SUNDAY LITURGY PREPARATION

See Below in the following Order — Scroll down to find

RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 162-163. 

RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 250-253.

RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, pages 136-137.  www.litpress.org,

RESOURCE:  Magnificat, November 2017, pages  279-280 & 284-285.

RESOURCE:  Homily for Sunday, November 19, 2017 by Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana

RESOURCE: Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April 2017, Liturgical Press, page 441.

RESOURCE: HOLY FATHER’S  INTENTION FOR THE MONTH  OF NOVEMBER 2017

RESOURCE:  KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners for:  One-Liners in Faith; (November 2017)

RESOURCES: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2017;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.

RESOURCE: General Intercessions for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time                                                  19 November, 2017 – Cycle A

 

 

RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 162-163. 

THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME       

Stay Alert, Children of the Light!

PROVERBS 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 The Proverbs reading is grounded in words of wisdom. The image we are given of a worthy wife and mother is immersed in this metaphor about wisdom and living in fear of the Lord. Not fear as one who is frightened or paralyzed, but the wisdom of one who lives in awe of the wondrous power and majesty of God, who offers love to us. The Hebrew adjective translated “worthy” in this reading is hayil, and was used to describe the kind of valor and strength found in armies. That is the kind of courage it takes to enter into this kind of relation­ship with God. This description of a worthy wife and mother is grounded in a particular cultural time and is not meant as a rationale only for women to act in this way. Rather, it calls us to ground ourselves in this kind of awe and the courage of being in relationship with the Lord. The passage is no excuse for sexism anywhere—not in families, societies, cultures, or religions.

PSALM 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (SEE 1A) Psalm 128 gives us another image of fear of the Lord from the Wisdom tradi­tion. Those who walk in awe and reverence, practicing obe­dience in following God’s ways, bring peace and prosperity not only on themselves but also on their families and God’s chosen ones in the city of Jerusalem. Blessings, new life, prosperity, and peace come to the children who walk in God’s ways. This shalom fashioned by their obedience gen­erates harmony to all creation and right relationships with all God’s people.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-6 Many a parent has sent a child going off to college to “remember who you are,” meaning to stay centered in the way the young person had been taught to be and act. Paul gives Christians similar advice: you already know you are children of the light, so do not walk in darkness. You are children of the day. Act that way. Stay alert and sober. Do not sleepwalk through this chance to act with conviction and faith.

Paul reminds believers that they do not know when Christ will come again. It happens as stealthily as a thief in the night, or as quickly as labor pains. God does not threaten, but rather invites us to be ready to walk in the Lord’s ways, as we heard in the psalm. Believers have already seen the dawning of the new way of life onto.,_ Jesus’ followers. Jesus brought light to the darkness and offered it to us. Confident of our identity as children of God and children of the light of Christ, we go forward, ready.

MATTHEW 25:14-30 OR 25:14-15, 19-21 In today’s Gospel, we hear another story about readiness and being prepared. The story is familiar, but it is worth paying atten­tion to the details. A man entrusts three servants with exor­bitant sums of money (some commentaries suggest one talent equaled fifteen years’ worth of laborers’ wages) and leaves town. He entrusts each one with abundance accord­ing to each one’s ability. Two invest theirs and add to the amount, and one digs a hole and buries it. We see how the master responds to all three: there is swift affirmation and judgment, and no excuses are considered right for the third servant’s inaction.

What are we to make of this parable, especially in light of Paul’s admonition to walk in God’s light alert and follow the ways of the Lord? The master trusts the servants, and God entrusts us with the world—everything animate and inanimate. God trusts us to be good stewards and to con­tinue the work Jesus Christ laid out for disciples. If we wait for further instructions or for Jesus’ Second Coming to be certain, we will have wasted our time—it will be the same as wasting fifteen years’ wages. If we go on living as if we had one more day to act as God bids, even if we live as if we have another hour or even another minute, we do not understand the urgency of the Good News.

We are exhorted to act now, be resourceful, and use our lives and all that we have been given. We should not be hesitant about the Good News of God’s loving kindness. We must tell the world the Good News of the amazing, abundant gifts we have been given. We must live freely and fully alert every moment to God’s astonishing, saving love.

CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION

ψ         “Since this mission con­tinues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor, the church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of ser­vice and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resur­rection” (AG, 5).

ψ        “Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of” (CCC, 2280).

ψ         “Openness to God makes us open towards our brothers and sis­ters and towards an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity” (CIV, 78).

ψ        “The Church has no other light than Christ’s” (CCC, 748).

Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 162-163.

 

 

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RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, pages 250-253.

Columbia Gorge

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION:      John 15:4a, 5b

R7. Alleluia, alleluia.

Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me bears much fruit.

R7. Alleluia, alleluia.

Reflecting on the Gospel

There is much talk these days about baby boomers moving into retirement age and the challenge that the number of retirees drawing social security will place on this government trust fund. Studies suggest to us that this fund will be completely depleted within a couple of decades. Workers are encouraged to put money aside in other accounts to supplement their retirement income. And even that extra money, given a prolonged illness requiring skilled medical care in a long-term care facility, would probably run out. Many older people worry about their investments and whether they will have enough when they face various end-of-life issues. Younger people are encouraged to begin planning early in life and certainly to begin saving. In many ways our future is already upon us. We invest in our fu­ture and pray that everything will be OK. Nearing the end of the liturgical year, the gospels draw our attention to another future: life after death. As with retirement, we must prepare for, invest in this future. This Sunday’s gospel parable raises the issue of investments and benefits and directs us to think of how we await that future.

The master gave to the three servants in the gospel “each according to his ability.” We have not all been given the same sum of talents, but Jesus, our Master, has invested in every one of us. We are not judged according to the amount given us, but we are judged by the choices we make to use to the fullest potential what Jesus has invested in us The most important choice we make in life is fidelity to whatever we are called to do—even in what seems to be small matters. The continuation of Jesus’ sav­ing work depends upon this fidelity. If we are faithful, Jesus will judge us wor­thy beneficiaries of the greatest return on any investment a share in the riches of the “master’s joy”—eternal Life.

We are now living in the delay before our Master’s return. This parable teaches what to do during this time of waiting—it is not empty time, for sure. We are to live in such a way that we grow in our greatest “possession”—the di­vine Life that has been given us. If, like the lazy servant in the parable, we focus on our fear and Christ’s judgment, we will be paralyzed in our ability to con­tinue using the “investments” we have been given to continue Christ’s work of salvation. However, if we focus on the promised share in the “master’s joy,” then we will be willing to risk what we have in order to grow in our most prized pos­session—our share in divine Life and the relationship with Christ that entails. The Christian life and journey of discipleship begins with our being given an unmerited share in God’s Life. When we are faithful it will end wondrously—we will enter fully into the “master’s joy.” If we are not faithful . . .

Living the Paschal Mystery

The master commends the two faithful servants for their industriousness and then tells them he will give them “great responsibilities.” For us Christians our “great responsibilities” are, of course, to be faithful disciples making present the kingdom of God in our daily lives. Another part of these “great responsibilities” is to live now the Master’s joy, confident that one day we will enter even more fully into that joy. Responsibility means to use our Master’s “investments” in us to spread God’s goodness as well as appreciate now the joy of all that has been given us. Joy isn’t something only in the future; it is a fruit of the Spirit we enjoy now.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 250.

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: entrusted his possessions to them, each according to his ability, faithful in small matters, share your master’s joy, he will grow rich, useless servant

To the point: The master gave to the three servants in the gospel “each ac­cording to his ability” Jesus, our Master, has invested in every one of us. We are judged by the choices we make to use to the fullest potential what Jesus has in­vested in us. The most important choice we make in life is fidelity to whatever we are called to do—even in what seems to be small matters. The continuation of Jesus’ saving work depends upon this fidelity. If we are faithful, Jesus will judge us worthy beneficiaries of the greatest return on any investment: a share in the riches of the “master’s joy”—eternal Life. If we are not faithful . . .

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: The faithful wife in the first reading uses her talents to serve both family and neighbor because she is moved to do so by the tender love of her husband who has entrusted his greatest treasure to her—his heart. We are moved to serve both God and others by the greatest treasure given to us—the love of God prompting us to fidelity and leading us to eternal Life.

to experience: How proud children feel when parents invest them with some small responsibility! How astounding it is that Jesus invests us with the major responsibility of continuing his saving work!

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: The first reading and psalm together offer us a balanced image of a woman and a man who, each in their respective social roles, are faithful to God’s desires about the manner of human living. Both texts are couched in the domestic terms which characterized Hebrew life and under­standing, but the Lectionary’s intent is to offer models for all sorts of lifestyles, vocations, and situations in life. Those who “fear the Lord” are faithful in car­rying out the ordinary everyday demands of covenant living and their fidelity and generosity flow back to them in abundant blessings.

In the gospel parable Jesus places the same demand on us and makes the same promise. He has invested in each of us some responsibility for building up the kingdom of God. If we are faithful to what has been invested in us, we will be greatly rewarded by Jesus when he returns in glory. If we are unfaith­ful, however, we will have everything, even the kingdom of heaven, taken from us. May we choose the path of fidelity which leads to blessedness and to a share in God’s joy.

to psalmist preparation: The “talent” Jesus has given you is more than just a good voice, a musical ear, a sense of rhythm. He has also graced you with the ability to lead the Body of Christ in sung liturgical prayer. Pray this week for the grace to use faithfully this talent Jesus has invested in you. You, and the as­sembly, will both be blessed!

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 251.

 

CELEBRATION

 

Homily Points

  • Some fearful people keep their “investments” under carpets or mattresses or at the bottom of a cookie jar. Some more trusting people place their investments in savings ac­counts in banks. Others secure the services of a stock broker. Still others turn to a wealth manager. Jesus, our Master, is the best “wealth manager” anyone could have.
  • Jesus invests every one of us with the continuation of his saving work. At issue is not how much we’ve been given or how great or small a matter we undertake. The issue is our faithfulness to the commission with which he has invested us, evidenced in the every­day choices we make for Gospel living. When Jesus returns in glory at the end of time, will our use of what he has invested in us bring us the joy of eternal Life?
  • Exactly what does Jesus invest in us? He gives us his Gospel to guide us in making faithful, wise, and loving choices. He gives his Spirit to strengthen and encourage us. He gives us a share in divine Life. What do we do with his investment in us? Do we increase it five- or two-fold? Or do we bury it?

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 252.

 

CATECHESIS

 

About Liturgy

Liturgical ministries and increase of “talents”: The average parish has a great many people involved actively in the various “visible” liturgical ministries: hos­pitality ministers, music ministers, altar ministers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and others. In all cases these ministries require some “talent” in order to fulfill them properly. In addition to learning the “job,” what is also required is growth in a spirituality of the ministry that moves the “doing” toward real service to the community—herein lies the real demand for “talent.”

No doubt some ministers groan sometimes when they see their name on the sched­ule for a particular Sunday. Perhaps they are not in good space in their life and prepar­ing well for a ministry brings an added burden. However, realizing liturgical ministry is a commitment they have made, they choose to be faithful, do the preparation, and come with a ready attitude to serve. Often this is a time when the “increase of talents” the gospel speaks about becomes so evident—perhaps a special grace is given during Mass in terms of a particularly poignant Presence of Christ to the minister or a real sense of joy in the celebration because they have more fully participated and allowed God to work in and through them. Continued reflection helps all of us see how Christ is increasing our own “talents” when we remain faithful disciples. Most importantly, this is how we cooperate with Christ in continuing his saving mission. He uses our “talents” to further God’s reign.

About Liturgical Music

Music suggestions: Written with this Sunday’s gospel in mind, Ruth Duck’s “With Gifts That Differ by Your Grace” (W4) would be a fitting song either for the entrance or during the preparation of the gifts. Another strong choice for the entrance song would be “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending” (OF, W4, WC, WS) in which we sing: “Gifted by you, we turn to you, Offering up ourselves in praise”; “Skills and time are ours for pressing Toward the goals of Christ, your Son”; “Born with talents, make us servants Fit to answer at your throne.” Steven Warner’s “Christ Has No Body Now But Yours” (G3, OF, WC, WS) reminds us that Jesus has given us the work of being his hands, his eyes, his feet, and his benediction to the people we serve. This song would also be appropriate during Communion. Ruth Duck’s “Moved by the Gospel, Let Us Move” (G3, SS) calls us to use our artistic gifts and talents in varied ways to further God’s kingdom and to express “the shape of holiness.” The song would work well for the recessional.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 253.

 

 

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RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, pages 136-137.  www.litpress.org,

Astoria, OR – Mouth of Columbia River

THE WORD ON THE STREET, Sunday Lectionary Reflections,  John W. Martens

NOW OR THEN 

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Dan 12:1-3; Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

“But about that day or hour no one knows.” (Mark 13:32)

When Jesus outlines the apocalyptic scenario found in the Gospel of Mark, he warns, “But about that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Patristic discussion of this verse focused on what this admission indicated about Jesus’ divin­ity and the relationship between Jesus’ divine and human knowledge, but in context the intent of this saying points to the need for vigilance and perseverance regarding the coming end, since no one knows when it will Occur.

But Jesus also tells us in Mark that “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” The sense of imminence here is profound, though later Christians would argue whether Jesus meant the generation of his disciples or the generation of all human beings, while others discussed whether “all these things” referred to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the destruction of Jerusalem, or “the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” which is the clearest meaning.

The themes of imminent preparation for the end, the eschaton, and the fact that no one knows when the end will occur, therefore, have been joined in Christianity from the earliest days, maintaining a tension be­tween what has been accomplished (realized eschatology) and what is still to come (future eschatology).

Whether we understand, or believe we understand, much about the last things—not only when these things will occur but what sort of process we go through in death; what the interim period between our death and the resurrection is like; the process of purgatory; what the heavenly life is like, whether it takes place on a renewed earth or in a heavenly, other­worldly domain—these mysteries will in many ways remain mysteries on this side of death and appear to us as vague and incomplete.

We have the assurances of revelation, however, that there is a world to come and that it may come in fullness at any time. Daniel, in the most explicit verses of the Old Testament, tells us that there will be a general resurrection at the end of time and that the dead will rise, “some to ever­lasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” In a compact passage we are told of the reality of what is still to come.

In an odd way, though, the dramatic and mythic apocalyptic scenarios of the coming end can be distractions from the realities to which they point: death, judgment, heaven, and hell—the four last things. How? Calculating the end times and whether the apocalypse will play out now or then, in this way or that, can draw us away from preparation for our own end.

For death is coming for each of us, whether we will confront it in our own personal eschaton or in the cosmic apocalyptic drama as described in the Gospel of Mark. Even if “the end” does not occur in our lifetime, and even if another group of end-time prophets falsely calculate Jesus’ return and offer precise dates that do not come to pass, we will still come to our end. How are we preparing for it?

For this is not just a future reality. This is our life to live now and then. It is incumbent upon us to live for God, to begin the process of righteous living now that will be brought to perfection then, at the time of the end. Our time is short, even from the perspective of human history, but espe­cially in the scope of eternity, and it can end at any time.

But as Jesus tells us, the time of the end is the coming of the Son of Man, the time of the fullness of revelation—the time, that is, when God makes all things new. And though it is true that apocalyptic scenarios speak of persecution and torment, this is not the final story, though modern apoca­lyptic movies, books, and video games give an inordinate and theologi­cally unsound emphasis to darkness and desperation. Death can create fear for us, as do judgment and hell, but we were created for one last thing, heaven, to be like and to be with God. Jesus encourages us to prepare now, for this is the time to get ready for whatever happens and whenever it takes place.

  ΑΩ

Pray about the four last things. Is there something in particular you fear? Is there something confusing to you about the coming end? What comforts you as you reflect on Jesus’ teachings about the end of time?

The Liturgical Press – Pages 138-139.

 

 

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RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, pages 136-137.  www.litpress.org,

Sunday, November 19, 2017  —  Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Know that God is present with you and ready to converse

Jesus Christ taught a spiritual way, but his way involves being in a world that opposes us as it opposed him. What does Jesus ask of us? Love for God and others. That love expresses itself in faithful and courageous service to God and others. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, yet you are here with me, glorious in your holy Word.”

Read the gospel: Matthew 25:14-30.

Jesus said, “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

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

In this parable, the master commends the faithful servants, “well done, good and trustworthy slave” for they have invested his resources and made more of them. He invites them to enter into his joy. Why did the slave with one talent fail the master?

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“Lord, I am just a person. Help me to make the most of the gifts you have given me, even if it is just a single gift. Let me understand your spiritual economics, so that I and all those you have given me can enter into the joy of the Lord . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

Faith, not fear, will prosper you, beloved. Believe in God’s goodness and gener­osity and imitate God. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“Lord, if I am being stingy, correct me today. If I am fearful, correct me. I offer myself to you, Good Shepherd. Amen.”

 

 

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RESOURCE:  Magnificat, November 2017, pages  279-280 & 284-285.

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why does the master call the two servants “good and faithful”? Because, when entrusted with a vast amount of money, they do not run off or spend the money on themselves. Rather, they invest what was given them as their way of revering their relationship with their master. His reply is, “Since you were faithful, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share my joy.” Which means: Come, and be my equal. The worthy wife is valued “far beyond pearls” because she loves her husband and family with just such gratuitous, self-sacrificing love. We are “children of the light” in­asmuch as we have been given an all-surpassing Master and the chance to glorify him by our obedience.                            Magnificat, November 2017, pages 279-280.

The Parable of the Talents

The man in the parable represents Jesus, we are the servants, and the talents are the inheritance that the Lord entrusts to us. What is the inheritance? His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the heavenly Father, his forgive­ness…in other words, so many things, his most precious treasures. This is the inheritance that he entrusts to us, not only to safeguard, but to make fruitful! While in common usage the term “talent” indicates a pronounced individual quality, for example talent in music, in sport, and so on, in the parable, talents represent the riches of the Lord, which he entrusts to us so that we make them bear fruit.

The hole dug into the soil by the wicked and sloth­ful servant (Mt 25:26) points to the fear of risk which blocks creativity and the fruitfulness of love, because the fear of the risks of love stop us. Jesus does not ask us to store his grace in a safe! Jesus does not ask us for this, but he wants us to use it to benefit others. All the goods that we have received are to give to others, and thus they increase, as if he were to tell us: “Here is my mercy, my tenderness, my forgiveness: take them and make ample use of them.” And what have we done with them? Whom have we “infected” with our faith? How

many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbor? These are questions that will do us good to ask ourselves. Any environment, even the furthest and most impractical, can become a place where our talents can bear fruit. There are no situations or places precluded from the Christian presence and witness. The witness which Jesus asks of us is not closed, but is open, it is in our hands.

This parable urges us not to conceal our faith and our belonging to Christ, not to bury the Word of the Gospel, but to let it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in concrete situations, as a strength which galvanizes, which purifies, which renews. Similarly, the forgiveness, which the Lord grants us particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: let us not keep it closed within our­selves, but let us allow it to emit its power, which brings down the walls that our egoism has raised, which en­ables us to take the first step in strained relationships, to resume the dialogue where there is no longer com­munication…. And so forth. Allow these talents, these gifts, these presents that the Lord has given us, to be, to grow, to bear fruit for others, with our witness….

Moreover, the Lord does not give the same things to everyone in the same way: He knows us personally and entrusts us with what is right for us; but in everyone, in all, there is something equal: the same, immense trust. God trusts us, God has hope in us! And this is the same for everyone. Let us not disappoint him! Let us not be misled by fear, but let us reciprocate trust with trust! The Blessed Virgin Mary embodied this attitude in the fullest and most beautiful way. She received and wel­comed the most sublime gift, Jesus himself, and in turn she offered him to mankind with a generous heart. Let us ask her to help us to be good and faithful servants in order to participate in the joy of our Lord.

POPE FRANCIS — His Holiness Pope Francis was elected to the See of Saint Peter in 2013.            Magnificat, November 2017, pages 284-285.

 

 

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RESOURCE:  Homily for Sunday, November 19, 2017 by Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana


Proverbs 31: 10-31 + I Thess. 5: 1-6 + Matthew 25: 14-30 Nov. 19 2017                   33 Ordinary A ’17

I do not know about you, but I think we have been very blest. We have been gifted by our nation and our Catholic household of faith. Great treasure has been entrusted to us. We have lived in the best of times and the worst of times. And life is good!

We do not possess a total and detailed historical narrative of the church from its earliest

beginnings. We can only speculate about their experience. They were small in number and probably faced enormous obstacles within the dominant culture in which they lived.

We do know those first Christians were and remained practicing Jews. They were simply one of several Jewish groups, like the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots, and the Essenes. We do know that sometime after the year 70, they found themselves “cast out from the synagogue.”

The first generations of Christians believed the Risen Christ would return in their lifetime. He had not and they were disappointed! After their expulsion from the Temple, they felt confusion and vulnerability. Perhaps many, were inclined to walk away from their community and forget about Jesus and the gospel.

That was the situation when Matthew composed his gospel. Perhaps Matthew edited the

parable, which is our gospel text today, to address the unrest, anxiety and tensions growing within his community. That makes sense to me.

As those first Christians pondered how things were going in their world, they sometimes thought, as we may sometimes think, that our world cannot last much longer. You know today’s litany: global warming, the plight of refugees, famine, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation highlighted by threats of “fire and fury.” While the circumstances then were different, it was challenging for them to embrace and live the gospel as it is for most of us. They yearned for the Risen One to return and assist them.

Hear Matthew’s parable again now as he may have meant it when he edited it. “A man — (presume he means Jesus) was going on a journey – (presume he means being absent from their community). He entrusted his great wealth – (presume that is the message about God’s new reality emerging in the world) to his servants” – (presume that is us)! “After a long time the master came back and settled accounts with them.”

We still affirm that “Christ will come again”, but I must confess my expectation is far different than that of Matthew’s community. I believe Christ already has come again! We call it the resurrection. I believe Christ is present with us now, here even in the turmoil and tension created by the dominant culture in which we live. And I believe the “kingdom of God”/ “God’s new reality” proclaimed by Jesus is emergent and emerging in our world right now and nothing will stop it!

I invite you to join me in believing all of that for this parable is a loud statement of “good news!” Two servants accepted the treasure and were generously rewarded because they were responsive to their master’s expectations.

It is never our current situation or circumstance that is most important. Most of you hearing or reading this homily have been, like me, Catholic all of your life. Many of us knew the Latin Mass.

Most of us experienced the hope and enthusiasm unleashed by the Holy Spirit in the II Vatican Council. Most of us were dismayed when for the purpose of protecting orthodoxy and keeping order within the church, John Paul II and Benedict stopped, turned around or denied the vision and all that hope and enthusiasm generated by the Council.

Great treasure has been entrusted to us especially our faith in this post-counciliar era. To whom much is given, much is expected. Continue working to create a life of dignity and happiness for everyone. “After a long time the master came back and settled accounts with them.”

 


                                                           

 

 

Art Walk – Portland, Oregon

 

 

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RESOURCE: Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April 2017, Liturgical Press, page 441.

LECTIO DIVINA – A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE 

Guide to Lectio Divina:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RESOURCE: 2017 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word® LTP, page 242

THE 4 STEPS OF LECTIO DIVINA OR PRAYERFUL READING

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

Throughout his life, Jesus taught the impor­tance of forgiveness, offering it even to those who had crucified him. Important as universal forgiveness is, Jesus’ instruction here explains a process of reconciliation within the church, bringing a sinful member back into communion.

2017 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word® LTP, page 242.

 

 

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

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

A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.                                                                                    They came forth from your all-powerful hand;                                                                                   they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.                                                    Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.                                        You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,                                                                               you became part of this earth,                                                                                                                  and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.

Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.                                                                 Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light                                                                                               you guide this world towards the Father’s love                                                                                          and accompany creation as it groans in travail.                                                                                  You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.                                              Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,                                                                         teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,                                                                for all things speak of you.                                                                                                                    Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.                                      Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.                                                       God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love                                             for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

Enlighten those who possess power and money                                                                                that they may avoid the sin of indifference,                                                                                         that they may love the common good,                                                                                                        advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.                                                                The poor and the earth are crying out.

0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,                                                                                              help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,                                                                          for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

Praise be to you! Amen.

 

 

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RESOURCE: HOLY FATHER’S  INTENTION FOR THE MONTH  OF NOVEMBER 2017                                      

Christians in Asia

That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions.

When we in the West think of the Church in Asia, our thoughts often turn to the Pacific coast of that great continent: Japan, China, Vietnam and all their neighbors. It is good to recall also that Jesus was born in Asia, southwest Asia, and it was there that he labored, ministered and accomplished our salvation.

Saint Pope John Paul the Great conducted a special assembly of the synod of bishops specifically to address the evangelization of Asia, The Church in Asia sings the praises of the “God of salvation” (Ps 68:20) for choosing to initiate his saving plan on Asian soil, through men and women of that continent.”

The faith is booming in various parts of Asia, particularly in South Asia, India! In Southeast Asia, the Church struggles still in Vietnam to minister in a complex political context. In Southwest Asia, the US State Department recently accused terrorists of genocide against Christians and others. Thanks be to God for our freedom to practice our holy religion.

Saint Pope John Paul exhorted us to pray for the. Church in Asia, “….just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.” May the good Lord make it so!

Reflections

How can I support the Church’s mission in specific nations on the Asian continent with my time, treasure or talent? How can we in the United States and Canada foster dialogue and peace with other religions that originated in Asia such as Islam; philosophies such as Confucianism; or ways of life such as Buddhism?

Scripture – Rev 1:4-6

John, to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever [and ever]. Amen.

Prayer of the Month

To Mary, model of all disciples and bright Star of Evangelization, I entrust the Church in Asia at the threshold of the Third Millennium of the Christian era, trusting absolutely that hers is an ear that always listens, hers a heart that always welcomes, and hers a prayer that never fails…

O Holy Mary, Daughter of the Most High God, Virgin Mother of the Saviour and Mother of us all, look tenderly upon the Church of your Son planted on Asian soil. Be her guide and model as she continues your Son’s mission of love and service in Asia. You fully and freely accepted the Father’s call to be the Mother of God; teach us to empty our hearts of all that is not of God, that we too may be filled with the Holy Spirit from on high. You pondered the mysteries of God’s will in the silence of your heart; help us on our journey to discern the signs of God’s powerful hand.

You went quickly to visit Elizabeth and help in her days of waiting; obtain for us the same spirit of zeal and service in our evangelizing task. You sang the praises of the Lord: lead us in joyful proclamation of faith in Christ our Savior. You had compassion on the needy and spoke to your Son on their behalf: teach us never to fear to speak of the world to Jesus and of Jesus to the world.

You stood at the foot of the Cross as your Son breathed his last; be with us as we seek to be one in spirit and service with all who suffer. You prayed with the disciples in the Upper Room: help us to wait upon the Spirit and to go wherever he leads us.

Protect the Church from all the powers that threaten her. Help her to be a true image of the Most Holy Trinity. Pray that through the Church’s love and service all the peoples of Asia may come to know your Son Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, and so taste the joy of life in all its fullness. 0 Mary, Mother of the New Creation and Mother of Asia, pray for us, your children, now and always!

Saint of the Month On November 24th, Saint Andrew Dung Lac:

Father Andrew Dung-Lac was tortured and executed by beheading in 1839. The saint was among 117 martyred in Vietnam from 1820 to 1862. He and his companions were beatified four separate ceremonies from 1900 to 1951. All were canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II.

Saint Andrew Dung Lac and all the martyrs of Vietnam, pray for us!

Daily Offering Prayer

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

Traditional Offering Prayer

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

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

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

414-486-1152

 

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

 One-Liners in Faith; (November 2017)

Lavender Iris

Great occasions to serve God and His children come very seldom in our lives.

But little ones surround us each and every day.

I asked for bread and received a stone.

I used the stone to grind the grain that made the flour to form the bread.

Instead of asking God to give us the things for which we pray, all that we need to ask is this: “Show me the way.”

It’s a lesson we spend a whole lifetime trying to learn: people need loving the most when they appear to deserve it the least.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you will live deep in your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equity and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer, so you will reach out your hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so you will do the things which others say cannot be done.

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.

 

 

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RoseIII

 

RESOURCES: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2017;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.

Model Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful)

Suggested Prayer of the Faithful

November 19, 2017

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

 

 

FOR THE CHURCH

 

 

For the Church, that as the body of Christ in the world, we may proclaim and live out God’s justice and compassion,

For all members of the Church, may we always hold to the values of our Christian faith and, in doing so, work to bring Christ’s peace and compassion to the world,

For Pope Francis, bishops and all clergy, may they be blessed with the grace and strength needed to continue preaching and teaching the Gospel so many may hear and believe,

For Pope Francis, bishops, priests and religious, may they be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and assist the faithful to grow in their faith and love for the Lord,

That all members of the Church may recognize that all we have is a gift from God, and give generously of ourselves in love and service to God and our neighbor,

That all members of the church use well and increase the “talents” given them to con­tinue Jesus’ saving work,

For believers who suffer persecution and for non-believers seeking truth,

That the Church will stand before the world without stain or blemish, holy and obedient to God’s Word,

That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions, (Holy Father’s Intention)

That all members of the Church who devote their lives to prayer and humble service may see their efforts bear the good fruit of peace and love in the world,

That all the faithful may continue to grow in their commitment to living as intentional disciples of Jesus, and sharing the Good News with others,

For the Church persecuted,

May the Living Temple, the Church, be wholly dedicated to God,

May the song of faith be sung in the lives of the People of God,

May the Body of Christ, the Church, exude thankfulness,

May the witness of the martyrs continue to inspire the Body of Christ,

For the Church in Vietnam,

For Francis, our pope, and Robert, our bishop,

That Catholics and Orthodox, who both celebrate this day, find a path to unity,

For musicians who share their gifts with the Church,

For Native Americans and all indigenous peoples,

That we may be willing to share our faith,

FOR THE WORLD

 

 

For all elected officials in government, may their leadership bring peace to our world and justice to all those in need,

For world leaders, may they seek to work together cooperatively to resolve conflicts and disputes nonviolently so peace may reign more fully upon the earth,

For those who lead nations, may they work tirelessly to find effective ways to bring peace to troubled areas of the world,

For those in leadership at all levels, may they consider it their right and duty to protect and serve every member of society, including the weak and most vulnerable,

That government leaders will seek to enact laws and policies that work to ensure that no one is left homeless or hungry,

That leaders of nations share the possessions of the earth equitably with their people,

For a world filled with peace and security,

For an end to terrorism and for the blessings of peace throughout the world,

That public authorities may govern with the spirit of servant leadership in keeping with the example of Christ,

That the people of the world may seek to work together cooperatively to ensure that earth’s natural resources are used for the good of all,

That all nations will recognize freedom of religion,

For peace in the world through the intercession of Mary,

For leaders of nations and heads of state,

 

 

FOR THE OPPRESSED  / ANY NEED

 

 

For those enduring trials and challenges in life, may they come to know the loving presence of God and the support and compassion of this community of faith,

For those who have no access to clean and reliable water or safe and adequate housing, may their needs be met by Christians who commit themselves to bringing the compassionate care of Jesus to those in need,

For all people facing difficult decisions in life, may they receive the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength,

That those who feel isolated and alone may be reassured of God’s love and care for them through the outreach of caring and committed Christians,

That those who lack the basic necessities of life receive what they need from those who have been given an abundance,

For civilians caught in the midst of war and for family members trying to keep peace

That those who feel overburdened by physical hardship may be uplifted by the strength of God’s grace,

 

 

FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY 

 

 

For those of us here, in this community, may we continue to spread the Good News in all that we do at work, in our families and in our daily lives,

For our community as we strive to be faithful servants in God’s vineyard,

For Christian husbands and wives: that the Lord will give them the graces they need to live in faith the Sacrament of Matrimony,

For those of us here, in this community, may we continue to spread the Good News in all that we do at work, in our families and in our daily lives,

For our community as we strive to be faithful servants in God’s vineyard,

For Christian husbands and wives: that the Lord will give them the graces they need to live in faith the Sacrament of Matrimony,

That greater efforts be made to embrace nonviolent conflict resolution,

For those denied religious liberty,

That the faith of others is respected,

May we embrace the vocation to which God calls us,

May we be open to making sacrifices and enduring hardships for the Gospel,

For singers, instrumentalists, composers, and all who help to make music,

For those deprived of hearing music and song,

May parishes celebrating their feast this day make a joyful noise,

For farmers, migrant workers, transportation workers, bakers, cooks, and all who provide us with our daily bread,

For those who must work today,

May those who cannot be with loved ones today find ways to spiritually connect with one another,

For the ability to listen to the faith stories of others,

That we may grasp the brevity of our lives,

 

 

FOR THE ASSEMBLY

 

 

For each of us, may we turn to Christ each day to open our eyes so we may see the world more clearly through the eyes of faith and walk in Christ’s way of love,

For each of us, may we be constant in our striving to love God above all things and go wherever he leads us,

That each of us may seek to live as good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us by giving generously of our time, treasure and talent,

That each of us here faithfully make the wise and prudent choices that further Jesus’ saving work,

For belief that what we ask for in faithful prayer we will receive from our loving God,

For the grace this week to remain sober and alert, attentive to the promptings of the Spirit in our lives,

That each of us will set aside time to pray each day so we may continue to grow in our faith in God, and give a more faithful and effective witness to the Gospel,

That each of us may continue to grow in our commitment to assisting those who are hungry or homeless in our midst,

For parishes celebrating their patronal feast today,

 

 

FOR THE SICK

 

 

For all who are sick, may Christ bring healing and comfort to their lives,

For those who suffer from chronic illness, may the healing power of God touch them, and may those who care for them do so with love and compassion,

For the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the aged, the lonely, the grieving, those who are out of work, those who are facing financial difficulties, and those who have no one to pray for them: that God will raise them up and answer their needs,

That those who suffer as a result of mental illness may receive the help and support needed to heal and recover,

 

 

FOR THE DECEASED

 

 

For the Church, may we live as well as preach the preferential option for the poor,

That those who possess many gifts use them to relieve the suffering of others,

For those who struggle with a conflicted conscience,

For an end to discrimination based on religion, race, age, gender, orientation, and disability,

May those who sleep in Christ find light, happiness, and peace,

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

For those who have died, that they may enjoy the loving embrace of the Lord for all time,

For those who have died, may they enjoy eternal life in heaven,

For those who have died, may the Lord welcome them with open arms, and embrace those who mourn for them with consolation and peace,

That our beloved dead, and all those who have died, may receive a place at the eternal banquet in heaven,

That those who have died may share in the joys of the kingdom of heaven,

That those who have died may come to enjoy eternal life in heaven,

For those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith,

 

 

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RESOURCE:    INTERCESSIONS  FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR U. S ET AL   

Chihuly Glass

Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

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

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

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

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

 

 Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:    

1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.

2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.

3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

 

Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.

2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.

3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.

 

 

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

 

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RESOURCE: General Intercessions for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

19 November, 2017 – Cycle A

Celebrant: Aware that God cares for us more than we can imagine, we present to Him our needs, we pray to the Lord.That all members of the Church may recognize that all we have is a gift from God, and give generously of ourselves in love and service to God and our neighbor, we pray to the Lord,

  1. For all elected officials in government, may their leadership bring peace to our world and justice to all those in need, we pray to the Lord,
  2. For families God has created thru adoption:
    May God bless all those for whom adoption is part of their life story
    and may they find support of his holy Church, we pray to the Lord,
  3. That the Church will be continuously blessed with good and faithful servants following Christ as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, we pray to the Lord,
  4. That those who lack the basic necessities of life receive what they need from those who have been given an abundance,
  5. We pray for all who have died in war and armed conflicts, whether in active service or just caught up in the struggle, we remember that to God all are alive and remain children of the resurrection, we pray to the Lord,
  6. That each of us will set aside time to pray each day so we may continue to grow in our faith in God, and give a more faithful and effective witness to the Gospel, we pray to the Lord,

Celebrant: God of captives and pilgrims, you brought your people home from despair
and gave them a land of freedom and plenty. Look in mercy on us your servants, deliver us from the prison of selfishness and sin, and bring us home to justice, sharing, and compassion, the realm you promised all the world in Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.

 

 

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DAILY UNTIL NOVEMBER 7 — 

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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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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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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DAILY LITURGY

 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2017   THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN O. T.

Lectionary 157:  1) Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; 2) ; 2) ; 3) 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6;

3) Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/111917.cfm

FOCUS:    Nearing the end of the liturgical year, our attention turns to our vigilant and prayerful preparation for the return of Christ in glory. Life is perhaps best described as a journey with a beginning and an end. As we come to the end of another Church year, we are invited to reflect on what is often referred to as the last things ─ judgment, heaven and hell. But we do so not in fear but in hope, for while our earthly lives will end, the promise of life eternal shines forth in Christ.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Proverbs reminds us that having a loving and faithful spouse is a gift from God. The second reading exhorts us to be vigilant for the return of Christ. The Gospel tells us we must each give an account of how we have used the gifts God has given us for the greater good of the kingdom.

 

 

                  

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Monday, November 20, 2017       MONDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

Lectionary 497: 1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63; 2) ; Luke 18:35-43.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112017.cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus cures us of our spiritual blindness so we may live more fully and faithfully as his disciples. Today’s Gospel tells of how a blind man, after being healed by Jesus of his physical blindness, placed his faith in Jesus and became one of his disciples. Similarly, each of us can be hampered in our spiritual sight by distractions and diversions. Let us turn to Jesus each day to cure our spiritual blindness so we live more faithfully as his disciples.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the reading from first Maccabees, many members of the Jewish community are willing to give up their values and beliefs as God’s chosen people to be accepted by the Greek conquerors, adapting to their ways even though it means turning their backs on God. Today’s Gospel reminds us of our Lord’s desire to offer his healing love to all who turn to him.

 

 

 

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017       TUESDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lectionary 498: 1) 2 Maccabees 6:18-31; 2) ;  3) Luke 19:1-10.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112117.cfm

FOCUS:          Jesus came first and foremost to save sinners. Today’s Gospel concludes with Jesus saying that he had come to seek and save what was lost.  In other words, Jesus came first and foremost to save sinners. Understanding this, let’s make an effort to be grateful for the gifts of God’s mercy and forgiveness poured out upon us through Christ. And may we share these gifts generously with others.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Today’s reading from Maccabees describes the martyrdom of Eleazar. He chooses death rather than violate holy law. In the Gospel, the tax collector Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus passing by. Jesus calls him down and says he will stay at the man’s house. This inspires Zacchaeus to relinquish half of his possessions and follow Jesus.

 

 

 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017         WEDNESDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Lectionary 499: 1) 2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31; 2) ; 3) Luke 19:11-28.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112217.cfm 

FOCUS:          Do we lead lives most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance? Scripture is full of memorable people – either because their actions were admirable, or because they were anything but. What is admirable – that which is true, good and beautiful – let us do these things. Let us bear trials courageously because our hope is in the Lord. Let us be faithful in small matters and large. Let us love one another.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In our first reading, we hear of a mother, most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance, who saw seven sons tortured and killed for refusing to act against their faith. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus teaches us about the kingdom of God through the parable of the nobleman and his servants.

 

 

 

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Thursday, November 23, 2017           THURSDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

Optional Memorial: Saint Clement I, Pope and Martyr; Saint Columban, Abbot;

Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, Priest and Martyr;  USA: Thanksgiving Day

Lectionary 500: 1) 1 Maccabees 2:15-29; 2) ; 3) Luke 19:41-44.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112317.cfm

NOTE:            For Thanksgiving Day, any readings from the Lectionary for Ritual Masses (vol. IV), the Mass “In Thanksgiving to God,” nos. 943-947

FOCUS:          Thanking God each day for the blessings he bestows upon us helps us grow in our faith and love for him. Giving thanks to God each day for the blessings he bestows upon us is essential for growing in our faith and love for God.  For in doing so we cultivate an attitude of gratitude within our hearts, which frees us to give of ourselves more generously in love and service to God and our neighbor.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading, Mattathias refuses to join others in actions that deny the true God, even after being promised to be numbered among the king’s friends. Today’s Gospel tells of how Jesus, upon drawing near Jerusalem, wept over it saying, If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.

 

 

 

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Friday, November 24, 2017            FRIDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs.

Lectionary 501: 1) 1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59; 2) ;  3) Luke 19:45-48.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112417.cfm 

FOCUS:          My house shall be a house of prayer.  In the Old Testament, prophets focused on Israel as a chosen people. Therefore, they cried out for renunciation of sin and a return to holiness. Jesus’ prophetic work centers itself in reconciling people to God through his death and resurrection. Offering himself in this way is the definitive sign of perfect love.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In today’s first reading, Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers fight a war against the abuse of religion. After winning the war, they purify and dedicate the Temple. In the Gospel, Jesus enters the Temple area and drives out those who were selling things, saying, It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.

 

 

 

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Saturday, November 25, 2017                SATURDAY OF 33RD WEEK IN O. T.

Optional Memorial: Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr;    Saturday in honor of BVM

Lectionary 502: 1) 1 Maccabees 6:1-13; 2) ; 3) Luke 20:27-40.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112517.cfm

FOCUS:          Eternal life in heaven surpasses anything that we could dream or imagine. Today’s Gospel reminds us of the discontinuity between the expectations of the Jewish leaders of the day, and the kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus. The Sadducees were focused on the laws of earthly marriage, and Jesus is speaking of eternal life in heaven. If we stay true to the teachings of Jesus and persevere in faith, we will come to share in this great gift.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading tells of how King Antiochus became sick with grief upon learning that his evil designs had failed him.  In the Gospel from Luke, Jesus teaches that eternal life in heaven transcends life on earth.

 

 

 

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2017                                                                                                                                                                     OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE – SOLEMNITY

Lectionary 160: 1) Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 2) ; 3) 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28;  4) Matthew 25:31-46.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112617.cfm 

FOCUS:          Jesus is the King of the Universe and Lord of all creation. Today’s Solemnity of Christ the King lauds Jesus as the King of the Universe and Lord of all creation. Through his death on the cross, rising from the dead and ascension into heaven, he won our salvation and opened the way to eternal life. So in gratitude for all that Jesus has done for us, may we give of ourselves more fully in love and service to others.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading reminds us that God looks after his flock with tenderness ─ the lost are brought back, the injured are bound and the sick are healed. The second reading describes the kingship of Jesus as being the one who reigns over all. Today’s Gospel parable exhorts us to care for those who are in need so that we might be judged worthy of eternal life.

 

 

 

 

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Reflection – Sunday, November 19, 2017                           Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Barbara Reid, OP, in her book, Abiding Word. makes a convincing case for the third servant. One talent equals fifteen years’ wages, so this master is unimag­inably rich. In contrast, a worker in those days hoped to earn the daily bread for the family. The third servant refuses to cooperate with a system whereby his master amasses wealth while others lack basic necessities. He is cast into the darkness—so too was Jesus, on the Cross. From this perspective, the par­able is a warning about being co-opted by an unjust system.       Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 358.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Reflection – Monday, November 20, 2017 Weekday

The Jewish people had been under for­eign rule for centuries: first the Assyr­ians had power over them, then the Perisians, and next the Greeks. From around 164 to 63 BC, a successful revolt allowed a period of relative indepen­dence. The text of 1 Maccabees describes this turbulent period. King Antiochus desired to impose a completely Greek way of life upon the Jews. He forbade the keeping of the Sabbath, banned cir­cumcision, the mark of the covenant, built a gymnasium that would include public nudity, and installed a statue of Zeus on the altar in the Temple. Some Jews went along with these sacrileges, others engaged in organized protest and resistance.                                        Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 359.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflection – Tuesday, November 21, 2017                   Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s celebration is not found in the Bible nor based on historical fact. It comes from the realm of spiritual truth. Mary, from the beginning of her life, was dedicated to God. She who is pre­sented in the Temple will give birth to the new Temple, one not made by human hands but begotten of God’s love. It is fitting that we read today of Eleazar’s refusal to even pretend to eat pork. Eleazar, like Mary, is a model of fidelity to the covenant. As Our Lady of Sorrows will grieve for her Son, Elea­zar dies as a model and mentor to the young rather than dishonor God.         Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 360.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Reflection – Wednesday, November 22, 2017           Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

We know nothing for certain about Ceci­lia, the patron of musicians. According to legend, she heard heavenly music in her head the day she wedded Valerian. Their marriage was never consummated as both were martyred very shortly there­after. Faith, love, and music are intimately related to one another. St. Augustine said, “In the song of the lover (there is) love.” Today we give thanks for the gift of music and how it stirs our souls and reflects our many moods. Music and song are ways of praying and this need not be limited in understanding or practice to psalms and hymns. Other music too can inspire prayer and guide us to the holy.      Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 361.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Reflection – Thursday, November 23, 2017          Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is not, strictly speak­ing, a feast of the Church. However, the word Eucharist is Greek for thanksgiv­ing. Each time we gather for Mass we celebrate thanksgiving; and every time we give thanks we are tacitly acknowl­edging our unity and interdependence with one another and creation. Today’s Gospel states, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace.” Clearly giving thanks and having a heart filled with genuine gratitude and appreciation brings peace. A truly thankful heart is content to be with loved ones and for what is given by God.          Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 362.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflection – Friday, November 24, 2017                                                                                                                                                      Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs                  

This reading forms the basis for the feast of Hanukkah, the rededication of the Temple. It is a fitting complement to today’s memorial of the Vietnamese martyrs. Portuguese missionaries intro­duced Christianity to Vietnam in the seventeenth century. In the nineteenth century, a violent persecution broke out. Andrew Diing-Lac and his 116 compan­ions were martyred between 1820 and 1862. They are representative of the estimated one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand Catholics in Vietnam killed for their faith. As the blood of Jewish martyrs led to the rededication of the Temple, so the Viet­namese martyrs continue to deepen the faith and fervor of Vietnamese Catholics and of all the Church.      Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 363.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflection – Saturday, November 25, 2017            Weekday               

King Antiochus, approaching the end of his days, comes to understand the evil he committed in his treatment of the Jewish people and their faith. One of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola is to imagine our death. What are our regrets? How and for what will our loved ones remember us?        Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 364.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                    Faith Catholic Online November  12-19, 2017.

                                                         Daily Prayer 2017, pages  351-358.

                                                                    Ordo pages  231-235.

 

 

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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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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

Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony Esolen

HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD

Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony Esolen

THE TWO WOMEN WERE FINALLY ALONE. The room WaS Spartan, with a single wooden bed, a desk, some schoolbooks, fishing tackle kept in a corner, and a couple of skiing poles. A photograph was mounted on the wall, of two tanned young men in a skiff, with the spires of Stockholm in the background. It was a boy’s room, but the boy had left home to join the Swedish army. It was May, 1940.

“Sigrid,” said her friend Alice, “I have bad news for you.” She had given Sigrid a day to rest from her journey across the mountains from Norway, in a truck packed so tight with soldiers and refugees, Sigrid—a middle-aged woman with some heft to her, and a countenance that looked as if she would brook no foolishness—had to sit on the lap of one of the men. The atmosphere in the truck had been tense, with Swedish boys expressing their eagerness to fight along­side the Norwegians against the Nazi invaders, and elder men telling them to shut up. News from the war front was also unrelievedly bad. Hitler had overrun Belgium and the Netherlands, and the German armies were pushing on to­ward Paris, the jeweled queen of European civilization.

“Please, tell me quickly,” said Sigrid. She had had three children. One, a daughter, had died as a very young woman. Her sons Anders and Hans were still in Norway. The elder, Anders, had a commission as captain in the Norwegian army.

“Your son Anders fell in the fighting at Segelstad bridge. He was brave, Sigrid, so brave,” said Alice, trembling. Sigrid, however, set her face like flint. Of Hans, they still knew noth­ing. A few days later they received a visit from a soldier who had been under Anders’ command. The Norwegians had tried to make the Nazi advance northward as costly as pos­sible, taking positions near bridges and mountain passes, and holding off hundreds of Germans with handfuls of men and a few machine guns here and there. Had Norway been made ready for the assault—had there not been Nazi toadies like Quisling in the highest positions in government—Hitler would have regretted sending Germans into that nation of strong, self-reliant, upright, and brave men and women.

“And Anders, you know,” said the soldier, “was so incom­parably kind.” The word he used was snill. Sigrid Undset said that the word was untranslatable. It named a virtue—kind­ness—but with a quiet manner, undemonstrative, reserved; not burdening your victim with your goodness.

Hans arrived shortly after, and he and his mother con­tinued on their flight to freedom, from Sweden to Moscow, from Moscow by a nine-day train ride to Vladivostok, from there to Korea and imperial Japan, from Japan via the Grover S. Cleveland to San Francisco.

♦ WHO SUE WAS ♦

Sigrid Undset, for my money, is the greatest woman nov­elist who ever lived. Unlike George Eliot, one of her two chief competitors for that distinction, she does not rely upon the structure of Christian morality without the Christian Faith. In her stories set in modern times, Undset shows how frail that morality must be, unless we recognize our personal frailty and our desperate need for the grace of Christ. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) had lost the Methodist faith she was brought up in; Undset had gained the Catholic Faith she was not brought up in. Unlike Jane Austen, her other competitor, she was not the comfortably stationed daughter of an Anglican clergy­man, who could therefore take faith for granted and write about Christian morals and manners in the England of her time. Undset, when she entered the Catholic Church, knew she was entering into two thousand years of history, and so her greatest works, the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter and the tetralogy The Master of Hestviken, are set in medieval Norway, Catholic but still with remnants of the old pagan ways. They are national in the best sense: they celebrate the difficult virtues of her people and the beauty of a forbidding land, with its summer so wondrous yet so heart-breakingly short, its wildflowers, its mountains and fjords and ravines, its lonely lichen-topped outcrops of rock, its sudden green valleys, and its brave men wresting the means of life from the rich and cold and dangerous seas.

The contrast between Sigrid Undset’s love of country and the pranked-up nationalism of Hitler and his blustering warmongers could not be greater. She despised the Nazis. Other people, not nearly enough, saw their evil; Undset saw also their stupidity and their cowardly ingratitude. For among the invading German soldiers, the Norwegians recognized quite a few whom they had taken into their homes as little boys, back in the famine years after the First World War. She was outspoken about it, and so she, like Dietrich von Hildebrand in Austria, was on the first page of the Nazi list of people to be murdered.

Wherever she went, Sigrid Undset tried to find what vir­tues she could in the peoples she encountered. Germans, alas, were the exception. She had to fight her hardest to treat that people with forbearance. For her, the essence of the German spirit was expressed in the terrifying fable of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The “hero” took his vengeance against the ungrateful people of Hamelin by turning their children essentially into rats, marching off to their death. I forgive the mother of a fallen son her anger.

Undset held out hope for the great successor of European civilization, the United States. Even if Europe should fall (she was writing in 1941), the United States would carry the torch of that civilization’s commitment to brotherhood, equality, and democracy, understood as the natural flower­ing of the Christian Faith.

♦ RETURN TO THE FUTURE ♦

That’s the name of the book that describes her trek from Norway to the United States. It also describes her hope for the world. The future must be a return: a recovery of the Christian Faith in nations that had lost it, and a flourishing of the human good that man experiences as one of the blessings of that faith.

Should Germany be defeated, the victors must resist with all their might the temptations of hatred and vengeance. How hard that would be, Undset shows us in her own per­son. But, she says, “hatred and thirst for revenge are sterile passions.” They engender nothing. They only destroy. “The most miserable poverty, the most unthinkable filth and squa­lor, the indescribable stench of refuse and decomposition which I saw and smelled everywhere in Soviet Russia are surely the fruit of the acceptance by Russia’s revolutionary heroes of a hate-consumed old German Jewish writer named Karl Marx and their identification of their future goals with his dreams of revenge against everything that happened to awaken his enmity.”

Undset was no sentimentalist. It is true, she was a woman with a woman’s eye for the delicate and the beautiful; she is fond of describing flowers, handsome dress, lovely hair; the fine straw-roofed houses of even the poor in Japan; the tasteful Japanese temples; the reverent ceremonies of prayer she witnessed from the worshipers of Shinto. She has a woman’s scorn for the garish, grubby, slipshod, and gross: nine days on a Russian train with no running water and no flush toilets; Soviet stores with nothing to sell; water that had to be boiled before you could drink it; Soviet offi­cials content to bury themselves and their petitioners under a mountain of paper. Totalitarian systems fail on their own miserable terms: they deliver poverty instead of wealth, con­fusion instead of order, misery instead of happiness, family dissolution rather than strength, dependence rather than self-reliance, cowardice rather than courage.

So much the more should the West return to its roots in the Christian Faith. That Faith is not an ideology, but the antidote to ideology. It tells the truth about God and man.

Nowadays we construct social policies as if God were irrelevant, and as if everything that the wisest pagans had to say about man, and likewise the Christian Gospels that soar beyond the pagans, could be dispensed with. Yet we pretend that, if we were alive in Germany during the time of Hitler, we would not have gone along with the popular wave of the future, as the Nazis styled themselves. No, we’d have seen through it. Quisling did not. Knut Hamsen, like Undset a Nobel laureate, did not. Undset did. The Faith—un­compromised, uncontaminated with the current prevailing ideologies—gave Sigrid Undset eyes, and heart, and a pen to write words as if etched in stone by fire.

(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).   Magnificat, October 2017, pages 211-115.

 

 

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FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore

FIRST THINGS April 2016RoseIII

Faith in the Public Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

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

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE EVERY DAY, POPE FRANCES

 

 

MtRushmore

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!

 

Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

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

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

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

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

The Price of Freedom.

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

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

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

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

By Dave Andrusko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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