Author Archives: Paul




God Works through Human Hands

ISAIAH 45:1, 4-6 This reading comes from Second Isaiah, someone who wrote about 150 years after First Isaiah. Writing in the name of a better-known figure is not unusual in our Scriptures. For example, a number of New Testament letters were written by an unknown author who attributes them to Paul.

Whereas First Isaiah’s theology focused on the punish­ment God would mete out, Second Isaiah announced salva­tion. The passage we hear today explains that God will use Cyrus, king of Persia, to bring the people exiled in Babylonia back home to Jerusalem. Isaiah discerns God acting through human agents in history, even using for­eigners for the redemption of the people. In this poetic pas­sage we hear that God will give Cyrus victory, but all for the sake of Israel, God’s Chosen People.

PSALM 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10 (7B) This psalm is a fitting follow-up to Isaiah’s message; it calls on the people to sing a new song to the Lord and to proclaim God’s glory among all peoples. Saying that God governs the people with equity celebrates the vindication Isaiah promised. Giving God glory demands reverence (holy attire), awe (tremble), and a proclamation of God’s goodness and greatness (the Lord is the King who governs the peoples with equity).

1 THESSALONIANS 1:1-5B In these days of electronic com­munication, many people no longer engage in or even appre­ciate the art of letter writing, but Paul was an expert at it, especially when writing to people he loved. In this, the oldest of Paul’s extant letters, we discover his tender relationship with a community with whom he had shared the faith.

Paul and his companions address the community of Thessalonica “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” That seemingly simple statement is laden with theological meaning. It proclaims Jesus as the Son of God the Father, and the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. Finally, the greeting “grace to you and peace” probably has its origins in the liturgical prayer they celebrated together.

As he begins, Paul expresses thanks for all that God is doing through them. As he does so, he makes the first Christian mention of what we call the “theological virtues.” Paul praises the Thessalonians for their faith, which they express in love, and for the hope that keeps them steadfast in a time of tribulation. Finally, Paul proclaims that they were chosen by God and that the Holy Spirit is working through them. In just five verses, Paul has proclaimed faith in the Trinity and reminded them that the God to whom they belong is working though their faith, hope, and love.

MATTHEW 22:15-21 There are some delightful ironies in this account of an attempt to trap Jesus. His adversaries begin in an ostensibly respectful tone, recognizing Jesus as a teacher and man of utter integrity. Finally they admit that he is not swayed by others’ opinions of him. The point of their question about taxes is to force Jesus to side with either the zealots, who promoted rebellion against Rome, or with those who collaborated with the Roman rule, which some of the faithful judged to be an affront to God and the Chosen People. The questioners made up an odd partner­ship since the name of the Herodians implied that they were in league with political powers, while the Pharisees promoted a scrupulous compliance with the Jewish law. Jesus’ ability to discredit their either-or proposition is the most obvious triumph of the incident. The fact that they were carrying coins of the realm with a forbidden graven image and an inscription about the “divine” emperor exposed the fact that they were all in unfaithful compliance with Rome.

A deeper question lies underneath the surface of this verbal skirmish. While his opponents were questioning legalities, Jesus brought them back to a question of image. The Greek word for image is eikon, from which we have the word icon. Jesus’ response about the coin implied that it belonged to the one whose image it bore. When he spoke of God, the obvious question would be, where is God’s image? Clearly, for all those who knew the creation accounts, God’s image is the created person, male and female (Genesis 1:27). By using that language, Jesus trapped his adversaries far more profoundly than their question might have trapped him. In response to their supposedly scrupulous question about paying taxes, Jesus cleverly reminded them that as creatures, they owed everything to the God in whose image they were created.


♦         “The citizen is obliged in conscience not to fol­low the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamen­tal rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel” (CCC, 2242).

♦         “Development cannot consist only in the use, dominion over and indiscriminate posses­sion of created things . . . but rather in subor­dinating the possession, dominion and use to man’s divine likeness and to his vocation to immortality” (SRS, 29).

♦         “Jesus refuses the oppressive and despotic power wielded by the rulers of the nations. . . . In his pronounce­ment on the paying of taxes to Caesar (cf. Mark 12:13-17; Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 20:20-26), he affirms that we must give to God what is God’s, implicitly con­demning every attempt at making temporal power divine or abso­lute: God alone can demand everything from man” (CSDC, 379).

Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 154-155.


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Reflecting on the Gospel

There are many deep divisions between “Caesar” and God, between earthly kingdoms and the kingdom of heaven. In this gospel the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians raise what amounts to a minor division when they raise the question of paying “the census tax to Caesar.” Seeing through their ruse, Jesus turns the tables and entraps them “with the truth.” The “way of God” is not found in opposing civil and religious realms, but in acting as Jesus would in both areas of life, responding appropriately in each “kingdom.” Like Jesus, we are to give ourselves for the good of others in all areas of life. Giv­ing ourselves first to God, we will know the “way” and the “truth” of all other loyalties, and our choices and behav­iors will further God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus quickly dispatches this false divide between realms in which we live, commanding his hearers to give to each realm what properly belongs to it. This is actually the easy part of life. The deepest divide to which we must attend is between disingenuous hearts living a lie and transparent hearts living “in accordance with the truth.” This deepest divide is what Jesus came to heal—for those who wish to be healed. It would seem that the religious leaders—who ought to be the very ones who model for the people how undivided hearts live and act—are the very ones who do not choose to be healed. They seem to do everything to foster division.

They pretend to be turned toward God through their strict religious observances, but in effect are turned toward themselves. They pretend to be deeply religious, but in effect are shallowly self-promoting.

By trying to entrap Jesus these corrupt religious leaders are actually putting “Caesar” (that is, their own will and agenda, their own fears and obstinacy) ahead of God. Their own actions have betrayed that they themselves do any­thing but “teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” Their own life­style and way of relating to others betray who and what is first in their life.

The obligations to Caesar and God are radically different: to the state we pay taxes, but to God we give undivided hearts. Isaiah speaks for God: “I am the Lord, there is no other” (first reading); our ultimate loyalty and self-offering is to God and so we “give to the Loan the glory due his name!” (responsorial psalm). If we keep God central in our lives, then there is no problem with giving “to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” Further, if we place this in the eschatological (end times and fulfillment) context of Matthew’s gospel, the controversy with which the religious leaders confront Jesus simply crumbles, for everything in this world ultimately belongs to God; there is nothing of this world that com­pares to who God is and how much God cares for us, and nothing of this world is worth more than what God offers us. The only thing God asks of us is the self-offering that acknowledges who God is and who we are in relation to God. In return, God gives what no emperor or state can give: a share in divine Life.

Living the Paschal Mystery

Often our struggle with living this gospel is not really about two “kingdoms” presenting opposing values, but rather that our own divided hearts trump ev­erything else. The kind of self-giving that gives to God what is God’s due and to society what is society’s due necessitates that we think of others first. It truly is that simple, yet sometimes so hard to live!     Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 230.



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Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: entrap Jesus, in accordance with the truth, malice, hypocrites, what belongs to Caesar, what belongs to God

To the point: There are many deep divisions between “Caesar” and God. But the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians raise what amounts to a minor division. Jesus quickly dispatches this divide, commanding his hearers to give to each realm what properly belongs to it. The deepest divide is between dis­ingenuous hearts living a lie and transparent hearts living “in accordance with the truth.” This deepest divide is what Jesus came to heal—for those who wish to be healed.

Connecting the Gospel

to the first reading: God can (and does) use civil authority for divine pur­poses of salvation (see first reading). There is no inherent divide between these realms of authority. However, often we human beings separate the realm of God from that of humanity through our own malice, deceit, and self-serving interests.

to experience: Sometimes the two “kingdoms” in which we live are in con­flict—our religious values clash with civil polity. As faithful followers of Jesus, we must always choose first God’s kingdom.

Connecting the Responsorial Psalm

to the readings: The connection between the verses of Psalm 96 and this Sunday’s first reading and gospel is readily evident. God alone is God; even when unrecognized, God alone is the source of all power and authority (first reading). The psalm calls us to give God “glory and praise” and to announce God’s sovereignty to all nations. Jesus repeats this command in his admonition to the Pharisees: give God proper due (gospel).

But a subtle irony in the readings lends even greater weight to this com­mand of Jesus. While Cyrus, a non-Jew, unknowingly unfolds God’s plan, the Pharisees, acknowledged religious leaders among the Jews, knowingly work to subvert it. One who does not know God furthers God’s redemptive plan while those reputed to be God’s servants thwart it. The message for us is that to give God proper due it is not sufficient merely to mouth praise or to engage in pub­lic religious activity. Rather, we must give what Cyrus is unaware of and the Pharisees refuse: our hearts in conscious cooperation with God’s will.

to psalmist preparation: The greatest “glory and honor” we can give God is an obedient heart. This is what you call the assembly to in singing Psalm 96. Is there anything which stands in the way of you giving God your heart?                                              Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 231.


Homily Points

♦         We often are divided over what belongs to whom. For example, property rights, na­tional borders, child custody, inheritance, even toys. Sometimes divisions are so serious that they bring harm and even destroy lives. At other times these divides can be readily resolved through legal action or parental intervention. Religious leaders present Jesus with what in reality is a false division that he dispatches rather cleverly.

♦         What belongs to Caesar is a tax, a coin, an image and inscription—all inanimate ob­jects, all external to the heart of things. What belongs to God is the tax of acting “in ac­cordance with the truth,” the coin of living in “the way of God,” and our hearts stamped with the image and inscription of God. What belongs to God is our undivided hearts de­void of malice, hypocrisy, and self-importance. What belongs to God is our whole selves united with the very heart of God.

♦         Our hearts are to be given over in loving obedience to the ways of God. Giving over our hearts means changing all ways within us that oppose the truth of God. It means allowing Jesus to heal what in our hearts divides us from God and one another. It means repaying God for everything by giving God everything—our undivided hearts.

Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 232.




About Liturgy

Worship and gift of self: If there is anything we learn from the prophets of the Old Testament and from the religious leaders of the New Testament, it is that worship can­not be empty. Worship is the praise of God that is borne out by caring for others who are the beloved of God; caring for others is caring about God. Worship that stays within the four walls of a building is empty; even the very structure of liturgy itself reminds us that God changes us during liturgy so that we can live better for the good of others. We are dismissed from liturgy to live what we have celebrated. Worship begins with God’s gift of Self to us; it concludes by sending us forth to be a gift of self for those we meet in our everyday living. This is how we live with the integrity of Jesus.

Every liturgy ends with some sort of mission—we are sent to love and serve the Lord in each other. These are not just ritual words at the end of Mass to which we more or less consciously respond, “Thanks be to God.” Our “Thanks be to God” is more than words—it requires of us to give thanks to God for all God has given us by our taking care of others and creation as God’s gifts to us. Although the prayers and readings at liturgy change from celebration to celebration and these might give us some specific Christian actions we might try to live during the week, in a sense lit­urgy’s dismissal is always the same: go and live the transformation of liturgy and the deepening of God’s Presence within. This is the gift of self liturgy asks of us: giving ourselves to others. This, then, is our ultimate praise and thanksgiving to God, our ultimate giving to God what is God’s due.

About Liturgical Music

Music suggestions: Particularly appropriate this Sunday would be songs that call us to give God the glory which belongs to the Creator of all. Examples available in many resources include “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”; “Praise to the Lord”; “God, We Praise You”; and “0 God beyond All Praising.” A good choice for the entrance would be Lucien Deiss’s “Wonderful and Great” (OF, WC) with choir or can­tor singing the verses and the assembly responding. A fitting choice for Communion would be Paul Inwood’s “Center of My Life” (BB, G3). Erik Routley’s challenging “What Does the Lord Require” (W4) reminds us the tribute we are to bring God is to “Do justly; love mercy; walk humbly with your God.” This hymn would be most appro­priate as the recessional song.

Carl Daw’s text “Baited, the Question Rose” (HG, W4) was written to accord with this gos­pel. The final verse adds a very creative dimension to the question of whose image is on the coin: “May we discern, 0 God, Your daily gifts of grace; Show us your image freshly coined In ev’ry heart and face.” The tune to which this song is set will be unfamiliar to most assemblies, as will its dissonant harmonic structure. Both tune and structure, however, fit well this con­frontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. The hymn could be used effectively as a choir prelude.                    Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2017, Liturgical Press, page 233.



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 Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time   –   Suffering Servant

Readings: Isa 53:10-11; Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45.

“Whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.”   (Mark 10:44)

In chapters 40 to 55 of Isaiah, there are four passages known as the Servant Songs. One of them, quoted as today’s first reading, is about the Suffering Servant. One wonders what it was like to read about this Suf­fering Servant in Isaiah, where we hear, “it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain,” apart from an encounter with the life and death of Jesus. How were these verses understood, in which we are told, “The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, / and he shall bear their iniquities,” before the disciples read them in light of Jesus’ passion and resurrection?

Some modern scholars have proposed that the servant in Isaiah might represent the nation of Israel or the prophets; others identify the servant with an individual, like the prophet Isaiah himself, the Persian king Cyrus, or the future Messiah. As for the earliest disciples of Jesus, they were certain that the servant was the prophesied Messiah, who had lived, died, and been raised among them. Jesus was the one who was crushed, who bore our iniquities, and who “out of his anguish” saw “the light” in his resurrection.

Jesus’ suffering and death were not, as the disciples had initially feared, the destruction of their hopes, but the fulfillment of divine hope. This allowed for heightened reflection to take place on the life of the Messiah, who had walked among them as they read the Law and the Prophets. This reflection upon Jesus, in light of the Hebrew Scriptures, is the foundation of the New Testament.

The Letter to the Hebrews, for instance, reflected upon Jesus as both human and divine, as the perfect Victim and the perfect High Priest, “who 130 The Word on the Street

in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” Because of Jesus’ humanity and his suffering on our behalf, we have a Messiah who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses.” It is this sympathy, born of his incarnation and passion, that allowed Jesus to guide the earliest fol­lowers, the kernel of the church, into an understanding of the shared mission the apostles were to carry to the world.

Understanding was not always easy. When Jesus told his apostles that he must suffer and die, James and John find it the proper time to say, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Jesus does not respond by asking them if they had even heard what he said but asks them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” The brothers Zebedee want “to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Their answer establishes at least this much: They know Jesus is the Messiah, and they know he will establish God’s kingdom. The problem is one of misunderstanding, not just because Jesus has announced his coming death for the third time but because they desire glory without the suffering. They will not hear what Jesus has to say: the kingdom will come, but the Messiah must first suffer and die.

Jesus says to be a leader in the church is not to be a “lord” or “tyrant.” Jesus’ goal is not to replace Gentile lords and tyrants with new, improved Jewish lords and tyrants, but in the kingdom, or “reign” of God, rulers must be servants; and “whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” This is not empty language for the troops from a general who surveys the suffering on the battlefield from the safety of a mountaintop but from one who will suffer for them.

Jesus says that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In this verse Jesus interprets his death as a sacrificial death. The language of “ransom” evokes salvation through purchase, freeing “many” from slavery or capture. “Many” is the language of Isaiah 53:12, in which the servant “poured out himself to death . . . yet he bore the sin of many, / and made intercession for the transgressors.” Jesus offers himself out of sympathy for our weakness, for the sake of humanity, which cannot save itself. I am this servant, Jesus says, are you willing to follow me and to serve me through service to all?

Think of Jesus’ love for humanity, “sympathizing with our weakness,” offering himself “for many.” How do you respond to Jesus’ life as the Suffering Servant? How can you live out Jesus’ command to be a servant for all? How do you balance leadership and service?

The Word on the Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 129-130.


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Sunday, October 22, 2017      Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time  

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

Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega, the beloved Son of the Father, the Lamb of God, risen King, and Judge of all. He is with his Church to the end of the age. He brings us victory.

“Let us come into his presence to adore him.”

Read the gospel: Matthew 22:15-21.

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

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

They try, but the Pharisees and Herodians cannot trap Jesus. He calls them on their hypocrisy and malice. Then he answers their question: give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and to God what is God’s.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“All I have is yours, my God, so I give it all to you. I also give to you now those you have given to me . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

I ask those who follow me to abandon themselves into my care. As you do this, you will know me more and more and enjoy the good things of the kingdom of heaven. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“Thank you for your constant care for me, Lord. Let me in turn care for someone else you love. Amen.”

Sacred Reading, The 2017 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 359-360.



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Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time     

The plotting Pharisees, defiant toward Christ, presume they have the ingenuity to entrap him in his speech. Yet the Lord takes on the false measure by which these malicious men would measure him, and turns it on themselves. Before every deceitful effort to outwit Jesus or to expose him as a fraud, Christ responds: “I have called you by your name, though you knew me not. I am the Lord and there is no other.” The effects of Original Sin in us entice us to seek our hope in ourselves. That is why Saint Paul reminds us: “You were chosen by God our Father.” We throw off self-exaltation for the “endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Magnificat, October 2017, page 318.


God vs. Caesar

The various emperors of the world can strip the Church of every resource, discredit it in every way, make it powerless to do the works of the Gospel, but no one will ever be able to take the Gospel away, the joy of its Lord…. No earthly authority will be able to possess the heart of man forever through the propaganda of lies, with masked promises and apparent democracies.

The conscience can remain dazed for a long time, but sooner or later, something happens that reawakens and regenerates it, since at its root there is an indestructible core: the desire for truth and the need for good. Let no one be deceived: Christianity can be reduced to a vis­ible minority, but it can never be eliminated, because the Lord said, Do not be afraid, I am with you until the end of the world, and because the human soul is made for God. And this is stronger than all of the per­secutions and all of the lies that circulate so rapidly in the air today.

Today—in the name of values like equality, tolerance, rights—the aspiration is to marginalize Christianity, to create a world order without God, where differences are glorified on one side and crushed on the other. This is true for…the peoples and the nations. However, if we look at the results, we have to conclude that it began with good intentions, but with erroneous decisions. The overbearing will to homologate, to want to condition the profound visions of life and behaviors, the system­atic annulment of cultural identities—all of this resem­bles…a journey toward…a deleterious…refoundation that the population recognizes as oppressive and arro­gant, where Christianity is considered divisive because it does not bow down before the emperor du jour.

History attests that when those in power concentrate on their own survival out of personal ambition, turn­ing away from the common good, it is the time of de­cline. Marginalizing Christianity from the public sphere is a sign, not of intelligence, but of fear. It is failing to see, through the dark clouds of prejudice, that society cannot help but benefit from Christianity. Yes, society can benefit from Christianity…. The more one serious­ly studies the origins of humanism, and the more he recognizes the existence of something that is not only spiritual, but distinctly Christian.

CARDINAL ANGELO BAGNASCO — Cardinal Bagnasco is Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference.                        Magnificat, October 2017, pages 321-322.



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Guide to Lectio Divina:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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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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Homily for Sunday, October 15, 2017 by Fr. James J. Hogan

Homily for Sunday, October 22, 2017  (C O M I N G Thurs or Friday)

Art Walk – Portland, Oregon

Isaiah 25: 6-10 + Philippians 4: 12-20 + Matthew 22: 1-10 28 Ordinary A ‘17

In preparing this homily I consulted studies of the Pew Research Center about church membership. Many of us “remember when people thought of the Catholic Church as family — hard to ignore and even harder to leave.” Today about half of all U.S. adults who were raised Catholic have left the church. Some return but four in ten remain absent. Sixty percent of young Catholics leave the church after college. Ten years ago the Archbishop of Dublin told the Pope “I can go to parishes on a Sunday where I find no person in the congregations between the ages of 16 and 36.” This suggests to me that many are “cultural Catholics“ rather than “people of faith.”

The statistics are alarming! I share them with you as a doorway into today’s parable of the marriage feast. With a series of fictional stories such as this parable, Jesus is assuring us that here and now “God’s new reality” is emerging among us. In this homily I invite you to consider only the first part of today’s parable. It is very positive. Matthew’s Jesus is telling us everyone is invited. “God’s new reality is for everyone.”

The initial “invited guests” were “the chief priests and elders of the people.” “They refused to come.” A second invitation is extended. They either ”ignored the invitation” or “mistreated and killed the servants.” The harsh rhetoric in the parable is not threatening the elders and the priests. It is simply reminding them and us that decisions have consequences. Any who reject his message about “the Reign of God” risk remaining less than fully alive and fully human.

Those invited off “the street” include the larger Jewish community and the Gentile community. The good news is that everyone is invited to engage in “God’s new reality.” Everyone is invited to become more fully alive and more fully human.

Enormous changes are occurring in our dominant culture as we transition from an age of medieval “Christendom” to a “Secular Age.” These changes are beyond our control and not bad in themselves. They simply challenge us to be intentional in choosing to be authentic Christians.

It is apparent to me when I meet “authentic Christians.” They are persistent in trying to serve the needy and disadvantaged. Their inner peace and contentment tell me they are fully alive and fully human. In such people we experience “God’s new reality” emerging among us.

We all have friends or family now separated from the institutional church. We can only presume they are searchers like us, who grapple with the Mystery of Christ and are answering the call of the Spirit on their journey. I am not concerned that they will be “cast out into the darkness.” In ways unfamiliar to us, they choose to allow Christ to live in them and lead them to be more fully alive and more fully human.

However there are those who decide to abandon the guidance of Christ and the gospel. Here are two examples of what I mean. The first occurred in early summer. Several young people watched a disabled man frantically struggling in a pond. They taunted him. They laughed and took videos — as he drowned! The second occurred in mid-August. Violent clashes erupted at a white- nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a 20-year-old white nationalist plowed his car into a group of counter-protestors. Many were injured or died.

Such awful incidents as these foreshadow a world without Christ and the gospel. It is a world in which folks are far less human and far less fully alive t han God intends all of us to be. This is why I began this homily with reference to findings of the Pew Research Center. Their research cautions us that in the face of evolutionary shifts in our new global consciousness, the survival of Christianity as we have known it seems in jeopardy. That may be.

Even so, this parable assures us “God’s new reality is for everyone” who in some way allow Christ to live in them. This parable is a reminder that through folks like us, “God’s new reality” is emerging and through us transforming the larger cosmos of which we are a part.



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HOLY FATHER’S  INTENTION FOR THE MONTH  OF OCTOBER 2017 —                                       

The Apostleship of Prayer

Workers and the Unemployed: That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.

Work brings a basic dignity to our human participation in God’s creation. Although we can cooperate in God’s work through our labor, and we can exercise creativity in the arts, speech, and thought, we cannot truly create out of nothing. Only God creates in this fashion, ex nihilo, and it was in this way that He created the world.

Pope Francis has since the beginning of his Pontificate put great emphasis on our Christian duty to respect workers and the kinds of work they do. In a 2013 audience from Labor Day, he exhorted the People of God, calling for an end to slave labor and human trafficking, encouraging us to look for creative ways to help our brothers and sisters find fulfilling work.

The Holy Father connected this to one of the pillars of Catholic social teaching, the intrinsic dignity of every human person: “I wish to extend an invitation to everyone to greater solidarity and to encourage those in public office to spare no effort to give new impetus to employment. This means caring for the dignity of the person.”

As we pray with the Holy Father for workers this month, it is good for us to consider how we are building up those for whom we work, those with whom we work, and those who work for us.

We must be especially attentive to our shopping habits and the way in which we use the Internet. The products of sweatshops and human trafficking are widespread, and it takes careful diligence and a deep life of prayer to avoid the temptation to exploit workers directly or indirectly.

Lord bless the work of our hands, Lord bless the work of our hands.


 How can I assist in providing opportunities for fair work and fair wages in my family, social, and professional life? What are my obligations to the underemployed or unemployed? What am I doing to engage the issue of underemployment on a personal, local or regional level?


Acts 20:35 In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Prayer of the Month

0 glorious Joseph! Who concealed your incomparable and regal dignity as custodian of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary under the humble appearance of a craftsman and provided for them with your work, protect with loving power your sons, especially entrusted to you.

You know their anxieties and sufferings, because you yourself experienced them at the side of Jesus and of His Mother. Do not allow them, oppressed by so many worries, to forget the purpose for which they were created by God. Do not allow the seeds of distrust to take hold of their immortal souls.

Remind all the workers that in the fields, in factories, in mines, and in scientific laboratories, they are not working, rejoicing, or suffering alone, but at their side is Jesus, with Mary, His Mother and ours, to sustain them, to dry the sweat of their brow, giving value to their toil. Teach them to turn work into a very high instrument of sanctification as you did. Amen.

Saint of the Month

On October 7th, Our Lady of the Rosary: The Feast of our Lady of the Rosary dates back to its first establishment by Saint Pius V in 1573. The celebration was instituted by the Church in thanksgiving to the Lord for the military victory of Christians over the Ottoman forces by a coalition navy at the battle of Lepanto. The victory was attributed to the praying of the Rosary. It was Pope Clement XI who in 1716 extended the feast to the universal Church.

The Rosary is a devotional prayer enjoyed by countless millions of Catholics and others over the centuries. The praying of 150 Hail Mary’s mirrors the praying of 150 psalms. Reflecting on the mysteries of the life of Christ through the lens of the mysteries of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary can truly bring us “through the heart of the Mother to the heart of the Son.”

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!  — Pope John XXIII

Daily Offering Prayer

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

Traditional Offering Prayer

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

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

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



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

 One-Liners in Faith; (October 2017)

Lavender Iris

“Loving Jesus, thank you for those whose lives help others. May radio be a means to transmit God’s love to a hurting and need the community.” – James P., Houston, Texas

“The gift of grace increases as the struggles of life increase.” – St. Rose of Lima

The chief end of man is to glorify God and be with him forever. We exist to praise God’s glory.

As we truly set our hearts to God’s honor, there is joy unspeakable in our souls unlike anything else we will ever know in this world.

The love we have known in the life of someone who dies can be carried on. It is this love that can make difficult farewells and endurable and our grief consolable.

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



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Model Universal Prayer (Prayer of the Faithful)

Suggested Prayer of the Faithful

October 15, 2017

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




That all members of the church respond wholeheartedly to the demands of Gospel living,

That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it,

That the Church continue to preach the Gospel with power and conviction,

For the Church, may we hear God’s call and answer it faithfully,

For the Church, may she continue to be blessed with many disciples who seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in order to share God’s message of love with others,

For Pope Francis, bishops and priests, may the power of the Holy Spirit work through them as they proclaim the Gospel throughout the world,

For those who shepherd the Church throughout the world, may they always lead us in the ways of charity, love, compassion and understanding,

For our Holy Father, and all who serve the Church in ministry, may the wisdom of the Holy Spirit continue to guide them in all they do,

That all leaders in the Church may continue to be blessed with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit,

For Pope Francis and all who shepherd our Church, may their gifts of spiritual leadership guide the work of the Church throughout the world,

For Church leaders, may the Spirit continue to guide and inspire them and keep them faithful to Christ and his Gospel,

For the Church, may the Gospel continue to transform us,

For the Church, that she may be joyful in her love of the Lord,

As Church, may we model the goodness and graciousness of the Gospel,

For the wisdom of the Church, bringing to bear on our joys and sorrows,

May our Church exercise compassion,

May we be guided by the spiritual wisdom of our Church community,

For the beauty of diversity in the Church,




That leaders of nations work diligently to overcome the divisions that bring harm and destruction to the world,

That those engaged in the business world will work for the spread of solidarity.

That governments ensure fair taxes and provide needed services, especially for the poor,

For those in public office, may they be just and merciful in their positions of leadership and in their decision-making,

For those who hold civil authority, may they work to respect the dignity and sanctity of life from conception through natural death,

For all who hold elected office, may they recognize not only the mandate from their communities, but a larger call to service to all people,

For those in public office or with civic responsibilities, may the needs of the citizens they serve always be paramount and guide their actions and deeds,

For all who serve in leadership positions in government, may their service reflect the virtues of integrity and justice,

That Christians throughout the world may give witness to the Gospel message through our lives of generous service,

For civic leaders, may their efforts toward building peaceful communities be fruitful, and help to bring about a just society,

For all civic leaders, may their efforts help ensure that all peoples can worship God in peace and freedom,

For leaders of nations, for integrity in governance, transparency in intent,

For missionaries throughout the world,

May world leaders see the wickedness of war,

For a respect of all cultures, languages, and ways of life,

For those whom this world does not value,




That leaders of nations work diligently to overcome the divisions that bring harm and destruction to the world,

That those engaged in the business world will work for the spread of solidarity.

That governments ensure fair taxes and provide needed services, especially for the poor,

For those in public office, may they be just and merciful in their positions of leadership and in their decision-making,

For those who hold civil authority, may they work to respect the dignity and sanctity of life from conception through natural death,

For all who hold elected office, may they recognize not only the mandate from their communities, but a larger call to service to all people,

For those in public office or with civic responsibilities, may the needs of the citizens they serve always be paramount and guide their actions and deeds,

For all who serve in leadership positions in government, may their service reflect the virtues of integrity and justice,

That Christians throughout the world may give witness to the Gospel message through our lives of generous service,

For civic leaders, may their efforts toward building peaceful communities be fruitful, and help to bring about a just society,

For all civic leaders, may their efforts help ensure that all peoples can worship God in peace and freedom,

For leaders of nations, for integrity in governance, transparency in intent,

For missionaries throughout the world,

May world leaders see the wickedness of war,

For a respect of all cultures, languages, and ways of life,

For those whom this world does not value,




For an increase of vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life,

That communities work together to end neglect and abuse, especially of children,

For our local community, may we be beacons of light in a world that needs to know God’s love,

For the poor among us in this faith community, may we have a greater awareness of their needs and may we be more willing to share the gifts we have been given,

That married couples in our parish may grow in love and fidelity to one another,

For our local parish, may it be a model of God’s love and forgiveness in the wider community,

For children with special needs, their parents, and their families: that they will be given all the love and support they need,

For the young people in our parish, may they continue to grow in their love for Christ, and love one another as Christ loves each of them,

For a deepening of our baptismal commitment to the Lord,

For godparents and sponsors, and for all who promise to mentor others in the ways of discipleship,




That each of us here support and encourage one another to have hearts turned toward the way of God and the good of all ,

For the grace this week to be good citizens and to wit­ness the grace of the Gospel,

That all who come to this table be nourished with love, especially those who live alone,

For all of us here today, may the Spirit help us to overcome anything that hinders us from cultivating our God-given talents and sharing them with others,

For all of us gathered here, may we give witness to the Gospel by leading lives rooted in love and by inviting others to worship with us,




For those who suffer from chronic illness, may they be comforted by the knowledge that they are children of God,

For those who suffer from chronic illness, may they allow Jesus, the Divine Physician, to comfort and walk with them,

For those who are in pain or are experiencing loss, may they be comforted and healed through the grace of God,

That those who are sick or dying may experience God’s comfort as they communicate their needs to him in prayer,

For the sick in this faith community, may God’s Holy Spirit restore them to the fullness of life and health and liberate them from all afflictions,




For those who have died, may they be welcomed into the paradise that God has prepared for those who love him,

For those who have died, especially those with no one to pray for them, may they be at peace in the glory of heaven,

For those who have died, may they come to enjoy perfect happiness and peace in heaven,

For those who have died, may they live in the presence of the Lord forever,

For those who have died, may they enter with joy into the kingdom of heaven,

That our loved ones who have died may receive mercy for their sins and see God face to face in heaven,

For those who have died, may they be joyfully welcomed into the kingdom of heaven,

For our beloved dead, may they receive the reward of a life well spent and come to share in the fullness of Christ’s glory,

For all who have died, may they live forever in the heavenly Jerusalem,

For a respect for all life, from conception to natural death,



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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 …


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



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General Intercessions for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

15 October, 2017 – Cycle A

Stewardship – Time & Talent

Pro-Life – Prisons

 Presider:        Sisters and brothers, St Paul has told us that in all the circumstances of his life, when it was good and when it was difficult, he knew that God was his constant strength. We pray that same gift for ourselves and all people.

  1. That the Church deepen her realization that her wisdom and good works are not dependent upon good organisation, but on God, whose grace forms us into a Christian people, acting, thinking and loving in the Holy Spirit;                           We pray to the Lord.
  2. That world leaders not simply rely upon their governments and public servants, but place themselves under God who gives the Spirit of wisdom to those who open their hearts to the Spirit’s guidance; We pray to the Lord.
  3. For the men and women who sit on death row awaiting the end of their life: that we might pray for them with compassion and care; We pray to the Lord.
  4. For the healing of grief and the reconstruction of the homes lost in the California fires this past week; We pray to the Lord.
  5. For all members of St. Peter parish who, through their stewardship pledge, are eager to share their gifts of time, talent and treasure with their parish and their community; We pray to the Lord.
  6. We pray for the sick and housebound, for the anxious and depressed, and all who are in distress, including .    .    .    .              May they be helped by those around them and comforted by God’s grace;                      We pray to the Lord.
  7. That those who have died may come home to Him who destroys death forever; Him, in whose image they were created. We remember .    .    .    .             and those killed last week in Las Vegas.

In a special way we honor:

                             5pm               Tom Fromme              7:30am       Michael Palumbo

                             9am               Joe Weyerich             11am      our St. Peter Parish Family

                             6pm               our St. Peter Parish Family

for who we offer this Mass.

Presider:        Lord of the feast, you have prepared a table before all peoples and poured out life with such abundance that death cannot claim the triumph over your universe. Call us again to your banquet where we may receive your holy food, and strengthened by what is honorable, just, and pure, be transformed into a people of righteousness and peace. Amen.



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O Spirit of Wisdom, enlighten our hearts and minds,

As we prepare to choose our leaders.

Guide those who seek office,

Those who have power to influence others, and

Those who cast votes.

Protect the rights of all citizens.

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

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

O Spirit of Wisdom, seep into our souls,

Renew our democracy.

In God we trust.




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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001


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


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

Study included abortion in nation’s mortality statistics

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

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

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

Something missing from death stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abortion leading cause of death among minorities

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

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

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

Lost years as well as lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cost is extraordinarily high

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs:

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

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

Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Taking avarice to a new level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is OUR fight

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017    TWENTY-SEVENTH WEEK IN O. T.       pinionmarc

Lectionary 142: 1) Isaiah 25:6-10a; 2) Ps 23:1-6; 3) Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20;                            4) Matthew 22:1-14 or 22:1-10.

FOCUS:          We must be prepared to heed God’s loving call. Today’s readings provide both comfort and challenge. We are reminded that God is gracious and merciful, forgiving our sins and providing for our needs. But we must actively listen for his call and heed it when it comes, lest we be unprepared to enter the heavenly kingdom and join in the eternal wedding feast. The Lord invites us to a banquet (3), one of the favorite images of mes­sianic times (1). This banquet is spread before us (Ps) and can fully sat­isfy our needs (2), yet how often have we refused the Lord’s invitation to share in the riches prepared for us (3)?


In the first reading, Isaiah celebrates the generous and merciful nature of God, who blesses his people with an abundance of good gifts and saves them from sin and death. In the second reading from Philippians, Saint Paul teaches that it is through our faith in Jesus that we draw strength. The Gospel parable finds a king inviting guests to his son’s wedding banquet, only to realize that most are not fit to join the celebration.

PN: 22 October is World Mission Sunday. Pastors should encourage their local communities to assist in the mission of the Church in spread­ing the gospel. The Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples (#18) may be used as found in the Roman Missal. For optional readings, see Lectionary, vol. IV, nos. 872-876, especially Is 60:1-6 [872.3] Rom 10:9-18 [873.4] Mt 28:16-20 [876.1]).




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Monday, October 16, 2017              MONDAY OF 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Optional Memorial: Saint Hedwig, Religious; Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin.

Lectionary 467: 1) Romans 1:1-7; 2) Ps 98:1-4; 3) Luke 11:29-32.

FOCUS:          Let us follow Jesus on his terms. Just as the crowd wanted a sign from Jesus, people today demand proof – often a convenient excuse for unbelief. It seems we will follow Jesus, but only on our terms. Yet Jesus, himself, who died and rose for us, is our sign. The Ninevites heard the preaching of Jonah and repented. Are we willing to turn from sin and follow Jesus on his terms? Jesus is the sign of God’s presence (2), of God’s salvation (Ps). He is descended from David and is the Son of God (1).


In today’s first reading, Paul addresses the community in Rome, and reminds them they are called, by God’s grace, to be holy apostles. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus informs the crowd looking for a sign that they will be given only the sign of Jonah ─ that he himself is their sign.

Hedwig, †1243; born in Bavaria; duchess of Silesia and mother of seven children; peacemaker dedicated to the poor and prisoners; as a widow, retired to a Cistercian convent.

Margaret Mary, †17 Oct. 1690 at age forty-three; French Visitandine mystic who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a feast which helped free the Church from the spirit of Jansenism; promoted first Friday devotion.




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Tuesday, October 17, 2017       TUESDAY OF 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr.

Lectionary 468: 1) Romans 1:16-25; 2) Ps 19:2-5; 3) Luke 11:37-41.                                                   Scripture for Saint’s Mass, see 660: Phil 3:17-4:1 Jn 12:24-26.

FOCUS:          We are called to live in the truth. As we see in today’s Gospel, Jesus hated hypocrisy, and encouraged his followers to be kind to one another. External gestures are meaningless unless we have generosity of spirit and a genuine love for others. And our actions must attest to the greatness of our God.


The first reading reminds us that we are to worship the Creator, not the things he created. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches about hypocrisy, particularly in religious practices. He uses as an example the Pharisees’ practice of ritually cleansing hands and dishes while holding evil in their hearts.

Ignatius, † c. 107 under Trojan in Rome’s amphitheater; from Syria; Apostolic Father known as the second successor of St. Peter in Antioch; wrote seven letters to local communities on church unity and structure, esp., the monoepiscopacy; first to use the term “Catholic Church” as a collective designation for Christians; mentioned in the Roman Canon.




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Wednesday, October 18, 2017            SAINT LUKE, EVANGELIST – FEAST

Lectionary 661): 1) 2 Timothy 4:10-17b; 2) Ps 145:10-13, 17-18; 3) Luke 10:1-9.

FOCUS:          Like Saint Luke, we are called to bear witness to Jesus. Today we celebrate one of the four evangelists whose Gospel is included in the canon of Scripture. Yet every Christian is called to be an evangelist. Like Saint Luke, we are called to bear witness to Christ ─ to be ready to share his message of God’s mercy and salvation. We are called to be faithful to the work God has called us to do. Luke, a gentile companion of Paul (1), proclaimed the good news through his gospel (2), making known God’s kingdom of love (Ps) for all, especially the lowly and the poor.


In the first reading, Saint Paul refers to Luke as a faithful companion in the journey and mission to proclaim the Gospel. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, directing them to share his peace and proclaim the Gospel with those they encountered.

Luke, †1st c.; Syrian physician from Antioch and companion of St. Paul; authored (c. 70-85) Acts of the Apostles and a gospel for gentile Christians which speaks of God’s mercy, universal salvation, love of the poor and the marginalized, absolute renunciation, prayer, and the Holy Spirit; represented by a winged ox (cf. Ezekiel 1); patron of the medical profession, painters, artists, sculptors, and butchers.

PN: A “Health Care Mass,” might be appropriately celebrated near the Feast of St. Luke honoring doctors, nurses, medical technicians, hospi­tal administrators, and emergency personnel in appreciation for their service to the local community. Suggested Mass formulary, when per­mitted: For Giving Thanks to God, #49B.




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Thursday, October 19, 2017        THURSDAY OF 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saints John de Brebeuf And Isaac Jogues,                                               Priests, And companions, Martyrs

Lectionary 470: 1) Romans 3:21-30; 2) Ps 130:1-6; 3) Luke 11:47-54.                                                   Scripture for Saint’s Mass, see 662: 2 Cor 4:7-15 Mt 28:16-20.

FOCUS:          We enter into a right and true relationship with God through faith in Christ. In the New Testament, the Greek words for faith and belief occur nearly five hundred times. Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace.” We do not simply believe that God is; we have faith in God and in his son, Jesus Christ, and that faith has an impact on how we live our daily lives. We are saved by God’s gracious mercy (Ps), not by our own doing (1). Such a gift may be rejected, as was Jesus by many of his contemporaries (2).


In the first reading, Saint Paul tells his readers that while all humans have sinned, God has made it possible for them to regain a right relationship with him through faith in Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus has harsh words for the Pharisees and scholars of the law because they are hypocrites. Their hostility toward him increases.

French Jesuit and oblate missionaries to the Hurons and Iroquois of North America, t 1642-1649; Isaac was tomahawked to death by Iroquois on 18 Oct. 1646 near Albany; John was savagely mutilated and slain 16 Mar. 1649 near Georgian Bay; other martyrs were Antony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Gamier, Noel Chabanel, and oblates Rene Goupil and Jean de la Lande; secondary patrons of Canada.

In the USA, the optional Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross, Priest, is perpetually transferred from 19 to 20 October.




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Friday, October 20, 2017          FRIDAY OF 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Optional Memorial: Saint Paul of the Cross, Priest.

Lectionary 471: Romans 4:1-8; 2) Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11; 3) Luke 12:1-7.

FOCUS:          As authentic Christians, we must resist the temptation to live our faith only externally. Jesus’ warning should instill in all of us a healthy fear of giving in to hypocrisy. The temptation to care only about external appearances and what people think of us is a very real one. We should all strive to be authentic Christians because as Christ promises, in the end the truth will come to light. “Blest are they to whom the Lord imputes no guilt” (1, Ps). God watches over us, and so we have nothing to fear (2).


In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he assures them that if their faith is great, then they will be justified by it. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear Jesus warning his Apostles against hypocrisy, and he calls them to have courage in time of persecution. He also reminds them that everything done in secret will be revealed.

Paul of the Cross, † 18 Oct. 1775; born in Liguria; renowned preacher and founder (1720) of the Passionists [C.P.], today numbering about 2,160 members, who combine the apostolate of retreats and missions with penitential monasticism.




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Saturday, October 21, 2017          SATURDAY OF 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Saturday in honor of BVM

Lectionary 472: Romans 4:13, 16-18; 2) Ps 105:6-9, 42-43; 3) Luke 12:8-12.

FOCUS:          As we acknowledge God before others, that is how God will acknowledge us. We are called to faithfulness. We are called to preach the truth of Christ to a world that may not want to hear it. In our humanity, we worry about what we should say or do. We would like words in advance, but are reminded that the Holy Spirit will provide the words when we need them. The Lord is faithful to his covenant (Ps), to Abraham and his seed (1). A sign of such love is the Spirit, who sustains and supports us (2).


In Romans, Saint Paul notes that righteousness is promised to Abraham and his descendants through faith, not observance of the law. In the Gospel from Luke, Jesus teaches that those who preach in his name will be rewarded and those who deny him will be denied. In defense of the faith, the Holy Spirit will provide the words.




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Lectionary 145: 1) Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 2) Ps 96:1, 3-5, 7-10; 3) 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b;                         4) Matthew 22:15-21.

FOCUS:          Let us strive to be people of faith, hope and love. In the second reading, Saint Paul gives thanks to God for the assembly of Christians at Thessalonica, who were proving to be faithful disciples. The Gospel Paul preached to them, and the Gospel we hear today, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit; let our lives bear witness to its truth and power. The Lord is king (Ps) and there is no other (1). We are to render to God, therefore, fitting praise and service, as is God’s due (3). God’s word to us, in turn, is a matter of power and strength, to be lived with conviction of heart (2).


The prophet Isaiah writes of God who knows us, loves us and calls us by name. We are reminded that there is no other God besides him. Saint Paul, beginning his Letter to the Thessalonians, affirms their work of faith and love, saying he knows they were chosen by God. In Matthew’s Gospel, the Pharisees hope to trick Jesus with their question about paying taxes. Jesus tells them to pay to Caesar what is his, and to give to God what belongs to him.

World Mission Sunday



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FAITH CATHOLIC ONLINE; PAULIST ORDO – 215-219.                                                                                                                                                                       MAGNIFICAT for the 28th Week In Ordinary Time .

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Reflection – Sunday, October 15, 2017

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Those who were first invited to the wed­ding feast refused, giving their work priority. We have been invited to the Eucharistic banquet. Our prayer lives prepare us for this feast. As we pray, we grow closer to God and our need for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is nurtured. Prayer and sacrament ready us to feast in the Kingdom.           Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 323.




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Reflection – Monday, October 16, 2017          Weekday   

With this letter, Paul writes to a com­munity he did not found and has not met. In essence today we hear his intro­duction to them. Paul not only tells of the importance of his faith but acknowl­edges the honor of the community. He tells them that they have received the grace of apostleship and are called to be holy. Our hospitality to another acknowledges that they are a child of God. Our faith is shared through our words and actions.                                                          Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 324.




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Reflection – Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

Ignatius of Antioch was born in Syria and made a bishop in the first decades of Christianity. In 107 AD, the Roman Emperor Trajan began persecution of the Christians in Antioch. They were given a choice to renounce the Lord or be killed. Ignatius chose martyrdom. He was taken to Rome to be executed. Ignatius too was unashamed of the Gos­pel. On the journey to his death, he wrote seven letters encouraging the early churches to be faithful during this time of persecution. He met his death bravely, seeing it as a sign of his faith.                                                     Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 325.




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Reflection – Wednesday, October 18, 2017           Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist

Scholars are pretty certain that the Luke noted in this reading was a Gentile Christian who wrote for other Gentile Christians. We honor him for writing the Gospel that bears his name and the Acts of the Apostles. Without his Gos­pel account and Acts, a perspective of the Gospel and the history of the early Church would be lost. We give thanks for his testimony.                 Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 326.




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Reflection – Thursday, October 19, 2017

Memorial of Sts. John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

In the 1600s, Europeans conquered, settled, and explored the Americas. The Jesuits were part of the explorers, seek­ing to bring the Gospel to Native Amer­icans. This European immigration is a complex history, as is the missionary activity that accompanied it. The North American Martyrs were a mixture of priests and lay ministers, all working toward the common goal of evangeliza­tion. The saints we honor today labored with various Native American tribes. They taught and translated and in the end were tortured and killed. Yet, it was through their efforts that Christianity took hold in North America.                Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 327.




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Reflection – Friday, October 20, 2017             Weekday

Why is Abraham remembered four mil­lennia later? Is it because of all he did? Is it because of his accomplishments? No, it is for he who is a man of faith. Works are often rooted in self-impor­tance. We accomplish something, and we have pride in that. However, this is not why Abraham is accounted as righ­teous. It is because he trusted God enough to choose him. God, in turn, blessed him.            Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 328.




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Reflection – Saturday, October 21, 2017        Weekday

Paul returns to his common themes of the law and faith. The law does not pro­vide salvation, righteousness, or justifi­cation. All of these come through faith. Law has its place but so does mercy. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis quotes Thomas Aquinas regarding mercy. “The foundation of the New Law is in the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is manifested in the faith which works through love” (37).                  Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 329.



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Reflection – Sunday, October 22, 2017

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Pharisees and Herodians try to trap Jesus. In essence, they are attempting to set the stage for Jesus’ conviction of treason. They want to twist his words to use against him. As on other occa­sions, Jesus does not fall into the trap. Instead, he tells his questioners to give to give the emperor what is due and to return to God what is his. We might reflect on what we recognize as God’s and how we treat those gifts. In the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis reminds us of the reverence that St. Francis regarded creation. “He felt called to care for all that exists” (11). We too need to care for what belongs to our Creator.         Daily Prayer 2017, LTP, page 330.



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                                                        Faith Catholic Online  October 15-22.

                                                         Daily Prayer 2017, pages    316-323.

                                                                    Ordo pages 215-219.


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The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie Dumont

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

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



Novena Prayer for Voting – Judy Butler

O Spirit of Wisdom, enlighten our hearts and minds,
As we prepare to choose our leaders.
Guide those who seek office,
Those who have power to influence others, and
Those who cast votes.
Protect the rights of all citizens.
Give us insight and good judgment to overcome all that divides and degrades us.
Grant that all may set aside self interest in favor of the Common Good.
O Spirit of Wisdom, seep into our souls,
Renew our democracy.
In God we trust.


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An Independence Day Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.



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Ordinary Time      (As of May 23 Ordinary Time Continued)

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

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

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

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

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

Paulist Ordo pages 30 and 31 and 125.



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What can I do to fast in communion with others?

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

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

They apply to us all…

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

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

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

Monsignor Jack 1-3-5


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Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony Esolen


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.


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.


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.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞


FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore


Faith in the Public Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

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

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE




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



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

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

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


-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!


Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

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

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

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

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

The Price of Freedom.

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

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

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

From the Desk of Richard Thompson

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

By Dave Andrusko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 2017
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