Identify and become more aware of your spiritual “blind spots.” Reaffirm your trust in God’s ways.

       Send a message to the Governor and legislative leadership supporting nutrition programs, especially the school breakfast program. Learn more at http://www.endhungeraorgt

       Call the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Social Justice Ministry (860­242-5573) or your local affiliate to learn what events you may participate in that will expand your involvement in the church’s social mission.

Prayer

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

Following this sharing, members join in singing the MusicQuest selection, `Alleluia! Raise the Gospel”.  See  p. 92 for lyrics. When the song is complete, a member of the community reads the selection that follows)

Looking for a Change of Heart

Member: In order to have pleasure in everything

Desire to have pleasure in nothing.

In order to arrive at possessing everything

Desire to possess nothing.

In order to arrive at being everything

Desire to be nothing.

In order to arrive at knowing everything

Desire to know nothing.

In order to arrive at that wherein you have no pleasure

You must go by a way in which you have no pleasure.

In order to arrive at that in which you know not

You must go by a way in which you know not.

In order to arrive at that you possess not

You must go by a way you possess not.

In order to arrive at that which you are not

You must go through that which you are not.

John of the Cross (1542-1591)

(Members join hands to pray the Lord’s Prayer.                                                                        The session concludes with the exchange of a sign of peace)

A Reflection Booklet for Small Christian Communities,  Fall Edition, pages  11-15. The Pastoral Department For Small Christian Communities,      Archdiocese of Hartford, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002.                         860-242-5573×7450; www.sccquest.org; info.scc@aohct.org.

 

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RoseIII

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

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

 

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DAILY UNTIL NOVEMBER 8 — 

PLEASE PRAY FOR VOTERS:

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.

Amen

PRAY FOR VOTERS COURTESY OF JUDY BUTLER

 

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The Announcement of Moveable Feasts

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

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

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

 

One-Liners in Faith; (July 2016)

Lavender Iris

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

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

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

Take KNOM with you – read the KNOM newsletter on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other Internet-capable mobile device — visit knom.org/static/620 in your web browser.

One-liners in Faith: (August 2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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SEE YOU IN CHURCH!   THE DOLLAR AND THE CENT…

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

 

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The Apostleship of Prayer Monthly Intentions for September:

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

Centrality of the Human Person: That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center
Made in the image of God and redeemed by the Son of God, each person is sacred. The individual ought to be at the center of society which protects and fosters the dignity of each.
From this reality arises “the common good” which the Catechism says “concerns the life of all” and consists in “what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.” Because human beings are social by nature, “the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person.”
Unfortunately the world does not operate in this way. In many places the power, wealth, and comfort of some come before the common good and the sanctity of human life. Addressing this situation in his Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis wrote: “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.”
He went on to say that only openness to God will bring about the necessary change: “It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education, and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.”
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love one’s neighbor. We pray with Pope Francis that all may live that commandment by placing God’s beloved creature, the human person, at the center and work for the common good of all.
Reflect
How do the centrality of the human person and the common good influence the choices I make, especially when I vote?
Scripture
Genesis 1: 27 In the divine image God created humanity.

 

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EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

Mission to Evangelize: That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on
Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize.
The Mass consists of two parts—the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the first, we hear about God’s love and in the second we receive that love in the flesh as Jesus offers himself to the Father for the salvation of all and then gives us his Body and Blood. We are finally sent forth to live the Mass in our daily lives. Our sharing of the love we have received is evangelization.
Jesus was so passionately in love with humanity that he suffered and died for us. Through Word and Sacrament we now share in his passion and offer ourselves with him for the salvation of souls. Pope Francis said: “Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realize that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people.”
The Pope went on to say that “all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each.” In baptism we were joined to the Body of Christ. The Eucharist strengthens our life in Christ so that we can go forth and be his living witnesses wherever we are.
We pray this month that we may not only receive the love that Jesus gives us in Word and Sacrament, but also give that love to a world that is looking for true love but unaware of where it can be found. We know, and we don’t want to keep the answer to ourselves!
Reflect
How do the Scriptures and Sacraments make me more aware of Jesus’ passion for mission? In what ways does this passion lead me to offer myself with Jesus for the ongoing work of salvation?
Scripture
Luke 24: 13-35 “Were not our hearts burning within us …?”

 

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INTERCESSIONS  FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR ITALY ETC.

For those who died in the earthquakes in Italy, floods in India and in other natural disasters, that they will rest in God’s eternal peace; let us pray to the Lord …

For the families who have lost loved ones in the recent earthquakes and floods, that they will find comfort and consolation in Christ’s love and promise of eternal life, let us pray to the Lord …

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 …

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 …

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 …

 

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Model Prayer of the Faithful

Proposed for The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 25, 2016,

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

 

FOR THE CHURCH

 

That God will bring forth many new vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

That, during this Year of Mercy, we will open our­selves up to the mercy of God and allow Jesus to come toward us by approaching him in the confessional

That all members of the church reach out to the Lazarus lying at their doorstep,

That Christ cleanse every disciple of greed to love and serve him before all things,

For Church leaders, that by their witness to the Gospel and devotion to acts of mercy, others may seek Christ and embrace the Good News,

For all members of the Church, may we always be open to the Spirit and generously respond to his promptings,

That Pope Francis, bishops, clergy, religious and laity will continue to turn to the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance in doing God’s will,

For Pope Francis and all who shepherd our Church, may they be blessed with the strength needed to continue to reach out to sinners and demonstrate the mercy of God’s love,

That as members of our holy Church, we may open our hearts to the Holy Spirit as we seek to be better witnesses to the Gospel and model the love of Jesus to others,

For all members of the clergy, may they be inspired by the example of Padre Pio, and seek to model his humility and unceasing faith in the Lord,

That all members of the Church may seek to use the gifts we have been given by God to share the Gospel message and help build up God’s kingdom on earth,

That Pope Francis and all Church leaders may be given the strength to continue to proclaim the good news of salvation,

For missionaries throughout the world, that God may give them the strength and grace to show the face of Christ to others and to persevere in patience, mercy and love,

That pastoral leaders will fulfill their calling with integrity, patience, perseverance, and gentleness,

That all who provide pastoral leadership within the Body of Christ will serve with humility and charity,

For hearts of generosity and compassion toward those who need our assistance,

That our Church will be an authentic sign of Christ’s presence in the world,

For our Church, that it will always offer authentic worship to God in union with all the angels and saints,

That the Church will keep the Word of God alive through proclamation, teaching, and works of mercy,

For the sisters, brothers, and priests of the Carmelite Order,

For all Christians, that they will announce the Gospel to all who long to hear it,

That the ministry of biblical scholars, theologians, preachers, and catechists will bear abundant fruit,

 

FOR THE WORLD

 

For our lawmakers: that they be given the courage to uphold conscience rights

That all peoples of the world come to the salvation God offers by responding to the needs of one another,

That national and local civic leaders govern with justice and mercy,

For those in positions of authority, may they seek to uphold the dignity and sanctity of life from conception through natural death,

For the leaders of the world, may they promote peace and justice and be a light among their people,

That all persons vested with power use it wisely and justly as good stewards for the benefit of all,

For world leaders, that they serve with wisdom and with the recognition that, ultimately, their authority and capacity to rule come from God,

That civic leaders work to provide an atmosphere of collaboration in their day-to-day interactions so that the needs of those they govern are being met with a spirit of cooperation,

For our national, state and local leaders, and those seeking office, may they be guided by the Lord’s wisdom as we approach the election season,

That those in public office may set aside their differences to work for the common good of the people they govern,

That those in war-torn regions of the world may know peace, and that reconciliation may take hold in people’s hearts,

For police officers and first responders, that they may be blessed as they work to protect the welfare and safety of others,

That government leaders will work to end poverty, injustice, and war,

That all who exercise political leadership within our country will serve the common good of all with integrity,

For members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in parishes everywhere,

That every nation will establish just laws that respect the dignity of each person, regardless of racial or ethnic origins,

For our world, that people everywhere will be delivered from evil through the ministry of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael,

For all who are considered insignificant in the eyes of our world,

That the wisdom and guidance of God’s Word will be welcomed more fully in our world,

 

OR THE OPPRESSED/ANY NEED

 

For the unemployed: that they will soon find gain­ful employment, and be free from discouragement

That those who struggle with their finances receive both heavenly and earthly help,

For those who suffer from lack of adequate housing or food, may compassionate Christians in this Year of Mercy work to alleviate their burdens,

For those who struggle with the aftermath of violence or terrorism, may they be comforted by the Holy Spirit and compassionate people of good will,

That victims of natural disasters will be blessed and sustained by the Lord as they seek to rebuild their homes and their lives,

For those who work in agriculture, may the Lord keep them safe in their work as they prepare for the fall harvest,

For those in our families who are struggling with their faith, may our example give them strength and encouragement to persevere and work through what is troubling them,

That those who are experiencing religious persecution may find strength and hope in their faith, and in the prayers and advocacy of Christians around the world,

For refugees, that they may find safety and material and spiritual comfort through the assistance of Church agencies and people of goodwill,

That all Christians will fulfill our responsibility to relieve suffering,

That parents who struggle to provide basic needs will be given support and resources,

That those who are considered least in our society will be treated with justice and dignity,

For those who devote their lives to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,

For elders who have no one to care for them,

For renewed faith and hope to sustain us in times of illness, failure, and disappointment,

That the Holy Spirit will inspire young people to lives of loving commitment and service,

That the People of God will drink deeply from the well of Sacred Scripture through prayer and study,

That Christians will grow in their love of God’s Word,

For the safety and well-being of children who are in harm’s way,

That children and their families will be protected and defended in places ravaged by conflict and war,

That immigrants seeking asylum within our borders will be welcomed and supported,

For those who are suffering the dark night of the soul,

 

FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

 

That the members of this faith community be generous with their time, talent, and treasure,

For all members of this parish, may we always be trustworthy in matters large and small, and witness to our faith in our everyday lives,

That parents, teachers, and other adults model the trustworthy behavior they expect from young people,

For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and lay ecclesial ministry in our community and our diocese,

That this community gathered for worship today will continue to witness to the Gospel and share the word of God with others,

That in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, members of this faith community may recognize Christ in those around us and act to alleviate suffering where we see it,

That in this Year of Mercy, all members of our parish may strive to incorporate the spiritual and corporal works of mercy into our everyday lives,

For our catechists and teachers, that the Holy Spirit may inspire them in their efforts to instruct our youth in the practice of the faith,

That all faith communities will support and encourage fidelity to God’s call,

 

FOR THE ASSEMBLY

 

For the grace this week to pursue righteousness, de­votion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness

That all gathered here die to self-absorption and rise with Christ to newness of Life,

For those of us assembled here, may we strive to see the face of Jesus in those who meet and treat them with kindness and respect,

That each of us may listen more intently to God’s word and act more earnestly upon it so as to bear a more effective witness to the Gospel,

That we will recognize the voice of Christ in those we encounter today,

For the grace of eyes and ears open to the mysteries of the Kingdom,

 

FOR THE SICK

 

For the poor, the homeless, the sick, and the suffer­ing: that God will rescue and comfort them, especially through our charity

That the sick, the poor, and the hungry have their needs filled through the generosity of those who hear and heed the word of God,

For those who are sick in mind or body, that the Lord give them the strength to persevere, and may they experience the blessing of God’s healing love,

That those suffering from prolonged or chronic illness may be assisted in their need by compassionate caregivers in this Jubilee Year of Mercy,

That those who are suffering mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually will find comfort in the mercy and compassion of God,

For those who are sick, that they will be restored to fullness of health,

 

FOR THE DECEASED

 

For all our deceased brothers and sisters, may God welcome them into his heavenly kingdom,

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

That the souls of the faithfully departed be granted a seat at the heavenly banquet,

For those who have died, may they join the company of angels and saints in God’s heavenly kingdom,

That our beloved deceased friends and relatives, and all who have died, may come to enjoy eternal happiness in heaven,

For the deceased members of our families and our parish, and all the faithful departed, may they see God face-to-face in the heavenly kingdom,

That those who have gone before us may be welcomed by the angels and saints into the heavenly kingdom,

That our beloved dead and all who have died may come to experience the joys and splendor of heaven,

For those who have died, that they may have eternal joy in heaven where every tear will be wiped away,

That those who have gone before us in the hope of the resurrection will rejoice forever with God in the company of Mary and all the saints,

For all who have died, may the angels lead them into paradise and the joy of eternal life,

 

2012 May 22_2281

UNIVERSAL PRAYERS FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACKS WORLDWIDE:

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

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

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

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

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

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General Intercessions for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

18 September, 2016 – Cycle C

Catechetical Sunday

Mass Special Intentions

5pm    Peggy Griffin;          7:30am     Gerry Girard;

9am    Jo Metzger;               11am          St. Peter Parish Family;

6pm    Peggy Griffin;

Presider:  Sisters and Brothers, we constantly live with the tension of how to best serve God and to use the things of this world. Let us pray that wisdom will guide the Church and the world in all things.

  1. For the Church, that she continue to nourish and support lay leaders;                               We pray to the Lord.
  2. For the development of ethics and honesty in business: that all who lead companies may be guided by the Spirit to implement just practices, and products that are useful and beneficial;            We pray to the Lord.
  3. For all catechists: that they may faithfully hand on the teachings of the church and help each person grow in their relationship with God through prayer;          We pray to the Lord.
  4. For parents, the first catechists in families; may they continue to shape and nurture the faith in their children;      We pray to the Lord.
  5. That those who are suffering mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, especially  .    .    .    .             that they will find comfort in the mercy and compassion of God;                         We pray to the Lord.
  6. For our departed parishioners, relatives and friends, along with  .    .    .    .                      We pray to the Lord.
  7. That our St. Louis Catholic schools will continue to serve as “centers of faith, learning, and service”, endowed by a successful Beyond Sunday campaign;                                        We pray to the Lord.

Presider: O God, you call us to embrace both you and the children of this world with unconditional love. Give us grace to discern what your love demands of us, that, being faithful in things both great and small, we may serve you with an undivided heart, through you Son, Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

 

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LITURGY RESOURCES, SEPTEMBER 18 – 25, 2016, DAY BY DAY EDITION

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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2016     TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN O. T.

Lectionary 135:   1)   Amos 8:4-7;    2)    Ps 113:1-2, 4-8;       3)  1 Timothy 2:1-8;   4)    Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13.

 http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091816.cfm

FOCUS:          As disciples of Christ, we are called to love God above all things.   As disciples, our focus should not be on the material and passing things of this world, for true freedom is found in loving God and committing oneself to the Gospel message. When we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, our priorities shift, freeing us to live according to his teaching and help build up God’s kingdom on earth.   Amos cries out against those who exploit the poor for the sake of extor­tion and greed (1). They seek to serve only themselves rather than the Lord. By giving ourselves to God rather than to money (3), we can truly pray with blameless hands for all those in need (2), especially the poor whom the Lord will raise up (Ps).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading reminds us that in our everyday affairs, we are called to act with justice and fairness toward all. In the second reading, Saint Paul explains that we are called to pray for everyone, especially those in authority. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest steward, who could not be trusted in small or larger matters.

 

 

Monday, September 19, 2016         MONDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN O. T.                                            Optional Memorial:  Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr.

Lectionary 449:    1) Proverbs 3:27-34;    2)     Ps 15:2-4b, 5;      3)       Luke 8:16-18.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091916.cfm

FOCUS:          God has given us the gift of faith, a gift that we are to let shine throughout our world.  Receiving the gift of faith from God requires a willingness on our part to turn our lives over to him. Doing this means relying on God to provide for our needs, and striving to share God’s light with others by treating them with kindness and compassion. As sons and daughters of God and disciples of Jesus, we are to be beacons of hope in the world.            We are to be light in the darkness (2), living lives marked by justice (Ps) and love of neighbor (1).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Proverbs reminds us that God bestows abundant blessings upon those who act justly and serve him with humility of heart. Today’s Gospel reading exhorts us to walk in the ways of the Lord each day so that Christ’s light and love might shine brightly in and through us to touch the lives of others.

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.

 

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016        TUESDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN O. T.                               OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest and  Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Lectionary 450:    1) Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13;     2)     Ps 119:1,27,30,34-35,44;                                3)    Luke 8:19-21.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092016.cfm

FOCUS:          By practicing the teachings of Jesus, we grow closer to him and our lives are enriched with joy.   When we turn our lives over to Jesus and aim to follow his teachings our lives are immeasurably blessed. As we grow in our faith and love for Jesus, experience God’s peace and joy in our lives, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed upon what matters most – loving God and loving one another.                                                                                            Those who hear the Word and practice it (Ps) constitute the family of Jesus (2). They do what is right and just (1).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The Book of Proverbs reminds us that God is in control, even directing kings, and offers us practical advice for doing what is right and just. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that, My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.

Andrew, born in Seoul, Korea, was a convert to the faith and was ordained Korea’s first native priest. His father was a martyr. In 1846 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.

 

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016   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.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092116.cfm

FOCUS:          We are called to use our unique gifts and talents to help further the work and mission of the Church.  Through baptism, we became members of Christ’s body on earth – the Church. This membership charges us with the task of doing our part to further the mission of the Church. One way we do this is by using our unique talents to help build up God’s kingdom on earth.                                                                                                        Matthew (or Levi), the tax collector, is called (2) to be an evangelist (1), to proclaim the good news (Ps) by word and deed.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading exhorts us to live in a manner worthy of the call we have received from God. In the Gospel, we hear of Matthew’s calling. As a tax collector, he was not a popular choice amongst the people to be a follower of Jesus. He was thought to be a traitor and a sinner. Matthew changed his ways to become a loyal disciple.                                           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.

 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016      THURSDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN O. T.

Lectionary 452:     1) Ecclesiastes 1:2-11;    2)    Ps 90:3-6, 12-14 ;      3)    Luke 9:7-9.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092216.cfm

FOCUS:          The human mind will never understand the marvels or might of our God. Children do not always understand, or even agree, with what their earthly fathers do. We, too, as God’s children, must accept the fact that we can never fully understand the majesty and wisdom of our God.      For Qoheleth, everything is sadly repeated in the cyclic character of life  (1). For the psalmist, however, we experience anew each kindness (Ps). Herod, perplexed by Jesus, seeks to meet him (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Ecclesiastes emphasizes the point that, over the centuries, almost everything done or said has been done or said before. In the Gospel, we hear of Herod the tetrarch being perplexed by the different accounts he was hearing of Jesus.

 

 

Friday, September 23, 2016           FRIDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN O. T.

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Lectionary 453:    1) Ecclesiastes 3:1-11;    2)     Ps 144: lb, 2abc, 3-4;      3)    Luke 9:18-22 .

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092316.cfm

FOCUS:          There is an appointed time for everything.   The various seasons and rhythms of our lives are all well and good. But they do not ultimately satisfy us as children of God. This is because God put the timeless, or eternity, in our hearts, and so we long for the happiness of our eternal reward – God’s heavenly kingdom.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a particular time for each type of activity. In today’s Gospel, Christ asks Peter, Who do you say that I am? After Peter responds, the Messiah of God, Jesus tells the Apostles that the Son of Man must suffer greatly.

“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 defense volunteers and Catholic adolescents.

 

 

Saturday, September 24, 2016       SATURDAY OF 25TH WEEK IN O. T.                                          (Saturday in honor of BVM)

Lectionary 454:   1)  Ecclesiastes 11:9—12:8;     2)    Ps 90:3-6, 1;      3)    Luke 9:43b-45.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092416.cfm

FOCUS:          All good things come to us from God, our creator.                                      Remember your Creator, Ecclesiastes tells us. How many of us go through our days without doing this? Although it is easy to place our gaze upon the things of this world that are right in front of us, let us strive to remember each day all of the blessings bestowed upon us by our creator, God the almighty Father.                                                                                         The vitality of youth (1) is like the dawn which springs t sunset fades away (Ps). The Son of Man must suffer (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Today’s first reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us that it is futile to place all our focus on the things of this earth. We are told that eventually, the dust will return to the earth and the life breath will return to God, who gave it. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the second prediction of his death when he says he must be handed over to men.

 

 

 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016      TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN O. T.

Lectionary 138:    1) Amos 6:1a, 4-7;    2)     Ps 146:7-10;     3)   1 Timothy 6:11-16;                                      4)    Luke 16:19-31.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092516.cfm

FOCUS:          We must be mindful of the stumbling blocks that distract us from living as disciples of Jesus.  Wealth is not inherently evil, but can cause us to become complacent and lose our focus on building up the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus is reminding us that our worldly possessions must not blind us to the fact that our blessings come from God, and we must use them to love one another, and to help ease the suffering of others.                                     Amos condemns the complacency of the rich who seek only their own comfort (1). In his parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus echoes Amos, exhorting those who have to share with those who have not. Self-sufficiency was never blind us to the needs of others (3, Ps). Only in this way do we keep God’s commandments in integrity and in truth (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Amos urges the complacent to cease their wicked ways and turn back to the Lord God. Saint Paul exhorts Timothy to pursue righteousness and goodness, and to compete well for the faith. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the Pharisees the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and what happens to each after their death.

  

 

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Reflection – Sunday, September 18, 2016    Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time        IMG_0954                                                                                                                           In the Gospel we hear a critique of those whose sole concern is to secure gain for themselves. The prophet Amos warns unscrupulous merchants who cheat and defraud the vulnerable that God judges their actions harshly. Jesus warns his disciples that it is impossible to serve God and maintain a love affair with wealth. The issue is our responsibility to others as well as to ourselves. The issue is trustworthy stewardship of the limited resources we share. Our moral and economic compasses need to be in harmony.                       2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 295.

 

 

Reflection- Monday, September 19, 2016                                                                            Optional Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr

Most of us simply take light for granted. We have it at our fingertips constantly, unless turbulent weather threatens the neighborhood power grid. Few of us have experienced what it is like to have no electricity or to have it only for a few hours each day, as do people in many parts of our world. And so Jesus’ par­able of the lamp may not carry the same impact for us as it did for his listeners. Yet we have all traveled dark roads at night and stumbled over hidden obsta­cles in the dark. Will we let our lives shine so that others may find their way? The choice is ours.                       2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 296.

 

 

Reflection – Tuesday, September 20, 2016                                                                                      Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chong Ha—sang, and Companions, Martyrs

As a master teacher, Jesus was able to use any situation as a moment for shar­ing truth and wisdom. How evident this is in today’s Gospel when his mother and brothers tried to see him but were hindered by the crowds. Jesus loved his family, but the bonds of shared blood lines were not his primary concern, nor did these define his mission. It is a source of great encouragement and joy that authentic kinship with Jesus is available to us. Let us support one another in our efforts to hear God’s Word and act on it.                                                  2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 297.

 

 

Reflection – Wednesday, September 21, 2016                                                                                Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Reflecting on the life of Matthew, we cannot help but be astonished by his transformation from tax collector to Apostle and evangelist. What an amaz­ing conversion story! What amazing grace was at work in and through his life! Matthew’s decision to follow the call of Jesus changed the direction of his life, but it did not obliterate who he was. Rather, the abilities and qualities that Jesus recognized in him found a new purpose and a new source of inspi­ration and fulfillment. And so it is with us. Let us reverence who we are as God does and ask for the grace to develop and use our special gifts according to our call.                      2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 298.

 

 

Reflection – Thursday, September 22, 2016        Weekday

Jesus was not someone who could eas­ily be ignored, especially by the likes of Herod Antipas. Here was the man who had John the Baptist brutally put to death on a whim. Were his questions about Jesus idle curiosity or strategic interest? Was he worried about trouble in his domain or did he want to witness a miracle? It matters little. After Jesus’ arrest, Herod would finally meet Jesus. Even for believers, there is such a thing as “holy curiosity.” Our faith does not preclude questions or even doubt at times. These often lead us to a deeper desire for encounter with the Lord.                       2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 299.

 

 

Reflection- Friday, September 23, 2016                                                                                            Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

In the familiar words from Ecclesiastes, there is a right time for everything. This was true concerning the revelation of the full identity of Jesus. Those who had faith in him, such as Peter, were able to glimpse who he was. Others saw only appearances. Today might be a good time to reflect on who Jesus is for us at this point in our lives. Is he Savior, Companion, Teacher, Healer, Shepherd, King, Suffering Servant, Risen Lord, none of these or all of these? Allow your response to emerge in prayerful silence and be grateful.                                    2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 300.

 

 

Reflection- Saturday, September 24, 2016          Weekday

The disciples of Jesus were encouraged when his words and actions drew a posi­tive response from the crowds. To them this was a sign of success. But Jesus knew the adulation would not last and his followers would be plunged into confusion by his Passion and the appar­ent failure of his mission. They were not ready to hear his warnings about this dramatic turn of events and how it would test their faith. Unlike them, we know how the story ends and yet we struggle to grasp how our crosses can lead to new life. Let us ask for renewed trust in the One who walks that road with us.     2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 301.

 

 

Reflection – Sunday, September 25, 2016                                                                                   Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Social justice was often the concern of the Hebrew prophets. God’s covenant included a mandate of shared responsi­bility for the well-being of each member of the faith community. Failure to fulfill this responsibility was a serious issue for Amos and for Jesus. The rich man was condemned because his self-indulgence had made him indifferent to the suffer­ing of Lazarus. Who is languishing at the gates of our neighborhoods and churches? How can we respond to them as sisters and brothers?               2016 Daily Prayer, LTP, page 302.

 

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Saints Who Teach Us to Pray                                                                                                   Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor (†1591)      Feast: December 14

John was born into poverty and want. His father died when he was one, and his mother was forced to put him into an orphanage so that he would be educated. After a series of unsuccessful apprenticeships, John found his place working in a hospital for those suffering from venereal diseases. The head of the hospital, impressed by his intelligence and warmth, offered to educate John so that he could become the hospital’s chaplain. Halfway through his studies, John went to the contemplative Carmelites.

Shortly after ordination, John met Teresa of Avila, who was on fire with reform. He helped her found the Discalced Carmelite branch for men. Four years later, John was abducted by his Carmelite brothers who were determined to stop the reform. They placed John in a dark cell, where he suffered hunger, solitude, vermin, and regular floggings for eight and a half months. At last John escaped and arrived, half-dead, at the door of the nearby Discalced Carmelite convent. The nuns took him in and nursed him. He began to recite the poems he had written in his prison and committed to memory. These became the basis of his Dark Night of the Soul. Later, he composed The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Spiritual Canticle, and O Flame of Living Love. John advocated detachment from all things. “God does not fit in an occupied heart,” he said.

Father in heaven, through the intercession of Saint John of the Cross, grant me the strength to let

go of everything that stands between me and you.           Magnificat, August 2016, page 179.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

IS LIBERALISM A HERESY

FIRST THINGS    June/July 2016   —   IS LIBERALISM A HERESY?

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.

 

PUBLIC SQUARE — PERMANENCE FOR MARRIAGE

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.

VOLUME 18 NUMBER 6 ¨ JUNE 2016 ¨ WRITTEN BY JIM HIGHTOWER

— WORKERS AT UTC’S CARRIER PLANTS IN INDIANA

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 (www.youtube.com/watch? 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: www.fightforamericanjobs.org

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:

www.fightforamericanjobs.org/check-the-label or fightforamericanjobs.org/checkthelabel.pdf

And for more information on rebuilding a strong manufacturing economy in the USA, visit this site: www.americanmanufacturing.org/issues/issues/made-in-america

 

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YOU CAN GO NOW. HERE’S $195 MILLION.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, AUGUST 21, 2016

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

All Are Welcome                                          LECTIONARY #123C

Focus: To learn what God desires.

http://www.usccb.org/biblereadings/082116/ctm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connections to Church Teaching and Tradition

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

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

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

 

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Reflecting on the Gospel

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

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

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

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

Living the Paschal Mystery

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

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

Focusing the Gospel

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

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

Connecting the Gospel

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

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

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

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

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

Homily Points

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

 

CATECHESIS

About Liturgy

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

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

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

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

About Liturgical Music

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

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

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

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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

The Narrow Gate

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

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

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

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

 

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SMALL GROUP GATHERING      Year C             August 21, 2016

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

http://www.usccb.org/biblereadings/082116/ctm

Gathering  Prayer

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

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

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

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

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

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

Reflection

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

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

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

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

Questions for Reflection and Conversation

◊         What has being disciplined taught you?

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

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

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

HEARING THE GOSPEL’S LORD

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

Response in Action Suggestions

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

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

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

Prayer

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

Discipleship Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

 

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THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD

Ramon Llull, Missionary to the Muslims

As told by Anthony Esolen

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

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

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

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

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

“I have never loved,” said Ramon.

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

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

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

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

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

♦  THE SWORD OF LOVE  ♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦  LOVE AND REASON  ♦

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

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

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

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

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

♦ ONLY LOVE PERSUADES ♦

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

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

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

 

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RoseIII

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080716.cfm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DAILY UNTIL NOVEMBER 2 PLEASE PRAY FOR VOTERS:

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.

Amen

PRAY FOR VOTERS COURTESY OF JUDY BUTLER

 

 

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The Announcement of Moveable Feasts

 

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

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

 

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

HFGenerations_IMG_0328

One-Liners in Faith; (June 2016)

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

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

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

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

One-Liners in Faith; (July 2016)

Lavender Iris

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

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

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

Take KNOM with you – read the KNOM newsletter on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other Internet-capable mobile device — visit knom.org/static/620 in your web browser.

One-liners in Faith: (August 2016)

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

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

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

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SEE YOU IN CHURCH!   THE DOLLAR AND THE CENT…

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

 

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The Apostleship of Prayer Monthly Intentions for August:

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflect

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

Scripture

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

 

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EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflect

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

Scripture

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

 

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Model Prayer of the Faithful

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

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

 

FOR THE CHURCH

 

May your living Body know and follow you each day,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR THE WORLD

 

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

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

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

May the power of love dissolve rivalries between nations,

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

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

May people of all faiths and no faith be blessed,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR THE OPPRESSED/ANY NEED

 

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

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

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

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

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

May farmers and harvesters enjoy the fruits of their labors,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR THE ASSEMBLY

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FOR THE SICK

 

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

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

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

 

FOR THE DECEASED

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

2012 May 22_2281

 

UNIVERSAL PRAYERS FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACKS WORLDWIDE:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001

 General Intercessions for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 August, 2016 – Cycle C

Mass Special Intentions

 At Saint Peter – Kirkwood

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

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

6:30               Brett Hefele

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

Deacon or Reader:

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

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

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

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

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

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NINETEENTH WEEK IN O.T., AUGUST 7 – 14, 2016

SUNDAY, AUGUST 7, 2016     NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 117:   1)   Wisdom 18:6-9;   2)   Ps 33:1, 12, 18-2;      3)     Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 or 11:1-2, 8-12;    4)           Luke 12:32-48 or 12:35-40.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/080716/cfm

FOCUS:          Through placing our faith in God and living according to his commands, we become a source of hope. As we read almost daily about terrorism and violence, it can seem like the good guys are losing. This is not the case. As long as believers in God’s ways exist, there is hope that love will overtake hate, good will overtake evil. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice of love upon the cross is definitive proof that the power of sin and evil has been defeated. What more do we need?

The author of Wisdom speaks of “that night” of exodus in Egypt (1) when the Lord delivered his chosen people (Ps). Let us be prepared for the Lord who will come again in the midst of night (3). As we walk in darkness, our journey to our heavenly homeland is illuminated by faith (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom recalls the great Exodus event. The people’s faith in God gave them courage to weather the storms they faced, our reading from Hebrews recalls Abraham’s journey of faith, which gave him the courage to follow through in doing God’s will. In the Gospel, Jesus talks with his disciples about faithful and foolish stewards, encouraging them to choose wisely.

 

 

Monday, August 8, 2016           MONDAY OF19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  Saint Dominic, Priest

Lectionary 413:   1)   Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c;    2)     Ps 148:1-2;      3)     Matthew 17:22-27.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/080816/cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus calls us to avoid acting in ways that could set a bad example or offend others. Although Jesus was not obliged to pay the Temple tax, he did not wish to offend, and so pays the tax by means of a miracle whereby Peter finds a coin in the mouth of a fish. As the followers of Jesus, we can imitate him by taking care not to act in a way that could be perceived as giving a bad example.  Ezekiel, the priest, experiences the glory of the Lord upon the Cherubim  (1, Ps). The paschal mystery will be revealed by Jesus’ death and resurrection (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel describes his vision of the glory of God: winged creatures, a man-like figure on a sapphire throne, fire and rainbow colors. In the Gospel, Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. He pays the Temple tax by having Peter find a coin in the mouth of a fish.

 

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016           TUESDAY OF 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME          Optional Memorial:  Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr

Lectionary 414:   1)   Ezekiel 2:8—3:4;     2)    Ps 119:14, 24, 72;     3)   Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/080916/cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus invites us to become like children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  It is easy to find delight with a new baby or little child. While they can bring us joy, normally we do not want to become children again. Yet Jesus invites us in today’s Gospel to have a childlike faith in God. This means that we depend upon God to provide for our needs, similar to the way children depend upon their parents to provide for their needs.  Sweet to the palate (Ps) is the word of God which Ezekiel is called to preach (1). All are deserving of love and respect, especially the lowly and sinners (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In our first reading, the prophet Ezekiel describes a vision in which God commands him to speak the word of God to the rebellious Israelites. In the Gospel, Jesus is asked by the disciples, who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus responds by saying that whoever becomes humble like a little child is the one greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) in 1891 of Jewish parents. She studied philosophy under Husserl, the leading phenomenologist of his day. Inspired by the writings St. Teresa of Avila, she was baptized 1 January 1922. She taught in various schools from 1923 to 1933 until forced to resign due to anti-semitic legislation. In 1933, she entered the Discalced Carmelite convent in Cologne where she received the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. At the end of 1939. she moved to the   convent at Echt, Holland, on account of the Nazi persecution of Jews, but in 1942, during the German occupation of Holland, she was arrested, transported to Poland, and killed (9 August) at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Her writings include Finite and Eternal Being: An Attempt to an assent to the meaning of being; Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities, and The Science of the Cross. Along with St. Catherine of Siena (29 April) and St. Bridget of Sweden (23 July), she was declared co-patroness of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

 

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016     WEDNESDAY OF 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:  ST. LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR – FEAST

Lectionary 618:    1) 2 Corinthians 9:6-10;     2)     Ps 112:1-2, 5-9;      3)     John 12:24-26.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/081016/cfm

FOCUS: Dying to self enables us to live more fully for Christ. Today, the Church honors Saint Lawrence, who was a deacon in the Roman Church and who was martyred under the persecution of the Roman emperor, Valerian. He is known for his devotion to caring for the poor, and the courageous way he faced martyrdom. May his example move us to love God above all things and more generously serve others.  Lawrence followed the Lord and served him (2), especially in the poor (1) whom he cared for (Ps) as a deacon in Rome.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading reminds us that, whomever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains how a grain of wheat must die in order to bear fruit, and that we must die to the world in order to serve him completely.

Lawrence,†258, four days after four other deacons and Pope Sixtus II were killed (see 7 Aug.); cared for the temporal welfare of the Roman church; said to have been burned alive on a gridiron; after Sts. Peter and Paul, Lawrence is venerated as patron of Rome; mentioned in the Roman Canon.

 

 

Thursday, August 11, 2016       THURSDAY OF 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL:   Saint Clare, Virgin

Lectionary 416:  1)   Ezekiel 12:1-12;     2)    Ps 78:56-59, 61-62;     3)      Matthew 18:21—19:1.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/081116/cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus teaches us that we are to strive to love and forgive others without limit.  God, in his goodness and grace, loves us unconditionally and is ever-willing to forgive us. However, for God’s love and forgiveness to bear good fruit in our lives so that we may be judged worthy of heaven, we must strive to love and forgive others without limit as God loves and forgives us. Ezekiel foretells the approaching deportation into captivity (Ps) of Jerusalem (1). Forgiveness has no limits (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading tells of the Lord instructing the prophet Ezekiel to pack as for exile, and to move on from where he lives to another place.  This was to be a sign to the people of Israel of what would happen to them if they failed to repent. In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable which underscores the importance of striving to love and forgive others without end.

Clare of Assisi, † 1253; disciple of St. Francis; founded the Poor Clares whose first convent at Assisi she directed as abbess for forty-two years; led an austere life, rich in the practice of charity and loving care.

 

 

Friday, August 12, 2016 FRIDAY OF 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME                    Optional Memorial:  Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious

Lectionary 417:    1)  Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63 or 16:59-63;   2)    (Ps) Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6;     3)            Matthew 19:3-12.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/081216/cfm

FOCUS:          God is always faithful and true to the covenants he has made throughout the ages and for all eternity.  God has entered into covenants with his people with the purpose of drawing them closer and binding them to himself.  God is always faithful and true to the covenants he has made. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God established a new and eternal covenant with humankind so that all who believe in Christ Jesus may have eternal life. In spite of infidelity, the Lord, the Savior (Ps), remembers his covenant (1). Conjugal love mirrors this eternal love of God (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading offers both a message of warning and hope. Although the Israelites will suffer as a result of their infidelity to the Lord, God promises he will establish an everlasting covenant with them. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that marriage is a covenant in which a man and a woman bind themselves to one another for life.

Jane Fremiot, † 13 December 1641; from Dijon; wife of Baron de Chantal and mother of six children, two of whom died at birth; as a widow, with St. Francis de Sales, her spiritual director, she founded in 1610 at Annency in Savoy the Visitation nuns; established some eighty-five monasteries before her death.

 

 

Saturday, August 13, 2016  SATURDAY OF 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME               Optional Memorials:  Saints Pontian, Pope, and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyr                    Saturday in honor of BVM

Lectionary 418:    1) Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13b, 30-32;     2)    Ps 51:12-15, 18-19;                                   3)     Matthew 19:13-15.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/081316/cfm

FOCUS:          The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children.  Jesus taught that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. That means we are to be teachable, recognize our need for care and protection, and have trust along with open hearts. But children are not always well-behaved. Thank God! That means we do not have to be perfect to be part of God’s kingdom.  Our God desires life, not death, a heart humble and contrite (1, Ps). The most insignificant are welcome in the kingdom of God (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In today’s first reading, Ezekiel prophesies that God will judge individuals according to how they live their lives, and not by what their forebears did. In the Gospel, Jesus calls children to himself, and teaches that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these children.

Pontian, † 235; bishop of Rome banished by Maximinius Thrax to Sardinia where he was reconciled with Hippolytus; before dying, he abdicated his office (first pope to do so) to make way for his successor, St. Anterus (3 Jan.); buried in the cemetery of Callistus.

Hippolytus, † 235-236; disputed author of Apostolic Tradition; Roman priest and stem rigorist; opposed Sabellianism and milder penitential discipline of Pope St. Callistus (14 Oct. [† 222]); first anti-pope (217­-235); exiled to Sardinia with Pontian; source of Eucharistic Prayer II.

  • Announce tomorrow the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Monday next, not a holy day of obligation this year (USA).

 

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2016         TWENTIETH SUNDAY 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Lectionary 120:  1)   Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10;     2)    Ps 40:2-4, 18;      3)    Hebrews 12:1-4;     4)    Luke 12:49-53.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/reading/081416/cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus will strengthen us to persevere in our faith.  We will share in his suffering, but also in the joy of his victory.  Following Jesus is not easy. In striving to live out our faith, we may at times find ourselves at odds with other people – even those who are closest to us. But we can turn to Jesus, who also suffered opposition and rejection, to give us the strength and grace needed to remain steadfast in faith and not lose heart.

The Lord came to the aid (Ps) of Jeremiah whose preaching brought upon him rejection and ill treatment (1). For those who take the gospel seriously, misunderstanding and division must likewise be expected (3). Like Christ, we must never grow despondent or abandon the struggle (2) to proclaim and live the truth.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading tells of the prophet Jeremiah being thrown into a cistern and left to die as a result of being faithful to the Lord. The second reading reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus – the leader and perfector of faith. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that living as one of his followers will cause us to experience persecution and resistance from others.

  • The Vigil Mass of the Assumption may be celebrated this evening either before or after EP I of the Solemnity. Ps 132:6-7, 9-10, 13-14;     Mary, the ark (1, Ps) of the new covenant, bore Jesus in her womb (3). She shares in the victory (2) promised to all who believe.

FAITH CATHOLIC ONLINE; PAULIST ORDO; MAGNIFICAT for the 19th Week In Ordinary Time .

 

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Reflection, Sunday, August 7, 2016          Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

An Advent song contains the words: “Stay Awake! Be ready! You do not know the hour when the Lord is com­ing!” Today’s reading invites us to live these words. We must be awake, for the Master returns when we least expect, and a thief comes unexpectedly, too. We must be ready at all times for protection from harm. St. Francis de Sales tells us to let God be the air in which our heart breathes at ease. You might want to consider the following exercise: close your eyes and take a deep breath. Fill your being with the awareness that God is with you. Exhale. Repeat the process. When you start each day this way, you may find readiness and you will stay awake, know that Christ is with you, and feel ready for when the Lord returns.       Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 253.

A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH  —   Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We all feel a longing that nothing in this world can pos­sibly satisfy, since it is a longing, finally, for God. The most basic spiritual problem is to seek to quench that thirst with something other than God. We try to fill the emptiness with wealth, pleasure, power, honor, material things, etc., but since the emptiness is limitless, no amount of those good things can possibly fill it. In point of fact, the insufficiency of created things produces in the soul a kind of panic, which drives it to seek more and more of what cannot, even in principle, prove satisfactory. And this in turn conduces, in very short order, to an addiction, a self-destructive frenzy. If you want a vivid display of this dynamic, look anew at the story of the priests of Ba’al on Mount Carmel from the first Book of Kings.                                                                                The only solution is to fit the infinity of the desire to the infinite God. Listen to the Lord’s words from the twelfth chapter of Luke’s Gospel: Do not be afraid any longer…. Provide money bags that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven…. Whatever can be caught in ordinary money bags will necessarily be less than what your spirit wants. But when the inexhaustible desire is fitted to the inexhaustible God, then the heart sings, for it has found what no thief or moth can destroy. It has bought the pearl of great price.           –Bishop Robert Barron                                 Magnificat, August 2016, page 91.

 

 

Reflection – Monday, August 8, 2016 Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest

St. Dominic Guzman (1170-1221) founded the Order of Preachers Unlike the officials of his day, Dominic’s fam­ily preached by means of simplicity of life, personal and communal prayer, community life, and study. Their preach­ing method would include dialogue with those considered outside of accepted Church teaching. Like Jesus, Dominic invited people to change their hearts. How do we invite others to live the Gos­pel? Are we willing to dialogue as the means that invites parties to consider Church teaching?                  Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 254.

 

 

Reflection – Tuesday, August 9, 2016                                                                             Optional Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr

Influenced by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Edith Stein (now known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) con­verted to Catholicism. In 1933, after being forced to resign her work as a university lecturer, she entered a Carmel convent. After Church leaders con­demned Nazism, Jewish converts were sent to Auschwitz, where St. Teresa died in the gas chamber. As did Ezekiel, this saint ate the scroll of God’s Will placed before her. Her total love for God freed her to embrace death. Her witness was a light in a world ravaged by darkness.                                                     Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page  255

 

 

Reflection – Wednesday, August 10, 2016                                                                 Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

St. Lawrence (+258) was a deacon. The ministry of deacons is to connect the table of the Lord with the tables of the poor and needy. Arrested during a time of persecution, Lawrence sold the com­munity’s possessions to care for the poor and left nothing for his captors. Enraged, they roasted his body over an open fire, forcing the poor to watch. Legend holds that Lawrence cried out: “I’m done on this side. Turn me over.” He was a cheerful giver. He used what he had to help others. Following Jesus can threaten others who try to discredit us however possible. Can we be faithful and cheerful, like Lawrence and Jesus, who gave their all to manifest God’s abundant mercy?                 Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 256.

 

 

Reflection – Thursday, August 11, 2016                 Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin

St. Clare (1194-1253) was a friend and follower of St. Francis of Assisi. She was from a wealthy family and sold all she had to serve the poor Christ. Many women came to join Clare’s Poor Ladies. Clare served her sisters, like Christ, the Servant King. She was merciful, as was the Master in today’s reading. Jesus challenges us to forgive as God forgives, without condition. To what material or emotional possessions do you need to let go of Christ?           Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 257.

 

 

Reflection- Friday, August 12, 2016                                                                                Optional Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) left father and mother to serve God in marriage and then in religious life. After her husband died, she founded the Sisters of the Visitation, under the spiri­tual guidance of St. Francis de Sales. She accepted women into the order who were frail due to sickness or age. Her own pain made her compassionate and creative. She believed that all peo­ple, of whatever way of life, are called to holiness. She held that our focus must be on God: “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him That is all the doing you have to worry about,” she said.                    Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 258.

 

 

Reflection- Saturday, August 13, 2016                                                                              Optional Memorial of Sts. Pontian, Pope, and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus (+235) were martyrs who disagreed about Church teaching. Pontian was elected pope, but since Hippolytus rejected that election, he became the antipope. Both were exiled to the island of death and recon­ciled before being martyred. How do we know whether someone is virtuous or a true leader? Their actions and their willingness to turn to God for mercy, a new heart, and a new spirit will tell us. Today’s reading offers advice about which actions are virtuous. Reflect on them and use them to examine your conscience. Then grow in virtue and live the will of God for you.       Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 259.

 

 

Reflection – Sunday, August 14, 2016       Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus’ words are challenging: “I have come to set the earth on fire,” “how great is my anguish,” “I have come to establish division.” Isn’t he the Prince of Peace and resurrected God of Mercy? We often need to hit bottom before we are willing to surrender and let God raise us up. Jesus’ ways challenge us and the world’s wisdom. Our closest family and friends can find them too difficult. Do not lose hope. Remember Paul’s words to the Hebrews: “Consider how [Jesus] endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”     Daily Prayer 2016, LTP, page 260.

 

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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.

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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.
Amen

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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 JOHN CARROLL

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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HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD     

A Map of Mankind by Anthony Esolen

AN OLD MAN, DRESSED IN A LOOSE RED ROBE, bows his head in respect, one scholar to another. His skin is a kind of dark amber, and his eyes glitter behind lids that sometimes make them look half shut. He is a storehouse of ancient lore. He knows the paths of the stars and the planets, what makes for a wise and useful minister, and what sacrifices are to be offered in honor of one’s ancestors. He can tell the virtues of the good emperors and the vices of the bad. He is mas­ter of the multitudinous and labyrinthine pictograms of his written language.

“Honorable Father,” he says, “I am ready to see the map.”

The other scholar, a man in his prime, is dressed in the same manner, but he wears a cross around his neck. His flesh is permanently sun-darkened, and gleams with a tinge of bronze. His hair is black, with that wave in it that signifies foreigner. He responds to his visitor with the intimation of a smile, and rolls out a large parchment upon the table. It is covered with impossible shapes, like those of fabulous beasts, shaded in various colors, all of them lurking or peering be­neath a grill of arcs and parallel lines.

“Here it is,” says the young man.

They remain silent for a while. The old scholar touches the parchment here and there with his fingertips. “I do not see my land, Father.”

“We are here, my good friend Pao,” says the young man, pointing to a spot near the Great Sea. “All of this land, from the cold wasteland of the Mongol here, to Ton-kin in the south, and from the sea westward to the mountains of Tibet, all of this great land is yours.”

“I had thought we were almost the whole world,” said Pao, shaking his head a little sadly.

“Master Pao,” the Jesuit Matteo Ricci replied, laying a hand upon the old man’s shoulder, “that is a fond dream to which all men are prone.”

■MEETING PEOPLE IN LOVE.■

When Matteo Ricci traveled to the Far East as a missionary in 1580, he knew he had to learn everything he could about the Chinese culture, in order to bring them the Good News most effectively. He understood that the Chinese were an an­cient and proud people, with long and venerable traditions. He spent several years in the Portuguese colony of Macao, mastering Mandarin Chinese, a language as different from any in Europe as it is possible to be. He had already studied mathematics and astronomy in Italy under the famous Father Christopher Clavius, with an eye to using those studies to earn the esteem and the friendship of the Chinese, who believed that the moral task of mankind on earth was to reflect the beautiful, silent Order of Heaven. In other words, Matteo Ricci was what we now would call an anthropologist, as were so many others among his brother missionaries.

I have heard people pride themselves on being “multi­cultural” who read at most two languages, and whose idea of culture seems to be limited to what comes out of the oven and what flag flies from the eaves. They have much to learn from the Catholic missionaries. You cannot bring the Good News to a people, or really any news at all, unless you know them, but to know human beings to the core you must love what is lovable in them, honor what is honorable, and for­give what is foolish or wicked. So the missionaries observed the peoples to whom they ministered, and their letters and diaries are invaluable sources of information.

But more than information. It is one thing to be aware that the Chinese believed that their land took up almost the whole globe, and to know that they would be surprised and dismayed to learn otherwise. It is quite another to be able to disentangle that pride and folly from their admirable sense of order and tradition, spanning many centuries. Matteo Ricci, like Juniper° Serra, and Isaac Jogues, and Jean de Brebeuf, learned from the inside what the people were whom he loved. And we must insist upon the fact of this love.

■ LOVE THAT SEEKS TRUTH ■

Consider what happens when the depth of Christian love is not there. Margaret Mead, the queen of anthropology, went to the South Seas and studied the mating habits of the natives, resulting in the too influential and now discredited Corning of Age in Samoa. She had something of a liberal agenda; the natives caught on to it, and played their cards accordingly. The people under the microscope flipped the lens the other way around. I’m not saying that Mead de­spised the Samoans; she liked them very much. But Father Ricci had to love the Chinese, with the charity that hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things. Father Ricci had to love them with a love that would defy one disappoint­ment after another, unto death. He was not martyred, but he would never return to his native land. He never enjoyed the accolades due to a celebrated scholar.

I think that the Catholic missionaries had to be most dis­cerning, precisely because the articles of our Faith are of ul­timate concern. They could not simply say, “The people of China leave food offerings for their deceased ancestors, so they must be worshiping them as deities.” Maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t. Father Ricci determined that the most learned among them considered it an act of filial piety. Since they brought food to their elders in life, they thought that the best demonstration of their honor would be to “bring” food to them after their death. The common people, however, had mingled the practice with a good deal of superstition, and that, too, had to be taken into account.

Father Ricci sought out the wisest sages among the Chinese, and determined that the most ancient Chinese de­ity of all was the T’ien-Chu Shih-/—”heavenly Lord” or “Lord of heaven.” That Lord was the one in whom all things had their origin, and whom all things in heaven and earth obeyed. So after long observation and careful study of the old texts, he wrote The True Doctrine of God, a short and brilliant catechism of the Catholic Faith, filled with citations from the venerated words of such ancient wise men as Confucius and Mencius. For we believe that God does not leave any of his beloved people entirely in darkness.

■ LOVE OF GOD, THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP ■

After many years of patient labor, Matteo Ricci was ac­corded the rarest of privileges. He, a mandarin from the West, was allowed entrance to the Forbidden City, the abode of the emperor himself. It was a momentous occasion.

For we are not talking about slick operators, buying land from indigenous peoples by paying them nuggets of glass, or rotting out their virtue by soaking them with firewater. Matteo Ricci came alone, with the best that his world had to offer, as a gift to the best of the people to whom he was both preacher and servant.

What a sight that must have been, in the early weeks of 1601, when Father Ricci, summoned at last by the Emperor Wan-Li himself, walked along the stately courtyards of the imperial grounds! I imagine him escorted by a parade of counselors and scholars and priests, while porters carry upon a litter the most fitting of gifts—maps and clocks and the as­trolabe about which Father Ricci’s teacher Clavius had written with so much precision and admiration. There before them rises the many-colored palace itself, its tiers of roofs curled in the style of the East, where dwelt the emperor, the North Star upon earth, whose duty was to rule his people with the same constancy as the North Star above ruled the heavens.

The man of God met a man who longed for God. Is that not the profoundest thing we can say about our fellow men, in whatever culture we may find them—that in the recesses of their hearts they long for God? If so, then only someone whose heart and mind are turned to God can ever really un­derstand the hearts and minds of others.

I will not enter into the disputes that arose, the most bit­ter of them long after Father Ricci had died, between the Jesuits on one side and Dominicans and Franciscans on the other, regarding whether the mode of worship the Chinese Catholics had adopted was licit, or whether their continuing to honor their dead in the traditional way smacked too much of paganism. It is a tangled affair, ending in defeat for the Jesuit position. But Matteo Ricci has not been forgotten. The best of that noble culture, which the methodical and murderous Mao Zedong tried to sweep from the face of the earth, survives yet, and the moral seriousness of the Chinese, their natural piety, and their love of the beauty and order of the universe will someday, I firmly trust, find their fulfillment in Christ.

Yet another reason to turn in prayer to the east.

■ 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, February 2016, page 210-214.