SUNDAY LITURGY PREPARATION


CONTENTS OF THIS SUNDAY LITURGY PREPARATION PAGE:
See Below in the following Order — Use the Table of Content’s Links to find the Resources you want.

  1. RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 92-95.
  2. RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 35-36.
  3. RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 64-67.
  4. RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, litpress.org, pages 25-26.
  5. RESOURCE: Sacred Reading,The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, page 88.
  6. RESOURCE: Lectio Divina, Magnificat, February 18, 2018, pages 276-278.
  7. RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, February 2018, pages 283, 287-288.
  8. RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Reflections Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, February, 2018, pages 190-191; 194-195.
  9. RESOURCE: Homily for First Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018
  10. RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of February 2018 —The Apostleship of Prayer
  11. RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For February 2018
  12. RESOURCE: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
  13. RESOURCE: General Intercessions On Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, February 4, 2018 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood

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AT HOME WITH THE WORD® 2018

February 18, 2018 – FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

READING I Genesis 9:8-15
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (see 10)
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. R.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your love are from of old. In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD. R.
Good and upright is the LORD, thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and he teaches the humble his way. R.

READING II 1 Peter 3:18-22
Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

GOSPEL Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Practice of Faith
Today parishes across the country will send their catechumens
(those preparing for Baptism) to their local bishop for the Rite of Election. Through the formation process, which includes much prayer, the catechumens have been growing their faith for many months. They now enter the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, a time of intense spiritual preparation and deepening relationship with Christ, as they prepare to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.

• James Dunning writes, “Lent without candidates for baptism is like a Mass without bread and wine. These persons are the sacraments of the dying and rising taking place in all of us” (New Wine: New Wineskins: Exploring the RCIA, Sadlier, 1981). Learn the names of the catechumens in your parish and pray for them throughout Lent.
• Reflect on what is dying and rising in you this Lenten season. How might it be reflected in those persons preparing for the sacraments of initiation?
• To inspire your own Lenten Journey, read Bishop Ricken’s “Journey to the Foot of the Cross: 10 Things to Remember for Lent”: http://www.usccb.org /prayer-and-worship/liturgical -year/lent/journey -to-the-foot-of -the-cross-10-things-to-remember-for-lent.cfm.

Download more questions and activities for families, Christian initiation groups, and other adult groups at http://www.ltp.org/t¬productsupplements.aspx.

Scripture Insights
For the next several weeks the Church celebrates Lent. Lasting a symbolic forty days (it doesn’t count out to precisely forty days), Lent reminds us of times of testing described in the Bible, such as the forty years the Jews wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus and many other stories we will hear about during Lent. It is a time of preparation for the great celebration of Easter.
Today’s First Reading recalls an important “forty” story—in which God grieved all the evil that had come into the world and decided to renew creation through a flood. For forty days it rained! When Noah and his family were finally able to return to dry land, God established a new, everlasting covenant with humanity that was signified by a rainbow in the clouds.
The Second Reading draws upon the Noah story to explain how Christ suffered for our sins but was brought to life in the Spirit. Biblical scholars do not know the identity of the “spirits in prison,” but the phrase may refer to the spirits of the unrighteous who died in the flood. More importantly, the author suggests that the flood story was a prefiguring of Christian Baptism, in which we join ourselves to Christ’s Death so that we can come to new life with him.
The Gospel continues the theme of testing and preparation by recalling the story of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness, where he was tested by Satan for forty days, and then appeared in public proclaiming the nearness of the reign of God and preaching the need for repentance.
• Carefully reread the Second Reading. What do you think the author meant when he described the flood story as a prefiguring of Christian Baptism? How is Christian Baptism different from the flood story that prefigures it?
• Consider the Gospel reading and Jesus’ proclamation of the coming reign of God. What kind of reaction does its message evoke in you? Why?
• Prayerfully reflect on today’s Responsorial Psalm. What words or images speak most vividly to you? Use those words or images to write your own personal prayer to God. AT HOME with the WORD® LTP, pages 92-95.

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SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY

 

SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – February 18, 2018

Learning God’s Ways

 GENESIS 9:8-15              God’s statement to Noah and his family in this reading is profound: “I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood” (v. 11). Never again will God destroy humanity. It is a wonderful promise on God’s part, because, while Noah and his family may deserve to be rewarded for their faithfulness, human beings will cer­tainly continue to sin. Yet, in spite of the infidelity of subse­quent generations of humans, God has promised never to send destruction again. This is God’s covenant: to remain in a loving, compassionate, and merciful relationship with all human beings, no matter what.

After the flood, God once again invited human beings to recognize the beauty of creation. The flood waters released humanity from sin and revealed the possibility of a new Eden, a new garden of life. This new earth, birthed from the flood waters, is where humans could be faithful partners in their loving relationship with God. God’s creatures are wel­comed, once again, to enter the waters of rebirth. In those waters, they can remember their part in keeping the cove­nant and relearn the ways of God. During Lent, we join with those who move toward the waters of Baptism at the Easter Vigil. With them, we are invited to seek a rebirth from sin and recognize our possibility of new life.

The bow suspended in the sky in Genesis is a sign of peace and God’s faithfulness. It is a new dawn for humans who are, once again, invited to learn and live by God’s ways. Like Noah, we see the sign of a new dawn as we begin this Lenten season.

PSALM 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (SEE 10)

We pray this same psalm and verses on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, but with a different antiphon. In today’s antiphon, we pray for the courage and trust to learn the ways of the Lord: “Your ways, 0 Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your cove­nant” (25:10). Learning the ways of God means being will­ing to be attentive to what God offers to teach us. In the psalm, we plead for God to make known, teach, guide, and remember. We ask God to be active in our lives. Despite our sinfulness, which we acknowledge as Lent begins, God does remember. God does make it known. God does teach and guide. The way to the Lord is set before us.

1 PETER 3:18-22        The passage from Peter’s epistle sounds like a creedal statement: Christ suffered, died, and rose, brought to life in the Spirit. His imagery reminded listeners of God’s patience while Noah obeyed in building the ark. Peter linked the flood to the saving water of Baptism. His message is clear: Christ suffered that he might lead us to God.

Some Scripture commentators suggest that because this early community was living the true ways of the Gospel message, they were being derided and maligned. Peter encourages them to continue to live in ways that are faith­ful to Christ, no matter the cost. The author points to Jesus, who also suffered at the hands of those who abused him for his witness and message of God’s reign. Yet, death was not the end. Jesus’ Resurrection and new life in the spirit enabled his message and ministry to continue. All other powers are subject to the Risen Lord.

MARK 1:12-15           Mark gives the briefest account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert of the three synoptic Gospels. Its brevity drives home the most important points. The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert. There he encounters Satan, wild beasts, and angels. It is an otherworldly experience, but he is not alone. The Spirit is with him. When he emerges after forty days, the message he proclaims is clear: God’s reign is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel. Jesus was willing to submit to learning the ways of God in the desert for forty days, and came out preaching the Good News of God’s cov­enant love.

As we begin our Lenten journey, we are invited to spend these forty days learning the ways of God. We are not alone. The Spirit is with us. During this time, we will need to con­front the sinfulness, emptiness, and infidelity of our own lives in response to Jesus’ exhortation to repent and believe in the Gospel. In our encounter with The Lord and with the Gospel message, we can learn the saving ways of God and remember our promise to keep God’s covenant.

CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION

n         “God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us, and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love”‘ (SacCar, 35).

n         “Since this mission goes on and in the course of history unfolds the mis­sion of Christ Himself, who was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor, the Church, prompted by the Holy Spirit, must walk in the same path on which Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death, from which death He came forth a victor by His resurrection” (AG, 5).

n         “In the Church’s Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experi­ence the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives. He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love” (DCE, 17).

  1. Cf. GS, 22.

Scripture Backgrounds for the Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 35-36.

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LIVING LITURGY™ SPIRITUALITY, CELEBRATION, AND CATECHESIS FOR SUNDAYS AND SOLEMNITIES 2018

Reflecting on the Gospel – The First Sunday of Lent

Upon making a commitment, how often do we start out with strong intentions, firm will, and fortitude? Perhaps nothing represents that more in our modern culture than a New Year’s resolution. We see and hear ads for gym member-ships and diet plans flooding the internet and the airwaves during those first few weeks of January. So many of us are resolute in those weeks. But once a hurdle is in our path we can quickly stumble. Sometimes we can make a commitment to exercise daily, and that routine is manageable for a few days, or even a few weeks. But we also face other priorities in the midst of our goal to exercise daily. Pretty soon, exercising is a long-gone wish.

Jesus faced something much more profound than a New Year’s resolution or an intention to exercise daily. Upon being baptized and starting his ministry, he was immediately faced with temptation. He was driven into the desert, a place of no con-solation, no respite, and no refreshment. The experience of knowing he is God’s Son gives way to isolation and solitude in a harsh environment.

As a human being, Jesus knew temptation; the gospel is clear about that. But for many Christians it can be difficult to imagine that Jesus was truly tempted, for he was also di-vine. And yet as he was fully human he was truly tempted. Despite these real temptations, he overcame them. Mark does not tell us much about this period, unlike Luke, for example, with the many scenes of Jesus conversing with Satan. Mark is intent to tell us in sparse text, without wasting a word, that Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus was fully human and experienced temptation as we do.

As Jesus was tempted we too will be tempted. Perhaps even our profound experience of faith and trust in God is tested. But after this period of testing Jesus returns to Galilee, his home, and proclaims the Gospel. In this he is a model for us, who will not live without temptation. We might have an experience of desolation that God is not with us in our trials. But like Jesus we can undergo this experience and emerge stronger, with the courage to proclaim the Gospel.

Living the Paschal Mystery

Our lives are filled with many competing priorities. Sometimes we call these

“distractions” or temptations. But it is important for us to wisely discern be-tween distractions/temptations and merely competing priorities. Family responsibilities, for example, are hardly temptations, but they can sometimes pull us in directions we do not enjoy or that are not always life-giving. Perhaps this is why they are called “responsibilities.” Life-giving activities are from the Spirit of God. Pursuits that pull us away from who we are called to be are better called “temptations.” This is where the example of Jesus can be so powerful.

Jesus was, and was called to be, the Son of God. Mark tells us about this experience at Jesus’ baptism. Yet immediately after his baptism, Jesus was in the desert for forty days, being tempted, only to return to his home, true to his mission, to preach the Gospel.

Often, we know who we are called to be. Even in the midst of temptation, or desolation, we know who we are and what we ought to do. Following Christ does not mean a life on easy street without trials or perils. Quite the opposite. The Christian life is beset by obstacles, temptations, and pitfalls. As Jesus did, we are called to proclaim the Gospel, whether we do that at home, in our work-place, or with friends.

Focusing the Gospel – Mark 1:12-15

Every year the Lenten season begins in the desert. Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ forty days in the desert takes place immediately after Jesus’ baptism. Driven by the Spirit, Jesus’ going to the desert is an act of obedience to the Father. This is a time for contemplation and discernment regarding the tremendous task before him.

The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew word for “adversary.” Satan serves as Jesus’ adversary, tempting him along another path. And this was in the truest sense, a “temptation” for Jesus, who was not merely play-acting. But Jesus never succumbed to the adversary’s temptation. Thus, Mark’s portrait of Jesus in the desert is that of God’s son and Messiah overcoming temptation and re-emerging to preach the gospel.

Focusing the First Reading – Gen 9:8-15

 Today’s first reading recounts God’s covenant with Noah. The first Christians saw in the Noah tale an image of baptism: a new world, free from sin, cleansed by the flood waters and God makes a covenant with humanity. After their forty days and nights adrift in the ark, Noah and his family begin the task of reestablishing God’s creation.

Focusing the Responsorial Psalm – Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

 Covenant and journey are the themes of today’s responsorial psalm. Human-kind’s covenant with God, reestablished in the faithfulness of Noah and his clan, is centered in God’s compassion and justice. The psalm also praises God as the source of true wisdom: God is the guide and teacher who marks our life’s journey by way of justice and humility.

Focusing the Second Reading – 1 Pet 3:18-22

 In Christ, God has again raised up his beloved sons and daughters from the tombs of their sins. The writer of the First Letter of Peter picks up the baptismal theme of the Noah story: God again restores life through water and recreates our fallen world through Christ.

 

CELEBRATION

Model Penitential Act

Presider: Called by the Spirit to the Lenten desert with Christ, let us ask for the mercy of God for our sins. [pause]

HOMILY POINTS

  •  The same Spirit that “drove” Jesus into the desert drives us into our own “deserts” to rediscover God. Lent calls us to our interior deserts, to that place within us where we can turn off the noise and shut out the fears and tensions of our lives to realize God’s grace. It is only in such stillness that we can realize the many manifestations of God’s love in our midst, a love that is difficult to see in all the distractions demanding our attention and hard to hear in all the noise screaming at us. In the stillness of the Lenten desert, we rediscover what it means to be people of faith, what values we want our lives to stand for, what path we want our lives to take on our journey that inevitably leads to God and Easter resurrection.
  • Lent calls us to face our mortality, to realize that our lives are all too brief and fragile. As Jesus was led to the desert to confront the mission before him, we are called to the desert of our hearts and spirits to confront what we are making of this time we have been given, what we want our lives to stand for, what we want to leave to those we love. Lent calls us into the deserts of our hearts to turn away from the attitudes and behaviors that mire our lives in selfishness, unhappiness, and disappointment and turn toward the values of God we seek to embrace.
  • While the “Spirit” of God calls us to the work of reconciliation, justice, and generosity, “Satan” dissuades us from taking on God’s work by focusing, instead, on our own temptations. Our Lenten desert experience with Jesus is a time to confront the “temptations of Satan”: those things (however common in the scheme of life) that can too easily displace the things of God in our lives. This First Sunday of Lent is a call to “repent”: to change our lives’ focus and direction and recreate those wants and attitudes that doom our resolve to realize the kingdom of God in our lives.

 

CATECHESIS

 

About Liturgy

 Lenten environment: Many of us have gotten it into our Catholic imagination that Lent is about the desert. One reason for this is today’s gospel reading, which, on the First Sunday of Lent, is always about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. But beyond that reference, nothing else about Lent implies desert or dryness, much less cacti or sand.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says that Lent has a twofold nature: “[By] the recalling of Baptism or the preparation for it, and Penance . . . the church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they listen more attentively to God’s word and devote more time to prayer. Accordingly, more use is to be made of the baptismal features which are part of the Lenten liturgy” (109). Join this directive with today’s first reading about Noah and the flood and the second reading connecting that flood with the saving waters of baptism, and we get something that looks a lot more like spring with its thunderstorms and new buds bending under the weight of that water.

That image of new life in need of extra care from sudden storms is what this First Sunday of Lent is about as the church makes a covenant with its most vulnerable—the elect. The promise we give them is that they too will be saved, like Noah, by the flood of God’s grace in the waters of baptism at the upcoming Easter Vigil. We, the church, will be their ark of safety during these last few weeks of temptation, doubt, and sec-ond thoughts.

We who are baptized are to be examples for these elect of ongoing conversion and renewal, of repentance and deeper commitment to living out the vows of our baptism. This is why we must make more use of the baptismal features that are proper to the Lenten liturgy in order to help us remember our own baptismal vows for the sake of those who are preparing to make those vows for the first time. Therefore, get rid of the sand and cacti. Make sure all your fonts are overflowing with water. Preach about baptism and what it means to live as baptized people who face daily temptations with the courage and faith of Jesus.

About Initiation

 Rite of Election: In every diocese today, bishops will elect those who are ready to be initiated at the next Easter Vigil. If you have catechumens in your parish who will be declared elect, be sure to highlight them in the community’s prayer throughout Lent. In addition to the Lenten rites for the elect (the three scrutinies, the two presentations, and the preparation rites on Holy Saturday), make sure to include intercessions at every Mass for the elect, enthrone the Book of the Elect by the baptismal font, and continue to celebrate the dismissal of catechumens with the elect as they enter this final period of preparation and intense prayer.

About Liturgical Music

What Lent sounds like: A bit like the misconception that Lent is about the desert, sometimes we have made Lenten music to be about all things soft and quiet. However, the season of Lent began with the trumpet blast in the first reading of Ash Wednes-day. Rather than striving for a meditative or contemplative atmosphere in Lent, let

us hear Lent as a call to intense focus and clearheaded sobriety. Lent challenges us to strip away whatever has become routine or meaningless and to let go of whatever we cling to that keeps us safe in our comfort zones. Perhaps this Lent is calling your choir to push itself to sing a cappella so that the focus is clearly on the power of the human voice. Or perhaps your choir might sing more in unison with the assembly to renew the assembly’s sense of its own voice as primary.

Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, And Catechesis For Sundays And Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, pages  64-67.

 

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THE WORD ON THE STREET, SUNDAY LECTIONARY REFLECTIONS

 First Sunday of Lent —   IN THE WILDERNESS

Readings: Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Pet 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15

“Repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15)

Many theological reasons for Jesus’ baptism have been proposed, ex­plaining it as a sacramental model for the church, an act of solidarity with sinful humanity, or “a manifestation of his self-emptying” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1224), but any answer must stress that “the baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sin­ners” (CCC 536). After Jesus’ baptism, “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Because Jesus aligns himself with sinful human­ity, the act immediately following his baptism is to do battle with evil, as each of us must do daily.

Jesus, who takes on all of our humanity, did not travel from baptism straight to the glory of the transfiguration but went from baptism to the wilderness, because it is a place that haunts our fragile humanity no matter where we are, and it demands redemption. Jesus’ redemption of humanity begins with the incarnation, but we see it advance in his obedi­ence (unlike Adam and Eve) to the will of God and in his steadfastness to resist temptation.

The model Jesus presents to us when “he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” is one grounded in the reality of human life. Life can be hard, life can be unfair, and life can knock you to the ground. A promise to relax in the car on the way to work can deteriorate into curses cast against the first driver to cut you off. A promise not to drink, and all the hard work that accompanied it in rehab, can fall apart in one visit to the bar, resulting in a sense of frustration and ineptitude. A family gathered in joy can be smashed apart with the sudden death of a child, plunging people into suffering and darkness. Sin crouches nearby, to tempt us in our struggles, our losses, and our suffering.

Unlike Jesus, our ability to resist temptation is flawed, even with the gift of baptism, but baptism also allows us to seek safety in the church when evil threatens to overcome us and drive us into the wilderness alone. For Jesus comes out of the wilderness proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” The church was built for the ongoing battle and for repentance when we fall. Repentance is a sign of why the church was built: for salvation.

Noah’s ark was built to save those who took refuge in it, and God promised that “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” This ark is an ancient Christian image for the church, for as it says in 1 Peter, by it “a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water”; but in a spiritual sense “baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Repentance functions as this “appeal to God for a good conscience.”

Repentance is available to us because Jesus chose to align himself in the battle against evil so fully that after emerging from the wilderness, “Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark.” There is a question as to whom these “spirits in prison” represent—whether these spirits are the “fallen angels” or the human dead of the time of Noah—but Jesus’ proclamation to them is built into the church for us: “Repent, and believe in the good news”!

It is Christ—through his battle with evil in the wilderness, his suffering and death, and finally his resurrection—who has gained salvation for us. Christ, who is raised up and at the right hand of God, has authority over all powers, human and demonic. We must be encouraged to fearlessly grasp our baptismal mission, for there is no power over which Christ does not rule, and that mission includes repentance when we stumble in our own personal battles.

Let Jesus be with you in the wilderness. What temptations are you strug­gling with today? For what do you need to repent? How has God accom­panied you in your times in the wilderness?

The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 25-26.

 

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SACRED READING, THE 2018 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER

Sunday, February 18, 2018 First Sunday of Lent

Know that God is present and ready to converse.

“Jesus, your message is consistent. As I read your Word, let me hear and obey.”

Read the gospel: Mark 1:12-15.

And the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

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

Led by the Spirit, driven by the Spirit, Jesus goes into the wilderness for forty days. There he is tempted by Satan, but the angels wait on him. Afterward, he proclaims the good news of God: the time has come, the kingdom is near, repent, and believe the good news.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“Jesus, I hearken to your simplicity and the simplicity in this passage from your Word. This is also your message to me: obey the Spirit with simplicity. Lord, I offer myself to you in obedience for the good of those you have given me . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

It is a grace to hear and respond to the Word of God, my beloved. I wish for all to hear and respond, but many do not. So it has always been. Pray for them. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“Lord, let me join you in the wilderness; let me be driven by the Spirit to pray often for all those who need to hear your message of salvation.”

Know that God is present and ready to converse.

“Glorious Lord, all your judgments are just. Let your goodness reign in my heart, so that I may do your will.”

Sacred Reading, The 2018 Guide To Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, page 88.

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LECTIO DIVINA — A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent – Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert (1:12).

Saint John Chrysostom: “The Spirit drags Jesus into the desert, since he wanted to draw the devil there; and Jesus gave occasion to him not only on account of his hunger but also on account of the place: for then most especially does the devil attack, when he sees people isolated and by themselves.” Mary Healy: “As Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, Jesus is driven out into the desert.” Father Francis F. Moloney, S.D.B.: ‘The promise of the beginning (Mk 1:1) indicates that the prologue of the Gospel of Mark is linked to the prologue to the human story, as it was told in Gn 1-11. Jesus was driven into the desert to reverse the trag­edy of the Adam and Eve story, to reestablish God’s original design.” The Lord once found his people in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert (Dt 32:10). That is where we first find Jesus; and that is where he first finds us—in a wasteland of sorrow, confusion, suffering, sin.

And he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels minis­tered to him (1:13).

Moloney: “In the Genesis story Satan’s victory over Adam led to hostility and fear in creation. In the Marcan story that situation is reversed: he is with the wild beasts. Jesus’ coming has restored the original order of God’s creation.” Chrysostom: “Since Jesus both acted and experienced all things with a view to our instruction, he is content also to be led up to that place and to wrestle with the devil in order that each of those who are baptized should not be troubled as if the matter happened contrary to expectation but should continue to endure all things nobly. Indeed, for this reason God does not prevent temptations as they come by: first, in order that you may learn that you have become much stronger; then in order that you may remain temperate and not over-excited by the greatness of your gifts, for temptations have the power to humble you; then in order that the evil one, by inquiring through the torture of temptations, might be satisfied that you have completely forsaken him; fourthly, in order that you might become stronger and hard as steel; fifthly, in order that you might through this receive a clear proof of the treasures entrusted to you. For the devil would not come upon you if he did not see you brought to greater honor.” The Imitation of Christ: “When a person of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, they realize clearly that their greatest need is God, without whom they can do no good. Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute person is tempted in many ways. Often, we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are. Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones. A person, indeed, is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God. For temptation is usually the sign preceding the consolation that is to follow”. Father John Justus Landsberg († 1539): “From this episode our first lesson is that human life on earth is a life of warfare, and the first thing Christians must expect is to be tempted by the devil. For this reason, the Lord desires his disciples to find comfort in his own example. Reading in the Gospel that Christ too was tempted by the devil immediately after he was baptized, they will not grow fainthearted and fearful if they experience keener temptations from the devil after their conversion or baptism than before—even if persecu­tion should be their lot.”

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God.

“This is the time of ful­fillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (1:14-15).

Saint Bernard: “Repentance is the feeling of a person irritated with himself.” Moloney: “The basic meaning of ‘repent’ is a radical turning back. An almost physical image is conjured up, disclosing an urgent need to stop in one’s tracks, turn from all that leads away from the Kingdom, and become part of that Kingdom by believing in the Good News.” Monsignor Romano Guardini: “Repentance is an appeal to the deepest mystery of the creative power of God. Repentance does not cover up sin. On the contrary, repentance is truth. It tries to see things as they really are. Repentance is itself a gift. When man comes to God with his repentance, the living God is already in him and has given him repentance. Something has not been merely covered up: I have been born again. I begin again.”            Pages 276-278.

 

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MAGNIFICAT REFLECTIONS, FEBRUARY 2018

First Sunday of Lent — February 18, 2018

Noah endured the forty-day devastation of the flood. In a similar way, the Spirit today drives Jesus into the forty-day trial of the desert. Satan conspires to make Jesus compromise his relationship as Son toward his Father. But Jesus remembers how the flood ends with God’s promise, “I will establish my covenant with you.” The Father now perfects that promise in the flesh of his own Son who will “show sinners the way” so that “he might lead you to God.” The temptations make Jesus only more certain of his Sonship. Through our trials the Father’s care shines.          Magnificat, February 2018, page 283.
 United with Jesus in His Temptations

The Word of God promises the crown to the man who endures temptation and is proved in it. It is good for us to consider and desire this reward so that, having greater nourishment, we may not be lukewarm in working nor weak in suffering. It was said of Moses that he was looking toward the reward (Heb 11:26). The same was said of David (Ps 119:112). But true and perfect love for the crucified Lord so esteems conformity with him that it regards suffering for God as a very great gift and reward. As Saint Augustine says, “Blessed is the injury of which God is the cause.” Nobody fails to protect one who is suffering because of having entered into his service. Much more should this be expected of the divine goodness, which will take your cause as his own, in accord with David’s prayer: Arise, Lord, and judge your cause; remember the insults that the fool speaks against you all day long (Ps 74:22). To God pertains the business that his servant undertakes. Therefore, God watches over it with great fidelity. With hope in him rather than in ourselves, we must dare to undertake the endeavor of the service of God….
We sustain ourselves with the hard stones of the temptations that the devil brought upon us to test, as he did with our Lord, whether we are children of God (cf. Mt 4:3). Thus we draw forth honey from poison and health from our wounds, and we emerge from temptations having been tried and with millions of other blessings.
For these blessings, we do not have the devil to thank, for his will is not to make us crowns but chains. Rather, we must thank God, the supreme and omnipotent Good, who will never permit any evil except to bring good from it by a higher means. Nor would he permit our enemy and those who belong to him to afflict us, unless it is for the great confusion of the enemy and for the good of the one afflicted….
When the devil thinks that he is doing most harm to the virtuous, he benefits them most. Because of this, he ends up so confounded and ashamed that, in his pride and envy, he would prefer that he had not begun this game that turned out so well for those he wanted to harm.
SAINT JOHN OF AVILA  —  Saint John of Avila († 1569) was a Spanish priest, mystic preacher, and scholar. He is a Doctor of the Church.                                                Magnificat, February 2018, pages 287-288.

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GIVE US THIS DAY REFLECTIONS

Reflection – Covenant in the Nitty-Gritty

 What, we might ask, does saying grace at meals have to do with God’s covenant with Noah? The answer is in Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’: “That moment of [meal] blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation” (227).

“The sun rises and the sun sets,” says Qoheleth (Eccl 1:5), implying that everything just drones on without meaning. Ho-hum. But God does not see it that way. God’s love for us and commitment to us come through in the order of our universe. You can count on the sun and moon and stars in their places, God says, and the seasons following one after

another. You can build your home here; in fact, the earth is meant to be, as Pope Francis says, “our common home.”

This large vision may not impress us until it is translated into daily details. A priest began a memorable homily by stand­ing at the lectern holding up his hands and wiggling his fingers. After a few moments he asked, “Did you ever think about what it would be like if you didn’t have knuckles? Did you ever wonder why many animals put their faces in their food?”

There is no better time than Lent to rediscover God’s cove­nant with us in the nitty-gritty of creation, in the day-to-day gifts. For this we say, Laudato God be praised!

FATHER JEROME KODELL — Fr.Jerome Kodell, OSB, is former abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.

 

 

February 18-24      First Week of Lent

Within the Word — Becoming a Ninevite

A few years ago, I accompanied one of my doctoral candi­dates, Fr. Samer Yohanna, a Chaldean priest, to obtain his Vatican Library card. The application form asked for his place of birth, so he wrote Nineveh (how Chaldean Christians refer to Mosul, Iraq). The secretary, recalling the biblical story of Jonah, looked at his application, smiled, and asked, “Did you convert?” Samer responded cheerfully, “Oh yes, and the prophet’s tomb is in my city?’ (Jonah’s traditional burial site was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.)

On Wednesday we become Ninevites, called to conversion by the prophet Jonah. The specific content of Jonah’s exhortation was probably borrowed from Monday’s reading from Leviticus. God, speaking through Moses, bluntly names our sins: defraud­ing, holding grudges, gossiping, cursing the poor (symbolized by the deaf and blind), and denying workers a just wage. Who among us has not been served by a low-paid restaurant worker who lacks access to proper health care? The Leviticus reading opens our eyes to discover sins that could go unnoticed—the injustices that we quietly accept in ourselves and in our world.

But how could an Israelite prophet, a foreigner from a rather insignificant land, preach in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city so large that it took Jonah three days to walk through it? In fact, when God ordered Jonah to go to Nineveh (700 miles northeast of Jerusalem) the first time, Jonah took off westward toward Tarshish (chap. 1). He knew that as an outsider, his preaching would be unwelcome.

In April 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. traveled from Atlanta to Birmingham (a mere 148 miles) to preach nonviolent resistance against segregation, but the local religious leaders viewed him as an outside agitator. King appealed to the prophet Jonah: “Just as the prophets of the eighth century BC left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the bound­aries of their home towns:’ so he had left Atlanta and come to Birmingham because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Letter from Birmingham Jail).

King went willingly to Birmingham—but Jonah had to be swallowed up by a fish and then spewed out on the beach before he accepted that in God’s mind injustice even in the distant capital of Nineveh threatened justice everywhere.

God allows the Ninevites forty days—a Lenten journey—to recognize the injustices in their city and to repent. Conver­sion takes time; the battle against our sinfulness is not won in a day. In fact, it is never won. The Ninevites would not cease to be sinners after forty days of repentance, but the recognition of their sins would be the first step to building a more just society in their capital city.

During the tense confrontation in Wednesday’s Gospel, Jesus recalls Jonah’s story. In Luke’s version Jesus makes no reference to the “three days” that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish (cf. Matt 12:39-40). For Luke’s Jesus, the “sign of Jonah” is the Israelite prophet himself, traveling to a foreign land to urge the Ninevites to confess the injustices in their own lives and in their world. Jesus, “something greater than Jonah:’ bids us to hear the challenge of his preaching and, during these first days of Lent, to become Ninevites.

FATHER CRAIG MORRISON —  Fr. Craig E. Morrison, OCarm, directed Fr. Samer Yohanna’s dissertation at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Fr. Yohanna, OAOC, a Ninevite and native Aramaic speaker, was the rector of the Pontifical Babel College in Erbil, Iraq. He is now superior general of his community.

Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, pages 194-195.


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Homily for the First Sunday of Lent – February 18, 2018

Genesis 9: 8-15; 1 Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15 1 Lent B ‘18

Francis, the bishop of Rome, has suggested we change the current wording of the Lord’s prayer from “lead us not into temptation –” to — “do not let us fall into temptation.” His point is that God does not lead humans into temptation!! Neither does some malevolent spiritual figure named “Satan.”

Mark is the shortest of the four gospels. He agrees with Matthew and Luke that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert where he spent 40-days and was tempted by Satan.” That is the simplest, bare bones info given to us by Mark. What does it mean?

Perhaps you had your DNA checked. If so, your genetic package revealed something about your primal ancestors, but nothing about your primal instincts of self-preservation and reproduction. All forms of violence: domination, oppression and exploitation are rooted in one of these instincts.

Further your DNA revealed nothing about your most human quality– your ability to love without condition. On the evolutionary ladder that is what sets us apart from earlier primal life forms. To be fully human means to sublimate and direct those instincts to nonviolent, unconditional love.

We hear “tempted by Satan” and immediately think of a malevolent figure leading Jesus, or us, to be less than fully human. To claim “the devil made me do it” is simply wrong. Like all of us, Jesus was pulled by his basic, primal instincts of self-preservation and reproduction. He had to make a choice, as we all must do. Be controlled by those basic instincts and be less then fully human. Or sublimate them and become fully human. He made his choice! Mark tells us it was not easy for Jesus, as it is not easy for us, to make that choice. “Forty-days” is a long time.

After his forty-day sojourn in the desert, Jesus returned to “Galilee proclaiming the good news.” He said, “This is the time of fulfillment.” “Repent and believe the gospel.”

This is serious business. Listen to him. The word “repent” (metanoia) means a change of mind and heart. That means be open to and embrace your own possibilities. All of us have within us the possibility of sublimating our primal instincts and becoming fully human.

“This is the time of fulfillment” for us! — Lent! The Greek word Jesus used for “the time” is “kairos.” “Kairos” means the opportune time, the right time, a time not to be missed. Lent is a great and gentle voice calling and inviting us to be open to and embrace our own possibilities.

So remember this. To be fully human means sublimating the power of those basic, primal instincts into nonviolent, unconditional love. Those who submit to those primal instincts choose to remain more like those un-evolved life forms, and less than human.

Our destiny is to become fully human and live in union with that Gracious Mystery we name God. I appreciate the suggestion offered by Francis of Rome. The love of that Gracious Mystery for us is far more than we are able to comprehend. Certainly that Gracious Mystery does not “lead us into temptation.” The same Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness empowers us and will continue to do so until we make the same choice he made.

We are living in a national situation all of us helped to create. Our government and economic system are badly out of balance. We have elected incompetent people to leadership roles. Many of us, perhaps including you, are concerned our situation is only getting worse. Don’t be discouraged. The social/political/cultural moment in which we live will be an unexpected blessing if we refuse to allow our primal instincts to control us. We have the ability to sublimate the enormous power of those instinctual drives into unconditional, nonviolent love. Be positive and be confident! That Gracious Mystery we name God will never abandon us as we struggle to become more fully alive and more fully human.

FATHER JAMES J. HOGAN, Missoula, Montana

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HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD

A Universe in a Grain — Anthony Esolen

A MAN SITS HUNCHED OVER A LONG OAK TABLE, his eyes peering at a flat square of stretched and treated sheepskin before him. Scattered over the table are small pots of colors, the whites of eggs, and some glue rendered from the bones of fish. There are also quills of all sizes, and reeds, some sharp­ened to an almost invisible point. And herbs, berries, petals, stones crushed to powder, tiny flakes of gold and silver, and the oily soot from lamps—lampblack.

“Master,” says a boy coming into the room, “the tide is out and the merchant is on his way. He says to tell you that the mountains have given up their jewels. What does he mean?”

Only at low tide can a man cross on foot from the coast to the holy island.

“Ah, that is good news, good news indeed!” cries the artist, looking up from his work and smiling. He is speckled with colors upon his fingers and wrists and even his face, and though most of it he can wash away at nightfall, he will take a little of it happily to the grave with him. “It means that the lapis has come from India. Now will my Virgin wear her finest blue.”

“What is India?” says the boy, now leaning over the sheepskin. What he sees there is astonishing. Birds, branches, leaves, strange animals, interlacing shapes, in russet, saffron, rose, cornflower, wheaten, so involved, so woven in and among one another in such a bewildering tracery of graceful curves, it seemed that if you straightened them out from a single page you could string them out two miles from the island to the shore and back again.

“India is a land on the other side of the world,” says the man. “The mountains bear a rock called lapis lazuli, as blue as the twilight before the dawn, with sometimes a kiss of clear green in it. I have been waiting a whole year for that color.”

“Will it be heavy, this rock?” asks the boy. “Heavy?” says Bishop Eadfrith. “No, not heavy. You could hold it in your hand.”

DO NOT DESPISE THE SMALL

“Master,” asks the boy, “it seems a far distance to travel for something I could hold. Wouldn’t some crushed violets have done as well?”

Eadfrith was pricking out a flourish of red dots that even under a microscope, which of course he did not have, would appear like—a flourish of red dots. “No, not at all, my boy. The violets are dull. The lapis is filled with light.”

“Does God care for things so small?” “Does he care for you and me? We are to him less than one of these red dots is to us.” “Then how,” said the boy, now leaning upon the table and laying his head close to the master’s, studying each tiny stroke of the pen, “can God dwell within us?” “He dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and was no bigger than the tip of this quill.”

“I cannot understand that, Master.”

Eadfrith continued to work, with a patience that seemed outside of time itself. The boy too absorbed the patience, so that whether the answer came in a moment or an hour, he could not tell.

“You are too small to understand it, and so am I.”

“Master,” said the boy, “are the words of God also small, the words that you write on the page?”

“Every jot and tittle,” said the master.

CHRIST OUR LIGHT

The boy cocked his head and looked back from the page. “These are letters,” he said. “I see it! All these birds and blades of grass and twigs and funny animals make up letters. But I don’t understand. What is an X and a P?”

The bishop laughed. “Oh, those are Greek letters. The Greeks, they lived far away also, sometimes on islands just like our Lindisfarne. The letter is called a chi,” he said, pro­nouncing it like key, “and the other is a rho. They are the first two letters of the name of honor borne by our Lord: Christos. That means He Who Has Been Anointed.” “Because he was a king?” “King and priest and Son of God.” “Have you also been anointed, Master?”

“Yes, I have been anointed bishop.” He then turned to a reed with a flat tip, and dipped it into the fish glue, with the lightest touch, then applied it to a flake of gold not a thousandth the part of a snowflake. He smiled but did not take his eyes from the work. “And you have been anointed.”

“I am a bishop?” “You are a Christian. You are a little Christ. All Christians are.” “But how can Christ who is the Son of God be in me?” “How indeed,” said the bishop.

THEY BRING GOOD TIDINGS

The boy gazed upon the manuscript as the bishop worked. They stayed so for a long time, like a father and son in a workshop.

“It is beautiful, Master,” said the boy. “I am happy that it pleases you.” “Why do we make the first page so beautiful?” “I do not understand your question, my son,” said Eadfrith.

“I mean that the words are the words, whether they are decorated or not.”

“Ah yes, the words are the words.” Eadfrith smiled and thought about an argument he had had with a sort of vag­abond monk from the East, who wanted to rub out every image of Christ or Mary he could find. The man’s order had driven him out, and now he wandered around the world like Satan, looking for jobs to spoil.

“Imagine you are bringing good news to a village, that the Danes have been wrecked on the sea, and the peo­ple’s houses and farms will not be burned down, and their womenfolk and children will be safe. Would you bring that news with a frown?” “No!” said the boy, laughing.

“Would you dress in black,” said Eadfrith, turning from his work with a mock-grimace, “and mumble your news like this,” and he did a wonderful impersonation of a tragedian, groaning.

“I would dress in red and gold, and I’d come in danc­ing!” said the boy.

“So we dress the Good News in red and gold, and come in dancing,” said the bishop.

THE VERY STONES DO SPEAK

Suddenly there was a bustle at the door, and in came a big bearded man with a sack over his shoulder. “Greetings, my lord!” he said. “All they from Saba and who knows where shall come bearing gifts.” He put the sack on the floor and loosened the strings, while the boy leaped from his bench and peered inside.

“Oswald my friend, God has brought you back to us safe and sound!” The bishop embraced him, ink and all.

“I have the deep blue lapis, and a kind that I have never seen,” said Oswald, and brought out of the sack what looked like a mass of light green shafts of ice frozen together, their edges and corners glinting. “Will you be able to make use of this, my lord of the quill and the reed?”

“Praise be to God,” said Eadfrith. “Two years have I worked on my Gospels, and now I see the completion drawing near.’ Then he turned to the boy. “Son, these precious stones come from a pagan land, and we will crush the stones and use their light to bring light to the pagans themselves.”

“Even the Danes?”

“The Danes most of all. What Danish king on his throne, surrounded by thanes with their swords adorned in worm forms and monster-forms, will not gaze in wonder at this book for the King of kings? Even if he doesn’t understand the words, the very stones will speak to him—the glory of the world that God has made, and the beauty of the Word that shines in it.”

WHY HIDE THE LIGHT UNDER A BASKET?

Bishop Eadfrith (†721) is considered to be the artist who gave to the world perhaps the most remarkable work of book-art ever executed, the Lindisfarne Gospels. The book itself, now in the British Museum, survived an attack by the Danes and being lost in the sea for several days; it is something of a miracle that we still have it. It is perhaps a greater miracle that it was made in the first place. We could learn much from the man whose love brought it to the light.

Christians should take the lead in all of the arts, because we have the consummate artist to imitate and a subject for our art that cannot be surpassed: the God made Man, to raise small and sinful man to the house of God. And why should we be hesitant to call upon the arts in the work of bringing the Good News to an old and weary world? Glorious things of thee are spoken, 0 Sion, city of our God.

(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, January 2018, pages 211-216.

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples—it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares indepen­dence from reality and behaves with absolute domin­ion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebel­lion on the part of nature” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, May 1, 1991)….

When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physi­cal determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibil­ity wanes” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace)….

Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibil­ity for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom, and responsi­bility are recognized and valued….

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the pro­tection of nature is also incompatible with the justifi­cation of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Pope Benedict XXVI, encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009).

We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries.

From Pope Francis 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si´

Magnificat, January 2018, pages 329-330.

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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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HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR FEBRUARY 2018:

APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER REFLECTION FOR FEBRUARY

Say “No” to Corruption

That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist the lure of corruption.

Fr. Blazek’s Reflection

The abuse of power for personal benefit, corruption, is a problem across all human history. Bribery is often involved. One hears sadly of corrupt narcotics officers working for the mob, or of favors granted at various places of employment for a kickback, or at high levels of government for a public works contract. The Holy Father has taken a firm stand against such immoral and illegal activity, asking us to pray that those tempted to corruption may be delivered from illicit enticements.

This is also a very Ignatian intention: the founder of the Jesuits knew that riches, power and pride were all closely interrelated. The enemy of our human nature leads us to think our gifts and abilities are our own or that having some power might bring us material, social or spiritual wealth. Sadly, in this progression many of us fall prey to the sin of pride, thinking ourselves better than others, or even placing our will above the Lord’s in fashions small and large.

The struggle against corruption is a priority for Pope Francis. On a visit to the Italian city of Cesena last October he characterized corruption as the “termite of politics” and contrary to the common good. In that pastoral visitation listeners applauded his challenge to reject “even the most minimal form of corruption.”

Later that same year the Holy Father called corruption a “smog” that “pollutes” society. Pope Francis invites Catholics to be “crafty,” having a “healthy lack of trust” for those promising easy riches. Such craftiness, he enjoined, calls for careful self-examination in the face of temptation, and a healthy prayer life.

Points for Meditation

Have I been tempted by the lure of riches, be they material, financial or social? Am I in business relationships or friendships with individuals who are abusing power and influence? How might I challenge them, or extricate myself from these webs?

Scripture

Ephesians 4:20-24 That is not how you learned Christ… as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

Prayer of the Month

Prayer for deliverance from evil of Pope Saint John Paul II:

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future! From famine and war, deliver us. From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us. From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us. From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us. From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us. From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us. From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.

Accept, 0 Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its

manifestations. Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!

Saint of the Month — St. Blaise Martyr, February 3rd

St. Blaise is numbered among the “14 Holy Helpers” or “Auxiliary Saints.” These holy men and women are said to be particularly helpful intercessors for particular needs, in the case of St. Blaise, healing from illnesses and infirmities of the throat.

It is a marvelous custom in the Church to receive a blessing of the throat on his memorial, imposed by the priest or deacon with two crossed candles pressed across the necks of the faithful.

St. Blaise was martyred in 316. After an interrogation and a severe scourging, he was imprisoned and ultimately beheaded.

Daily Offering Prayer

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

Traditional Offering Prayer

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

To register as a member of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, or to subscribe to our monthly communications, please visit our website at popesprayerusa.net/join/. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.

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Copyright 2018: Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Item #500

 

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KNOM RADIO MISSIONS ONE-LINERS for FEBRUARY 2018,

RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For February 2018

Lavender Iris

“That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.” — Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for February 2018

God expects you to be a construction worker, not part of the wrecking crew.

On this day:

Mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise. Examine your demands on others. Express your gratitude. Overcome a fear. And show someone you love them.

And do it again, and again, and again…

Lord, give bread to the hungry — and hunger for You to those who have bread.

Lord, I want to make it a new year. New ideas and dreams, a new approach to You in prayer, a new way of loving my family. A new enthusiasm in my work, a new generosity reaching out to the needy, a new attitude of helping my church, or my school, or my town. Lord, not just a celebration or a party with noisemakers for me. Help me to make this a genuine new year.

The hope of this season is a passion for the seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

Life can be understood when you look back. But life must be lived forward.

May God continue to provide for you as the New Year is on the horizon. May He bless you abundantly!

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Horsetails in the Mtns_001001

SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY
The First Sunday of Lent – FEBRUARY 18, 2018

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

FOR THE CHURCH

 

 

That this Lent the Church will bear witness to those who live in material, moral, and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of God’s love,
That All Baptized Christians faithfully proclaim the reign of God and turn to him in every temptation,
For our church, that, in our prayer and work, we may be signs of God’s love,
For the Church, may we confidently proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and share our faith with others,
That the Church, as she continues to bring the message of Jesus to all, may be blessed with more and more listeners who heed his words,
For clergy around the world, may the Holy Spirit guide them as they lead their people through this most sacred season,
That Church leaders may be blessed with a fruitful harvest in their call to the faithful to be active in sharing their faith with others,
That the Church, through the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, may bring the hope of Christ to all who seek the truth,
That we the faithful, baptized into the one Lord, may hear the voice of the Shepherd calling us to discipleship in his name,
For Church leaders and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, may they be strengthened by our prayers as they continue to spread the message of God’s love throughout the world,
For the elderly, single persons, and all who live alone,
For the unloved and for those who appear unlovable,
For members of all religions that address God as “father,”
For a deeper appreciation of the signs given us by Christ in the sacraments,
For the pope and his ministry of fostering unity among all Christians,
For a renewal of the desire to cultivate virtue and holiness in our lives,
For women and men who live the consecrated life in the Church,
For the ability to forgive as Jesus taught and showed us to do,
For the conversion of many hearts during this Lenten season,
For a unity that stems from collaboration among Christians in evangelization and pastoral care, not only in theological discussions,

 

FOR THE WORLD

 

 

For all the nations and peoples of the earth, that they may work together to protect the gifts of God’s creation for the peaceful use of all,
For peace in the world, and for the protection of all those who risk their lives to defend that peace,
That political leaders avoid temptations of power and greed and serve with sincere generosity those they represent,
For those in public office, may they embrace servant leadership and strive to be steadfast in speaking the truth,
That integrity and honesty may be the hallmarks of all who hold elected office or formulate public policy,
For farmers and all who work the land throughout the world, may they receive what they need to produce an abundant harvest,
That elected officials may have the graces of integrity, honesty and compassion in enacting laws and decrees that benefit all,
That community leaders may be filled with wisdom and humility, and embrace servant leadership,
That leaders throughout the world may have virtuous hearts in seeking to understand people of diverse cultures and practices,
For countries torn apart by violence and hatred, may they experience a new dawn of peace and reconciliation,
For world leaders, that they will strive for peace in the most tormented regions of the world,
For world leaders, that they will nurture their prayer lives,
For those captive to a one-dimensional world represented by consumerism, materialism, and rationalism,
For world leaders, that they seek to unite peoples of differing cultures,
For a widespread understanding of the universal call to holiness,

 

FOR THE OPPRESSED / ANY NEED

 

 

That families will recommit themselves to fervent prayer this Lent so as to grow in greater love and holiness,
That those enticed by an individualistic mentality may be set free and given a more noble way of living,
For all who are in prison, may they use this difficult time to grow closer to God,
That those who have been victimized by prejudice or hatred may be affirmed and comforted by our love, acceptance and support,
That those who lack the basic necessities to survive the long winter months may be helped by abundant generosity and love from others,
That those who are grieving the loss of a loved one may be comforted and strengthened by the love of God reflected in each of us,
For those whose hearts have turned away from God, may they, in this season of Lent, find new hope in the promise of Christ,
For a deeper sensitivity to the evil powers that seek to influence our lives and faith,
For regions where deserts have been created through human abuse of ecological balances,
For patience with ourselves as we seek to observe the Lenten season religiously,
For an end to capital punishment,
For children who do not learn their prayers for various reasons,
For those God is calling to hear and embrace the Gospel for the first time,
For those who refuse to admit wrongdoing,
For the incarcerated and those forever marked by what they have done, even after repentance,
For the recovery in our culture of a sense of what sin is,
For the gift of compassion,

 

 

FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

 

 

For those who are preparing for baptism and the Easter sacraments, that these forty days may be a time of discovering the love and mercy of God in their lives,
For those preparing to enter the Church at Easter who will come forward today for the Rite of Election: that they will be blessed in these days of preparation,
For this faith community, may our lives bear witness to the Lord during this Lenten journey,
That our catechumens and elect may be strengthened on their journey to Easter, and may God build them into his kingdom,
For all men and women who serve as pastors and leaders of faith communities,
For community leaders, that they experience a spirit of joy in their work,

 

 

FOR THE ASSEMBLY

 

 

That all who are on their journey to the Easter sacraments experience the welcome and support of their communities,
That the members of this assembly, in prayer and fasting, be drawn ever more deeply into the paschal mystery,
For the grace this week to face the temptations of life by relying on the love of the Lord in our lives,
For those gathered here, may we respond boldly to the call to discipleship and mission,
That we as a faith community will be open to the grace of the Holy Spirit during this Lenten period as we prepare to welcome the risen Christ at Easter,
That those in our faith community in need of forgiveness may be inspired to seek the grace of the sacraments in order to restore peace in their hearts,
That this community of faith may be guided by the Holy Spirit so as to use our talents and gifts for the greater glory of God,
For this faith community, may we be graced with the heart and mind of Christ so as to welcome the stranger and the traveler, and spread the fruits of hospitality and generosity,

 

 

FOR THE SICK

 

 

For the sick, the suffering, the recovering, and the dying, that the limitless compassion of God will restore them to health and hope,
That all who face obstacles, be they physical or emotional, grow in faith-filled stamina and determination,
For the sick, the homebound and the suffering, that God’s healing touch may bring them peace and comfort,
That those who struggle with addiction may be freed from what enslaves them and come to see God as their refuge,
For those who suffer from psychological neuroses and disabilities,

 

 

FOR THE DECEASED

 

 

For those who have died, may they experience the fullness of God’s love and mercy,
That all of our beloved friends and relatives who the Lord has called home will rest eternally in the Lord’s presence,
For all who will die today, and all the faithful departed, may they enter into their eternal rest,
That our beloved dead may be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom with all the angels and saints,
That those who have died may share in the eternal peace of Christ,
That those who have died may be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom,
For all the faithful departed, may they behold God face-to-face in heaven,

 

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

Chihuly Glass

Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

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

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

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

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

Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:

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

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

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

Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

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

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

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

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Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.

 

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General Intercessions for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

11 February, 2018 – Cycle B

Presider: The Lord Jesus, who healed the leper, is ready to bring his grace to all in need.  Through him, therefore, we now pray to the Father.

Deacon or Reader:

  1. That we, the Church, will show to those who struggle in life, a compassion modelled on Jesus, who accepted everyone with equal kindness;                               We pray to the Lord.
  2. For unity in the human family: that God will protect all who are participating in the Olympics and promote a spirit of cooperation amongst all nations, races and peoples;                  We pray to the Lord.
  3. That those who care for people with unsightly or contagious illnesses, scars, or damaged limbs will not be afraid, but see the person for who they are: a child of God and a living image of Jesus;                                  We pray to the Lord.
  4. For the transformation of our attitudes: that we may recognize our bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit and the sacred gift of our sexuality;                                We pray to the Lord.
  5. That married people and those engaged to be married may reflect, in the sacrament of their life together, God’s love for all his people;                                   We pray to the Lord.
  6. For the sick of our parish, including  .    .    .    .       and for those who live with incurable or unpleasant illnesses: that they will not give up hope, but carry their cross with dignity and receive respect from all whom they meet;                             We pray to the Lord.
  7. That the experience of death will lead people to the fullness of the things of God for all eternity, remembering today  .    .    .    .           And in a special way we honor

5pm                Paul Gegg                            7:30am  Cicerilli Family

9am                Rubin Minowitz               11am                    our St. Peter Parish Family

5pm                Thomas Hilgeman

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

Presider:           Divine Physician, healer of bodies and souls, stretch out your hand and touch us. Cleanse our hearts from the sin that separates us from you and one another. Recreate us in your own image, and heal us of the leprosy of selfishness and injustice. Make us clean and whole in your love and compassion through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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Power of Attorney Form- Missouri

Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Will to Live Form

 

I, __________________________________________________________, of
(name of principal)

Address:_____________________________________________________,

Home Telephone:_______________Work Telephone: _______________

hereby designate ____________________________________________
(name of attorney in fact)

Address ______________________________________________________

Home Telephone: _______________ Work Telephone: ______________

as my attorney in fact to make any health care decisions for me
as authorized in this declaration consistent with the
instructions below.

In the event the person I designate above is unable, unwilling or unavailable to act as my attorney in fact,
I hereby appoint the following persons (each to act alone and successively, in the order named):

A. ____________________________________________________________
(name of successor attorney in fact)

Address _______________________________________________________

Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________

B._____________________________________________________________
(name of second successor attorney in fact)

Address _______________________________________________________

Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________
as my successor attorney(s) in fact to make any health care decisions for me
as authorized in this document consistent with the instructions below.

GENERAL PRESUMPTION FOR LIFE
I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to make health care decisions consistent with my
general desire for the use of medical treatment that would preserve my life, as well as for the use of medical
treatment that can cure, improve, or reduce or prevent deterioration in, any physical or mental condition.
Food and water are not medical treatment, but basic necessities. I direct my health care provider(s) and
attorney in fact to provide me with food and fluids orally, intravenously, by tube, or by other means to the full
extent necessary both to preserve my life and to assure me the optimal health possible.
I direct that medication to alleviate my pain be provided, as long as the medication is not used in order to
cause my death.

 

  • I direct that the following be provided:
    • the administration of medication;
    • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);

and

  • the performance of all other medical procedures, techniques, and technologies, including surgery,
    — all to the full extent necessary to correct, reverse, or alleviate life-threatening or health-impairing conditions, or
    complications arising from those conditions.
  • I also direct that I be provided basic nursing care and procedures to provide comfort care.
  • I reject, however, any treatments that use an unborn or newborn child, or any tissue or organ of an unborn
    or newborn child, who has been subject to an induced abortion. This rejection does not apply to the use of tissues
    or organs obtained in the course of the removal of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • I also reject any treatments that use an organ or tissue of another person obtained in a manner that causes,
    contributes to, or hastens that person’s death.
  • The instructions in this document are intended to be followed even if suicide is alleged to be attempted at
    some point after it is signed.
  • I request and direct that medical treatment and care be provided to me to preserve my life without
    discrimination based on my age or physical or mental disability or the “quality” of my life. I reject any action or
    omission that is intended to cause or hasten my death.
  • I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to follow the above policy, even if I am judged to
    be incompetent.
  • During the time I am incompetent, my attorney in fact, as named above, is authorized to make medical
    decisions on my behalf, consistent with the above policy, after consultation with my health care provider(s),
    utilizing the most current diagnoses and/or prognosis of my medical condition, in the following situations with the
    written special conditions.

WHEN MY DEATH IS IMMINENT
A. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury, and I will die imminently–meaning that a reasonably
prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical
conditions involved, would judge that I will live only a week or less even if lifesaving treatment or care is
provided to me–the following may be withheld or withdrawn:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

WHEN I AM TERMINALLY ILL
B. Final Stage of Terminal Condition. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury and even though death is
not imminent I am in the final stage of that terminal condition–meaning that a reasonably prudent physician,
knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved,
would judge that I will live only three months or less, even if lifesaving treatment or care is provided to me–the
following may be withheld or withdrawn:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

C. OTHER SPECIAL CONDITIONS:
(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):
___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

IF I AM PREGNANT
D. Special Instructions for Pregnancy. If I am pregnant, I direct my health care provider(s) and health care
representative(s) to use all lifesaving procedures for myself with none of the above special conditions applying
if there is a chance that prolonging my life might allow my child to be born alive. I also direct that lifesaving
procedures be used even if I am legally determined to be brain dead if there is a chance that doing so might
allow my child to be born alive. Except as I specify by writing my signature in the box below, no one is
authorized to consent to any procedure for me that would result in the death of my unborn child.

___________________________________________________________

If I am pregnant, and I am not in the final stage of a terminal condition as defined above, medical
procedures required to prevent my death are authorized even if they may result in the death of my unborn
child provided every possible effort is made to preserve both my life and the life of my unborn child.

___________________________________________________________
Signature
___________________________________________________________

THIS IS A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND THE AUTHORITY OF MY ATTORNEY IN
FACT SHALL NOT TERMINATE IF I BECOME DISABLED OR INCAPACITATED OR IN THE EVENT
OF LATER UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER I AM DEAD OR ALIVE.

This power of attorney becomes effective upon certification by two licensed physicians that I am
incapacitated and can no longer make my own medical decisions. The powers and duties of my attorney in fact
shall cease upon certification that I am no longer incapacitated. This determination of incapacity shall be
periodically reviewed by my attending physician and my attorney in fact.

I, ________________________________________________________, the principal,
(print name)
sign my name to this instrument this day of _______________ 2________,

and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority
that I sign it willingly, that I execute it as my free and voluntary act
for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am eighteen years of age
or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.

Date: ________________ __________________________________
(Signature)

State of Missouri )

) SS.
County of )

On this __________ day of ________________, 2________, before me personally
appeared , to me known to be the person described in and who executed
the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged that he or she executed the
same as his/her free act and deed.

Notary Public ______________________________________________

My commission expires: ___________________________

(Notary Seal)

Form Prepared 2001 – See Attorney General’s website to update this.

REFLECTIONS

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Welcome to Reflections

Table of Contents, This Page

 

An Abridged Dictionary

On Profiling Muslims
by John Byorth

Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006

Reflections on the Crumbs left in a Brown Bag Lunch Sack

The Attraction of Christ

Objective Morality Is Fading From Our Society

Reflection On Christmas 2003 For Jim O’Leary

Meditation: Living Christ’s Testimony,
April 3, 2003

Meditation: Love’s Greatness, March 28, 2003

Meditation: The Horror of Sin, March 21, 2003

Catholic Parents Guide To The Internet

Disability Needed

The Mission of the Visitation

On Blindness And God’s Eye

Pornography

Expensive “Made-for-TV”
Image Belies Abortion Industry Facts

A Muslim Plea

Article: Child Investment

All About Civility,


An Interview with Scott Peck

Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace

Prayer to Christ the Healer

Claim Your Vote, Be Informed about Legislation:

United States Computer Emergency Resource Team

Ozark Chapter of Sierra Club

Weather, Earthquake & National Parks Links

Time of Day & Calendar Date

________________________________________

 

An Abridged Dictionary By Dale Roberts

“When I’m Reading. I hate to stop to look up unfamiliar words. Fortunately, I don’t need to rely on a dictionary. I can figure out the meanings of words using my extraneous knowledge of English word roots, prefixes, and suffices.
I don’t need to look up “salacious” for instance, because I immediately recognize that it refers to specially discounted prices, as in, “The Fourth of July is a salacious holiday. “I quickly see that “strident” means walking with long steps and that a “barista” is a female lawyer. My perfidious knowledge of the English language enables me to deduct the meaning of any unfamiliar word. For example:

  • no he doesn’t make you this fine very good quotidian – a person fond of repeating the words of famous people
  • cellophane – past tense of “cellphone”
  • pro hono – a fan of the U2 lead singer
  • penultimate – the supreme writing instrument
  • cartographer – a photographer specializing in automobiles
  • shutterhug – a photographer specializing in insects
  • pretension – before stress
  • lassitude – demeanor of a young Scottish woman
  • gustatory – with brief surges of wind
  • photosynthesis – the act of combining pictures
  • yawl – southern term for sailboat
  • dreadnought – fear of the zero
  • idiomatic – a transmission suitable for the less-than-brilliant driver
  • autocrat – government official who regulates cars
  • plutocrat – government official responsible for canine cartoon characters and former planets
  • placebo – the site of a gazebo
  • utilitarian – an employee of the electric company
  • unctuous – living the characteristics of an uncle
  • Polynesia – the ability to remember everything
  • prolapsed – descended temporarily to amateur status
  • votive – democratic
  • oxymoron – hyperventilating dullard
  • commutation – act of traveling to and from work
  • ostracize – to shun large, flightless birds
  • promenade – a beverage served at square dances
  • gyroscope – an instrument for examining sandwiches
  • blunderbuss – a mass transit faux pas
  • polyphonic – owning several telephones
  • egress – female egret

– Dale Roberts, a college career counselor, lives in Asheville, N.C.”

 


On Profiling Muslims

by John Byorth
Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006
John responded to the following e-mail with the article that follows.

Subject: MUSLIM

“Please read the following carefully and pass it on if you care to. Is there more than a thread of truth below? You decide for yourself!

Interesting article….. Can A Muslim Become A Good American Citizen? Can a good Muslim be a good American? I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The following is his reply:

Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia. Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Koran, 2:256) Scripturally – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran). Geographically – no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day. Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.

Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34). Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt. Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic. Spiritually – no. Because when we declare, “one nation under God,” the Christian’s God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called Love in The Quran’s 99 excellent names.

Therefore after much study and deliberation….perhaps we should be more suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. At the very least, we should be more aware of what a Muslim is, and what a Muslim believes. They obviously cannot be both “good Muslims ” and good Americans.

Call this what you wish….it’s still the truth.

If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above statements, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

Pass it on Fellow Americans if you care to. The religious war of Islam is bigger than we know or understand.

John’s Response:

“It is with heavy eyes and skepticism that I read the original email message above as it alludes to the condemnation of an entire religion’s capability to conform to the ideal of a “good American citizen.” This sort of immediacy in a such a complex topic is short-sighted and intellectually vacant. It reminds me of the anti-German and anti-Japanese sentiments here in the United States during WWII–not all Germans were Nazis, not all Japanese supported the Emperor. Perhaps my shirttail relatives, the Blindauers and Schneiders, have some memory of this sort of discrimination in their pasts.

Critical thought and consideration are healthy qualities in arriving at a well conceived opinion, and to that end, the original email can contribute to a breadth of literature. But taken alone, it is an abysmal representation of the matter. It is my gut feeling that few of you who received the email have the time or inclination to pursue further study of Islamic culture and its reconciliation with American ideals to balance it with. If you do, I apologize for the assumption and would invite meaningful discourse on the subject as I am vested in the topic. But knowing, for example, that my own siblings are chin deep in their careers, marriages, elementary school and church activities, their own graduate studies, yard work, and rare moments of recreation that it is not likely. So let me share some insight from my own experiences and research.

To categorize “ALL MUSLIMS” as one in the same is a damaging generalization to understanding a multifarious religion in the same way speaking of all Christians as one united “people” convolutes an understanding of that western religion. As we all know, there are a multitude of divisions within Christianity with diverging views, beliefs, dogmas and sub-cultures: Eastern Orthodox v. Roman Catholic v. Protestant, and then a family tree of sects beyond these. The Muslim community is similar, broken between two major sects who have not agreed since the death of Mohammed in 632 on much of anything. Nearly immediately there were divisions, identifiable today by the two major sects: Sunni and Shi’ites. The hatred between them is prolific, as voracious as the Catholic/Protestant wars in the 16th century, and easily seen in the oppositional relationships pervasive throughout Iraq’s current civil war, etc. Superimposed on these divisions are ethnic tribes. Arabs v. Persians. Turk v. Kurd. Pashto v. Tajik. Uzbek v. Turkmen; whose animosities go back so far in time that most of our Anglo-Saxon relatives were still going Viking. Today, retribution for ancient family and tribal skirmishes trump even religious unity. These two facts alone, sects and ethnicity, make the statement “ALL MUSLIM” incredibly ignorant. Muslims living in America come from more countries alone than make up the whole of European-American backgrounds, and have a diversity of beliefs and cultures that further negate any sort of Muslim generalization.

Theologically, Muslims see Islam as the succession of previous monotheistic religions-Judaism and Christianity. Their Allah is the Allah of Abraham, the ancestor of all three of these major monotheistic religions. This was not lost on Mohammed. In the early years after his revelations, his first order of business was not to divide and conquer the world, but to unify it and its tribes, Arabian and otherwise. In order to do so, he offered considerable tolerance toward non-Muslims. In fact, the Quran commanded Muslims to protect “people of the book,” Jews and Christians who possessed a revealed scripture. Remember that it was the angel Gabriel who revealed God’s word to Mohammed, the same angel who revealed to Mary of her blessing. Unfortunately, whomever authored the email below sites the Koran Sura II verse 256. It is completely way off in their usage of it. Here is what that passage says taken from my Quran bought on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan: “God! There is no God but He; the Living, the Eternal; Nor slumber seizeth Him, nor sleep; His, whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth! Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His own permission? He knoweth what hath been before them and what shall be after them; yet nought of His knowledge shall they grasp, save what He willeth. His throne reacheth over the heavens and the earth, and the upholding of both burdeneth Him not; and He is High, the Great!”

As can be plainly seen, this passage has nothing to do with discrimination of other religions, but affirming Islam’s monotheistic foundation, which, by the way, reiterates our own first Commandment. Sura 259, however, makes some nod towards those who do not believe in God, which excludes, obviously, Jews and Christians, but includes the pagan gods popular in the 7th century Arabian desert.

Indeed, Sura II verse 59 reads: “Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites–whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved.”

Religiously, Islam is by nature understanding and tolerant. However, it is the beliefs of but a few radical religious teachers that abnegates tolerance. Doesn’t it seem suspect that ALL MUSLIMS would miss this teaching and subscribe to the teachings of the most radical?

Scripturally, there is no doubt that Muslims ignore the Pentateuch (Torah) and the New Testament as the final word of God. However, by the reasoning of the author, Muslim allegiance to the Five Pillars of Islam precludes their ability to conform to the same natural laws of mankind that have trickled down into our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I might suggest that while there is some dogmatic absolutes, the fact is that the Five Pillars are hardly different from our own Christian teachings in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and hence, their differences are interpretative by nature. If you practice the Five Pillars, with the exception of the Haj or pilgrammage to Mecca, it is parallel to practicing the Ten Commandments and fulfilling Jesus’ teachings. Both are amenable to living under the Constitution of the United States and by the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

I’m not sure how the significance of Mecca in prayer detracts from one’s ability to be a good American, and am interested in the author’s ideas. I do know Jews pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as do some Christians, and Catholics also have Rome, which is much more of a political entity than Mecca. Indeed, should we hold Roman Catholics to the same standard as Muslims? While we don’t point toward Rome to pray, many hold allegiance to the Papacy and his directives on abortion, homosexuality, and fornication. The significance for Mecca is much different than that. Previous to Mohammed’s revelations, Mecca was the trade center of Arabia and a significant place of worship at the Ka’ba shrine for animist cults. When Mohammed’s new Muslim army defeated the Quraysh tribal army outside Mecca, he knew of the cultural significance of the Ka’ba shrine to locals (which he was one), and maintained it out of strategic need for smooth conversion of these people. Today, Muslims point that direction because it signifies submittal to Allah. We do the same as we kneel before the cross.

Perhaps the greatest cleavage in Islam today is the rectification of church and state. For Muslims in America, however, this cleavage is not as prominent because of the existing separation between the two. In developing Muslim countries, ie. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., the tensions are self-evident and being worked out, although again, complicated by tribal divisions and variations in tribal law. In America, however, one should consider the fact that many Muslim-Americans (one figure is 13 million Americans) immigrated here because of their desire to live freely from strict interpretations of Shari’at (religious social laws) and Purdah (laws governing women) Laws, and made considerable sacrifices to realize this dream. One article of a mullah in Brooklyn was striking to me in this way. I believe it was the New York Times, and if you do a search of nytimes.com around March 3 (I think the 5th, if memory serves me) I’m sure you will find it. The mullah is young, in his 40s, and spoke of the problems he faces rectifying Islamic law and American culture. His prerogative was that Muslim-Americans struggled with fidelity in their relationships, divorce and behavior (drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex). His feeling was that it was the degradation of adherence to Islamic social norms because of an immersion in a much more liberal American culture. The thing is, I think that many of us would agree these things are the rot for all who strive to lead a moral life, and at that, one that makes us good American citizens.

Domestically, there is another cleavage between more modern Muslims and those who subscribe to traditional interpretations of the Quran. In much of the Islamic world, this translates into a cultural difference between urban and rural people. The norm in urban centers IS NOT polygamy. This is a tribal characteristic. Urban Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc. do not have multiple wives, perhaps because they understand that it is hard enough to please one woman much less four (ha!). Seriously, urban dwellers look down on such archaic interpretations of polygamy.

Sura IV Verse 34 does not prescribe four wives or beating and scourging and all the rest. It reads: “And whoever shall do this maliciously and wrongfully, We will in the end cast him (emphasis added) into the Fire; for this is easy with God.”

The verse is in relation to the 33 verse: “O believers! Devour not each other’s substance in mutual frivolities; unless there be a trafficking among you by your own consent: and commit not suicide: of a truth God is merciful to you.”

As you can see, the verse calls for the eternal damnation for anyone meets wrongdoing with wrongdoing or complicity. Note that it is this verse that damns suicide, hence suicide bombings. This is a seriously held belief among Afghan Muslims. The verse that talks of four wives is as follows: Sura IV Verse 3: “And if ye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier. Give women their dowry freely; but if of themselves they give up aught thereof to you, then enjoy it as convenient, and profitable:”

The verse does NOT command Muslims to marry four women, but only as many as a man can support equitably. This is common among many tribal cultures. Granted that was a long time ago for many cultures, and it is a bit weird for us monogamists of modern day. But consider that there are sects of LDS in Utah that still grasp at some straws to legitimize their bigamy. I don’t think this makes them bad Americans, just bad husbands.

Intellectually and philosophically, much of the Islamic world is diametrically opposed to western thought and culture, as the author writes, but not all. For one, we arrived at our Constitution through an evolutionary tract that included 1000 years of darkness, ie, the Dark Ages. We had to rebirth those classical ideas of ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, the Reformation, and finally the Enlightenment, which gave birth to a multitude of social ideas; communism, socialism, liberalism, republicanism and transcendentalism among them. But we had to work at it, and it took revolution, the hapless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and not so innocents. So it is perhaps an unnecessary judgment to say that much of the Islamic world is living in its own Dark Ages-it is evident. The Ayatollah of Iran recently said as much in his defense of scientific progress for nuclear energy-his point was that Persia was once the leader of the world in science, literature, architecture, etc., and had a responsibility to return to that greatness. Now, as much as that scares the hell out of me, it does point to the backward nature of Islamic countries at this point in time. However, I wonder if this is the choice of the oppressed masses or the queer authoritarian and dictatorial Islamic regimes, like the Taliban, that have made this decision. I’d guess not. The aegis of totalitarian regimes is not to allow choice, so even our own “intellectual” ability as modern Americans to quantify universal Islamic belief in democracy is replete with holes.

Democracy requires an educated public, John Dewey once argued when the US government was wavering on free public education. The inability for Muslim people to adhere to democratic principles is not the Quran, but ignorance. You see this in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq at this very moment. They are struggling with democracy not because of their religion, but, in the case of Afghanistan, because of the “brain drain” that has occurred after thirty years of regime changes, war and oppression. All the smart people have left and are in the United States, in Virginia, the Bay Area, and in Germany, etc., leading productive, democratic lives. Give these people left behind opportunity and their potential to become good American citizens is endless (of course, some have no chance so long as they adhere to strict 7th century interpretations of the Quran). For perspective, forget not that two of the greatest philosophers in the history of mankind were Rumi and Hafiz, and were from Central Asia and under considerable Islamic influence. Only through education and opportunity can people of oppressive Islamic countries realize such greatness as the freedoms of America, and rise to our standard of a good citizen.

The author of the email below is correct in pointing out one possible interpretation of incompatibilities between the secular/Judeo-Christian West and Islamic East, but there is so much more to it than what I read below. To me, this email suggests that ALL MUSLIMS are fundamentalists and radical, and implies a certain discrimination that seems to be based on ignorance and misunderstanding-the very traits that demarcate Islamists from moderate Muslims. There are a great many good Muslim-American citizens, I’ve met some, and to ignore their accomplishments of overcoming despots, narrow minded mullahs, and oppression only to come to the United States to realize religious freedom, growth and opportunity-pursuit of the American Dream-only serves to perpetuate this horrible division among people who believe in the same God; none of which I imagine Jesus would condone, but I am not authorized to make judgments on His behalf.

I urge anyone who has read the email below not to succumb to unbridled suspicion of Muslims, nor to judge their ability to be “good American citizens.” Instead, learn more about their religion, culture and communities, and reach out to them. Strengthen ties with them, because they are our first line of defense against radicals, not our supposed Intelligence. Indeed, it was a Muslim who tipped the Royal Police off to the planned airline bombings in London a few weeks ago. That person is an ally, a quintessential citizen, and someone I’d like to shake hands with and thank.”

—John Byorth

 

Reflections on the Crumbs left in a Brown Bag Lunch Sack

REFLECTIONS ON THE CRUMBS LEFT IN A BROWN BAG LUNCH SACK
Volume XIV, Issue 1, January 1

The sometimes weekly but always informative and inspirational commentaries on the great truths
we live by__Harold Hanser.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve all the problems would be magically solved and all of the good things would continue. But we know that isn’t going to occur and 08 will be a continuum of 07 with most of the old problems still with us. Hopefully we’ll get a handle on some of the bad things and enhance the good things.

A recent survey with statistics on teenage drinking reflects an old problem that rather than improving is getting worse. According to an article in the Gazette, “The 2007 Montana Kids Count Data Report found that Montana has a higher rate of teens drinking and driving, using illegal drugs, and chewing tobacco. More than 18,000 Montana high-schoolers report binge drinking – having five or more drinks in one sitting – in just the last month. The Montana rate of 38 percent compares to a national rate of 28 percent for binge drinking. Twenty percent of Montana teens reported drinking and driving, while the national rate was 12 percent.” According to Joseph Califano, Jr., who heads the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “It’s an epidemic of underage drinking that starts in elementary and middle school with 9-13 year olds and erupts on college campuses, where 44 percent of students binge drink.”

The excessive use of alcohol has always been an American curse which even national prohibition was unable to stomp out, but if anything, made the problem worse until it was repealed. The government and traders used alcohol effectively in dealing with the Indians and along with diseases, for which they had no immunity, were a tragedy for the Indians. The majority of the cities and towns in Montana have programs to deter the sale of alcohol to those under age 21. Although they have been effective in stopping direct sales, the underage obviously have no difficulty in securing it.

The volume of deaths, injuries, and ruined lives strongly suggests this legal drug, which along with marijuana, are the drugs of choice for our underage population and we ought to make a concerted effort to bring it under control… but the probability for success is highly doubtful at best.

Crumbs would ask the question of whether the Montana culture, which begin with the discovery of Gold on Grasshopper Creek in Southwestern Montana and the later advent of the cattle barons in Eastern Montana, continues to impact the drinking problem. Crumbs will offer some thoughts, all of which are tentative and clearly non- conclusive.

A mining town with a population of a thousand or less would have maybe one church and 30 or 40 saloons along with one or two houses of ill fame which also dispensed booze. The limited number of watering holes in Eastern Montana, likewise were short on churches and long on booze. The belief and practice that a person who was tall enough to reach a glass or bottle of beer on a bar was old enough to drink may be past tense, but the concept is still in vogue.

“Life’s Railway to Heaven” –
“Keep your eye on the rail and your hand on the throttle.”

An old hymn sung for Tom Horn when he was hanged.

A murder mystery … Who killed 15 year old Willie Nickell?

Was Tom Horn hanged for a murder he didn’t commit?

Chip Carlson’s latest book on Tom Horn, a detective for the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, is a must read book if you enjoy real life murder mysteries and want a refresher course on the Wyoming Stock Growers Association controlled by the rich cattle barons in the late 1800’s who flooded the range of south central Wyoming with cattle, and the conflicts with the advent of homesteaders, many of whom started their ranches with Association stock. The author’s description of Tom as having “A conspicuous place in history” is certainly true, particularly if you live in or come from Wyoming. As you will recall, these wealthy cattle barons were the power behind the throne and controlled the state government, including the governor and legislature. Their watering hole was the Cheyenne Club which was an ostentatious place. An indication of their self-righteous conviction that the grass lands were their entitlement was evidenced by the Johnson County War [1892] where they brought in fifty Texas gunslingers and marched with them north to kill all the political leaders in Buffalo and wipe out the rustlers. That failed effort is one of the more fascinating events in the history of not only Wyoming, but the nation.

This murder occurred two years after the Johnson County War before they swore in Tom Horn as a range detective who agreed to kill rustlers at five hundred dollars a head and never divulged who he worked for. The Cattle Barons had a point in that they were unable to get a guilty verdict in court no matter how compelling the evidence. They didn’t grasp the fact they had become persona non grata among the growing number of homesteaders and middle class in Laramie and Cheyenne.

There’s considerable history in the book plus abundant quotes from the inquests and the trial of Tom Horn in addition to post conviction affidavits, all of which will assist you in making your own determination as to who killed Willie Nickell and why the Association members breathed a sigh of relief when Tom Horn, guilty or not, died at the end of a rope.

Is the Past A Predictor or Have Relevance to the Present and the Future?

Given the fact that the human animal is endowed with an innate ability to distinguish good from evil, which is generally reinforced by religious dogma, there should be predictability that good will predominate over evil. But history, both past and present, reflects a continuing disconnect by individuals and a nation which strongly suggests the future will continue to be burdened with evil. This negative view does not discount the millions of individuals who live out their lives doing only good and avoiding the evil, but they have been unable to conquer evil on the short term or a long term basis. It is a tragic fact that religions, notwithstanding their dogma, have likewise sponsored evil in their quest for dominance.

Nations change … sometimes for the better, other times for the worse, and often present a mosaic of both good and evil. The history of our own nation presents substantial evidence it is no exception.

Crumbs will leave you with a couple questions. Does good balance evil or is evil always wrong and good is always the preferred course for individuals, nations and religious institutions? Does our innate ability, buttressed by our religious dogma, which gives the ability to distinguish good from evil have an off and on switch which expediency allows us to flip to the off position and in a sense makes it possible for good and evil to co-exist? John Brown is an excellent case study in sorting out an answer to this question.

As you will recall, John was a fire and brimstone abolitionist who became involved in “Bleeding Kansas” where he and his boys were less than discreet in who they killed, with his last foray an attack on the U.S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on October, 16, 1859, to free the Negroes who were on the a premises. He was captured and although this was federal property was charged with murdering four whites and one Negro in a Virginia Court. He was convicted and hanged on Dec. 21, 1859.

If you don’t have a John Brown book handy, allow me to quote a portion of his final argument to the court which may of value in deciding the above questions.

“…Had I interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right, and every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy or reward other than punishment. This Court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed, which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even to them. It teaches me further to remember them that are in bonds so to am in bound with them. I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of his despised poor, is no wrong, but right. Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood with the blood of my children and the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are discarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say let it be done …”
And you know the rest of the story … John Brown was viewed as the devil incarnate by the slave holders and a saint by the abolitionists. Union Soldiers marched off to war singing, “John Brown’s soul goes marching on,” which is now the Battle Hymn of the Republic and sung in the churches though out America. He moved America closer to the Civil War.

A New Year’s Message From A Time Past

I used to dance the polka, the schottische and the waltz;

I used to love the theater, its glitter vain and false;

And Jesus, when he found me, he found me very tough,

But, praise the Lord, he saved me, I’m a diamond in the rough

The day will soon be over, when the digging will be done,

And no more gems will be gathered, so let us press on;

When Jesus comes to claim us and says, “its enough,”

The diamonds will be shining, no longer in the rough.

And we might add, keep your eye on the rail and your hand on the throttle as you race down life’s railway to heaven.

It Doesn’t Matter How You Played The Game, But whether You Won Or Lost!

Fair play is touted as an American virtue, but has been seriously tainted with steroids, growth enhancements, and other drugs by our professional athletes and has infected college and school sports … all with the approval of fans. You have to believe in the tooth fairy to accept the manufactured denials by all those in authority positions who choose not to see and not to hear. College and high school athletes can understand that doping in the majors results in economic rewards and are tempted to follow this route to success. The experts paint a rather dim picture in that the testing, particularly with the growth enhancement drugs, to be effective has to be at the Olympics level which is not being used in our competitive sports. The problem is exacerbated as all too many parents acquiesce in the doping of their children to enhance their athletic performance.

Nuts, Bolts, And Lock Washers

The number of large dog bones Pepper has eaten ……………………………………3,753

The number of large dog bones Pepper has buried out side and in the beds and davenport ….337

I find it interesting that domestic dogs have a carryover from their wild brethren in storing away food items in the event the folks they live with miss a meal. Given the fact Pepper has never missed a meal, to include snacks, I have difficulty in understanding why he would have retained this trait. I cannot dispute Miss Daisy’s claim that I have spoiled both Pepper and the Calico Cat by fixing them lunch and dinner so they can join us at meal time. They both can be sound asleep, but about three seconds after I open the refrigerator door at meal time they are in the kitchen observing my culinary skills and anticipating a tasty meal.

Miss Daisy was able to engage in energy savings due to the fact her old refrigerator followed the advice of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to die. I must confess her new ice box is a definite upgrade over her dead one and I should not be heard to complain as there were more expensive models she could have selected. Being a practical person, she assured me the energy savings will pay for it if we live another twenty years, but me thinks like old John Brown, my body will lie smoldering in a grave long before the payout. Unfortunately many of our other appliances which heat our water, wash our dishes, grind up refuge, and make it possible for me to microwave a quick meal are also contemplating the Ecclesiastes syndrome.”


The Attraction of Christ

“There is an enticement, quite aside from mere example, that beckons from one life with a depth and extent of appeal beyond the realization of the man who so draws others to goodness. The perfume of a saint´s life, the wholesome happiness of innocence, the strong serenity carved in the face of the man/woman who has dared to be good, the quiet happiness of an unselfish woman who, seeking nothing, yet possesses all things – all these are a parade of goodness, of lovableness, of happiness before hearts hungry for just such things. Their allure awakens at least a nostalgia in the most hardened of men, and often enough lights a roaring fire in the greenest wood. There can be no question but that such enticement plays a great part in the lives of men and women; but again this is not by our design, it is not by our direction or government of these people, but rather by the appeal, the allure, the seduction of goodness. Goals so universally desirable are openly displayed in their concrete reality and people move to them not by the force of commands but by the much more subtle force of attraction.”

FATHER WALTER FARRELL, O.P., AND FATHER MARTIN J. HEALY
Father Farrell was a noted Thomist and Father Healy was a professor of theology who published a simplified version of Saint Thomas’ Summa in the 1950’s. Magnificat Meditation 02(05)2007.

 


 

Objective Morality Is Fading From Our Society

“There are no absolutes anymore. There is no black or white in
American culture, only gray. No right. Certainly no wrong.
Ethics are “situational.” If bad behavior will elicit a personally favorable outcome, be bad. Lie, cheat, steal. It’s all OK.
Shame is gone. Rules and boundaries are “intolerant,”
All is forgiven. All is acceptable,
All is not well in this picture.
A woman at work told me several months ago her son was having difficulty getting a job. He had no skills. He dropped out of high school years ago and wouldn’t get a GED. He was not mentally disabled, ill or incapacitated. He just didn’t like work.
So when recently she said she had good news. I was anxious to hear it.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “He’s supporting himself with his disability. We call it his ‘craw check,’ but he’s getting almost $800 a month.”
Supporting himself? No! You and I, working people who pay taxes are supporting him.
People once felt shame when forced to accept charity. Now they actively pursue ‘crazy checks.’
Television used to be about entertainment Now it’s a morass of more asses (physical and mental). The naked backside of a middle-age-actor filling the screen is progress? Or is it Just prurient?
And what kind of depraved adolescents think eating horse entrails is amusing? What they show in a 30 second commercial would have been banned a generation ago, and those commercials pop up in all kinds of other show’s. What about my right to be free from the visual and audio assaults of those grotesque ads?
“Marriage” means “wedding day” in pop culture. Commitment is passé’ and no one is held to their promise when feelings change or times get hard.
Some years ago, my sister related events she witnessed when a bride and groom wrote their own “vows.” The bride, an apparent pragmatist, reportedly said. “I promise to love you as much as 1 can for as long as I can.”
Wow.
I’ll stay with you until someone better comes along? As long as you’re healthy and wealthy? Until it gets difficult?
A dear, dear friend called last month to announce her engagement.
I am happy she is in love; I’m so disappointed she is getting “married.”
Again. This will be her third. Or is it fourth? This will be the groom’s fifth trip down the aisle. Should someone in his 40s have a whole string of people to whom the attribute “wife” once applied? Between them, they have at least six “exes.”
I love my friend, but she is participating in the subversion of a sacred trust. “For better or for worse and forsaking all others” is unambiguous.
So, at what point do we refuse to legitimize temporal unions with the same word we use to describe an authentic one?
Not that all divorces are flip-pant. I know a woman who was beaten for years before finally leaving her husband. I know of cheating spouses who put their partners at risk for any number of communicable diseases. These are not acceptable situations and divorce can sometimes be the only solution.
But when we cheapen one vow, all of the others become fair game. When we support media venues that treat our homes as sewers, we relinquish the right to complain about the smell. When we let one person profit from an obvious lie, we set a norm for everyone else.
As a society, we have the duty to define institutions and standards. We could be raising the bar and elevating our expectations, but evidence suggests we are racing out of control in the opposite direction.
It is society’s job to enforce standards on those who will not control themselves. It is society’s job to impose consequences on those who seek to subvert, spoil, weaken and blight our communities.
We are society. You. Me, The family next door.
Are we doing a good job?”

Margaret Zappe of Olivette is one of 17 West County area Opinion Shapers. Opinion Shapers are guest writers who submit a column three times a year on areas of interest to them. Zappe is a secretary. This article was seen in the Letters to the Editor Section of the Kirkwood Webster Journal for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

______________________________________________

 

Meditation: Living Christ’s Testimony, April 3, 2003

What ruins some souls is a false “prudence.” They call it prudence, but it’s a human prudence, and it springs up every time the divine surfaces. It has the appearance of virtue but is more aggravating than vice. It does not want to shake anyone up. It lets the rich go to hell, (“you already have your reward,” Lk 6:24) by not enlightening them. Who knows what might happen? It lets the neighbors beat each other up, and even kill, because someone might accuse you of meddling in other people’s affairs. You could even end up as a witness in a trial. Why bother to get involved? It advises moderation to the saints, lest something happen to them.

It isolates us. This prudence cuts us off, clamping us in like a vice, because it’s born of fear.

It’s especially scared of God. If he were to become too active in the world, through his faithful children,
God could incite revolution; and those children’s lives could be ruined, like Christ’s; they could end up hated by the world, as he was.

It’s a counterfeit virtue. I think it’s planted or fertilized by the devil. He can do a lot of business in that climate. There once lived a man who had none of it.

That was Christ Jesus. When he went out to preach, at the first lesson they wanted to kill him, there and then. “But he went straight through their midst and walked away” (Lk 4: 30).

Look at his life with the eyes of this sort of prudent person and you would call the whole thing an imprudence. Not just that: If these prudent persons were logical in their reasoning, they would draw the conclusion that his death, his crucifixion… he asked for it… with his imprudence.

I don’t believe there’s a word spoken by Jesus that does not jar against these people. That is because
God and the world are a complete antithesis. Only those who are able to emerge from the world to fol- low in the footsteps of Christ can make humanity hope for anything.” CHIARA LUBICH — Chiara Lubich is the foundress and president of the Focolare movement.
Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for April 2003.


Meditation: Love’s Greatness,
March 28, 2003

“If a monograph in the history of religions summarizes the situation of sin by characterizing it as a
“catastrophe,” what else does human language mean by this word than the loss of that existential attonement that we call “salvation” and “being whole”? What greater catastrophe could there be than sin’s destruction of our final concordance with the divine ground of being without which we know ourselves to be lost along with all that is best in us?…

Of course the subject matter gets still more complicated when we realize that moral failings ineluctably seem to include the inclination to ignore their own true name. The guilty person wants to protect himself, and so he proves reluctant to call his deed a violation against God (and ultimately against God alone). The last thing the sinner wants is to describe his sin by its true name. Only in moments of true conversion does one say: Tibi soli peccavi Ps 51: 6 – “against you alone have I sinned”).

At this point we catch a glimpse of a difficulty: how can sin be recognized as sin at all in the concrete case?
This experience is familiar to everyone, but perhaps Goethe has formulated it best when he said that we cannot “see a failing for what it is until we are free of it.” But this Everyman-experience” attains an even higher level of truth than one might at first suspect. Simone Weil has made the remarkable observation- “We experience good only by doing it… when we do evil we do not know it – because evil flies from the light.” JOSEF PlEPER
—Josef Pieper (+ 1997) was a husband, a father, and a theologian from Germany.
Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for March 2003.

____________________________________________


Meditation: The Horror of Sin, March 21, 2003

Unless you share of yourself, you are not loving anybody, least of all yourself. For God said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We walk as if on eggs; we’re always looking at the other person and saying
“What is he going to think of me if I tell him this and this?” Or, “If I tell those kids all that about me, well! I want the respect of my peers.” Conformism: that’s spiritual waste.

We don’t want to open our mouth to pray together, loud and clear, let alone be loud and clear in our interpersonal relationships. Love is loud and clear; it’s gentle, but loud and clear. We prefer to keep everything in, so there is no love. Man is an island.

When you don’t share yourself, you also don’t share God. To proclaim God and the Good News in a thousand ways, against ridicule by one’s own group it is not easy. It’s exceedingly difficult; it tears you apart. It leaves you mangled. But it has to be done.

If you have allowed sloth to come into you you’re not going to proclaim anything. You will retreat comfortably into some non-exciting situation, and simply let things go; you may agree or disagree, but in a faint-hearted way, so you won’t say anything that matters.

Sloth is dissipation of our energy. It’s also not being able to see the whole – the inability to have broad vision. How many young people have understood sloth in this way, and been given the real meaning? They think it’s just laziness, not going to Church on Sunday, or something like that. Whereas it is the negation of a whole vista of spiritual life into which we must enter. A vision of spiritual life is demanded; and we don’t want this kind of vision that makes us change from the inside out. Nobody wants it.

It’s difficult and painful. It demands change; it demands letting go of security. And who wants to let go of security? We could really turn the world upside down, but we don’t because we’re still doing the same good old stuff, being busy about ourselves.” SERVANT OF GOD CATHERINE DE HUECK DOHERTY —Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty (+ 1985) was born in Russia and was the foundress of Madonna House. Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for March 2003.

_________________________________________

Catholic Parents Guide To The Internet

“In February 2002 the pontifical council for Social Communications published two documents regarding the Internet that all parents need to read. Titled ‘the Church and Internet’ and ‘Ethics in Internet’, they can be found on the World Wide Web.”

These documents make it quite clear that now is the time for all of us to start taking courses on how to use the Internet. Whether we like it or not, the Internet is here to stay and as parents we had better get learning how to use it. Most importantly, we need to know how to model good use of the Internet to our children.

To parents. For the sake of their children, as well as for their own sakes, parents must learn and practice the skills of discerning viewers and listeners and readers, acting as models of prudent use of media in the home….”

“Parental supervision should include making sure that filtering technology is used in computers available to children when that is financially and technically feasible, in order to protect them as much as possible from pornography, sexual predators, and other threats. Unsupervised exposure to the Internet should not be allowed.”

“Parents and children should dialogue together about what is seen and experienced in cyberspace…. The fundamental parental duty here is to help children become discriminating, responsible Internet users and not addicts of the Internet, neglecting contact with their peers and with nature itself.” (The Church and Internet #11).

Children are often first in their family to use the new media. As parents we need to understand E-mail, chat rooms and ICQ in order to keep track of what our children are doing on the net.

Young people in particular need to be taught “not only to be good Christians when they are recipients but also to be active in using all the aids to communication that lie within the media … So, young people will be true citizens of that age of social communications which has already begun -an age in which media are seen to be part of a still unfolding culture whose full implications are as yet imperfectly understood.’

‘The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world … but not everything is safe and wholesome and true.’

“Teaching about the Internet and the new technology thus involves much more than teaching techniques; young people need to learn how to function well in the world of cyberspace, make discerning judgments according to sound moral criteria about what they find there, and use the new technology for their integral development and the benefit of others.” (Church and Internet #7)

How can a parent teach, when there’s so much to learn? Many of the answers lay in common sense, some basic experience, regular vigilance and sensible guidelines for children. It is important that we help our children learn skills using information resources and technology such as problem-solving, fact-gathering, analysis, and writing on computers – skills that employers will seek from future workers.

Parents can help open up new worlds of rich learning experiences. For example, children can work on a school project with other children in countries thousands of miles away – or gather information from and try out their ideas with renowned scientists, authors, or business leaders.

And “electronic pen pals” – either relatives or new online friends – from opposite ends of the planet can e-mail each other almost instantly.

But remember, computer and online time alone cannot make your child an honor student.

Children learn best when they receive the individualized attention and encouragement from teachers and parents. Every kind of technology – from the blackboard to slide presentations to cable TV in the classroom to CD-ROMs – is simply a tool whose effectiveness depends on using it well.

Computers alone won’t make your child a well-rounded, successful adult. Children still need the balance that comes from outdoor activities, friends and family, solid academic skills, and healthy relationships with strong adult role models.

Teach your children ‘Netiquette’

Research shows that family involvement in a child’s education is one of the most important ingredients for success. Computers can also help you expose your child to information and experiences that you value. Spending time online with your children is the best way both to learn about the Internet and to teach your children responsibility, good conduct, and the values that are important to you.

Ask children to share their favorite Web sites and what they like about them. Help them discover Web sites that can help them with their homework, hobbies, and other special interests.

Teach your children “netiquette” – how to behave online. Such straightforward rules as not typing in all capital letters (it looks like you are shouting), being polite, and keeping quiet in chat rooms until you get a sense of what people are talking about, are simply good manners as well as common sense.

If you don’t have a computer or Internet connection at home, many libraries, colleges and cyber cafes offer equipment for public use. Many provide Web pages with recommended sites and offer classes for children and adults. Some schools and community centers offer special programs for, parents to learn about the Internet. The best way to ensure your child’s safety on the Internet is to be there. Of course, that is not always possible. Just as you teach your child rules about dealing with strangers outside the home, you must provide rules for communicating online.

Parents need to know about Fantasy Games, what their children are downloading whether music, movies, games or pornography and the laws associated with each. Parents need to talk to their children about plagiarism, and gambling for the Internet can make many evils appealing.

To children and young people. The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world with a powerful formative influence; but not everything on the other side of the door is safe and wholesome and true.”

“Children and young people should be open to information regarding media, resisting the easy, path of uncritical passivity, peer pressure, and, commercial exploitation.”

The young owe it to themselves – and to their parents and families and friends, their pastors and teachers, and ultimately to God – to use the Internet well.

“The Internet places in the grasp of young people at an unusually early age an immense capacity for doing good and doing harm, to themselves and others. It can enrich their lives beyond the dreams of earlier generations and empower them to enrich other lives in turn. It also can plunge them into consumerism, pornographic and violent fantasy, and pathological isolation.”

“Young people, as has often been said, are the future of society and the Church. Good use of the Internet can help prepare them for their responsibilities in both… In cyberspace, at least as much as anywhere else, they may be called on to go against the tide, practice counter-culturalism, and even suffer persecution for the sake of what is true and good.” (Church and Internet #11)

Suggested rules for children and the Internet

1) Always ask your parents’ permission before using your full name, address, telephone number, or school name anywhere on the Internet.

2) Always tell your parents if you see something online that is scary or that you don’t understand.

3) Don’t respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.

4) Never give out a credit card number or password online.

5) Never arrange to meet in person someone you’ve met online, unless you discuss it with your parents and an adult goes with you.

Teach children that not everything they see or hear may be true. Some sites may be trying to sell them something or contain inaccurate information. There are many sites in the Internet that contain false information, but they do not bother to tell you this.

It is easy to be dazzled by all of the sights and sounds of the online world; but unlike books, magazines and newspapers that are scrutinized by an editor; much of the information online is not.
Individuals with Internet access can post almost anything they want.

Always consider the source, and exercise common sense and good judgment in evaluating the information you see.
The vast majority of Internet sites are perfectly safe, but like the real world the virtual world contains some sites that may not be appropriate for children. A number of software filters are available to block Web sites you may not want your child to visit.

Parents need to understand that filters are not perfect. They cannot block everything you might not want your child to see and they may block information that is helpful. Even if filters were 100 percent effective, this software is no substitute for parental guidance.

You should supervise older as well as younger children’s Internet use at home and at the library.
It’s a good idea to place computers in the kitchen, family room, or living room so that you can see your child using it. Young children should never be allowed to “surf the Net” alone.

Because you often sit alone at a computer, and many of your interactions take place anonymously, you might assume you are truly anonymous when online. But it is often possible for someone with the right tools and expertise to figure out where your transmission is coming from, and sometimes, who you are. If you want to play it safe, limit your online messages to those you would feel comfortable seeing printed in your local newspaper.

Be aware that strangers, at times pretending to be someone else can “communicate with your child. Unsolicited e-mail called “spam” can have information about sites with sexually explicit material, products for sale, or moneymaking schemes that are not for our children.”

Also remember that too much time online limits a child’s well-rounded development by taking the place of friends, schoolwork, sports and other activities.

The Church and the Internet concludes by addressing us all:

To all persons of good will.

Finally, then, we would suggest some virtues that need to be cultivated by everyone who wants to make good use of the Internet; their exercise should be based upon and guided by a realistic appraisal of its contents. Prudence is necessary in order clearly to see the implications – the potential for good and evil – in this new medium and to respond creatively to its challenges and opportunities.

“Justice is needed, especially justice in working to close the digital divide – the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor in today’s world. This requires a commitment to the international common good, no less than the globalization of solidarity.’”

“Fortitude, courage, is necessary. This means standing up for truth in the face of religious and moral relativism, for the altruism and generosity in the face of individualistic consumerism, for decency in the face of sensuality and sin. And temperance is needed – a self-disciplined approach to this remarkable technological instrument ! The Internet, so as to use it wisely and only for good.”

Reflecting on the Internet, as upon all other media of social communications, we recall that Christ is ‘the perfect communicator’ – the norm and model of the Church’s approach to communication, as well as the content that the Church is obliged to communicate.

‘”May Catholics involved in the world of social communications preach the truth of Jesus ever more boldly from the housetops, so that all men and women may hear about the love which is the heart of God’s self-communication in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.’” (Church and Internet #12)” —Dianne Wood lives in Newmarket, Ontario


 

Disability Needed

“The disciples, previously frightened, confused, and doubtful,
became suddenly charged with courage and knowledge and
commitment when the wind roared, the fire appeared, and
the Spirit came.

When have you been afraid, confused, and doubtful?

How did you regain your courage, understanding, and commitment?

Pentecost is called the birthday of the church because

that is when the followers of Jesus actually became church.

What does it mean to be church?

What gifts does it take?

What gifts do you have that you can offer?

Where is the Spirit speaking in your life now?”

Notes: Kent Inman, personnel manager of Office of Disabled and Director since 1986 called for the training of seminarians. People with disabilities are needed in the Church. Re-invent the circle! to cope with devastation! As a precious Child of God! Recall Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Grief, the bag of ‘fuss’.

He learned about MS taking care of his mother-in-law. There is a passion for inclusion; need to deal with role reversal – humbling – passing to acceptance.

Title III ADA exempts parishes, bars etc. More welcoming, bringing everyone to the table. Make accommodations – there are rights and duties – don’t exempt the disabled. There is the attitude due to people not knowing what to say & do.
20% of any population has ADA disability. 10-11% are physically disabled.

What is a necessity for some is only an inconvenience for others. Reasonable accommodation and readily achievable is the measure for us. E.g., Cory Stringer. There is a universal design – assist the disabled and oneself when disabled by injury or disease.

We have power to adjust the sails ~ not control the wind.

One needs an ‘attitude of gratitude’ to stay in the present.

“Most folks are as happy as they want to be

according to Abe Lincoln, ‘scooping up the Grits of Life’
WHAT DISABILITY AM I MOST AFRAID OF?

What is it and why?”!

MEDITATION OF THE DAY – May 31, 2002 – Courtesy of Magnificat


The Mission of the Visitation

“How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realize that this little cousin who was so familiar to her was the mother of her God?

She knew it by the child within herself by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.

If we practice this contemplation taught and shown to us by our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.

If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it he is forming himself; if we go with eager wills, “in haste,” to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that he desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of his love.

And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them, it is not necessary at this stage of our contemplation to speak to others of the mystery of life growing in us. It is only necessary to give ourselves to that life, all that we are, to pray without ceasing, not by a continual effort to concentrate our minds but by the growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are. We must trust him for this, because it is not a time to see his face, we must possess him secretly and in darkness, as the earth possesses the seed. We must not try So force Christ’s growth in us, but with a deep gratitude for the light burning secretly in our darkness, we must fold our concentrated love upon him like earth, surrounding, holding/and nourishing the seed.

We must be swift to obey the winged impulses of his love, carrying him to wherever he longs to be; and those who recognize his presence will be stirred, like Elizabeth, with new life. They will know his presence, not by any special beauty or power shown by us, but in the way that the bud knows the presence of the light, by an unfolding in themselves, a putting forth of their own beauty.

It seems that this is Christ’s favorite way of being recognized, that he prefers to be known, not by his own human features, but by the quickening of his own life in the heart, which is the response to his coming.”

– Caryll Houselander (+1954) was a British mystic, poet, wood carver, and spiritual teacher.

 


Pornography

“It was there, in front of me. Pornography is not “romantic.”

It wouldn’t go away. Pornography is not “sexy.”

It was taunting me, mocking me. Pornography is not ‘harmless.

You’re not enough it said. I cried, sobbed, wept.

You can’t compete. I was angry, disappointed, broken.

You will never be “all.” I felt hurt, lonely, confused.

This image stole from me.

Devastated.

This image challenged my self-worth.

This image shattered trust.

“If a man looks on a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed Adultery.” (Mt. 5) A mind tempted by lust.
A mind desensitized by baseness.
A mind drawn toward How many steps from fantasy to reality?
How many steps from glance to passion?
How many steps from cleave to leave?”
– from an e-mail sent to Morality In Media.


Expensive “Made-for-TV”
Image Belies Abortion Industry Facts
“The National Abortion Rights Action League is in the midst of running a very polished ad campaign with patriotic themes, family images and children playing. They want to sell the idea that “choice” is the American way that women need choice (abortion) to be liberated. What they fail to mention is that most women undergo an abortion because they’re led to believe it’s their only choice. Another point the ads fail to mention is that abortion is a big business for providers like Planned Parenthood, the largest provider and promoter of abortion in the United States.

According to an Internet fact sheet of services for 1999 found on the Planned Parenthood web site, the ratio of abortion to prenatal services is nearly 10 to 1. The ratio of abortion to referral for adoption is nearly 60 to 1. Their own fact sheet on abortion after the first trimester states that adolescents obtain 29 percent of all abortion performed after twenty weeks. However, the reasons listed for adolescent girls terminating second and third trimester pregnancies DO NOT include any medical complications associated with pregnancy. The current ad campaign also fails to describe the emotional and physical environment found in abortion clinics. In many clinics, according to Carol Everett, former owner of several abortion facilities in Texas, the “counselor” is actually filling the role of a marketing agent to direct and guide the usually desperate, pregnant girl who has not yet made up her mind. Everett makes it clear in her remarks that money drives the abortion industry and the mission of the industry is to make money, not provide a “choice.” Another aspect of the industry is the unsafe and nearly unregulated environment in many clinics. Presently, Missouri has three freestanding abortion clinics. Two of the clinics do abortions well beyond the first three months of pregnancy.

In 1992 the Missouri Department of Health con-conducted an inspection of the Women’s Community Health Center, in Springfield.

Among the health violations:

There was no documentation to show that the person providing information to clients regarding the procedure, alternative-tives, and other information qualified to do so;

  • Patient care services were not under the supervision of a medical professional;

 

  • The operating table had rust on it; Equipment that needed to be sterile was not kept in a sterile place;
  • The recovery area had roaches. In 1994, another inspection showed the center had more violations: The center did not have policies on parental consent of a minor or retention of records of procedures performed on minors;
  • Patients were pre-medicated before the final decision was made to proceed with the procedure and determination of the gestational age of the unborn baby;
  • One patient was pre-medicated before a pregnancy test was performed which turned out to be negative.

Sometimes the physicians add to the “unsafe” environment. Women have died in Missouri while undergoing an abortion. Yet, the State of Missouri has yet to insist that doctors who perform abortion must have surgical privileges at a local hospital. Dr. Bolivar Escobedo who at one time performed abortions in Cape Girardeau, claimed surgical privileges only at a hospital in Lima, Peru.
The next time you see an ad selling abortion as a right or freedom – cloaked as a basic American freedom and the end to the oppression of women – don’t believe it.

 

Abortion offers a legacy of death and despair. It leaves many women emotionally scarred for life, robs them of real choice and risks their health.”

All About Civility, An Interview with Scott Peck

“The great lack of civility in America is the major factor behind the breakdown in family life, unethical practices in business, selfishness, and dishonesty in politics.

Civility means much more than politeness. Civility is all-embracing-a general awareness by people that personal wellbeing cannot be separated from the well-being of the groups to which we belong…our families, our businesses and our nation.
Lack of civility is tied to unreasonable expectations in recent decades of constant happiness and constant comfort. When real life presents us with painful experiences…when something hurts us…when we feel unfulfilled-we feel cheated. And too many of us-too often-reach for instant happiness by illegitimate means that disregard the interests of other people.

CONSCIOUSNESS AND CIVILITY

The route to unproved civility begins with greater awareness of our shortcomings and our tendencies to manipulate others. Greater awareness leads to a willingness to accept pain in the short term, recognizing that it is an unavoidable part of any growth process, leading to significant personal growth. Learning how to handle pain realistically is a prerequisite for
warmer, more meaningful relationships over the long term. Civility does not happen automatically. You have to train yourself to be aware of your true motives, to be honest with yourself and others, and to judge yourself first.

CIVILITY IN THE FAMILY

The first training ground for civility is the family. Children learn how they are expected to behave by observing their parents’ behavior, not just by listening to their words. So if you want your children to demonstrate civility now and later in life, you have to practice it yourself.

Example: Your two kids are having a disagreement and your six-year-old son slugs his little sister. Then you tell him, Don’t ever hit your sister! and hit him. That will deliver quite a different message than you want to give: It’s OK to hit someone else. ..but don’t hit your sister when your mother or father is around. With that kind of discrepancy prevalent between parental educational words and actions, it’s not surprising that so many people grow up with an internal moral code that tells them, You can do whatever you want as long as you don’t get caught doing it.

CIVILITY IN BUSINESS

Successful businesses are built on cooperation. Businesses have a right to both demand and expect cooperation from their employees, because the main purpose of any business is to make a profit.

But companies also have a responsibility to treat their workers fairly and honestly in the process.
Example: Some companies that workers with pension benefits only after a
period of employment save money by laying the workers off only a short time before they become vested.
This is uncivil. It is obviously unfair to the workers and may also hurt the
company by encouraging the best employees to leave.

Better way: Set up a system that recognizes both the company’s interest
dedicated, hard-working employees a the employees’ interest in security a
fair compensation. This will only we when both sides honestly keep their part of the bargain.

HONEST COMMUNICATION

Companies, families and all types of organizations become more civil when they encourage honest, two-way communication – straight talk and listening. That is not easy, but it can be done if you follow these principles:

Don’t expect perfection… just do your

    • best and learn from your mistakes.
    • Set aside time for communication.
    • Clear your mind and listen to the other person.
    • Be honest with yourself and others.
  • Judge yourself first. Look into your real motives.

 

  • Take time to respond and think!
  • Don’t be afraid of silence.
  • Be willing to be hurt-and to risk hurting others by speaking honestly.
    If someone is too fragile to respect your point of view, he/she cannot
    be a part of your community.
  • Try to be as gentle as possible. Don’t
    make any unnecessarily painful statements – yet don’t be so subtle
    that the point is completely missed.
  • Speak personally and specifically. Don’t talk about “the system”
    or some impersonal authority. Don’t generalize. Document what you say.

 

 

  • Don’t analyze other people’s motives,Don’t play psychologist
  • Speak when you are moved to speak. Don’t cop out.

Bottom line: It takes hard work to get an organization
to operate in a mode of civility. But those who have made the transition
do not want to go back.”

Bottom Line/Personal interviewed M. Scott Peck, MD; a founder of the Foundation for Community Encouragement He is author of The Road Less Traveled and, most recently, A World Waiting to be Born Bantam Books,1540 Broadway, New York 10036.


M1SSOURI CATHOLIC CONFERENCEGood News update on public policy and legislative developments from a Catholic perspective


Article: Child Investment

“I have seen repeatedly the breakdown of the cost of raising a child,
but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from
birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family.

Talk about sticker shock! That doesn’t even touch college tuition.
For those with kids, that figure leads to wild fantasies about all
the money we could have banked For others, that number might confirm
the decision to remain childless. But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you
break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month,
or $171.08 a week.

That’s a mere $24.44 a day! Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you
might think the best financial advice says don’t have children if
you want to be “rich,” It is just the opposite.

What do your get for your $160,140?

  • Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
  • Glimpses of God every day.
  • Giggles under the covers every night.
  • More love than your heart can hold.
  • Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
  • Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
  • A hand to hold, usually covered with jam.
  • A partner for blowing bubbles,flying kites, building
    sandcastles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain.
  • Someone to laugh yourself silly with no matter what the
    boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
  • . For $160,140, you never have to grow up.
  • . You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek,
    catch lightning bugs.
  • . You have an excuse to keep: reading the Adventures of Piglet and
    Pooh,watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies,
    and wishing on stars.
  • . You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator
    magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas,
    hand prints set in clay for Mother’s Day, and cards with backward
    letters for Father’s Day.
  • . For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be
    a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the
    training wheels off the bike, removing a splinter, filling the wading
    pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team
    that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
  • . You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first
    word, first date, and first time behind the wheel.
  • . You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family
    tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary
    called grandchildren.
  • . You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice,
    communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
  • . In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there with God. You have
    all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the
    bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them
    forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like
    you, love without counting the cost.”
Thanks Sue!

Humility and the Father’s Love

“Why did my Father give you power over me?
Because he wanted me to get very close to you
to show you the depths of his love for you;
not the distant love of a God
who sits on a throne in his heaven
and looks down on you on the earth,
but the love of a Father who longs to help you
to carry your burdens,
to comfort and heal you,
to give you every good gift.
He wants to come into your homes,
and to sit with you at your meals
as one of the family.
He wants to walk with you
as a beloved friend.
He could not do that himself
and so he sent me, his only Son,
to make his love known to you.
I could take on your weakness
and then act out my Father’s name which is Love.
Can you truly imagine the love of God?
Can you understand the depth
of your Father’s love for you?
The Father sent me to show you his love,
and to act it out among you
to give you an example to copy.
I am the image of your unseen Father;
in my life, and particularly in my passion,
I showed you the depths
to which love must be prepared to go.
There is no room for fear in love,
no room for shame,
no excuses,
no holidays.
Love offers everything
and expects no return.
You cannot bear the unveiled love of God.
It falls like a fire upon you
and you are consumed and burnt up in its heat.
You are not ready yet to be refined
and purified by the naked flame
of your Father’s love for you,
and so it has to be filtered,
mediated to you through my flesh.”

—RICHARD HOBBS

Richard Hobbs (+ 1993) was a convert to Catholicism and the father of six sons.

________________________________________

My Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the people I can not change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know …it´s me.”
Courtesy of Brother Maurus, O.S.B.


“The Winds of Grace always blow,
it is up to us to raise our sails!

Heard at an Al-Anon meeting


Prayer For Peace
To Mary, The Light of Hope
Pope John Paul II

“Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, 0 Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. Amen.”

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Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer
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Your power changes hearts.

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those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
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Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of Love. Amen.”

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Welcome to Reflections

Table of Contents, This Page

 

An Abridged Dictionary

On Profiling Muslims
by John Byorth

Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006

Reflections on the Crumbs left in a Brown Bag Lunch Sack
 

The Attraction of Christ

Objective Morality Is Fading From Our Society

Reflection On Christmas 2003 For Jim O’Leary

Meditation: Living Christ’s Testimony,
April 3, 2003

Meditation: Love’s Greatness, March 28, 2003

Meditation: The Horror of Sin, March 21, 2003

Catholic Parents Guide To The Internet

Disability Needed

The Mission of the Visitation

On Blindness And God’s Eye

Pornography

Expensive “Made-for-TV”
Image Belies Abortion Industry Facts

A Muslim Plea

Article: Child Investment

All About Civility,


An Interview with Scott Peck

Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace

Prayer to Christ the Healer

Claim Your Vote, Be Informed about Legislation:

United States Computer Emergency Resource Team

Ozark Chapter of Sierra Club

Weather, Earthquake & National Parks Links

Time of Day & Calendar Date

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An Abridged Dictionary By Dale Roberts

“When I’m Reading. I hate to stop to look up unfamiliar words. Fortunately, I don’t need to rely on a dictionary. I can figure out the meanings of words using my extraneous knowledge of English word roots, prefixes, and suffices.
I don’t need to look up “salacious” for instance, because I immediately recognize that it refers to specially discounted prices, as in, “The Fourth of July is a salacious holiday. “I quickly see that “strident” means walking with long steps and that a “barista” is a female lawyer. My perfidious knowledge of the English language enables me to deduct the meaning of any unfamiliar word. For example:

  • no he doesn’t make you this fine very good quotidian – a person fond of repeating the words of famous people
  • cellophane – past tense of “cellphone”
  • pro hono – a fan of the U2 lead singer
  • penultimate – the supreme writing instrument
  • cartographer – a photographer specializing in automobiles
  • shutterhug – a photographer specializing in insects
  • pretension – before stress
  • lassitude – demeanor of a young Scottish woman
  • gustatory – with brief surges of wind
  • photosynthesis – the act of combining pictures
  • yawl – southern term for sailboat
  • dreadnought – fear of the zero
  • idiomatic – a transmission suitable for the less-than-brilliant driver
  • autocrat – government official who regulates cars
  • plutocrat – government official responsible for canine cartoon characters and former planets
  • placebo – the site of a gazebo
  • utilitarian – an employee of the electric company
  • unctuous – living the characteristics of an uncle
  • Polynesia – the ability to remember everything
  • prolapsed – descended temporarily to amateur status
  • votive – democratic
  • oxymoron – hyperventilating dullard
  • commutation – act of traveling to and from work
  • ostracize – to shun large, flightless birds
  • promenade – a beverage served at square dances
  • gyroscope – an instrument for examining sandwiches
  • blunderbuss – a mass transit faux pas
  • polyphonic – owning several telephones
  • egress – female egret

– Dale Roberts, a college career counselor, lives in Asheville, N.C.”

 
 


On Profiling Muslims

by John Byorth
Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006
John responded to the following e-mail with the article that follows.

Subject: MUSLIM

“Please read the following carefully and pass it on if you care to. Is there more than a thread of truth below? You decide for yourself!

Interesting article….. Can A Muslim Become A Good American Citizen? Can a good Muslim be a good American? I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The following is his reply:

Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia. Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Koran, 2:256) Scripturally – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran). Geographically – no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day. Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.

Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34). Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt. Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic. Spiritually – no. Because when we declare, “one nation under God,” the Christian’s God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called Love in The Quran’s 99 excellent names.

Therefore after much study and deliberation….perhaps we should be more suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. At the very least, we should be more aware of what a Muslim is, and what a Muslim believes. They obviously cannot be both “good Muslims ” and good Americans.

Call this what you wish….it’s still the truth.

If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above statements, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

Pass it on Fellow Americans if you care to. The religious war of Islam is bigger than we know or understand.

John’s Response:

“It is with heavy eyes and skepticism that I read the original email message above as it alludes to the condemnation of an entire religion’s capability to conform to the ideal of a “good American citizen.” This sort of immediacy in a such a complex topic is short-sighted and intellectually vacant. It reminds me of the anti-German and anti-Japanese sentiments here in the United States during WWII–not all Germans were Nazis, not all Japanese supported the Emperor. Perhaps my shirttail relatives, the Blindauers and Schneiders, have some memory of this sort of discrimination in their pasts.

Critical thought and consideration are healthy qualities in arriving at a well conceived opinion, and to that end, the original email can contribute to a breadth of literature. But taken alone, it is an abysmal representation of the matter. It is my gut feeling that few of you who received the email have the time or inclination to pursue further study of Islamic culture and its reconciliation with American ideals to balance it with. If you do, I apologize for the assumption and would invite meaningful discourse on the subject as I am vested in the topic. But knowing, for example, that my own siblings are chin deep in their careers, marriages, elementary school and church activities, their own graduate studies, yard work, and rare moments of recreation that it is not likely. So let me share some insight from my own experiences and research.

To categorize “ALL MUSLIMS” as one in the same is a damaging generalization to understanding a multifarious religion in the same way speaking of all Christians as one united “people” convolutes an understanding of that western religion. As we all know, there are a multitude of divisions within Christianity with diverging views, beliefs, dogmas and sub-cultures: Eastern Orthodox v. Roman Catholic v. Protestant, and then a family tree of sects beyond these. The Muslim community is similar, broken between two major sects who have not agreed since the death of Mohammed in 632 on much of anything. Nearly immediately there were divisions, identifiable today by the two major sects: Sunni and Shi’ites. The hatred between them is prolific, as voracious as the Catholic/Protestant wars in the 16th century, and easily seen in the oppositional relationships pervasive throughout Iraq’s current civil war, etc. Superimposed on these divisions are ethnic tribes. Arabs v. Persians. Turk v. Kurd. Pashto v. Tajik. Uzbek v. Turkmen; whose animosities go back so far in time that most of our Anglo-Saxon relatives were still going Viking. Today, retribution for ancient family and tribal skirmishes trump even religious unity. These two facts alone, sects and ethnicity, make the statement “ALL MUSLIM” incredibly ignorant. Muslims living in America come from more countries alone than make up the whole of European-American backgrounds, and have a diversity of beliefs and cultures that further negate any sort of Muslim generalization.

Theologically, Muslims see Islam as the succession of previous monotheistic religions-Judaism and Christianity. Their Allah is the Allah of Abraham, the ancestor of all three of these major monotheistic religions. This was not lost on Mohammed. In the early years after his revelations, his first order of business was not to divide and conquer the world, but to unify it and its tribes, Arabian and otherwise. In order to do so, he offered considerable tolerance toward non-Muslims. In fact, the Quran commanded Muslims to protect “people of the book,” Jews and Christians who possessed a revealed scripture. Remember that it was the angel Gabriel who revealed God’s word to Mohammed, the same angel who revealed to Mary of her blessing. Unfortunately, whomever authored the email below sites the Koran Sura II verse 256. It is completely way off in their usage of it. Here is what that passage says taken from my Quran bought on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan: “God! There is no God but He; the Living, the Eternal; Nor slumber seizeth Him, nor sleep; His, whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth! Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His own permission? He knoweth what hath been before them and what shall be after them; yet nought of His knowledge shall they grasp, save what He willeth. His throne reacheth over the heavens and the earth, and the upholding of both burdeneth Him not; and He is High, the Great!”

As can be plainly seen, this passage has nothing to do with discrimination of other religions, but affirming Islam’s monotheistic foundation, which, by the way, reiterates our own first Commandment. Sura 259, however, makes some nod towards those who do not believe in God, which excludes, obviously, Jews and Christians, but includes the pagan gods popular in the 7th century Arabian desert.

Indeed, Sura II verse 59 reads: “Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites–whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved.”

Religiously, Islam is by nature understanding and tolerant. However, it is the beliefs of but a few radical religious teachers that abnegates tolerance. Doesn’t it seem suspect that ALL MUSLIMS would miss this teaching and subscribe to the teachings of the most radical?

Scripturally, there is no doubt that Muslims ignore the Pentateuch (Torah) and the New Testament as the final word of God. However, by the reasoning of the author, Muslim allegiance to the Five Pillars of Islam precludes their ability to conform to the same natural laws of mankind that have trickled down into our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I might suggest that while there is some dogmatic absolutes, the fact is that the Five Pillars are hardly different from our own Christian teachings in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and hence, their differences are interpretative by nature. If you practice the Five Pillars, with the exception of the Haj or pilgrammage to Mecca, it is parallel to practicing the Ten Commandments and fulfilling Jesus’ teachings. Both are amenable to living under the Constitution of the United States and by the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

I’m not sure how the significance of Mecca in prayer detracts from one’s ability to be a good American, and am interested in the author’s ideas. I do know Jews pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as do some Christians, and Catholics also have Rome, which is much more of a political entity than Mecca. Indeed, should we hold Roman Catholics to the same standard as Muslims? While we don’t point toward Rome to pray, many hold allegiance to the Papacy and his directives on abortion, homosexuality, and fornication. The significance for Mecca is much different than that. Previous to Mohammed’s revelations, Mecca was the trade center of Arabia and a significant place of worship at the Ka’ba shrine for animist cults. When Mohammed’s new Muslim army defeated the Quraysh tribal army outside Mecca, he knew of the cultural significance of the Ka’ba shrine to locals (which he was one), and maintained it out of strategic need for smooth conversion of these people. Today, Muslims point that direction because it signifies submittal to Allah. We do the same as we kneel before the cross.

Perhaps the greatest cleavage in Islam today is the rectification of church and state. For Muslims in America, however, this cleavage is not as prominent because of the existing separation between the two. In developing Muslim countries, ie. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., the tensions are self-evident and being worked out, although again, complicated by tribal divisions and variations in tribal law. In America, however, one should consider the fact that many Muslim-Americans (one figure is 13 million Americans) immigrated here because of their desire to live freely from strict interpretations of Shari’at (religious social laws) and Purdah (laws governing women) Laws, and made considerable sacrifices to realize this dream. One article of a mullah in Brooklyn was striking to me in this way. I believe it was the New York Times, and if you do a search of nytimes.com around March 3 (I think the 5th, if memory serves me) I’m sure you will find it. The mullah is young, in his 40s, and spoke of the problems he faces rectifying Islamic law and American culture. His prerogative was that Muslim-Americans struggled with fidelity in their relationships, divorce and behavior (drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex). His feeling was that it was the degradation of adherence to Islamic social norms because of an immersion in a much more liberal American culture. The thing is, I think that many of us would agree these things are the rot for all who strive to lead a moral life, and at that, one that makes us good American citizens.

Domestically, there is another cleavage between more modern Muslims and those who subscribe to traditional interpretations of the Quran. In much of the Islamic world, this translates into a cultural difference between urban and rural people. The norm in urban centers IS NOT polygamy. This is a tribal characteristic. Urban Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc. do not have multiple wives, perhaps because they understand that it is hard enough to please one woman much less four (ha!). Seriously, urban dwellers look down on such archaic interpretations of polygamy.

Sura IV Verse 34 does not prescribe four wives or beating and scourging and all the rest. It reads: “And whoever shall do this maliciously and wrongfully, We will in the end cast him (emphasis added) into the Fire; for this is easy with God.”

The verse is in relation to the 33 verse: “O believers! Devour not each other’s substance in mutual frivolities; unless there be a trafficking among you by your own consent: and commit not suicide: of a truth God is merciful to you.”

As you can see, the verse calls for the eternal damnation for anyone meets wrongdoing with wrongdoing or complicity. Note that it is this verse that damns suicide, hence suicide bombings. This is a seriously held belief among Afghan Muslims. The verse that talks of four wives is as follows: Sura IV Verse 3: “And if ye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier. Give women their dowry freely; but if of themselves they give up aught thereof to you, then enjoy it as convenient, and profitable:”

The verse does NOT command Muslims to marry four women, but only as many as a man can support equitably. This is common among many tribal cultures. Granted that was a long time ago for many cultures, and it is a bit weird for us monogamists of modern day. But consider that there are sects of LDS in Utah that still grasp at some straws to legitimize their bigamy. I don’t think this makes them bad Americans, just bad husbands.

Intellectually and philosophically, much of the Islamic world is diametrically opposed to western thought and culture, as the author writes, but not all. For one, we arrived at our Constitution through an evolutionary tract that included 1000 years of darkness, ie, the Dark Ages. We had to rebirth those classical ideas of ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, the Reformation, and finally the Enlightenment, which gave birth to a multitude of social ideas; communism, socialism, liberalism, republicanism and transcendentalism among them. But we had to work at it, and it took revolution, the hapless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and not so innocents. So it is perhaps an unnecessary judgment to say that much of the Islamic world is living in its own Dark Ages-it is evident. The Ayatollah of Iran recently said as much in his defense of scientific progress for nuclear energy-his point was that Persia was once the leader of the world in science, literature, architecture, etc., and had a responsibility to return to that greatness. Now, as much as that scares the hell out of me, it does point to the backward nature of Islamic countries at this point in time. However, I wonder if this is the choice of the oppressed masses or the queer authoritarian and dictatorial Islamic regimes, like the Taliban, that have made this decision. I’d guess not. The aegis of totalitarian regimes is not to allow choice, so even our own “intellectual” ability as modern Americans to quantify universal Islamic belief in democracy is replete with holes.

Democracy requires an educated public, John Dewey once argued when the US government was wavering on free public education. The inability for Muslim people to adhere to democratic principles is not the Quran, but ignorance. You see this in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq at this very moment. They are struggling with democracy not because of their religion, but, in the case of Afghanistan, because of the “brain drain” that has occurred after thirty years of regime changes, war and oppression. All the smart people have left and are in the United States, in Virginia, the Bay Area, and in Germany, etc., leading productive, democratic lives. Give these people left behind opportunity and their potential to become good American citizens is endless (of course, some have no chance so long as they adhere to strict 7th century interpretations of the Quran). For perspective, forget not that two of the greatest philosophers in the history of mankind were Rumi and Hafiz, and were from Central Asia and under considerable Islamic influence. Only through education and opportunity can people of oppressive Islamic countries realize such greatness as the freedoms of America, and rise to our standard of a good citizen.

The author of the email below is correct in pointing out one possible interpretation of incompatibilities between the secular/Judeo-Christian West and Islamic East, but there is so much more to it than what I read below. To me, this email suggests that ALL MUSLIMS are fundamentalists and radical, and implies a certain discrimination that seems to be based on ignorance and misunderstanding-the very traits that demarcate Islamists from moderate Muslims. There are a great many good Muslim-American citizens, I’ve met some, and to ignore their accomplishments of overcoming despots, narrow minded mullahs, and oppression only to come to the United States to realize religious freedom, growth and opportunity-pursuit of the American Dream-only serves to perpetuate this horrible division among people who believe in the same God; none of which I imagine Jesus would condone, but I am not authorized to make judgments on His behalf.

I urge anyone who has read the email below not to succumb to unbridled suspicion of Muslims, nor to judge their ability to be “good American citizens.” Instead, learn more about their religion, culture and communities, and reach out to them. Strengthen ties with them, because they are our first line of defense against radicals, not our supposed Intelligence. Indeed, it was a Muslim who tipped the Royal Police off to the planned airline bombings in London a few weeks ago. That person is an ally, a quintessential citizen, and someone I’d like to shake hands with and thank.”

—John Byorth

  

Reflections on the Crumbs left in a Brown Bag Lunch Sack

REFLECTIONS ON THE CRUMBS LEFT IN A BROWN BAG LUNCH SACK
Volume XIV, Issue 1, January 1

The sometimes weekly but always informative and inspirational commentaries on the great truths
we live by__Harold Hanser.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve all the problems would be magically solved and all of the good things would continue. But we know that isn’t going to occur and 08 will be a continuum of 07 with most of the old problems still with us. Hopefully we’ll get a handle on some of the bad things and enhance the good things.

A recent survey with statistics on teenage drinking reflects an old problem that rather than improving is getting worse. According to an article in the Gazette, “The 2007 Montana Kids Count Data Report found that Montana has a higher rate of teens drinking and driving, using illegal drugs, and chewing tobacco. More than 18,000 Montana high-schoolers report binge drinking – having five or more drinks in one sitting – in just the last month. The Montana rate of 38 percent compares to a national rate of 28 percent for binge drinking. Twenty percent of Montana teens reported drinking and driving, while the national rate was 12 percent.” According to Joseph Califano, Jr., who heads the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “It’s an epidemic of underage drinking that starts in elementary and middle school with 9-13 year olds and erupts on college campuses, where 44 percent of students binge drink.”

The excessive use of alcohol has always been an American curse which even national prohibition was unable to stomp out, but if anything, made the problem worse until it was repealed. The government and traders used alcohol effectively in dealing with the Indians and along with diseases, for which they had no immunity, were a tragedy for the Indians. The majority of the cities and towns in Montana have programs to deter the sale of alcohol to those under age 21. Although they have been effective in stopping direct sales, the underage obviously have no difficulty in securing it.

The volume of deaths, injuries, and ruined lives strongly suggests this legal drug, which along with marijuana, are the drugs of choice for our underage population and we ought to make a concerted effort to bring it under control… but the probability for success is highly doubtful at best.

Crumbs would ask the question of whether the Montana culture, which begin with the discovery of Gold on Grasshopper Creek in Southwestern Montana and the later advent of the cattle barons in Eastern Montana, continues to impact the drinking problem. Crumbs will offer some thoughts, all of which are tentative and clearly non- conclusive.

A mining town with a population of a thousand or less would have maybe one church and 30 or 40 saloons along with one or two houses of ill fame which also dispensed booze. The limited number of watering holes in Eastern Montana, likewise were short on churches and long on booze. The belief and practice that a person who was tall enough to reach a glass or bottle of beer on a bar was old enough to drink may be past tense, but the concept is still in vogue.

“Life’s Railway to Heaven” –
“Keep your eye on the rail and your hand on the throttle.”

An old hymn sung for Tom Horn when he was hanged.

A murder mystery … Who killed 15 year old Willie Nickell?

Was Tom Horn hanged for a murder he didn’t commit?

Chip Carlson’s latest book on Tom Horn, a detective for the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, is a must read book if you enjoy real life murder mysteries and want a refresher course on the Wyoming Stock Growers Association controlled by the rich cattle barons in the late 1800’s who flooded the range of south central Wyoming with cattle, and the conflicts with the advent of homesteaders, many of whom started their ranches with Association stock. The author’s description of Tom as having “A conspicuous place in history” is certainly true, particularly if you live in or come from Wyoming. As you will recall, these wealthy cattle barons were the power behind the throne and controlled the state government, including the governor and legislature. Their watering hole was the Cheyenne Club which was an ostentatious place. An indication of their self-righteous conviction that the grass lands were their entitlement was evidenced by the Johnson County War [1892] where they brought in fifty Texas gunslingers and marched with them north to kill all the political leaders in Buffalo and wipe out the rustlers. That failed effort is one of the more fascinating events in the history of not only Wyoming, but the nation.

This murder occurred two years after the Johnson County War before they swore in Tom Horn as a range detective who agreed to kill rustlers at five hundred dollars a head and never divulged who he worked for. The Cattle Barons had a point in that they were unable to get a guilty verdict in court no matter how compelling the evidence. They didn’t grasp the fact they had become persona non grata among the growing number of homesteaders and middle class in Laramie and Cheyenne.

There’s considerable history in the book plus abundant quotes from the inquests and the trial of Tom Horn in addition to post conviction affidavits, all of which will assist you in making your own determination as to who killed Willie Nickell and why the Association members breathed a sigh of relief when Tom Horn, guilty or not, died at the end of a rope.

Is the Past A Predictor or Have Relevance to the Present and the Future?

Given the fact that the human animal is endowed with an innate ability to distinguish good from evil, which is generally reinforced by religious dogma, there should be predictability that good will predominate over evil. But history, both past and present, reflects a continuing disconnect by individuals and a nation which strongly suggests the future will continue to be burdened with evil. This negative view does not discount the millions of individuals who live out their lives doing only good and avoiding the evil, but they have been unable to conquer evil on the short term or a long term basis. It is a tragic fact that religions, notwithstanding their dogma, have likewise sponsored evil in their quest for dominance.

Nations change … sometimes for the better, other times for the worse, and often present a mosaic of both good and evil. The history of our own nation presents substantial evidence it is no exception.

Crumbs will leave you with a couple questions. Does good balance evil or is evil always wrong and good is always the preferred course for individuals, nations and religious institutions? Does our innate ability, buttressed by our religious dogma, which gives the ability to distinguish good from evil have an off and on switch which expediency allows us to flip to the off position and in a sense makes it possible for good and evil to co-exist? John Brown is an excellent case study in sorting out an answer to this question.

As you will recall, John was a fire and brimstone abolitionist who became involved in “Bleeding Kansas” where he and his boys were less than discreet in who they killed, with his last foray an attack on the U.S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on October, 16, 1859, to free the Negroes who were on the a premises. He was captured and although this was federal property was charged with murdering four whites and one Negro in a Virginia Court. He was convicted and hanged on Dec. 21, 1859.

If you don’t have a John Brown book handy, allow me to quote a portion of his final argument to the court which may of value in deciding the above questions.

“…Had I interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right, and every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy or reward other than punishment. This Court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed, which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even to them. It teaches me further to remember them that are in bonds so to am in bound with them. I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of his despised poor, is no wrong, but right. Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood with the blood of my children and the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are discarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say let it be done …”
And you know the rest of the story … John Brown was viewed as the devil incarnate by the slave holders and a saint by the abolitionists. Union Soldiers marched off to war singing, “John Brown’s soul goes marching on,” which is now the Battle Hymn of the Republic and sung in the churches though out America. He moved America closer to the Civil War.

A New Year’s Message From A Time Past

I used to dance the polka, the schottische and the waltz;

I used to love the theater, its glitter vain and false;

And Jesus, when he found me, he found me very tough,

But, praise the Lord, he saved me, I’m a diamond in the rough

The day will soon be over, when the digging will be done,

And no more gems will be gathered, so let us press on;

When Jesus comes to claim us and says, “its enough,”

The diamonds will be shining, no longer in the rough.

And we might add, keep your eye on the rail and your hand on the throttle as you race down life’s railway to heaven.

It Doesn’t Matter How You Played The Game, But whether You Won Or Lost!

Fair play is touted as an American virtue, but has been seriously tainted with steroids, growth enhancements, and other drugs by our professional athletes and has infected college and school sports … all with the approval of fans. You have to believe in the tooth fairy to accept the manufactured denials by all those in authority positions who choose not to see and not to hear. College and high school athletes can understand that doping in the majors results in economic rewards and are tempted to follow this route to success. The experts paint a rather dim picture in that the testing, particularly with the growth enhancement drugs, to be effective has to be at the Olympics level which is not being used in our competitive sports. The problem is exacerbated as all too many parents acquiesce in the doping of their children to enhance their athletic performance.

Nuts, Bolts, And Lock Washers

The number of large dog bones Pepper has eaten ……………………………………3,753

The number of large dog bones Pepper has buried out side and in the beds and davenport ….337

I find it interesting that domestic dogs have a carryover from their wild brethren in storing away food items in the event the folks they live with miss a meal. Given the fact Pepper has never missed a meal, to include snacks, I have difficulty in understanding why he would have retained this trait. I cannot dispute Miss Daisy’s claim that I have spoiled both Pepper and the Calico Cat by fixing them lunch and dinner so they can join us at meal time. They both can be sound asleep, but about three seconds after I open the refrigerator door at meal time they are in the kitchen observing my culinary skills and anticipating a tasty meal.

Miss Daisy was able to engage in energy savings due to the fact her old refrigerator followed the advice of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to die. I must confess her new ice box is a definite upgrade over her dead one and I should not be heard to complain as there were more expensive models she could have selected. Being a practical person, she assured me the energy savings will pay for it if we live another twenty years, but me thinks like old John Brown, my body will lie smoldering in a grave long before the payout. Unfortunately many of our other appliances which heat our water, wash our dishes, grind up refuge, and make it possible for me to microwave a quick meal are also contemplating the Ecclesiastes syndrome.”


The Attraction of Christ

“There is an enticement, quite aside from mere example, that beckons from one life with a depth and extent of appeal beyond the realization of the man who so draws others to goodness. The perfume of a saint´s life, the wholesome happiness of innocence, the strong serenity carved in the face of the man/woman who has dared to be good, the quiet happiness of an unselfish woman who, seeking nothing, yet possesses all things – all these are a parade of goodness, of lovableness, of happiness before hearts hungry for just such things. Their allure awakens at least a nostalgia in the most hardened of men, and often enough lights a roaring fire in the greenest wood. There can be no question but that such enticement plays a great part in the lives of men and women; but again this is not by our design, it is not by our direction or government of these people, but rather by the appeal, the allure, the seduction of goodness. Goals so universally desirable are openly displayed in their concrete reality and people move to them not by the force of commands but by the much more subtle force of attraction.”

FATHER WALTER FARRELL, O.P., AND FATHER MARTIN J. HEALY
Father Farrell was a noted Thomist and Father Healy was a professor of theology who published a simplified version of Saint Thomas’ Summa in the 1950’s. Magnificat Meditation 02(05)2007.

 


 

Objective Morality Is Fading From Our Society

“There are no absolutes anymore. There is no black or white in
American culture, only gray. No right. Certainly no wrong.
Ethics are “situational.” If bad behavior will elicit a personally favorable outcome, be bad. Lie, cheat, steal. It’s all OK.
Shame is gone. Rules and boundaries are “intolerant,”
All is forgiven. All is acceptable,
All is not well in this picture.
A woman at work told me several months ago her son was having difficulty getting a job. He had no skills. He dropped out of high school years ago and wouldn’t get a GED. He was not mentally disabled, ill or incapacitated. He just didn’t like work.
So when recently she said she had good news. I was anxious to hear it.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “He’s supporting himself with his disability. We call it his ‘craw check,’ but he’s getting almost $800 a month.”
Supporting himself? No! You and I, working people who pay taxes are supporting him.
People once felt shame when forced to accept charity. Now they actively pursue ‘crazy checks.’
Television used to be about entertainment Now it’s a morass of more asses (physical and mental). The naked backside of a middle-age-actor filling the screen is progress? Or is it Just prurient?
And what kind of depraved adolescents think eating horse entrails is amusing? What they show in a 30 second commercial would have been banned a generation ago, and those commercials pop up in all kinds of other show’s. What about my right to be free from the visual and audio assaults of those grotesque ads?
“Marriage” means “wedding day” in pop culture. Commitment is passé’ and no one is held to their promise when feelings change or times get hard.
Some years ago, my sister related events she witnessed when a bride and groom wrote their own “vows.” The bride, an apparent pragmatist, reportedly said. “I promise to love you as much as 1 can for as long as I can.”
Wow.
I’ll stay with you until someone better comes along? As long as you’re healthy and wealthy? Until it gets difficult?
A dear, dear friend called last month to announce her engagement.
I am happy she is in love; I’m so disappointed she is getting “married.”
Again. This will be her third. Or is it fourth? This will be the groom’s fifth trip down the aisle. Should someone in his 40s have a whole string of people to whom the attribute “wife” once applied? Between them, they have at least six “exes.”
I love my friend, but she is participating in the subversion of a sacred trust. “For better or for worse and forsaking all others” is unambiguous.
So, at what point do we refuse to legitimize temporal unions with the same word we use to describe an authentic one?
Not that all divorces are flip-pant. I know a woman who was beaten for years before finally leaving her husband. I know of cheating spouses who put their partners at risk for any number of communicable diseases. These are not acceptable situations and divorce can sometimes be the only solution.
But when we cheapen one vow, all of the others become fair game. When we support media venues that treat our homes as sewers, we relinquish the right to complain about the smell. When we let one person profit from an obvious lie, we set a norm for everyone else.
As a society, we have the duty to define institutions and standards. We could be raising the bar and elevating our expectations, but evidence suggests we are racing out of control in the opposite direction.
It is society’s job to enforce standards on those who will not control themselves. It is society’s job to impose consequences on those who seek to subvert, spoil, weaken and blight our communities.
We are society. You. Me, The family next door.
Are we doing a good job?”

Margaret Zappe of Olivette is one of 17 West County area Opinion Shapers. Opinion Shapers are guest writers who submit a column three times a year on areas of interest to them. Zappe is a secretary. This article was seen in the Letters to the Editor Section of the Kirkwood Webster Journal for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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Meditation: Living Christ’s Testimony, April 3, 2003

What ruins some souls is a false “prudence.” They call it prudence, but it’s a human prudence, and it springs up every time the divine surfaces. It has the appearance of virtue but is more aggravating than vice. It does not want to shake anyone up. It lets the rich go to hell, (“you already have your reward,” Lk 6:24) by not enlightening them. Who knows what might happen? It lets the neighbors beat each other up, and even kill, because someone might accuse you of meddling in other people’s affairs. You could even end up as a witness in a trial. Why bother to get involved? It advises moderation to the saints, lest something happen to them.

It isolates us. This prudence cuts us off, clamping us in like a vice, because it’s born of fear.

It’s especially scared of God. If he were to become too active in the world, through his faithful children,
God could incite revolution; and those children’s lives could be ruined, like Christ’s; they could end up hated by the world, as he was.

It’s a counterfeit virtue. I think it’s planted or fertilized by the devil. He can do a lot of business in that climate. There once lived a man who had none of it.

That was Christ Jesus. When he went out to preach, at the first lesson they wanted to kill him, there and then. “But he went straight through their midst and walked away” (Lk 4: 30).

Look at his life with the eyes of this sort of prudent person and you would call the whole thing an imprudence. Not just that: If these prudent persons were logical in their reasoning, they would draw the conclusion that his death, his crucifixion… he asked for it… with his imprudence.

I don’t believe there’s a word spoken by Jesus that does not jar against these people. That is because
God and the world are a complete antithesis. Only those who are able to emerge from the world to fol- low in the footsteps of Christ can make humanity hope for anything.” CHIARA LUBICH — Chiara Lubich is the foundress and president of the Focolare movement.
Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for April 2003.


Meditation: Love’s Greatness,
March 28, 2003

“If a monograph in the history of religions summarizes the situation of sin by characterizing it as a
“catastrophe,” what else does human language mean by this word than the loss of that existential attonement that we call “salvation” and “being whole”? What greater catastrophe could there be than sin’s destruction of our final concordance with the divine ground of being without which we know ourselves to be lost along with all that is best in us?…

Of course the subject matter gets still more complicated when we realize that moral failings ineluctably seem to include the inclination to ignore their own true name. The guilty person wants to protect himself, and so he proves reluctant to call his deed a violation against God (and ultimately against God alone). The last thing the sinner wants is to describe his sin by its true name. Only in moments of true conversion does one say: Tibi soli peccavi Ps 51: 6 – “against you alone have I sinned”).

At this point we catch a glimpse of a difficulty: how can sin be recognized as sin at all in the concrete case?
This experience is familiar to everyone, but perhaps Goethe has formulated it best when he said that we cannot “see a failing for what it is until we are free of it.” But this Everyman-experience” attains an even higher level of truth than one might at first suspect. Simone Weil has made the remarkable observation- “We experience good only by doing it… when we do evil we do not know it – because evil flies from the light.” JOSEF PlEPER
—Josef Pieper (+ 1997) was a husband, a father, and a theologian from Germany.
Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for March 2003.

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Meditation: The Horror of Sin, March 21, 2003

Unless you share of yourself, you are not loving anybody, least of all yourself. For God said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We walk as if on eggs; we’re always looking at the other person and saying
“What is he going to think of me if I tell him this and this?” Or, “If I tell those kids all that about me, well! I want the respect of my peers.” Conformism: that’s spiritual waste.

We don’t want to open our mouth to pray together, loud and clear, let alone be loud and clear in our interpersonal relationships. Love is loud and clear; it’s gentle, but loud and clear. We prefer to keep everything in, so there is no love. Man is an island.

When you don’t share yourself, you also don’t share God. To proclaim God and the Good News in a thousand ways, against ridicule by one’s own group it is not easy. It’s exceedingly difficult; it tears you apart. It leaves you mangled. But it has to be done.

If you have allowed sloth to come into you you’re not going to proclaim anything. You will retreat comfortably into some non-exciting situation, and simply let things go; you may agree or disagree, but in a faint-hearted way, so you won’t say anything that matters.

Sloth is dissipation of our energy. It’s also not being able to see the whole – the inability to have broad vision. How many young people have understood sloth in this way, and been given the real meaning? They think it’s just laziness, not going to Church on Sunday, or something like that. Whereas it is the negation of a whole vista of spiritual life into which we must enter. A vision of spiritual life is demanded; and we don’t want this kind of vision that makes us change from the inside out. Nobody wants it.

It’s difficult and painful. It demands change; it demands letting go of security. And who wants to let go of security? We could really turn the world upside down, but we don’t because we’re still doing the same good old stuff, being busy about ourselves.” SERVANT OF GOD CATHERINE DE HUECK DOHERTY —Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty (+ 1985) was born in Russia and was the foundress of Madonna House. Courtesy of the Magnifcat Monthly Missal for March 2003.

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Catholic Parents Guide To The Internet

“In February 2002 the pontifical council for Social Communications published two documents regarding the Internet that all parents need to read. Titled ‘the Church and Internet’ and ‘Ethics in Internet’, they can be found on the World Wide Web.”

These documents make it quite clear that now is the time for all of us to start taking courses on how to use the Internet. Whether we like it or not, the Internet is here to stay and as parents we had better get learning how to use it. Most importantly, we need to know how to model good use of the Internet to our children.

To parents. For the sake of their children, as well as for their own sakes, parents must learn and practice the skills of discerning viewers and listeners and readers, acting as models of prudent use of media in the home….”

“Parental supervision should include making sure that filtering technology is used in computers available to children when that is financially and technically feasible, in order to protect them as much as possible from pornography, sexual predators, and other threats. Unsupervised exposure to the Internet should not be allowed.”

“Parents and children should dialogue together about what is seen and experienced in cyberspace…. The fundamental parental duty here is to help children become discriminating, responsible Internet users and not addicts of the Internet, neglecting contact with their peers and with nature itself.” (The Church and Internet #11).

Children are often first in their family to use the new media. As parents we need to understand E-mail, chat rooms and ICQ in order to keep track of what our children are doing on the net.

Young people in particular need to be taught “not only to be good Christians when they are recipients but also to be active in using all the aids to communication that lie within the media … So, young people will be true citizens of that age of social communications which has already begun -an age in which media are seen to be part of a still unfolding culture whose full implications are as yet imperfectly understood.’

‘The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world … but not everything is safe and wholesome and true.’

“Teaching about the Internet and the new technology thus involves much more than teaching techniques; young people need to learn how to function well in the world of cyberspace, make discerning judgments according to sound moral criteria about what they find there, and use the new technology for their integral development and the benefit of others.” (Church and Internet #7)

How can a parent teach, when there’s so much to learn? Many of the answers lay in common sense, some basic experience, regular vigilance and sensible guidelines for children. It is important that we help our children learn skills using information resources and technology such as problem-solving, fact-gathering, analysis, and writing on computers – skills that employers will seek from future workers.

Parents can help open up new worlds of rich learning experiences. For example, children can work on a school project with other children in countries thousands of miles away – or gather information from and try out their ideas with renowned scientists, authors, or business leaders.

And “electronic pen pals” – either relatives or new online friends – from opposite ends of the planet can e-mail each other almost instantly.

But remember, computer and online time alone cannot make your child an honor student.

Children learn best when they receive the individualized attention and encouragement from teachers and parents. Every kind of technology – from the blackboard to slide presentations to cable TV in the classroom to CD-ROMs – is simply a tool whose effectiveness depends on using it well.

Computers alone won’t make your child a well-rounded, successful adult. Children still need the balance that comes from outdoor activities, friends and family, solid academic skills, and healthy relationships with strong adult role models.

Teach your children ‘Netiquette’

Research shows that family involvement in a child’s education is one of the most important ingredients for success. Computers can also help you expose your child to information and experiences that you value. Spending time online with your children is the best way both to learn about the Internet and to teach your children responsibility, good conduct, and the values that are important to you.

Ask children to share their favorite Web sites and what they like about them. Help them discover Web sites that can help them with their homework, hobbies, and other special interests.

Teach your children “netiquette” – how to behave online. Such straightforward rules as not typing in all capital letters (it looks like you are shouting), being polite, and keeping quiet in chat rooms until you get a sense of what people are talking about, are simply good manners as well as common sense.

If you don’t have a computer or Internet connection at home, many libraries, colleges and cyber cafes offer equipment for public use. Many provide Web pages with recommended sites and offer classes for children and adults. Some schools and community centers offer special programs for, parents to learn about the Internet. The best way to ensure your child’s safety on the Internet is to be there. Of course, that is not always possible. Just as you teach your child rules about dealing with strangers outside the home, you must provide rules for communicating online.

Parents need to know about Fantasy Games, what their children are downloading whether music, movies, games or pornography and the laws associated with each. Parents need to talk to their children about plagiarism, and gambling for the Internet can make many evils appealing.

To children and young people. The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world with a powerful formative influence; but not everything on the other side of the door is safe and wholesome and true.”

“Children and young people should be open to information regarding media, resisting the easy, path of uncritical passivity, peer pressure, and, commercial exploitation.”

The young owe it to themselves – and to their parents and families and friends, their pastors and teachers, and ultimately to God – to use the Internet well.

“The Internet places in the grasp of young people at an unusually early age an immense capacity for doing good and doing harm, to themselves and others. It can enrich their lives beyond the dreams of earlier generations and empower them to enrich other lives in turn. It also can plunge them into consumerism, pornographic and violent fantasy, and pathological isolation.”

“Young people, as has often been said, are the future of society and the Church. Good use of the Internet can help prepare them for their responsibilities in both… In cyberspace, at least as much as anywhere else, they may be called on to go against the tide, practice counter-culturalism, and even suffer persecution for the sake of what is true and good.” (Church and Internet #11)

Suggested rules for children and the Internet

1) Always ask your parents’ permission before using your full name, address, telephone number, or school name anywhere on the Internet.

2) Always tell your parents if you see something online that is scary or that you don’t understand.

3) Don’t respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.

4) Never give out a credit card number or password online.

5) Never arrange to meet in person someone you’ve met online, unless you discuss it with your parents and an adult goes with you.

Teach children that not everything they see or hear may be true. Some sites may be trying to sell them something or contain inaccurate information. There are many sites in the Internet that contain false information, but they do not bother to tell you this.

It is easy to be dazzled by all of the sights and sounds of the online world; but unlike books, magazines and newspapers that are scrutinized by an editor; much of the information online is not.
Individuals with Internet access can post almost anything they want.

Always consider the source, and exercise common sense and good judgment in evaluating the information you see.
The vast majority of Internet sites are perfectly safe, but like the real world the virtual world contains some sites that may not be appropriate for children. A number of software filters are available to block Web sites you may not want your child to visit.

Parents need to understand that filters are not perfect. They cannot block everything you might not want your child to see and they may block information that is helpful. Even if filters were 100 percent effective, this software is no substitute for parental guidance.

You should supervise older as well as younger children’s Internet use at home and at the library.
It’s a good idea to place computers in the kitchen, family room, or living room so that you can see your child using it. Young children should never be allowed to “surf the Net” alone.

Because you often sit alone at a computer, and many of your interactions take place anonymously, you might assume you are truly anonymous when online. But it is often possible for someone with the right tools and expertise to figure out where your transmission is coming from, and sometimes, who you are. If you want to play it safe, limit your online messages to those you would feel comfortable seeing printed in your local newspaper.

Be aware that strangers, at times pretending to be someone else can “communicate with your child. Unsolicited e-mail called “spam” can have information about sites with sexually explicit material, products for sale, or moneymaking schemes that are not for our children.”

Also remember that too much time online limits a child’s well-rounded development by taking the place of friends, schoolwork, sports and other activities.

The Church and the Internet concludes by addressing us all:

To all persons of good will.

Finally, then, we would suggest some virtues that need to be cultivated by everyone who wants to make good use of the Internet; their exercise should be based upon and guided by a realistic appraisal of its contents. Prudence is necessary in order clearly to see the implications – the potential for good and evil – in this new medium and to respond creatively to its challenges and opportunities.

“Justice is needed, especially justice in working to close the digital divide – the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor in today’s world. This requires a commitment to the international common good, no less than the globalization of solidarity.’”

“Fortitude, courage, is necessary. This means standing up for truth in the face of religious and moral relativism, for the altruism and generosity in the face of individualistic consumerism, for decency in the face of sensuality and sin. And temperance is needed – a self-disciplined approach to this remarkable technological instrument ! The Internet, so as to use it wisely and only for good.”

Reflecting on the Internet, as upon all other media of social communications, we recall that Christ is ‘the perfect communicator’ – the norm and model of the Church’s approach to communication, as well as the content that the Church is obliged to communicate.

‘”May Catholics involved in the world of social communications preach the truth of Jesus ever more boldly from the housetops, so that all men and women may hear about the love which is the heart of God’s self-communication in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.’” (Church and Internet #12)” —Dianne Wood lives in Newmarket, Ontario


 

Disability Needed

“The disciples, previously frightened, confused, and doubtful,
became suddenly charged with courage and knowledge and
commitment when the wind roared, the fire appeared, and
the Spirit came.

When have you been afraid, confused, and doubtful?

How did you regain your courage, understanding, and commitment?

Pentecost is called the birthday of the church because

that is when the followers of Jesus actually became church.

What does it mean to be church?

What gifts does it take?

What gifts do you have that you can offer?

Where is the Spirit speaking in your life now?”

Notes: Kent Inman, personnel manager of Office of Disabled and Director since 1986 called for the training of seminarians. People with disabilities are needed in the Church. Re-invent the circle! to cope with devastation! As a precious Child of God! Recall Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Grief, the bag of ‘fuss’.

He learned about MS taking care of his mother-in-law. There is a passion for inclusion; need to deal with role reversal – humbling – passing to acceptance.

Title III ADA exempts parishes, bars etc. More welcoming, bringing everyone to the table. Make accommodations – there are rights and duties – don’t exempt the disabled. There is the attitude due to people not knowing what to say & do.
20% of any population has ADA disability. 10-11% are physically disabled.

What is a necessity for some is only an inconvenience for others. Reasonable accommodation and readily achievable is the measure for us. E.g., Cory Stringer. There is a universal design – assist the disabled and oneself when disabled by injury or disease.

We have power to adjust the sails ~ not control the wind.

One needs an ‘attitude of gratitude’ to stay in the present.

“Most folks are as happy as they want to be

according to Abe Lincoln, ‘scooping up the Grits of Life’
WHAT DISABILITY AM I MOST AFRAID OF?

What is it and why?”!

MEDITATION OF THE DAY – May 31, 2002 – Courtesy of Magnificat


The Mission of the Visitation

“How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realize that this little cousin who was so familiar to her was the mother of her God?

She knew it by the child within herself by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.

If we practice this contemplation taught and shown to us by our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.

If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it he is forming himself; if we go with eager wills, “in haste,” to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that he desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of his love.

And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them, it is not necessary at this stage of our contemplation to speak to others of the mystery of life growing in us. It is only necessary to give ourselves to that life, all that we are, to pray without ceasing, not by a continual effort to concentrate our minds but by the growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are. We must trust him for this, because it is not a time to see his face, we must possess him secretly and in darkness, as the earth possesses the seed. We must not try So force Christ’s growth in us, but with a deep gratitude for the light burning secretly in our darkness, we must fold our concentrated love upon him like earth, surrounding, holding/and nourishing the seed.

We must be swift to obey the winged impulses of his love, carrying him to wherever he longs to be; and those who recognize his presence will be stirred, like Elizabeth, with new life. They will know his presence, not by any special beauty or power shown by us, but in the way that the bud knows the presence of the light, by an unfolding in themselves, a putting forth of their own beauty.

It seems that this is Christ’s favorite way of being recognized, that he prefers to be known, not by his own human features, but by the quickening of his own life in the heart, which is the response to his coming.”

– Caryll Houselander (+1954) was a British mystic, poet, wood carver, and spiritual teacher.

 


Pornography

“It was there, in front of me. Pornography is not “romantic.”

It wouldn’t go away. Pornography is not “sexy.”

It was taunting me, mocking me. Pornography is not ‘harmless.

You’re not enough it said. I cried, sobbed, wept.

You can’t compete. I was angry, disappointed, broken.

You will never be “all.” I felt hurt, lonely, confused.

This image stole from me.

Devastated.

This image challenged my self-worth.

This image shattered trust.

“If a man looks on a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed Adultery.” (Mt. 5) A mind tempted by lust.
A mind desensitized by baseness.
A mind drawn toward How many steps from fantasy to reality?
How many steps from glance to passion?
How many steps from cleave to leave?”
– from an e-mail sent to Morality In Media.


Expensive “Made-for-TV”
Image Belies Abortion Industry Facts
“The National Abortion Rights Action League is in the midst of running a very polished ad campaign with patriotic themes, family images and children playing. They want to sell the idea that “choice” is the American way that women need choice (abortion) to be liberated. What they fail to mention is that most women undergo an abortion because they’re led to believe it’s their only choice. Another point the ads fail to mention is that abortion is a big business for providers like Planned Parenthood, the largest provider and promoter of abortion in the United States.

According to an Internet fact sheet of services for 1999 found on the Planned Parenthood web site, the ratio of abortion to prenatal services is nearly 10 to 1. The ratio of abortion to referral for adoption is nearly 60 to 1. Their own fact sheet on abortion after the first trimester states that adolescents obtain 29 percent of all abortion performed after twenty weeks. However, the reasons listed for adolescent girls terminating second and third trimester pregnancies DO NOT include any medical complications associated with pregnancy. The current ad campaign also fails to describe the emotional and physical environment found in abortion clinics. In many clinics, according to Carol Everett, former owner of several abortion facilities in Texas, the “counselor” is actually filling the role of a marketing agent to direct and guide the usually desperate, pregnant girl who has not yet made up her mind. Everett makes it clear in her remarks that money drives the abortion industry and the mission of the industry is to make money, not provide a “choice.” Another aspect of the industry is the unsafe and nearly unregulated environment in many clinics. Presently, Missouri has three freestanding abortion clinics. Two of the clinics do abortions well beyond the first three months of pregnancy.

In 1992 the Missouri Department of Health con-conducted an inspection of the Women’s Community Health Center, in Springfield.

Among the health violations:

There was no documentation to show that the person providing information to clients regarding the procedure, alternative-tives, and other information qualified to do so;

  • Patient care services were not under the supervision of a medical professional;

 

  • The operating table had rust on it; Equipment that needed to be sterile was not kept in a sterile place;
  • The recovery area had roaches. In 1994, another inspection showed the center had more violations: The center did not have policies on parental consent of a minor or retention of records of procedures performed on minors;
  • Patients were pre-medicated before the final decision was made to proceed with the procedure and determination of the gestational age of the unborn baby;
  • One patient was pre-medicated before a pregnancy test was performed which turned out to be negative.

Sometimes the physicians add to the “unsafe” environment. Women have died in Missouri while undergoing an abortion. Yet, the State of Missouri has yet to insist that doctors who perform abortion must have surgical privileges at a local hospital. Dr. Bolivar Escobedo who at one time performed abortions in Cape Girardeau, claimed surgical privileges only at a hospital in Lima, Peru.
The next time you see an ad selling abortion as a right or freedom – cloaked as a basic American freedom and the end to the oppression of women – don’t believe it.

 

Abortion offers a legacy of death and despair. It leaves many women emotionally scarred for life, robs them of real choice and risks their health.”

All About Civility, An Interview with Scott Peck

“The great lack of civility in America is the major factor behind the breakdown in family life, unethical practices in business, selfishness, and dishonesty in politics.

Civility means much more than politeness. Civility is all-embracing-a general awareness by people that personal wellbeing cannot be separated from the well-being of the groups to which we belong…our families, our businesses and our nation.
Lack of civility is tied to unreasonable expectations in recent decades of constant happiness and constant comfort. When real life presents us with painful experiences…when something hurts us…when we feel unfulfilled-we feel cheated. And too many of us-too often-reach for instant happiness by illegitimate means that disregard the interests of other people.

CONSCIOUSNESS AND CIVILITY

The route to unproved civility begins with greater awareness of our shortcomings and our tendencies to manipulate others. Greater awareness leads to a willingness to accept pain in the short term, recognizing that it is an unavoidable part of any growth process, leading to significant personal growth. Learning how to handle pain realistically is a prerequisite for
warmer, more meaningful relationships over the long term. Civility does not happen automatically. You have to train yourself to be aware of your true motives, to be honest with yourself and others, and to judge yourself first.

CIVILITY IN THE FAMILY

The first training ground for civility is the family. Children learn how they are expected to behave by observing their parents’ behavior, not just by listening to their words. So if you want your children to demonstrate civility now and later in life, you have to practice it yourself.

Example: Your two kids are having a disagreement and your six-year-old son slugs his little sister. Then you tell him, Don’t ever hit your sister! and hit him. That will deliver quite a different message than you want to give: It’s OK to hit someone else. ..but don’t hit your sister when your mother or father is around. With that kind of discrepancy prevalent between parental educational words and actions, it’s not surprising that so many people grow up with an internal moral code that tells them, You can do whatever you want as long as you don’t get caught doing it.

CIVILITY IN BUSINESS

Successful businesses are built on cooperation. Businesses have a right to both demand and expect cooperation from their employees, because the main purpose of any business is to make a profit.

But companies also have a responsibility to treat their workers fairly and honestly in the process.
Example: Some companies that workers with pension benefits only after a
period of employment save money by laying the workers off only a short time before they become vested.
This is uncivil. It is obviously unfair to the workers and may also hurt the
company by encouraging the best employees to leave.

Better way: Set up a system that recognizes both the company’s interest
dedicated, hard-working employees a the employees’ interest in security a
fair compensation. This will only we when both sides honestly keep their part of the bargain.

HONEST COMMUNICATION

Companies, families and all types of organizations become more civil when they encourage honest, two-way communication – straight talk and listening. That is not easy, but it can be done if you follow these principles:

Don’t expect perfection… just do your

    • best and learn from your mistakes.
    • Set aside time for communication.
    • Clear your mind and listen to the other person.
    • Be honest with yourself and others.
  • Judge yourself first. Look into your real motives.

 

  • Take time to respond and think!
  • Don’t be afraid of silence.
  • Be willing to be hurt-and to risk hurting others by speaking honestly.
    If someone is too fragile to respect your point of view, he/she cannot
    be a part of your community.
  • Try to be as gentle as possible. Don’t
    make any unnecessarily painful statements – yet don’t be so subtle
    that the point is completely missed.
  • Speak personally and specifically. Don’t talk about “the system”
    or some impersonal authority. Don’t generalize. Document what you say.

 

 

  • Don’t analyze other people’s motives,Don’t play psychologist
  • Speak when you are moved to speak. Don’t cop out.

Bottom line: It takes hard work to get an organization
to operate in a mode of civility. But those who have made the transition
do not want to go back.”

Bottom Line/Personal interviewed M. Scott Peck, MD; a founder of the Foundation for Community Encouragement He is author of The Road Less Traveled and, most recently, A World Waiting to be Born Bantam Books,1540 Broadway, New York 10036.


M1SSOURI CATHOLIC CONFERENCEGood News update on public policy and legislative developments from a Catholic perspective


Article: Child Investment

“I have seen repeatedly the breakdown of the cost of raising a child,
but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from
birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family.

Talk about sticker shock! That doesn’t even touch college tuition.
For those with kids, that figure leads to wild fantasies about all
the money we could have banked For others, that number might confirm
the decision to remain childless. But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you
break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month,
or $171.08 a week.

That’s a mere $24.44 a day! Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you
might think the best financial advice says don’t have children if
you want to be “rich,” It is just the opposite.

What do your get for your $160,140?

  • Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
  • Glimpses of God every day.
  • Giggles under the covers every night.
  • More love than your heart can hold.
  • Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
  • Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
  • A hand to hold, usually covered with jam.
  • A partner for blowing bubbles,flying kites, building
    sandcastles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring rain.
  • Someone to laugh yourself silly with no matter what the
    boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
  • . For $160,140, you never have to grow up.
  • . You get to finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek,
    catch lightning bugs.
  • . You have an excuse to keep: reading the Adventures of Piglet and
    Pooh,watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies,
    and wishing on stars.
  • . You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator
    magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas,
    hand prints set in clay for Mother’s Day, and cards with backward
    letters for Father’s Day.
  • . For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be
    a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof, taking the
    training wheels off the bike, removing a splinter, filling the wading
    pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team
    that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
  • . You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step, first
    word, first date, and first time behind the wheel.
  • . You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family
    tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary
    called grandchildren.
  • . You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice,
    communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
  • . In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there with God. You have
    all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the
    bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them
    forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like
    you, love without counting the cost.”
Thanks Sue!

Humility and the Father’s Love

“Why did my Father give you power over me?
Because he wanted me to get very close to you
to show you the depths of his love for you;
not the distant love of a God
who sits on a throne in his heaven
and looks down on you on the earth,
but the love of a Father who longs to help you
to carry your burdens,
to comfort and heal you,
to give you every good gift.
He wants to come into your homes,
and to sit with you at your meals
as one of the family.
He wants to walk with you
as a beloved friend.
He could not do that himself
and so he sent me, his only Son,
to make his love known to you.
I could take on your weakness
and then act out my Father’s name which is Love.
Can you truly imagine the love of God?
Can you understand the depth
of your Father’s love for you?
The Father sent me to show you his love,
and to act it out among you
to give you an example to copy.
I am the image of your unseen Father;
in my life, and particularly in my passion,
I showed you the depths
to which love must be prepared to go.
There is no room for fear in love,
no room for shame,
no excuses,
no holidays.
Love offers everything
and expects no return.
You cannot bear the unveiled love of God.
It falls like a fire upon you
and you are consumed and burnt up in its heat.
You are not ready yet to be refined
and purified by the naked flame
of your Father’s love for you,
and so it has to be filtered,
mediated to you through my flesh.”

—RICHARD HOBBS

Richard Hobbs (+ 1993) was a convert to Catholicism and the father of six sons.

________________________________________

My Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the people I can not change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know …it´s me.”
Courtesy of Brother Maurus, O.S.B.


“The Winds of Grace always blow,
it is up to us to raise our sails!

Heard at an Al-Anon meeting


Prayer For Peace
To Mary, The Light of Hope
Pope John Paul II

“Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, 0 Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. Amen.”

Copyright © 2001,
United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Images Courtesy of Corbis, Inc. Used With Permission.

Text Courtesy Of L’Osservatore Romano.
Used With Permission USCCB Publishing.

To Order Publication No. 5-490, Call 800-235-8722.

 

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. Saint Gregory the Great

Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer
for Peace

“O God, you are the Source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our grayer in this time of war.
Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God,
children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths
by the way we live. Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;

Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of Love. Amen.”

Pax Christi USA/Fellowship of Reconciliation Cards may be ordered from:
Pax Christi USA
532 West 8th Street
Erie, PA 16502-1343

814/453-4955
www.paxchristiusa.org

Prayer to Christ the Healer

“In the comfort of your love, I pour out to you, my Savior,
The memories that haunt me,
The anxieties that perplex me,
The fears that stifle me,
The sickness that prevails upon me,
And the frustration of all the pain that weaves about within me.
Lord, help me to see your peace in my turmoil, your compassion in my sorrow, your forgiveness in my weakness, And, your love in my need.
Touch me, 0 Lord, with your healing power and strength.”

©-Prayer to Christ the Healer, SAINT ALEXIUS HOSPITAL

The Missouri Secretary of State’s web site is a wealth of information for voters.
Visit http://www.sos.mo.gov/ to view: Contact the Office of Secretary of State
if you don’t have access to the internet:

Physical address: 600 W. Main Jefferson City,
Mailing address: PO Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone number: 1800-Now-Vote (1-800-669-8683)

The Missouri Catholic Conference,
Phone: 573-635-7239; Fax: 573-635-7431
Email: MoCatholic@aol.com

Website:

http://members.aol.com/

MoCatholic


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    < Maintain Internet Privacy

     

    INTERNET SAFETY DOWNLOAD:

    Did you know…

          • Missouri is 8th in the nation when it comes to the number of offenders listed in state registries. [Source: Family Watchdog, LLC]
          • In the state of Missouri, more sexual predators were federally indicted on a per capita basis that in any other state in the country.
            Additionally,the number of cases prosecuted in the state of Missouri has more than tripled since 2000. [Source: US Department of Justice 3.22.07]
          • More than 90% of both parents and kids could not identify the appropriate authority (i.e. local police, FBI, CyberTipline or an InternetService Provider) to report unwanted online incidents.[Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)2006–Online Victimization of Youth, 5 years later

    Here’s what you can do to keep your friends and family safe online:

    Learn About the Issues – Do your homework on the latest online trends and the potential risks. Please see resources below.

          • Communication Is Key – Talk to your children and know who they are talking to/spending time with BOTH online and
            offline.
          • Protect Your Identity – Think TWICE before posting personal information on the internet including names,
            passwords, contact information,as well as pictures which could give clues about your life, where you live etc. REMEMBER: if it’s on the internet, it’s NOT PRIVATE!
          • Take Action – Contact your local law enforcement and Cyber Tipline if you or someone you know feels threatened or
            in danger.Together, these agencies will take steps to keep you and your family safe.

    To find out more about Internet Safety, use these websites as a resource:

          • INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN (ICAC) Task Force of Missouri –a law enforcement and community resource for the investigation and prevention of online crimes:

           

          • INOBTR.org “I Know Better…Do You?” is Missouri’s public awareness initiative to help keep children safe online
          • CyberTipLine.com, The 911 of the Internet (1.800.THE.LOST) The 911 of the Internet,the resource to report cybercrimes.
          • ikeepsafe.org I Keep Safe Foundations website uses an animated icon/mascot named Faux Paw the Techno Cat to
            teach children and parents the importance of protecting personal information and voicing inappropriate places on the Internet;
          • netsmartz.org NetSmartz is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC)Internet Safety resource and education program targeting children K-12, parents and educators.
          • projectsafechildhood.gov Project Safe Childhood (PSC) is a nationwide Department of Justice initiativedesigned to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.
          • webwisekids.org Web Wise Kids (WWK) is a non-profit organization specializing in providing easy to use,school approved Internet safety education for youth ages 11-16.

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  • DAILY LITURGY PREPARATION

    SUNDAY, JANUARY 28, 2018           FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

    Lectionary 71: 1) Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 2) Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; 3) 1 Corinthians 7:32-35;4) Mark 1:21-28.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012818.cfm

    FOCUS:          God’s desire is to liberate his people so that they fulfill their holy destiny. Liberation is at the heart of our Scriptures – a freedom that will liberate us from worldly anxieties and concerns, and from all that might hinder us in fulfilling our holy mission. Listening to and obeying God’s Word prevents us from hardening our hearts and distancing ourselves from his presence in our lives.  As Moses challenged the Israelites to listen to God’s voice (1, Ps), so we are called to hear the voice of Jesus and live out his teachings (3) by what we say and do, whatever our vocation in life may be (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    In the first reading, the Lord promises Israel that he will raise up a new prophet, one who will speak with his authority. Paul urges the Corinthians to remain free of worldly anxieties. In Mark’s Gospel, it is the unclean spirit that recognizes Jesus’ true identity and responds to his commands.

     

     

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    Monday, January 29, 2018            MONDAY OF FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

    Lectionary 323: 1) 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13: 2) Ps 3:2-7; 3) Mark 5:1-20.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012918.cfm

    FOCUS:          God’s graces are abundant, even in the face of difficulties. Both subjects in our readings today – David and the man with the unclean spirit – are miserable. As Christians, we wonder why there is suffering. It is not something inflicted on us by a vengeful God; rather it is a result of sin entering the world. It can be a means by which we draw closer to God as we seek his aid in enduring the many difficulties we encounter in this life. David seeks deliverance from his enemies (Ps) as the revolt by his son, Absalom, spreads (1). Jesus offers salvation to the Gentiles as he frees the demoniac (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    In the first reading from Samuel, David flees Jerusalem because his son seeks to overthrow him. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus frees a man who is possessed by many demons and instructs him to return home and tell his family of God’s mercy.

     

     

       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼      ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼

     

     

     

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018            TUESDAY OF FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

    Lectionary 324: 1) 2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30–19:3; 2) Ps 86:1-6;                          3) Mark 5:21-43.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/013018.cfm

    FOCUS:          God gives us the freedom to choose between life and death. We experience the gift of life in many forms: through the birth of a child or in the daily graces we are given, such as the friendships we share. We experience the brokenness of death in our own physical mortality, but also as a result of poor choices that diminish our growth or damage relationships. God desires for us to choose life over death, and to live it to the fullest in Christ Jesus. David weeps (Ps) over the death of his son (1). Jairus appeals to Jesus on behalf of his critically ill daughter (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    Our first reading is the historical account of the death of Absalom by King David’s own warriors. David mourns the loss of his son who had rebelled against him. The Gospel provides us with two parables: bringing Jairus’ daughter back to life and the healing of the woman with hemorrhages.

     

     

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    Wednesday, January 31, 2018             WEDNESDAY OF FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

    OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint John Bosco, Priest

    Lectionary 325: 1) 2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17; 2) Ps 32:1-2, 5-17; 3) Mark 6:1-6.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/013118.cfm

    FOCUS:          A prophet is not without honor except . . . in his own house. Saddened that the crowd had no faith in his words or miracles, Jesus left them to the jealousy or stubbornness that veiled their hope and diminished their faith. He traveled on. Do we find ourselves to be like some of the Nazoreans or are we more like those of faith in the nearby towns? David seeks forgiveness (Ps) for his lack of faith in the Lord’s power (1). Jesus’ kindred put little faith in him (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    The first reading tells of David choosing pestilence as punishment for numbering the people. He prays to be struck instead of the innocent people. Mark’s Gospel relates how the people at Nazareth reject the words and miracles of Jesus.

    John Bosco,  † 1888 at Turin; founded (1859) the Salesians [S.D.B .], today numbering over 15,270 members; dedicated to educating youth; with St. Mary Mazzarello (14 May), founded the Salesian Sisters; a pioneer in vocational training; first saint in history to submit to a press interview; forty thousand people filed past his body at his death; first canonized saint in whose honor a national holiday was declared in Italy; patron of editors.

     

     

      ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼      ∼     ∼       ∼      ∼

     

     

     

    Thursday, February 1, 2018           THURSDAY OF FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

    Lectionary 326: 1) 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12; 2) (Ps) 1 Chr 29:10-11b, 11d-12d ; 3) Mark 6:7-13.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020118.cfm

    FOCUS:          Jesus is with us each day as we strive to walk in his ways. When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach and heal, he sent them in pairs. This meant that his disciples had each other for encouragement, and were able to strengthen one another when the journey was arduous. Although Jesus is always with us on our path, do we have a spiritual companion who can help to keep us walking in the way of the Lord? David tells Solomon: be faithful to the Lord (Ps) and you will be blessed (1). Jesus sends the Twelve to preach repentance and God’s love (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    In today’s first reading, a dying King David reminds his son, Solomon, of God’s promise to make his family reign over Israel forever. In the Gospel, Jesus sends out the Apostles to continue his work of healing and sanctifying. They are to go humbly, relying on God and the people for whatever they need.

     

     

      ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼      ∼       ∼       ∼       ∼

     

     

     

    Friday, February 2, 2018         THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD – FEAST

    Lectionary 524: 1) Malachi 3:1-4; 2) Ps 24:7-10; 2) Hebrews 2:14-18; 3) Luke 2:22-40 or 2:22-32.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020218.cfm

    FOCUS:          Let us rejoice in the presence of the Lord. Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. Simeon and Anna in the Temple recognize Jesus as the one who will carry out God’s plan of salvation. Jesus is likewise in our midst today. Do we recognize his presence among us? Do we rejoice in the light of this presence? Jesus, the King of glory (Ps), yet like us in all things (2), comes to his temple (1) to be a light for all the nations (3).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    The Prophet Malachi writes of the Lord sending a messenger who will refine and purify. In Hebrews, we hear that Jesus had to take on our human nature to expiate the sins of the people. In the Gospel, Simeon and Anna speak about the child destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel.                                                           This feast, originating in 4th c. Jerusalem, came to be celebrated in Rome by the middle of the 5th c. under its Greek title, Ynanavrei or, “Feast of the Meeting”; known also as Candlemas Day.

    Beginning tonight, the final anthem at Compline may be Ave, Regina coelorum, through the season of Lent.

    PN Today is observed as World Day for Consecrated Life. Its purpose is “to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels” as well as “to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord” (St. John Paul II, 1997).

     

     

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    Saturday, February 3, 2018             SATURDAY OF FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

    Optional Memorials: Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr;                                                                                                         Saint Ansgar, Bishop; Saturday in Honor of BVM.

    Lectionary 328: 1) 1 Kings 3:4-13; 2) Ps 119:9-14; 3) Mark 6:30-34.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020318.cfm

    FOCUS:          We pray to the Lord for wisdom and healing. Today, we have the opportunity to carry out one of the traditions of the Church in the blessing of throats. Following the example of Jesus, we carry out the ministry of healing to all in need. By the prayer and blessing with candles, through the intercession of Saint Blaise, we call on God to heal all afflictions of the throat. Solomon prays for wisdom (1), to know the Lord’s will (Ps). Jesus nourishes us with the word of life (2).

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    God appeared in a dream to King Solomon telling him to ask whatever he wished. In his wisdom, Solomon prayed for an understanding heart to be able to govern his people. Following the initial mission of the Apostles, Jesus instructs them in the Gospel to get away and rest. The crowds, however, seek them out.

    Blaise, believed martyred in the persecution of Licinius, early 4th c.; bishop of Sebaste in Armenia; associated with the healing of throats (see PN below); venerated as well by the Eastern Church.

    Ansgar, † 865 at Bremen; O.S.B. missionary to Denmark and Sweden; bishop of Hamburg; great preacher and administrator; known as the “Apostle of the North”; patron of Denmark, Germany, and Iceland.

    PN In memory of St. Blaise, the blessing of throats may be given today by a priest, deacon, or lay minister who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister. During Mass, the blessing follows the homily and general intercessions, or, for pastoral reasons, it may take the place of the final blessing of the Mass.

    See BB, nos. 1622-1655 for the complete rite. The formula of blessing is:                                                         Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

     

     

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    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 201           FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

    Lectionary 74: 1) Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 2) Ps 147:1-6; 3) 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; 4) Mark 1:29-39.

    http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020418.cfm

    FOCUS:          Let us strive to proclaim the Gospel by our everyday words and actions. In the Gospel, we hear that the Good News of Jesus is spreading to many towns and villages. Jesus tells his disciples that he has come for the purpose of preaching and teaching. That is our purpose as well. Let us strive to spread the Gospel in our everyday lives.  Job’s cry of hopelessness (1) stands in marked contrast to the hope of those who put their trust in Jesus (3), who “heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps). Such are the blessings of the good news.

    LITURGY OF THE WORD

    Our first reading relates the suffering and despair of Job. In the second reading, Saint Paul tells us we must not keep the Good News to ourselves, but we are called to share it with those we meet. In the Gospel, we hear that Jesus comes to bring healing and peace to all those he encounters.

     

     

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    Reflection – Sunday, January 28, 2018        Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Every generation of TV viewers is familiar with the Andy Griffith Show. A notable contrast between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife was their view of authority. Deputy Fife was all about “law and order,” eager to jail anyone for what he perceived as legal violations. Sheriff Taylor, however, preferred the use of understanding, per­suasion, and common sense. The people in today’s Gospel passage were “amazed” because Jesus taught with “authority.” He did not employ edicts, but told stories. He didn’t just “say prayers”; he actually prayed and com­muned with God in a personal way. Don’t we, too, crave authority rather than authoritarianism?                 Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 57.


     

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     Reflection – Monday, January 29, 2018          Weekday

    King David is in trouble. His son, Absa­lom, has usurped power over Israel. At the same time, David is cursed by Saul, a relative of his predecessor, for blood­shed against his family. One foresees here the pattern of the future son of David, Jesus. There will be betrayal by those closest to him and make vulgar physical attacks. In this scene, David does not reply in kind. Instead he trusts that this is part of God’s plan. The path to God’s will is not always straight or pleasant.   Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 58.

     

     

     

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    Reflection – Tuesday, January 30, 2018 Weekday

    When I was a young boy, my maternal grandmother died a few days before Thanksgiving. We had a modified Thanksgiving in the midst of the three-day wake. Then, just before Christmas, my mother’s sister died unexpectedly. Christmas, too, was somber. No doubt most of us have experienced conflicted joy and sorrow just as King David did. He won a battle but lost a son. As emo­tional creatures, we might prefer our joys to be joys and our sorrows to be sorrows. We should remember that the Cross and the Resurrection are two dimensions of one saving mystery.                                                  Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 59.

     

     

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    Reflection – Wednesday, January 31, 2018        Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest

    St. John Bosco is one of many saints and founders who encountered opposi­tion. A nineteenth-century minister to disadvantaged youth, Bosco made great efforts to educate them and apprentice them to trades. In the Italy of his time, child exploitation was common, disci­pline was corporal, housing was abys­mal, and public authorities were indifferent. Many didn’t want noisy or delinquent boys in their neighborhood. Despite opponents, Bosco founded the Salesians and adopted teaching methods based on love instead of punishment. Enemies called him a “wheeler-dealer” to get funds for his works and tried to prevent his canonization. “In the world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33).   Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 60.

     

     

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    Reflection – Thursday, February 1, 2018        Weekday

    God’s anointed ones appear to know when their end is near, and they do not fight death. King David, in today’s read­ing, prepares his son, Solomon, to be his successor. Jesus prepared his Apos­tles for his departure at the Last Supper. Saints often gather their disciples around their deathbed for final encour­agement. Some people are afraid to sur­render to death because their loved ones are clinging or they have unfinished busi­ness. It is best to follow St. Benedict’s counsel: “Keep death before your eyes daily,” so that we are prepared to sur­render peacefully when the time comes. Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 61.

     

     

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    Reflection – Friday, February 2, 2018            Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

    Today’s feast is an echo of the past Christmas season and the completion of the mystery. Jesus—born, revealed to Israel, manifested to the nations—is now encountered by the Church in the person of Simeon. Indeed, Greek Chris­tians call today’s feast “The Meeting” or “The Encountering.” The Church embraces Christ, the Light of the World, in her arms. The Mass begins with the blessing of candles for liturgical and home use, reminding the faithful of the Baptism that enlightened them. Hence, the Roman Church calls this Candlemas Day. Let us embrace Christ more ten­derly by living our baptismal vocation each day.         Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 62.

     

     

     

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    Reflection – Saturday, February 3, 2018 Weekday

    Solomon, at the beginning of his reign, models the humility that should mark a believer’s prayer life. First, he focuses on worshipping God. Worship is the heart of a creature’s relationship to the Creator. Secondly, Solomon offers thanks to God for the favor of placing him on the throne. Thirdly, when God offers to answer a request, Solomon prays for the wisdom and justice that will make him a good king and servantof the Lord. Prayer that is not self-seek­ing, but directed toward God’s will, is the purest prayer and leads to a deepen­ing relationship with God.                                                              Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 63.

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    Reflection – Sunday, February 4, 2018              Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

       No doubt you and I sometimes feel like Simon in this Gospel: “Everyone is looking for you!” We might have a cri­sis, a concern, a need, or a longing, but we cannot feel God’s presence. Where is God? Jesus, off in a lonely place in the desert, perhaps suggests that God is already at work even when we cannot find him. Indeed, God is always with us. The seeking must be our work.       Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 64.

     

     

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                                          Faith Catholic (Online), February 2018                                                                                                         Give Us This Day, Liturgical Press,   February 2018
        Magnificat, February 2018
                             Paulist Ordo

     

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    Ordinary Time

    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.

    All nations are invited to sing the Lord’s praises (1, Ps) for they have been called to hear the good news (2) and worship the long-awaited Messiah and King (3) with the gift of their lives.

    ORDINARY TIME

    “Besides the times of the year that have their own distinctive character, there remains in the yearly cycle thirty-three or thirty-four weeks in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ himself is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays. This period is known as Ordinary Time” (Universal Norms, 43).

    • Ordinary Time begins on Tuesday, 9 January, and continues through Tuesday, 13 February, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. It will resume when the Easter season ends, that is, on Monday, 21 May, the day following Pentecost.
    • Vol. III of the Liturgy of the Hours is used until Ash Wednesday.
    • In the weekday Lectionary, the first reading is chosen from Cycle II.
    • Six forms of the solemn blessing (nos. 9-14) are provided in the Roman Missal (after the Order of Mass) for optional use during Ordinary Time, especially on Sundays.

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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. PurpleConeFlower_7(24)2009_IMG_0985

     

     

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    An Independence Day Prayer     We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLLArchbishop 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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    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…

    • “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
    • “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
    • “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
    • “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
    • “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
    • “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
    • “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
    • “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.”
    • “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

    It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!Monsignor Jack 1-3-5


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      HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD              

    A Universe in a Grain   —          Anthony Esolen

    A MAN SITS HUNCHED OVER A LONG OAK TABLE,              his eyes peering at a flat square of stretched and treated sheepskin before him. Scattered over the table are small pots of colors, the whites of eggs, and some glue rendered from the bones of fish. There are also quills of all sizes, and reeds, some sharp­ened to an almost invisible point. And herbs, berries, petals, stones crushed to powder, tiny flakes of gold and silver, and the oily soot from lamps—lampblack.

    “Master,” says a boy coming into the room, “the tide is out and the merchant is on his way. He says to tell you that the mountains have given up their jewels. What does he mean?”

    Only at low tide can a man cross on foot from the coast to the holy island.

    “Ah, that is good news, good news indeed!” cries the artist, looking up from his work and smiling. He is speckled with colors upon his fingers and wrists and even his face, and though most of it he can wash away at nightfall, he will take a little of it happily to the grave with him. “It means that the lapis has come from India. Now will my Virgin wear her finest blue.”

    “What is India?” says the boy, now leaning over the sheepskin. What he sees there is astonishing. Birds, branches, leaves, strange animals, interlacing shapes, in russet, saffron, rose, cornflower, wheaten, so involved, so woven in and among one another in such a bewildering tracery of graceful curves, it seemed that if you straightened them out from a single page you could string them out two miles from the island to the shore and back again.

    “India is a land on the other side of the world,” says the man. “The mountains bear a rock called lapis lazuli, as blue as the twilight before the dawn, with sometimes a kiss of clear green in it. I have been waiting a whole year for that color.”

    “Will it be heavy, this rock?” asks the boy.

    “Heavy?” says Bishop Eadfrith. “No, not heavy. You could hold it in your hand.”

     DO NOT DESPISE THE SMALL

    “Master,” asks the boy, “it seems a far distance to travel for something I could hold. Wouldn’t some crushed violets have done as well?”

    Eadfrith was pricking out a flourish of red dots that even under a microscope, which of course he did not have, would appear like—a flourish of red dots. “No, not at all, my boy. The violets are dull. The lapis is filled with light.”

    “Does God care for things so small?”

    “Does he care for you and me? We are to him less than one of these red dots is to us.”

    “Then how,” said the boy, now leaning upon the table and laying his head close to the master’s, studying each tiny stroke of the pen, “can God dwell within us?”

    “He dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and was no bigger than the tip of this quill.”

    “I cannot understand that, Master.”

    Eadfrith continued to work, with a patience that seemed outside of time itself. The boy too absorbed the patience, so that whether the answer came in a moment or an hour, he could not tell.

    “You are too small to understand it, and so am I.”

    “Master,” said the boy, “are the words of God also small, the words that you write on the page?”

    “Every jot and tittle,” said the master.

    CHRIST OUR LIGHT

    The boy cocked his head and looked back from the page. “These are letters,” he said. “I see it! All these birds and blades of grass and twigs and funny animals make up letters. But I don’t understand. What is an X and a P?”

    The bishop laughed. “Oh, those are Greek letters. The Greeks, they lived far away also, sometimes on islands just like our Lindisfarne. The letter is called a chi,” he said, pro­nouncing it like key, “and the other is a rho. They are the first two letters of the name of honor borne by our Lord: Christos. That means He Who Has Been Anointed.”

    “Because he was a king?”

    “King and priest and Son of God.” “Have you also been anointed, Master?”

    “Yes, I have been anointed bishop.” He then turned to a reed with a flat tip, and dipped it into the fish glue, with the lightest touch, then applied it to a flake of gold not a thousandth the part of a snowflake. He smiled but did not take his eyes from the work. “And you have been anointed.”

    “I am a bishop?”

    “You are a Christian. You are a little Christ. All Christians are.”

    “But how can Christ who is the Son of God be in me?” “How indeed,” said the bishop.

    THEY BRING GOOD TIDINGS

    The boy gazed upon the manuscript as the bishop worked. They stayed so for a long time, like a father and son in a workshop.

    “It is beautiful, Master,” said the boy.

    “I am happy that it pleases you.”

    “Why do we make the first page so beautiful?”

    “I do not understand your question, my son,” said Eadfrith.

    “I mean that the words are the words, whether they are decorated or not.”

    “Ah yes, the words are the words.” Eadfrith smiled and thought about an argument he had had with a sort of vag­abond monk from the East, who wanted to rub out every image of Christ or Mary he could find. The man’s order had driven him out, and now he wandered around the world like Satan, looking for jobs to spoil.

    “Imagine you are bringing good news to a village, that the Danes have been wrecked on the sea, and the peo­ple’s houses and farms will not be burned down, and their womenfolk and children will be safe. Would you bring that news with a frown?”

    “No!” said the boy, laughing.

    “Would you dress in black,” said Eadfrith, turning from his work with a mock-grimace, “and mumble your news like this,” and he did a wonderful impersonation of a tragedian, groaning.

    “I would dress in red and gold, and I’d come in danc­ing!” said the boy.

    “So we dress the Good News in red and gold, and come in dancing,” said the bishop.

    HE VERY STONES DO SPEAK

    Suddenly there was a bustle at the door, and in came a big bearded man with a sack over his shoulder. “Greetings, my lord!” he said. “All they from Saba and who knows where shall come bearing gifts.” He put the sack on the floor and loosened the strings, while the boy leaped from his bench and peered inside.

    “Oswald my friend, God has brought you back to us safe and sound!” The bishop embraced him, ink and all.

    “I have the deep blue lapis, and a kind that I have never seen,” said Oswald, and brought out of the sack what looked like a mass of light green shafts of ice frozen together, their edges and corners glinting. “Will you be able to make use of this, my lord of the quill and the reed?”

    “Praise be to God,” said Eadfrith. “Two years have I worked on my Gospels, and now I see the completion drawing near.’ Then he turned to the boy. “Son, these precious stones come from a pagan land, and we will crush the stones and use their light to bring light to the pagans themselves.”

    “Even the Danes?”

    “The Danes most of all. What Danish king on his throne, surrounded by thanes with their swords adorned in worm forms and monster-forms, will not gaze in wonder at this book for the King of kings? Even if he doesn’t understand the words, the very stones will speak to him—the glory of the world that God has made, and the beauty of the Word that shines in it.”

     WHY HIDE THE LIGHT UNDER A BASKET?

    Bishop Eadfrith (†721) is considered to be the artist who gave to the world perhaps the most remarkable work of book-art ever executed, the Lindisfarne Gospels. The book itself, now in the British Museum, survived an attack by the Danes and being lost in the sea for several days; it is something of a miracle that we still have it. It is perhaps a greater miracle that it was made in the first place. We could learn much from the man whose love brought it to the light.

    Christians should take the lead in all of the arts, because we have the consummate artist to imitate and a subject for our art that cannot be surpassed: the God made Man, to raise small and sinful man to the house of God. And why should we be hesitant to call upon the arts in the work of bringing the Good News to an old and weary world? Glorious things of thee are spoken, 0 Sion, city of our God.

    (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, January 2018, pages 211-216.

     

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

    Study included abortion in nation’s mortality statistics

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

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

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

    Something missing from death stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Abortion leading cause of death among minorities

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

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

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

    Lost years as well as lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The cost is extraordinarily high

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

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

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

     

    IS LIBERALISM A HERESY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs:

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

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

    Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS.

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

     

    PUBLIC SQUARE — PERMANENCE FOR MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    — WORKERS AT UTC’S CARRIER PLANTS IN INDIANA

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

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

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

    Taking avarice to a new level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is OUR fight

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    YOU CAN GO NOW. HERE’S $195 MILLION.

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

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

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

     

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

     

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    FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore

    1. Article:  Fairth In The Public Square

    2. Article:  COUNTRY’S CORE ISSUE

     

    FIRST THINGS April 2016RoseIII

    1. Faith in the Public Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    2. FIRST THINGS COLUMNIST RECOGNIZES COUNTRY’S CORE ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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