The TEMPTATION to Blame!

As a fan of the New Orleans’ Saints — I agree that the referees blew a call at the end of the game, that affected the outcome of the game.  If the referees had called passed interference or “targeting”, the Saints would have been given a first down with time to almost run out the clock before scoring — and then off to the SUPER BOWL.  No doubt.

BUT, is that the only reason the Saints lost the game?  Is it just to BLAME the missed call and the referees for the loss?  Could there be other reasons?  Could the Saints have missed a tackle, or a block, or a pass that could have changed the outcome of the game?

There is a tendency — a TEMPTATION — to find fault, to blame — someone for all the problems that exist.  Remember:  Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

Most people — most people — would agree that it was a sham for Hitler to blame the problems that faced Germany on the Jews and those who “took advantage of Germany” after World War I.  Whose fault was it that Germany faced economic ruin — find someone, how about the Jews?

But — I think — if we pause, when we reflect —- that tendency, that TEMPTATION — is all around us.

why are we having communication problems in our relationship?  If my wife/husband would just do this, there would be no problem.  The only reason I did that was because he/she did this first?  If she/he had not done THAT FIRST, I would never have done that!

why is my child doing so poorly at school?  it is the teacher(s), it is common core, it is because there is too much/too little homework.

who is to blame for the sexual abuse problem in the Church?  It is the gay priests, it is the gay sub-culture in the clergy!

you know, I wouldn’t be this way if my parents were more caring and considerate; my mother always showed more love to my sister; my father was never home — was an alcoholic — etc.

Are the Chinese to blame for our trade-imbalance?  Or, could it be our desire for cheap/inexpensive things?

Are immigrants the reason for crime, violence, and drugs in our culture?

Is “trashy television” the cause of declining social values … or a reflection of our deeper selves?

On this first weekend of Lent we are called to reflect on the temptations that Jesus faced in the desert as he confronted the devil, the evil one, the tempter.  A traditional reflection on the power of the devil — the evils of the world — our personal demons of alcohol, food, sex, a vulgar mouth — could be preached.

But, I offer a twist —- thinking of what I see as pervasive — the desire to blame someone for the problems around us.  It is my spouse, it is my bishop, the Democrats, the Republicans, the immigrants, the gays, the people on welfare, my parents, my children …..

When do we reject this temptation and accept personal blame for my own behavior, my own destiny, the place I find myself?

I am not going to say we need to own all blame — maybe our parents’ behavior did affect me; maybe my children are unappreciative; maybe I am irritated by the person who has already been deported twice and who is responsible for a crime; maybe a teacher was less professional than he/she SHOULD HAVE BEEN; maybe a gay priest acted inappropriately.

But — is it right and just and helpful —- to blame others for everything bad/wrong around me?  Is it fair to blame an entire group of people for what is wrong?  Just I do not want to be considered just like EVERYONE in my family — or EVERYONE who is WHITE, then maybe we need to see with a wider – broader lens.

If someone or something else is to blame — then I seem to have little power or chance to make things be different – or better.

We all want things to be different.  But, how different are we willing to be?

We all want things to change.  But, how willing am I to change?

We all want things to be better.  But, how willing am I to be better, to do better?

Is it possible that I have some blame for my problems — for the problems around me?

Jesus rejected the temptations of the devil — even with his hunger, he knew “who he was” and he focused on the promises of the Father.

We have 40 days to reflect — to pray — to create a plan for a better me — and a better world because I am better.

Blaming others — to keep out of trouble — is a learned behavior.  And, it can be un-learned.

I have no doubt that sometimes during this week there will be a temptation to blame someone — some group — for the problem(s) around us.  Let’s face the tempter, and not give into temptation.

hjm

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When does the grace of God eliminate power of the past?

The “Me Too” movement impacted all areas of life, business, and industry.  Beginning in the entertainment world, it swept through television and news agencies, and impacted the political landscape.  Producers, news anchors, a US Senator, and others were forced to give up their positions — and many have faded away.

This week the State of Virginia is experiencing a “political earthquake” as the Governor is dealing with allegations that when he was in medical school he posed for a picture in blackface along with someone in a KKK outfit.  Then the Lt. Governor is defending himself against allegations of sexual assault when he was in college.  Then the Attorney General stepped forward to admit that when he was in college, he used blackface as part of a costume at a “Rapper themed” party.

Last year, a top college baseball pitcher went undrafted by any pro team because of a juvenile charge of sexual assault came to light.

Pro baseball and football deal with the issue of domestic abuse?  How long does one have to be suspended without pay before they return to play?  should they be permanently barred from playing?

QUESTION:  When does a “stupid mistake” from the past become a permanent disqualifier from public life?  

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians [15: 1-11], Paul writes:

For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

SAINT Paul, who once persecuted those who followed Jesus — became — BY THE GRACE OF GOD — an Apostle — a great preacher, a foundation of the church.  So, his sin, his mistake, his “stupid choice” was put behind him and he started down a new path.

Yes, there were those who were suspicious — was the change real?

Yes, there must have been those who did not want him in their company.  After all, he did hurt our friends — he insulted us — he stood opposite us.

Is this Scripture for real?  Does this Scripture have meaning in today’s world?  Should the sins of the past haunt us forever?

Is the Governor of Virginia a racist?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Without a doubt — in my mind — appearing in blackface was not smart–he “should have been more aware” and sensitive to what his actions meant.  Being a member of the KKK is certainly greater proof of being a racist than appearing in blackface.  If his attitudes and actions were racist 30+ years ago, does that mean he is racist today?

Can’t people change?

Isn’t there a difference between what someone does and who someone is?

If someone tells a lie, is s/he a liar forever?

If someone commits adultery one time, is s/he an adulterer forever?

If someone gets a DUI, are they a drunk forever?

If someone takes a ballpoint home from work, are they a thief?

If we are serious about the effectiveness of the grace of God — cannot people not only change — but, can’t they me made anew —and different from the old self?

Haven’t we all said at one time or another:  if not by the grace of God, there goes I.

Racism is evil.  Sexual assault is unacceptable.  Stealing is wrong and a sin.

It is disappointing when those held up as models fall short of expectations.  But, at what point does the sin/mistake of the past disqualify one forever and ever and ever.

We celebrate that St. Peter, who once denied Jesus, turned his life around.  We acknowledge that St. Augustine seemed to have a “colorful past” before he set his sights on Jesus.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was recently canonized — he stood up for the poor, the marginalized, and the victims of violence of El Salvador and was murdered [martyred] while he celebrated mass.  BUT, before he became a friend of the poor — and advocate for justice — he sided with the military and seemed to turn a “blind eye” to those in need.

I seem to have more questions than answers today.  Maybe we need to not generalize and pass judgment without knowing the person and where s/he is today.  What have they done to “make-up” for the past?

Criminal matters are a different — and there are various statutes of limitations.

Is their a statute of limitation for a stupid choice?

Could it be that good men and women are not offering themselves for service is the fear that their past record is not perfect?  Is there a fear that maybe something embarrassing might be revealed.

Let’s remember the words — forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Let’s think about — may the cup we use to measure mercy be used to measure mercy back to us.

Somehow, I think we all hope God will be merciful in judging us.  At  the same time, we know it is not so easy to forgive the sins of others.

hjm

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Covington Catholic High School — MAGA — Martin v. Malcom

I have seen it written: Smart people learn from their mistakes so as not to repeat them.  Wise people learn from the mistakes of others so as to never make them in the first place.

Over the past few weeks we have all had the opportunity to learn a lot from the mistakes of others.

Until a few weeks ago, I knew nothing about Covington Catholic High School in Covington, KY.  Then, all of sudden, social media, print media, television was filled with images and commentary about the students of CCHS — following an incident in Washington, DC following the annual Pro-Life March.

Then, for the world to see, there were young (mostly) white young men —-some smiling, some chanting, some making a tomahawk motion —and an old-native-American man beating on a drum.  Many of the students were wearing “Make America Great Again” caps.

Then —- there was more video — giving a “bigger picture” of what happened.  There was more information about Mr. Phillips.  There was information about the “Black Israelites”.  Students involved in the incident — and their parents — spoke to national media.

In the midst of it all — was the annual holiday remembering Dr. Martin Luther King and his fight against injustice.  I attended a debate conducted by young men —- about the philosophy of Dr. King v. the philosophy of Malcom X.  Dr. King espoused peaceful resistance and peaceful confrontation —Malcom X proposed more radical confrontation — even allowing for violent protest.  Who had the right approach?  Martin or Malcom?

Then came the alleged attack against actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago.  He was brought to a hospital with serious injuries — following an attack that he said included physical beating, racist and homophobic slurs, the pouring of some liquid [bleach?] on him, and a rope around his neck.  Reportedly, the attackers yelled, “this is MAGA country.”

So, what have I learned?

  1. Be slow to pass judgment – we know this – but at the same time we need to be reminded over and over — even if there is “A” video — it may not tell the entire story. A picture may be worth a 1,000 words — but there is always the 1,001st word.  The initial images from DC seemed to show young white men blocking the way of a [what was reported] a elderly Native American man — who had served in Vietnam.  There seemed to be a sassy-smirk on the face of one particular student.  The wearing of MAGA hats — in my mind, made things seem worse — here were Trump supporters confronting an innocent man.

Then, there were videos of the Black Israelites yelling racist and sexual slurs at the students.  There was a video of the native American man walking into the midst of the students.  There was news that Mr. Phillips and about 50 of his followers attempted — a few days before the confrontation — to enter a Catholic Church and to disrupt mass.

The picture was no longer clear.  Questions were being asked:  what really happened.  Be slow to judge.

2.  Like it or not–the MAGA CAP is a divisive symbol.  When someone puts on the hat, s/he has to know it is divisive and must ask:  why am I wearing this cap in this situation?

I was recently in Cuba — I bought a couple t-shirts with CUBA on the front of the shirt.  But, I chose NOT to buy t-shirts with Fidel Castro’s picture or the picture of Che Guevara. As much as I support “liberation theology” and the ideals of revolution, I would not wear the t-shirts in public because I KNOW IT WOULD STIR TROUBLE at the gym, along the street, in stores.

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, KY has stated this week that the MAGA cap is not a pro-life symbol because President Trump’s pro-life stance is limited to abortion — that his stance against immigrants, about health care for poor children, and about capital punishment are all in conflict with the stance of the RC Church.

Yes — as individuals — the students have a right to wear the cap.  But — because religious institutions are prohibited from supporting a particular candidate — to have a group of students from a school wearing the MAGA cap — clearly associated with President Trump — is a violation of the IRS’ code for non-profit agencies.  Wear the cap — pay the tax.

I question why teenagers chose — or were allowed — to wear MAGA hats in DC at a time when multiple groups were marching.  

3.  Where were the chaperones?  I have chaperoned many school trips — including a trip to DC.  Teenagers are not adults — they make good decisions, and sometimes they don’t make good decisions.  Adults must be near by — to watch, guide, to correct, to lead.  That many young men should never have been, in my opinion, on their own.  Someone “should have said”, — come on over here — let’s wait for the bus over here.

I would hope that …..

  1. School officials continue to “peel away the onion” to see what happened on that day in DC.  I would hope that school officials make sure that students understand that being pro-life means more than being against abortion —– it means taking care of the poor, it means true respect for women, it means being for the underdog, etc.

I would hope that school officials examine diversity on the school staff and diversity in the student body —- if students can go to DC — then the school ought to be able to give scholarships to minority students who can’t afford tuition.

I would hope that an all-male Catholic School would talk about white-male-privilege in 2019.  Haughty and arrogant students might just well become haughty and arrogant adults unless there is some intervention.

2. We as a nation realize how polarized we are — and that the situation is NOT GETTING BETTER.  We cannot be pro-life while being unconcerned when gay, lesbian, and transgender rights are being rolled back and people are physically assaulted while walking along the street.

We cannot be pro-life and anti-immigrant when we understand that we are all immigrants — except for native Americans who are so impoverished today.  [Almost daily I pass a renovation project at our local Cathedral —— and I see people who appear to be Hispanic doing much of the work.  It cannot be ok to welcome the laborer while rejecting those who want to move here permanently.

3. I would hope that, instead of finding fault, it is seen as more important to ask:  what have we learned?  what could have been done to have a better result?  what behavior made the situation worse?  how do we really diffuse a situation?

This weekend’s scripture shares the poetic words of St. Paul to the Corinthians —“if I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”

Love is not pompous or inflated.

Because Jesus “called out” those whose faith wasn’t made visible in love, the crowd was ready to run him out of town.

What does it mean  to me to be pro-life?  If there was a video of my life, what would people see and say? What does it mean to me that “before I was formed in the womb, God knew me and before I was born, God dedicated me, and appointed me a prophet?” what do I teach through my actions to those around me, especially the youth?

hjm

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Church: People? or, Hierarchy?

Over the past three months much has been written and spoken about the Church  — because of the situation we find ourselves following the barrage of news regarding the sexual abuse of minors.

What are the causes?  Who is to blame?  What needs to change?  Where does change begin?

My reflection falls in line with thoughts offered by Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ and many others.

First:  to what degree has THE CHURCH FAILED?  If by Church we mean the people of God, then failure is minimal.  If by Church we mean the hierarchical-leadership of the Church, failure is much greater.  In fact, let’s don’t blame the “Church as the People of God”.  The CHURCH IS NOT THE HIERARCHY.  The Church is the People of God.

Second, while many seem to want to blame homosexuality in the clergy as THE root cause of the problem [Examples:  Archbishop Vigano and Cardinal Burke] This, in my opinion, is not it —- especially when espoused my men who seem to enjoy parading around in ornate dress, gowns, and gloves.

I am not saying celibate-chastity is not an issue/problem — and I will get to that later.

    But, I want to begin with what I see as a major problem — An outdated sense of authority and clericalism and [2] the defense of the power that comes from clericalism.

To understand from where power comes, it is necessary to go back to “who is the Church?”  If the Church is the PEOPLE OF GOD — then power comes from God as given to the PEOPLE.

However, if the Church is the Hierarchy, then one can believe that when Jesus gave the “keys” to Peter — as a sign that authority was given Primarily to Peter as the first Pope, then one can say that those ordained have a greater share in authority — in fact, add all the authority of the PEOPLE TOGETHER, and it is still not enough to equal what the ordained have.

This then trickles down to parish life where FATHER KNOWS BEST.  The parish is where 75 year old men and women address their 30 year old pastor as FATHER.  The parish is where someone arrives one day — usually in July — and he seems to think that what he knows and feels and believes —- is greater than those who have been there 20, 30, 40 or more years.  The unique, lived history can be ignored by someone who wears a ROMAN collar.

So, what can be done?

[1] In seeking candidates for priesthood [in today’s world, men], we not only examine for a healthy sexual history, we also look for psycho-sexual behavior.  We look for people who relate to men and women equally well.  We look for a servant’s heart — we look for those who LISTEN before they speak — we look for leaders who have  HISTORY OF PRIOR SERVICE in food pantries, service in mentor programs, volunteers in after-school tutoring, etc.   We ask about teamwork and working with others.  Having POTENTIAL is not enough — we want to see and hear about prior service.

[2] Have titles become a PROBLEM? Protestant ministers have served well with “titles” such as Reverend, Pastor, Doctor.  Does the word father itself give  some people the wrong idea of entitlement —- then, maybe this needs to be examined when interviewing candidates for priesthood [see # 1].  FATHER does put someone above others in today’s world of male-privilege.  FATHER IS NOT your first name.

[3] The ROMAN COLLAR — I admit my ignorance of the history of the Roman collar.  But I DO KNOW — that there are many priests who see their identity in the collar and/or a cassock.  Apart from the collar and/or cassock, they are unable to relate human person-to-human person.

I was amused [but not surprised] to see a photo of the bishops of the US gathered for mass during their recent retreat at Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago.  There they were: in their collars, albs, chasubles, and zuchettos.  This was a private retreat for bishops — everyone knows you are a bishop — can you pray without all the adornment?  You were a man — a human person before you were ordained.  Now, you are ONLY an ordained-man.

I believe in professional attire and dressing appropriately for the occasion.  I know what it feels like to have the respect of people regardless of what I wear.

There is a history in France, Belgium, Germany — and perhaps other countries — where priests wear a coat & tie as much as a collar.

[4]  MONEY — until there is 100% transparency and knowledge by the people, the golden rule applies —- THE ONE WITH THE GOLD MAKES THE RULES.

Lay men and women should not only review DIOCESAN AND PARISH BUDGETS, they should MAKE the budget.  “Discretionary”  accounts need to be explained.  Line-items such as “Bishop’s House” need to be examined and transparent.

[4a] Leadership – Diocesan Councils, Parish Councils, Diocesan/Parish listening sessions need to be real and ACTIVE.  There were times in the 70’s ad 80’s when these groups were actively engaged — with the authoritarian swing to the right — these groups are formalities on paper and not a force for change.

[5] SERVICE – the Church will regain credibility through service — visible, tangible service.  CHURCHES that the RC Church wants to minimize as “faith communities” are leading through service.  We have a long history of social service in orphanages, schools, and hospitals.  Catholic Charities maintains that presence in most of our country.

We are falling behind in providing CATHOLIC EDUCATION to those who cannot afford tuition.  We are falling behind in housing the homeless and feeding people 365 days of the year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are great — feeding the hungry is more than a project.

Here in Lake Charles — one of our non-denominational faith gatherings provides shelter for more than 100 people on our cold days — in their sanctuary — it so happened this weekend that the cold night was on Saturday night — the homeless helped to re-arrange the sanctuary in time for morning worship and joined in prayer and song — before eating lunch and watching the Saints v. Rams game on large screen television.  This faith gathering got support from folks across the community —- Catholic dollars were shared with a true community service.

Until the current leadership is willing to change, PEOPLE have two ways to vote — with their feet and with their checkbooks.  While some want to blame growing secularism and hedonism as the cause for declining attendance and income — other reasons exist — [a] a feeling of being shut out; [b] dogmatic preaching that is removed from daily life  [c] smart people who are THINKING and realize some teachings just are not correct.

I said I would comment on sexuality — here goes:  The Church needs to admit that is has been well served by gay priests from its beginning.  The Church needs to realize that gay men and women have been a rich part of our history — in leadership, music, art, and service.

Homosexuality is not pedophilia.

As has been shown over the past 18 months — we have a problem with sexuality in our world.  People of power in the theater, television, the arts, sports, etc. have used THEIR POWER to over-power and demand from others what the victims did not want to yield.

Yes, sexual-accountability needs to be real and effective.

But —- the challenges facing the Church [PEOPLE OF GOD] are bigger than sexual-challenges.  We as Church must use our VOICE and the two votes we have — checkbook and presence.

hjm

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The lost Art of Debate

John Dickerson of CBS News offered a commentary this morning [Sept. 7th] on the The Lost Art of Debate in public discourse and human communication.  Instead of discussing different ideas and opposing view points, the civility seems to have given way to insults, angry invectives, condemnation of others.  Instead of expressing different ideas, there is condemnation of the other person.  Instead of a “bad idea” we now talk about stupid people.  Instead of disapproving of a plan, there is  disgust of a person.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing regarding the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court displayed, in my opinion, the worst possible side of politics.  Procedure gave way to total chaos.  Interruptions were the norm.  Partisan politics was the tone of speech.  Political posturing was more important than judicial understanding.   There was little dialogue — mostly monologue. Dozens of protestors were removed from the hearing room.

I would not have wanted a high school civic class to have witnessed these hearings as “the way of government.”

In the Gospel [Mark 7:31-37] Jesus healed the man who could not hear who also had a speech impediment.  It is amusing that the man’s hearing was restored first — and then it followed that his speech impediment was removed.  We need clear hearing before we speak.  We need to let the other person finish speaking before we begin to speak.  We ought to practice summarizing what the other person has said — before we launch into a speech.

Few of us are unaffected by the changing rhetorical-style that is sweeping the world.  Watching just a few minutes of this stuff on television rankles the spirit and raises the blood pressure.

Beginning in our own homes, within our own families, at our own places of work, at our own Church, we ought to consider — if we have given into what most of think is unacceptable.

Believe that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable

Talk without yelling

Listen until the other person has stopped speaking — no interrupting

Talk about ideas and solutions to a problem – not about the other person’s character or intelligence

Don’t participate in “gang warfare” or group intolerance

Live by the basic, old-fashioned rule of – treating others the way we want to be treated

The one who talks the loudest and the longest is not the winner

Ask:  is it more important to be right — or to create a solution – are we at stalemate until one side is left standing and the other is wiped out?

At the end of the day, can we say that we were gentlemen/ladies who engaged in quality discussion? Would others say, s/he did well and did himself/herself well.

At the end of the day/week, ask:  how many real conversations did I have today/this week?

Do not participate in conversations where there is shouting or when two or more people are talking at the same time.

  I have no illusion that I will change the way business is done in Washington, DC or that I will make our leaders show respect to one another — but I can do something about my circle of life.  I can show patience and not “freak out” over things that really do not matter.  I can cool things down when I sense they are heating up.

Something … somebody has to change.

HJM

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Reformation of 2018

The “McCarrick Scandal”, the Pennsylvania Report, and the internecine writings of Cardinal Vigano  have made anger, questions, and disappointment tangible once again.  The secrets of the Church are no longer secret — but the stuff of national news reports. The deaths of John McCain and Aretha Franklin have brought a brief reprieve from the dark reporting about the sin and crime of sexual abuse.

Many will spend time seeking the causes of sexual abuse of minors.  Some will unfairly blame homosexuality; some will write about a so-called “gay subculture” in the clergy and even in the Roman Curia.  We will hear about the all male power structure and questions will be raised about seminary formation.

Rather than wondering and writing about the causes of today’s crisis, I want to envision the Church that might be in time to come.  Changes are coming.  For me, I see and hope for a Church that is  —-

More Human The evidence of sin, failure, crime – the embarrassment of leaders blaming others – claims of ignorance – the open battle between the conservative and progressive wings of the Church make our humanness evident.  Our leaders are mere mortals. Father, Monsignor, Bishop, Cardinal, Pope – are earthly titles for human beings. Church titles do not give one a bigger portion  of “divine wisdom.”

The spirit of wisdom and truth has been given to the Church — not only the ordained.  A divine message has been entrusted to a cracked, earthen messenger.

Less Royal & Less Pompous – Some Bishops and a large number of young priests want to bring back the pre-Vatican II ROYAL priesthood and its trappings — lace, liturgical garb in public settings, the Latin language, —– all set the clergy in a world apart from the “people of faith.”  With different clothes and bigger chairs on raised platforms, too many clergy attempt to speak down to people from their self-imposed places of judgment.

Self-knowledge and honest self-evaluation should make everyone a bit more humble, speaking from a place of humility.

Pope Francis calls for shepherds who “smell like the sheep.”  He calls for leaders to be among the people – not removed or separated from the people.

Privilege — if any — comes not as a right of ordination — but from true service and sacrifice.

More Ecumenical and Interfaith – For too long we have professed that “there is no salvation outside the Church” and have tried to distinguish the Church of Rome from other “faith communities” or have come up with theological gymnastics to explain how other churches with a little “c” are connected to us with a big “C”.

There is but “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” — “One God” who is Father of ALL.  It is rather difficult — in light of ongoing crises  — to proclaim that we are better than the rest of mankind.  Truth exists outside the RC circle.

We are called to be KINGDOM people who evangelize — not mere keepers of human tradition.

More inclusive of Women in Leadership– Watching the memorial service for Senator McCain, it was impossible to not see the role played by a female bishop in the National Cathedral.  From my own experience of working these past eight years in the legal world and in the world of public education, I have seen a different temperament, a different level of communication, and different decision making when women hold real authority.  Literally, the “old boys club” is shattered.

Of more service and less dogmatic – The Epistle of St. James has reminded us that we are to be “doers of the word and not mere hearers [preachers] of the word.”  We are told that “pure religion” is to care for the “orphans and widows”, i.e. those in need.  It is more important that we tend to the heart rather than cleansing the vessels or worrying about how hands are formed for prayer.

Able to listen before teaching apologetics – It is true that many people do not understand “why” the Church teaches certain things.  We do need to teach apologetics.

However, it is also true that many people do not believe certain teachings because they just do not believe it, i.e. they do not accept it.  And, just because FATHER SAYS IT IS TRUE — does not make it true.  Worrying about Harry Potter and teaching that doing Yoga is equal to worshipping Satan diminishes the teaching authority of the Church.

Maybe the world did begin to go to hell with the rejection of Humane Vitae — maybe not.  Maybe the fact that the majority of people and religious groups now accept same-gender-relationships is a sign that we are all hedonistic — maybe not.

Rather than listening with ears and hearts for the moving of the Spirit — maybe — the Church has convinced itself that it is better to be “lone voice in the desert” speaking a word that fewer and fewer will believe.

Maybe the so-called gay-subculture has actually become a part of culture — in the world of art and entertainment, in the world of law and education, in the world of politics and finances —- in the world of sports and religion.  The gay world is not SUB-cultural — but cultural.

The Roman Catholic Church will surely survive.  Studying history reminds us that we have had hard, bloody times before.

Most people today base their faith on Jesus and the living Holy Spirit.  Faith is not based on priests, bishops, or the Pope.  Most people of faith are able to distinguish between divine precepts and human teaching.  Most people’s faith is based on a faith-community and not the institutional hierarchy of the Church.

The Church will survive — and it will be dramatically different than it now is.  A few years ago people were shocked with Pope Benedict resigned and retired due to health.  How could a Pope resign?  Weren’t Popes suppose to die in office?  Now, we have witnessed a Cardinal [Vigano] calling for Pope Francis to resign.  We are witnessing bishops speaking with different voices and different messages.  It appears that one-side is lining up against the other side as if they were members of opposing boxing teams.

Before God created the world —- there was only chaos.  From chaos God created the world.  From the chaos of today, God will once again create.

HJM

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Prepared?

If I asked you if you were prepared, I would expect you to ask me for what?

Clearly, the message of this 2nd Sunday of Advent is that we are to be prepared — and that God sent — and sends — messengers to help us prepare.  For what does God want us to be prepared?  For what is God preparing us?

As I look around my house, I have more decorations and décor out than at any time over the past 10 years.  Most of my Christmas cards are mailed — and I will soon finish this pleasurable part of being in touch with friends and family.

Gift giving is secondary to spending time with family and friends — and plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, including menus, is fairly well set. Gifts to be shared are purchased.

So — I can say, I am very well prepared for the celebration of the Christmas holiday.

AND, I KNOW THE UNEXPECTED CAN happen and I need to be prepared for those things, too.  Last week at this time, I certainly did not think that someone would pull out of a parking lot into the street — leaving car repairable, but not drive able.  I did not think I would wake up on December 8th to almost 2 inches of snow in my yard.  BUT, BOTH THINGS DID HAPPEN.

I can get as prepared as possible for a meeting in Baton Rouge on Monday.  I can be as prepared as possible to bring my “dish” to the work social.  AND, I better be ready — and prepared for the unpredictable, the unexpected.

In looking closely at the scripture of this weekend [Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 and Mark 1:1-8], we see that the message is for us to PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD.  This call this weekend is not about us getting ourselves prepared — it is not about watching — it preparing the WAY OF THE LORD.  The message of John the Baptist — is to ready a way for the Savior — one greater than John — one greater than each of us.

We are called to make sure that ….

  1.  God is the focus — not only for the Season — but for our lives.  More than any project or task facing us … we declare that serving God is most important.

2.  God is working through us — what we do is NOT ABOUT ME — it is about God working through me.  John declares that the one who is to come is so different, that he (John) is not worthy to loosen the sandal strap  of the one to come.

So, as a teacher, God wants to use me — to bring his word, to be a messenger, to be a witness.

So, as a parent, God wants to raise children in his image — to allow children to experience the love of God through me.

So, as a business person – God wants me to build his kingdom — to make a fair profit, to pay a just wage, to make the community a better place.

3.  To live the values of our God — “to conduct ourselves in holiness and devotion.” (2 Peter 3:8-14)  This means we have to let go of grudges, we have to accept responsibility for our actions and not blame someone else, to resolve to use my talents to benefit others.

4. To know that one day this earth and everything on will pass away — but before then, it is likely that I will pass away.  My years are limited — that I live “ready” for that unexpected day. I am not glum — I appreciate everything I have and every person around me.  I am grateful — but I do not live as if I have a guaranteed 45 more years.

Prepare the Way of the Lord.

hjm

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment