Archive | June, 2013

Engaged in Salvation

21 Jun

The Cross of Christ calling multitudes to salvation, calling you and me, calling our family. Givng us identity, continuity. Letting us help God in making and remaking sociiety into an image of his Kingdom.

Behold, I am sending you like sheep among wolves …” (Jn 10:6)

If you are a committed Catholic, you are engaged in the ministry of salvation. Whoever and whatever you are – a stay-at-home mom or dad, full-time worker, parish minister to the sick, lector, pro-life advocate – no matter, you are drawn deeply into the reality of Christ’s mission to bring salvation to everyone in your life – and to affect the salvation of all peoples.

There are obstacles standing in your way.

  • In your family: They all know you so well, how you were in the past and your present shortcomings. The past can blind them to who you are now, to your deeper faith. Perhaps you didn’t provide your children with a sound religious formation – and that has come back to haunt you.
  • At work, in society: There are employers who discourage any expression of religious faith; in some cases, the entire atmosphere is given to injustice and blind commitment to profit and power. There is a deeply rooted secularism which at best ignores God. Persons in political leadership are doing everything in their power to remove God from our American way of life.
  • Among people of weak or no faith: Because of social pressures, personal and family responsibilities and problems, and the general spiritual vacuum in which they live, they do not “see” or experience God.

And all this is wonderful!

Wonderful because it’s crystal clear what we must do in and for Christ in this mission of salvation. We must “make God real” for all these people – one at a time, one after another – all of us together, united in the powerful mercy and love of God.

Here are a few ideas.

The disengaged person: If a person doesn’t read the Bible or any other kind of spiritual reading, help that person encounter God in the beauty of nature – the morning song of the birds, the smile of a baby, the voice of a child saying “I love you,” the withered hand of an elderly person reaching out in friendship. Just look at a glorious sunrise or sunset. God is real – you can help them discover God in their daily lives.

Your family: You may have a bit of work to do in your family. Tell them often that you love them. Celebrate their joys and successes; mourn with them when they mourn. Be ready to say “I’m sorry” when it’s time to do so; let them see God in the way you talk and act. Pray and pray and pray for the salvation of your loved ones.

At work and in the rest of society: You need to have an unshakable commitment to live the Gospel of Christ unashamedly. Be ready to share, whenever possible, what God means to you, what he has done in your life and your confidence that he can help anyone who comes to him.

Finally, in our political situation: People of faith must never be silent. As free Americans we have the right to speak about God, the value of all human life and the need to keep God in our way of life. We have as much right to speak as do those who fight people of faith and deny the place of God in society, in government and in daily life.

Take heart — hear what God says!

“Fear not, I am with you; I will strengthen you and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice” (Is 41:10).

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20b).

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A book without words

15 Jun

helping hand

 

I“read” about God every day. I meet him in this page-less, wordless “book.” There are no pictures, but beautiful colors – brilliant reds, soft blues, blushing pinks, shy grays, bold blacks and glorious greens.

God is there, in this “book,” in all of nature.

This morning, I sat in my office, gazing out the window, struggling with ideas for another writing project. Nothing seemed to fit; nothing seemed to make sense.

Gradually, I began to “see” the book. Outside my office windows is a stairway going up to the two apartments above. Beyond the stairway I noticed the roof of the garage next door,  all soft orange and soft gray tiles. And beyond and above the garage were the leaves and limbs of a huge oak tree. This rising sun, from behind our apartments, was shining on several limbs – sort of a heavy tan, not quite brown – so awash were they in the sun’s brilliant light.

I noticed on those limbs small blotches of white, almost like irregular and random polka dots. They were just there, apparently of no consequence – but these dots were alive, just resting on the giant oak limbs, gaining sustenance as is the nature of fungi (or funguses, if you prefer).

And above and through the trees is the gentle blue of a sky that has no end to its depth.

In this “book,” I see all of humanity and the Creator of all things “visible and invisible.”

  • The stairway is a reminder that we must always rise above the mire and confusion which seem, at times, to weigh us down.
  • The garage roof suggests the shelter we have in God’s providential love.
  • The leaves and limbs of the oak tree remind me of life just bursting all over the place, life totally dependent on the way God created things – and God, the creating and sustaining force that roots that tree into life-giving earth.
  • The fungi are like so many people, totally dependent for support and sustenance on the stronger elements of our society – the poor, alienated, disenfranchised, and especially, those who live with weak or no faith in God.

Finally, the gentle blue and its expanse remind me of God – no beginning and no end, so complete in himself that he cannot contain his divine energy, an energy so generous and powerful that it gently and ceaselessly creates the sky, the earth, the trees and all things – including you, including me.

Evil is for Real

4 Jun

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Shades and a remote — trying to ignore your fears and problems. But as Pope Leo XIII wrote in Rerum Novarum (1891): Nothing is more valuable than to look upon the world as it really is and to look elsewhere for the solace to its problems.

Abraham Lincoln was known for his moral strength. He once said, “Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

No doubt about it. Good produces good and evil produces evil.

There are people who think nothing of killing and maiming others or corrupting the morals of young people. They make sex slaves out of helpless young people. They destroy families by pushing drugs – and holding out as good and normal sinful values and practices.

The erosion of traditional social standards is at once evidence of evil and one of the most dangerous allies of evil. We have come to expect (and perhaps accept) corporate corruption, unfairness in the workplace, sexism, oppression of the weak, sexual immorality, violence and racism.

People retreat into themselves, so overwhelmed with bad news that they think all will go away if they just ignore it. Or, in this disconnect with reality, they begin to think that all the troubles in their neighborhood and world seem ordinary, par for the course.

So psychologically disabled, these people are unable to work against the forces of evil.

Too few good people are willing to speak out for justice, decency, chastity, the stability of marriage and family, and honesty in all human relations – including the political arena.

Edmund Burke, an Irish political philosopher, Whig politician and statesman from the 18th century, once said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Burke also wrote in a 1791 letter:

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

Perhaps we’re in the blame game – it’s my neighbor’s fault that we don’t speak; it’s the government’s fault that we are in such a financial crisis; the entertainment industry is to blame for the decay of sexual morality and family life.

Indeed, they all play a role in the decadence that is spreading in our society. However, what might you have done to irritate your neighbor? How do you manage your own finances and the power of your vote? What movies and television programs do you watch – and what is the moral level of your favorite music? Do you use your buying power to send a message to corporations who promote unhealthy social trends?

As Pogo says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

And here is a warning from our Lord:

I know your works. I know that you are neither cold nor hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. … Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. … Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit is saying (Rev 3:15-17, 20, 23).

And the Lord promises:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Mt 7:7).