PUBLIC SQUARE — PERMANENCE FOR MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— WORKERS AT UTC’S CARRIER PLANTS IN INDIANA

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

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

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

Taking avarice to a new level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is OUR fight

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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YOU CAN GO NOW. HERE’S $195 MILLION.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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DAILY LITURGY PREPARATION

YEAR A   CYCLE I

SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2017    PALM SUNDAY OF HOLY WEEK

THE PASSION OF THE LORD

Procession with Palms:   Lectionary 37:  1)   Matthew 21:1-11.   Mass Readings: Lectionary 38: 1) Isaiah 50:4-7;  2)   ;     3)   Philippians 2:6-11;  4)   Matthew 26:14–27:66 or 27:11-54.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040917.cfm

FOCUS:          Embracing the cross of Jesus leads to everlasting life. The cross of shame in Jesus’ time has become for us the sign of victory over sin and death. Through his perfect sacrifice of love on the cross, Jesus won forgiveness for our sins and defeated the power of sin and evil. By so doing, Jesus transformed the cross from an instrument of death into the tree of life and source of our salvation.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

We experience all kinds of emotions in today’s readings. The joyous crowd becomes an angry and vengeful crowd. Jesus’ disciples betray, deny or run away from him. The women, however, remain strong even though their hearts are being torn out. The heavens weep as Jesus empties himself out, obedient to the point of death – death on a cross.

PN For an Order of Placing Branches in the Home, see HB, 108-109.

 

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Monday, April 10, 2017       MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Lectionary 257:  1)   Isaiah 42:1-7;  2)  ;   3)  John 12:1-11.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041017.cfm

FOCUS:          By humbly serving the needs of others, our lives can become a healing balm that brings hope and healing to others. Holy Week invites us to enter more deeply into the heart of the paschal mystery so that our lives may be more intimately joined to and patterned after Jesus. Mary’s action of anointing Jesus’ feet with oil as a sign of her love challenges us to pour ourselves out in humble service to others, allowing our lives to be a healing balm which helps to bring hope and healing to others.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The prophet Isaiah speaks of a servant of God who will bring forth justice on the earth. In John’s Gospel, Passover draws near and Jesus visits Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil and dries them with her hair, foreshadowing his burial.

 

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 Tuesday, April 11, 2017       TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Lectionary 258:  1)   Isaiah 49:1-6;  2)  ;   3)  John 13:21-33, 36-38.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041117.cfm

FOCUS:          In humble obedience to the will of his Father, Jesus freely chose to die on the cross to win our salvation. During the Last Supper, Jesus lovingly tries to prepare the disciples for the trials to come. Despite all they have heard and seen, the disciples still seemed unable to understand that Jesus had to die to save them and the world. Holy Week gives us an opportunity to step away from life’s distractions to remember God’s great love for us, and the price Christ paid to win our salvation.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Isaiah speaks of God’s servant, who will be a light to the nations and who will bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. The Gospel shows a troubled Jesus reclining with the Twelve at table. The Lord foretells of his betrayal by one of them, and the beloved disciple leans back into Jesus in order to listen and understand. Peter proclaims his loyalty, though Jesus knows Peter will deny him.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017               WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Lectionary 259:  1)  Isaiah 50:4-9a;  2)  ;   3)  Matthew 26:14-25.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041217.cfm

FOCUS:          The Lord is our help: despite the doubts and challenges we face, we trust that he is with us.  Holy Week invites us to enter more deeply into Christ’s passion and death on the cross, which won forgiveness for our sins and defeated the power of sin and evil. The more we do this, the more we are able to trust that no matter how much wrong we experience in the world around us, there is no reason to despair for Christ has won the victory over the evil one.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading, Isaiah speaks of God’s suffering servant, who does not resist rejection by the world, but remains confident in God’s faithfulness. The Gospel recounts Judas making arrangements to betray Jesus, and Jesus predicts during the Last Supper that one of the Twelve would betray him.

 

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Thursday, April 13, 2017     THURSDAY OF HOLY WEEK   (HOLY THURSDAY)

Lectionary 39:  1)  Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14;  2)  ;   3)  1 Corinthians 11:23-26;  4)  John

13:1-15.        http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041317.cfm

FOCUS:          The teaching and example of Jesus call us to pour ourselves out in humble love and service to others. Throughout the whole of his life, Jesus poured himself out in humble love and service to others. We are given a good example of this in the Gospel, which recalls Jesus during the Last Supper washing the feet of his disciples. Mindful of this may we, nourished and strengthened by prayer, word and sacrament, strive to follow Jesus’ example through serving the needs of others.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Exodus recalls the installation of the feast of Passover. The second reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians recalls Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. In the Gospel, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. After he does this he instructs them, If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.

THE WASHING OF THE FEET (Optional Comment)

This symbolic action is a visual reminder of Christ’s mandatum to humble service. As the ritual takes place, we are asked to recommit ourselves to lives of loving service.

PRESENTATION OF THE OILS (Optional text may be spoken as each oil is presented.)

The Oil of the Sick is used for the healing of body and spirit. It calls to mind the command of Jesus to his disciples to cure every disease and illness (Mt. 10:1). Our prayer is that all who are anointed with this oil will truly be saved and raised up to health, in and through Christ Jesus.

The Oil of the Catechumens is used in ceremonies for the baptism of infants and for our adult catechumens. We are invited to reflect on the power of Christ who transforms us into new creatures and sets us free from the power of Satan.

Behold the Sacred Chrism, consecrated by our bishop earlier today. It is a mixture of olive oil and perfume and is used in baptism, in confirmation, and in ordinations. This chrism is also used in the consecration of churches, sacred items, and vessels.

TRANSFER OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST

After the Last Supper, Jesus led his Apostles to a quiet place of prayer. Our personal vigil with Christ begins now as we honor the Blessed Sacrament. Following age-old tradition, the table of celebration will be cleared in preparation for the service of the Lord’s Passion. The starkness of the sanctuary should impress upon us that Jesus emptied himself totally for us on Good Friday, only to fill us with his blessed joy on Easter morning.

 

 

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Friday, April 14, 2017          FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD                       (GOOD FRIDAY)

Lectionary 40:  1)  Isaiah 52:13–53:12;  2)  ;   3)  Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9;  4)  John 18:1–19:42.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041417.cfm

FOCUS:          We have received the gift of eternal life because Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father. Today’s celebration of Good Friday invites us to solemnly reflect on the passion and death of our Lord. In perfect obedience to the will of his Father and out of love for us, he freely chose to die upon the cross to win forgiveness for our sins and to defeat the power of sin and evil. May we always be grateful and ever-mindful of the price Jesus paid to win our salvation.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading from Isaiah tells of the suffering servant of the Lord, who will suffer and die to bring salvation. The second reading reminds us that Jesus is the great high priest in heaven who intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. Today’s Gospel recounts the passion and death of our Lord.

VENERATION OF THE CROSS

As Catholics, we revere the cross; our crucifixes bear the image of Christ crucified. With this powerful image, we can be moved to join our own sufferings to his and, in this way, help further the salvation of the world. In the love of God for humanity manifested by the cross, we can find ultimate meaning in both the joys and sorrows of life.

HOLY COMMUNION

In venerating the cross with a touch or kiss, we humbly recognized the cross as the tree of life. Now, as we come forward to receive holy Communion, we are fed by bread from heaven, the Lord himself, so that we may continue to grow in our faith and conform our lives to his.

 

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 Saturday, April 15, 2017      HOLY SATURDAY – EASTER VIGIL

Lectionary 41:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041517.cfm

FOCUS:          Alleluia! Christ is risen! Sin and death are conquered. Let us rejoice! On this holy night, our thoughts may drift over our past forty-day journey from ashes to ashes. We began on a Wednesday when we were signed with ashes and told to repent. Tonight, we see the ashes of the Easter fire as we rejoice and profess our belief in the risen Lord. For it is through Him, and with Him, and in Him that we can gain eternal life in heaven. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

  1. SERVICE OF LIGHT

Jesus is the Light of the World. As we begin our vigil, we seek his light – the light that dispels the darkness of sin. This is represented as we bless and light the Easter candle, then walk in a procession and proclaim Christ as our Light.

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SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 2017        EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD   – SOLEMNITY  

Lectionary 42:  1) Acts 10:34a, 37-43;  2) Colossians 3:1-4  or              1 Corinthians 5:6b-8;  3) John 20:1-9  or Matthew 28:1-10 (Lec. 41) or Luke 24: 13-35 Lectionary.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041617.cfm

FOCUS:          Alleluia! Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has risen – let us rejoice and be glad. Today, and for the next fifty days, we will celebrate and rejoice in the triumph of Christ over the power of death. It is our primary and foundational Christian feast. Through it, the course of human history is changed forever as Christ has, in the words of the Exsultet, broken “the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.”

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The first reading tells of how Peter, after encountering the risen Lord Jesus and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, is enabled to boldly preach the Gospel message. The second reading reminds us that our lives can be transformed by opening ourselves to the power of the risen Lord Jesus. The Gospel recounts Mary of Magdala going to the tomb of Jesus only to find it empty.

 

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Reflection – Sunday, April 9, 2017          Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

In the midst of a city in a Passover fever, Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt, not as a conquering king, but as a man of peace. In the middle of all this flurry, he remains committed to the Reign of God and is willing to see his mission to the end. As we walk these last days of Lent, where is our commitment? Where is our peace?             134.

 

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Reflection – Monday, April 10, 2017          Monday of Holy Week

This week we hear all four songs of the “Suffering Servant.” The image in this first song is that of a steady, unobtrusive messenger. By gentle persistence, justice will be established. Not in one single action, but in daily commitment is God’s will done. Is the slow burn of justice kindled within us? What simple actions do we perform to bring about the Kingdom of God?    135.

 

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Reflection – Tuesday, April 11, 2017              Tuesday of Holy Week                                               In this passage the servant tells us that he was called from the womb. However, he was hidden for a while, like a sword in the shadow of God’s arm, or an arrow in a quiver. Are we like this? We recog­nize that we have belonged to God from the beginning of our existence, but now it is time to do God’s work in a very public way. Is now the time to speak up to family and friends about our disciple­ship? How will we prioritize our sched­ule that we may celebrate all of Triduum? What is God asking of us?             136.

 

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Reflection – Wednesday, April 12, 2017                Wednesday of Holy Week

“Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” Easier said than done. Sometimes the demands of our work, ministry, and family leave us tired. Still, God is with us, and we rejoice in that. How might we encourage friends and family to join in prayer during the litur­gies of the Sacred Triduum?                137.

Reflecting on the Triduum   (Thursday evening Mass to Easter Vespers)

God’s immeasurable, immense, impartial, impelling, impassioned love: A parent or grandparent may ask a small child, “How much do you love me?” and the child will respond with stretched-wide-open arms and an enthu­siastic “This much!” As wide as the child can open his or her arms—this is a whole universe to a small child. Real love has no bounds. This unbounded, responsive love nurtures, strengthens, helps build strong character and values. This is God’s love for us. This must be our love for each other.

If Christmas is a festival of lights, then surely the Easter Triduum is a fes­tival of love. The divine love we celebrate these days is so immeasurable that it reconciles all to itself in a supreme act of self-giving. It is so immense that the divine Son’s arms open wide to embrace the world from the ignominy of a cross of human making. It is so impartial that sinners and outcasts, the poor and desperate, those alienated and forgotten all can receive without cost, with­out judgment, without losing dignity. It is so impelling that anyone touched by it can’t help but reach out to others with it. It is so impassioned that we stand in awe of its self-emptying. Divine love is nothing less than the inner Life of the Trinity. It generates by nature. In the beginning, divine love spilled outside the trinitarian unity into creation, an extension of God’s love and beauty and life.

Who can but marvel at the infinite variety and sublime beauty of creation? From the blazing red of a gorgeous sunrise to the tiniest flowers carpeting a desert floor to the enormousness of the universe itself, God’s love is manifested. From air to water to minerals we have all we need to live well, provided we treat these natural resources with the same care as God created them. From creation we learn the depth and height, breadth and length of God’s love.

Who can but marvel at God’s love desiring even more than the marvels of creation? God’s love spilled over into blowing divine breath into the dust of the earth, fashioning man and woman in the divine likeness. God’s love established an intimacy with humanity—walking with us in the Garden of Paradise in the cool of the evening; calling us to be God’s chosen, beloved people; forgiving us when we stray; establishing covenant after covenant with us; sending us prophets to teach and guide us. We look into the eyes of each other and behold divine love so patient, kind, merciful; divine love that bestows dignity beyond what we can earn, worth beyond what we deserve, grace beyond what we can imagine.

But what love can equal God’s sending the divine Son to be our Anointed One, our Savior, our Redeemer? What love can equal Jesus’ life of healing and teach­ing, forgiving and sanctifying, nurturing and helping? Jesus took on our human­ity so that we might overcome the human weakness that limits us and be lifted up with him to share in divine majesty, divine glory, divine love, divine Life, di­vine bliss. This Jesus who accepted betrayal and denial, misunderstanding and rejection, suffering and sorrow all so that we might have Life. Divine love is pure gift. How graced we are that God bestows this love on us—so lavishly.

Living the Paschal Mystery

As St. Augustine says, whatever we do we must do with love. This is how we honor our being created in the divine image. We must be as self-giving as God and as life-giving as God. We must be as self-emptying as the divine Son and as merciful and compassionate as the divine Son. We must be as grace-conveying as the Holy Spirit who is the Person-love of the Father and Son. Living in this way, we become God’s love made visible.

 

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Reflection – Thursday, April 13, 2017             Thursday of Holy Week (Holy Thursday)

Tonight we wash feet as a symbolic ges­ture of Jesus’ Commandment to love one another as he has loved us—laying down his life in love for us. There are many Catholics for whom tonight’s lit­urgy is their favorite, as it profoundly blends noble simplicity with unfathom­able mystery. May we watch and pray throughout these sacred three days.   138.

 

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Reflection – Friday, April 14, 2017        Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

When Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world,” we often assume a split between heaven and earth. Jesus’ Kingdom is of heaven. Yet the pronoun “this” more likely refers to Pilate and Rome’s world. This is a world where might makes right, where the poor are exploited, where you are a someone or nothing. It is a world in which religion itself is used (abused) to control and oppress rather than liberate and cultivate gifts. The Cross is God’s judgment on such a world, the world of repression and futility that people con­tinue to experience around the globe and within the walls of their homes.     139.

 

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Reflection – Saturday, April 15, 2017             Holy Saturday

Through the busyness and cacophony of making ready for this night of nights, there always seem to be a few faithful keeping vigil before the empty taber­nacle. In the midst of the chaos, I often join them for a while. Something about the empty tabernacle forces me to acknowledge my emptiness. And yet, it also mirrors the empty tomb. “He is not here. He has been raised.” He is alive in you, me, the newly baptized, and the Church that readies to rejoice in this most sacred and festive night.         140.

 

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Reflection – Sunday, April 16, 2017       Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

The garden in which Jesus is buried in the Gospel of John recalls the first cre­ation. With the Resurrection, John tells of a new creation. On Easter Sunday “everyone” comes to church. We see familiar faces, visitors, doubters . . . and if we look closely, we will notice our deceased loved ones, our favorite saint, maybe even a cherished pet or two. Resurrection is the re-creation not only of one species but of the entire cosmos. Alleluia!         141.

 

 

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Easter Season

Josef Pieper once remarked that the human capacity for festivity arises from the ability to affirm all creation as good—from the ability to embrace, in one resounding “yes,” the length and breath, the heights and depths of our experience in this world. We can hear this yes in Mozart’s music—the play of light and shadow in the later piano concerti; the poignant song of an oboe rising above a steady pulse in a divertimento for winds. We can hear it in the delighted squeals of a child as its face is licked by the moist tongue and hot breath of a new puppy. We can hear it in the contented, prayerful whispers of an elderly woman—full of love, grace and years—as she prepares to meet death with quiet courage and dignity.

Saying yes to all of life, letting all of it in—that is festivity’s sustain­ing source. But there’s the rub. Few of us can say yes to anything for very long. We live, after all, in an intensely mobile culture of fast food, faster cars, disposable diapers and planned obsolescence. Our great­est goal (as Andy Warhol once quipped) is to be famous for fifteen minutes. At parties, we do not carry on conversations, we posture—repeating to one another snippets of dialogue from movies, beer commercials, sitcoms, or interviews with sports’ celebrities. Small wonder that many in our society feel so isolated and lonely, so unable to connect so incapable of forming relationships that last Small wonder, too, that as a people we find ourselves increasingly bored, angry and violent—enraged and terrified by the awful empti­ness that seems to stretch in every direction around us.

Given such cultural conditions, the Christian celebration of “the blessed Pentecost” will strike many as mad indeed. Fifty days of “dwelling in” the paschal mystery! Fifty days of surrendering in joyful faith and love as the Spirit of God takes possession of our lives! Fifty days of mystagogy, of walking with the neophytes ever more deeply into the baptismal mysteries of death and resurrection. Good heav­ens! What an order!

One reason why such a prolonged celebration strikes us as diffi­cult—if not downright absurd—is that we tend to link feasts and holy days with mindless hoopla “Party time,” for many, is an invitation to obliterate consciousness, to get wasted, to veg out to forget But a season of Christian festival is precisely the opposite. It is a time of intensified consciousness, finely tuned awareness, awakened mem­ory. The great fifty days of Pentecost are not an unwelcome, unreal­istic, obligation to “party on,” even if we don’t feel like it, but an invi­tation to explore more deeply “the weather of the heart” to awaken our memory of God’s presence and power in our lives, to look more closely at all the rich and varied textures of creation. In short, Pentecost is a season for learning how to say yes in a culture that wants to keep on saying no.

Taken from “The Blessed Pentecost,” Nathan Mitchell, in Assembly, Volume 20:1. © Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN     Paulist Ordo, pages 88 & 90.

 

 

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HOLY WEEK

“Holy Week is ordered to the commemoration of Christ’s Passion, beginning with his Messianic entrance into Jerusalem” (Universal Norms, 31).

  • The days of Holy Week, from Monday to Thursday inclusive, have precedence over all other celebrations. It is not fitting, except in danger of death, that baptisms or confirmations be celebrated on these days since they have their natural place in the Easter Vigil.
  • Special hymns for Holy Week may be found in the Liturgy of the Hours. The hymn for Night Prayer may be chosen from the Evening Prayer hymns of Holy Week.
  • Tomorrow, the Church recalls the entrance of Christ the Lord into Jerusalem to accomplish his Paschal Mystery. Accordingly, the memo­rial of this entrance of the Lord takes place at all Masses, by means of the procession or the solemn entrance before the principal Mass, or the simple entrance before other Masses. The solemn entrance, but not the procession, may be repeated before other Masses that are usually cele­brated with a large gathering of people. It is desirable that, when neither the procession nor the solemn entrance can take place, there be a sacred celebration of the Word of God on the messianic entrance and on the Passion of the Lord, either on Saturday evening or on Sunday at a con­venient time.
  • For the procession, instead of wearing a (red) chasuble, the priest may wear a cope, which he leaves aside when the procession is over, and puts on a chasuble.
  • The opening rites may take one of three forms (see Roman Missal for details). After the procession and the solemn entrance, when the priest arrives at the altar, he venerates it and, if appropriate, incenses it. Then he goes to the chair, where he puts aside the cope, if he has worn one, and puts on the chasuble. Omitting the other Introductory Rites of the Mass and, if appropriate, the Kyrie, he says the Collect of the Mass, and then continues the Mass in the usual way. When the simple entrance is used, after arriving at the altar, the priest venerates it and goes to the chair. After the Sign of the Cross, he greets the people and continues the Mass in the usual way.
  • The gospel of the passion of the Lord is read without candles or incense, and with no greeting or signing of the book, by a deacon or another priest, if present; otherwise, by the priest. It may be read by lay readers, with the part of Christ, if possible, reserved to the priest. At the end of the reading, the book is not kissed, but “The gospel of the Lord” is said with its response.

PN Pastors should remind the faithful of the paschal fast which “should be observed everywhere on Good Friday and continued, where possible, on Holy Saturday. In this way, the people of God will receive the joys of the Lord’s resurrection with uplifted and responsive hearts” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 110).

The passion of the Lord dominates these solemn days. If not hiding the cross or crucifix from sight, a violet (or red) cloth may be used to drape it, as well as the ambo. If the Bible is left open, it might be opened to a Passion Gospel.

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FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore

FIRST THINGS April 2016RoseIII

Faith in the Public Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amoris laetitia–The Joy of Love

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

Amoris laetitia link, click HERE

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE EVERY DAY, POPE FRANCES

 

MtRushmore

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

-Pope Francis
Happy 4th of July!

 

Thomas More Law Center
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HAPPY 4th of July

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

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

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

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

The Price of Freedom.

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

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

God Bless America.

Sincerely yours,

From the Desk of Richard Thompson


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

By Dave Andrusko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Not Abandon the Elderly
 Last week in Rome Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Academy of Life about the vital role of providing palliative care for the elderly. The Holy Father said, “[A]bandonment is the most serious illness of the elderly and also the greatest injustice they can suffer. Those who helped us to grow must not be abandoned when they need our help, our love, and our tenderness.”Palliative care, the Holy Father observed, alleviates the suffering of the sick and accompanies the elderly with tenderness for the duration of their illness. What palliative care offers in the medical field is the recognition of “the value of the person.”

He noted that many elderly are either “left to die or made to die” due to their physical or social condition. The Holy Father said the criteria governing the actions of doctors must not be limited to medical evidence and efficiency, nor to the rules of heath-care systems and economic profit. “A state cannot think of making a profit with medicine. On the contrary, there is no more important duty for a society than safeguarding the human person,” Francis said.

Palliative care then, bears witness that the human person always has value, even when suffering from age and illness, the Pope continued. “[The human person] is a good in and of himself and for others and is loved by God. For this reason, when life becomes very fragile and the end of earthly existence approaches, we feel the responsibility to assist and accompany the person in the best way,” Francis said.

Francis stated that although this type of care is not geared toward saving lives, it centers on the equally important recognition of the value of the human person. He encouraged those working in the field to carry out their tasks with an attitude of service. “It is this capacity for service to the life and dignity of the sick, even when they are old, that is the measure of the true progress of medicine and of all society,” the Pope observed.

“The elderly, first of all, need the care of family members-whose affection cannot be replaced by the most efficient structures or the most competent and charitable health-care workers,” Francis said. He further stated, when family members are not able to offer the needed care or if the illness of their elderly loved one is advanced or terminal, then the “truly human” assistance offered by palliative care is a good option, so long as it “supplements and supports” the care already provided by family members.

Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Couple Banned from School Property After He Objected To Islamic Indoctrination Of Daughter

Thomas More Law Center Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Dad Banned from School Property After He Objected to Islamic Indoctrination of Daughter

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yesterday afternoon, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of former Marine, John Kevin Wood, and his wife, Melissa, who refuse to allow their teenage daughter to be subjected to Islamic indoctrination and propaganda in her high school World History class.  The lawsuit was filed against the Charles County Public Schools, the Board of Education, and the Principal and Vice-Principal of La Plata High School located in La Plata, Maryland.

The Woods’ daughter was forced to profess and to write out the Shahada in worksheets and quizzes.  The Shahada is the Islamic Creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”  For non-Muslims, reciting the statement is sufficient to convert one to Islam.  Moreover, the second part of the statement, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” signifies the person has accepted Muhammad as their spiritual leader.  The teenager was also required to memorize and recite the Five Pillars of Islam.

Charles County Public Schools disparaged Christianity by teaching its 11th grade students, including the Woods’ daughter, that: “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”

The Charles County Public Schools also taught the following:

  • “Islam, at heart, is a peaceful
  • “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
  • The Koran states, “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.”

Read the two exhibits containing Student worksheets here.

The sugarcoated version of Islam taught at La Plata High School did not mention that the Koran explicitly instructs Muslims “to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”  (Sura 9-5)

When John Kevin Wood discovered the Islamic propaganda and indoctrination of his daughter, he was rightfully outraged.  He immediately contacted the school to voice his objections and to obtain an alternative assignment for his daughter.

The Woods, as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our Savior, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that following the teachings of Jesus Christ is the only path to eternal salvation.  The Woods believe that it is a sin to profess commitment in word or writing to any god other than the Christian God.  Thus, they object to their daughter being forced to deny the Christian God and to her high school promoting Islam over other religions.

The school ultimately refused to allow the Woods’ daughter to opt-out of the assignments, forcing her to either violate her faith by pledging to Allah or receive zeros for the assignments.  Together, John Kevin Wood, Melissa Wood, and their daughter chose to remain faithful to God and refused to complete the assignments, even though failing grades would harm her future admission to college and her opportunities to obtain college scholarships.

Adding insult to injury, in an effort to silence all pro-Christian speech in her school, La Plata’s principal, without a hearing or any opportunity to refute the false allegations against him, issued a “No Trespass” notice against John Kevin Wood denying him any access to school grounds.

Wood served 8 years in the Marine Corps.  He was deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and lost friends to Islamic extremists.  A few years later, Wood responded as a firefighter to the 9-11 Islamic terrorist attack on the Pentagon.  Wood witnessed firsthand the destruction created in the name of Allah and knows that Islam is not “a religion of peace.”  The school prevented John Kevin Wood from defending his daughter’s Christian beliefs against Islamic indoctrination, even though as a Marine, he stood in harm’s way to defend our nation, and the Charles County Public Schools.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented: “Defendants forced Wood’s daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the Shahada, and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader. Her World History class spent one day on Christianity and two weeks immersed in Islam. Such discriminatory treatment of Christianity is an unconstitutional promotion of one religion over another.”

Thompson added, “The course also taught false statements such as “Allah is the same God worshipped by Christians, and Islam as a “religion of peace. Parents must be ever vigilant to the Islamic indoctrination of their children under the guise of teaching history and multiculturalism.  This is happening in public schools across the country.  And they must take action to stop it.”

The Woods’ lawsuit seeks a court declaration that Defendants violated their constitutional and statutory rights, a temporary and permanent injunction barring Defendants from endorsing Islam or favoring Islam over Christianity and other religions, and from enforcing the no trespassing order issued against John Kevin Wood.

News

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

On Monday, October 6th, the United States Supreme Court announced, without any explanation, that it would not review court of appeals cases which overturned state laws of five states defining marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.   And on Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the traditional marriage laws of Idaho and Nevada.

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court's Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

As a result of the decisions this week, 32 states are potentially forced to recognize so called “same-sex marriage” by edict of unelected federal judges holding life-time appointments.

Regardless of these legal setbacks, members of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian Leaders, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, vow to fight on.

Coalition member, Pastor Danny Holliday, of Victory Baptist Church, Alton, IL commented: “Just as the Supreme was all wrong on slavery, which resulted in the Civil War, it is all wrong on legalizing same-sex marriage.  I have seen prayer removed from schools, Christmas Nativity Scenes removed from public property. I have watched as the words Merry Christmas have become taboo. I have watched the news as we were told that Courts have ruled that crosses were now illegal on Government property, many of them in place since the World Wars.”

Janet Boynes, Evangelist and author of “ARISE”, who is a former lesbian, also expressed disappointment in the Court’s ruling not to hear the cases, “It is a sad day when the Supreme Court, in its own way, comes out in support of gay marriage by refusing to hear our appeals.”

Minister Stacy Swimp of Revive Alive Missional Ministry, stated, The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the marriage protection appeals is both disappointing and alarming.  By its decision not to hear these cases, the Court appears to advance an anti-Christian agenda which in this case will ultimately lead to the disintegration of the family as ordained by God.”

Janet Boynes issued a warning to the nation: “The Generations to come will suffer the consequences of our poor choices. So many people are clueless about who they are and who God has created them to be. But, there is too much at stake for us to throw in the towel. We must rise up and fulfill the call that God has placed on us as a body of Christ. Our future as a nation depends on it!”

At a September 23, 2014 press conference, the Thomas More Law Center revealed a national legal strategy to combat the slew of federal court rulings which have overturned state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Law Center formed a team of lawyers to file friend-of-the-court briefs (amicus briefs) throughout the nation in support of traditional marriage on behalf of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian leaders.  The Law Center’s briefs reflect the view of a majority of African-Americans: that discrimination because of one’s sexual preference is not the same thing as racial discrimination and that tradition and morality should not be discarded as a basis of the law; as the pro-homosexual judges have done in their opinions.

Despite the recent court rulings, the Thomas More Law Center will continue to file amicus briefs in significant cases concerning the definition of marriage in order to convey the unique voice of the African-American Christian community on this issue crucial to the survival of our families, culture, and nation.

Thus far, the Thomas More Law Center has filed 2 amicus briefs on behalf of the Coalition involving petitions for review in the US Supreme Court: Herbert v. Kitchen, an appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Utah’s law defining traditional marriage and Rainey v. Bostic, an appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Virginia’s law defining traditional marriage.  The Supreme Court denied review in both those cases.

The Law Center also filed an amicus brief in Deboer v. Snyder, an appeal of a Detroit federal court decision overturning Michigan’s law on traditional marriage.  That case is awaiting a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Law Center is also planning to file an amicus brief in the Louisiana case of Robicheaux v. Caldwell, currently on its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 15, 2016

 

Thomas More Law Center President’s Blog
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From the Desk of Richard Thompson

We Join the Nation in Mourning the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The Thomas More Law Center joins the nation in mourning the loss of a great American, defender of our Constitution and a devout Christian — Antonin Scalia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, and his family. May he rest in peace.

In a speech to the Knights of Columbus several years ago he said:

“If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed.”

Justice Scalia stayed true to his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution despite the political winds of the moment.  On many occasions he did so with provocatively expressed legal arguments which earned him the respect of political conservatives and the enmity of the liberal legal establishment.

One of his greatest dissents was in the recent 2015 Supreme Court opinion, Obergfell v. Hodges, making same–sex marriages a constitutional right.

  • “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”
  • “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
  • “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
  • “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.
  • “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
  • “[T]o allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”
  • “[W]hat really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”
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