Archive | February, 2014

It Looked Dead

26 Feb

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Sometimes we older folks see a dark and uncertain future for our loved ones who do not “practice the faith.”

Maybe we don’t know them any better than they know us.

THE OLD COUNTRY HOME was once beautiful.  Now it was old and in need of new screens and a good coat of paint. The old barn was closed tight.

There were no cattle in the pen now overgrown with weeds. No longer did the neighing of horses greet one’s ears.

The excited chatter and laughter of children no longer greeted the visitors,

This was once a thriving family farm. Now, it looked dead.

It took a while before the door opened to our knocking.

This place, the home and farmland, belonged to my parents’ best friends. The woman who answered the door was now a widow, old and bent. There was a brief pause when she saw us, a moment of “who is this?” Then she smiled warmly.

This memory came to mind following participation in a webinar sponsored by the Paulist Fathers. The topic was Pope Francis’ thoughts on reaching Catholics who no longer take an active part in the life and liturgy of the Church.

When it comes to their relationship with God and the Church, today’s younger folk show more independence and selectivity than we did at their age.

Their life experience, generally speaking, has not included the close-knit ties of an extended family with roots in traditional Catholic life. People, who were formed in the 1960s and through to the present time, got the message that rebellion against tradition and exaggerated self-determination are hallmarks of maturity and independence.

WHEN IT COMES to faith, the younger generations want to know how this God and this faith fit into their own lives here and now. Perhaps, for some of us, young and old alike, it may be how God and Church can be adjusted to fit our own interests and preferences.

I suppose, when they hear us expounding on what we hold as “realities” of faith and holiness, they get visions of something ancient and maybe even lifeless—sort  of like that old farm I remember so very well.

Pope Francis is giving us great direction: Help everyone discover God right where they are. Love them. Then, and only then, is the heart ready for more.

We need to become more like Jesus. We need to enter into “their” world to learn why they find no meaning in Mass and the parish church.

Remember, too, they have not failed us—we might have failed them.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).

 

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The Audacity!

23 Feb

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Take  Back America!

What next? What other crazy government action might be in store for us? It seems we already have a surplus of government goof-ups.

But, this one takes the cake: The feds made a move toward invading the newsrooms of major media ostensibly to see how they operate, how they select news and decide what is newsworthy.

Apparently, this has been shelved (for the time being?). This idea is in direct violation of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, both of which have kept America, so far, from the hands of would-be dictators.

Go figure. This is the same government that pushed through Obamacare without the bill being read by lawmakers. We can still hear Pelosi saying, “We have to pass it so we’ll know what’s in it.”

What’s in it? If I read correctly, here are three gems that should shock your socks off.

  • Carte blanche for the feds to go into your bank accounts, and even withdraw funds.
  • The government can access your health care records.
  • People 76 years of age and older are not treated for cancer unless it’s a previous condition.

The audacity!

I’m not playing politics when I say it is time to take back our country and subject our government to the will of the people.

One major obstacle to that desired goal is the American public: Apparently too many of our younger people are ignorant of our history and the glory and power of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

To too large a degree, we’ve lost five critical elements to sustain a free society—responsibility for oneself, the importance of the ballot, a sense of community, concern for our neighbor, and, the courage to take a public stand against evil, even if you have to stand alone.

I am convinced that only one thing can save this nation—and that is a religious revival, a rediscovery of God and his wisdom expressed so freely in the Sacred Scriptures and the lived experience of his people.

When I read a certain Scripture, I can’t help but think of our once great nation, our nation that was a world leader instead of a foggy reflection of what it used to be. We can substitute the U.S. in place of Israel:

          But my people did not listen to my words;

                    Israel did not obey me.

          So I gave them over to their stubbornness of heart;

                    they followed their own designs.

          But even now if my people would listen,

                    if Israel would walk in my paths,

          In a moment I would subdue their foes,

                    against their enemies unleash my hand.

          Ps 81:12-15

We do not pray for the death of our enemies. We do pray for peace—and for conversion of heart for ourselves and all people.

How’s this for an action plan?

  • Renew our relationship with God and other believers;
  • Worship God with sincere hearts;
  • Embrace his Word in the Bible;
  • Steep ourselves in the graces offered through his Church;
  • Unleash our tongues in public praise of God and our witness of what he has done in our lives, and,
  • Tell Washington bureaucrats, of whatever party, office or function, that we are taking our country back.

What do you think?

So What’s New?

15 Feb

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The Word of God–timeless and timely.

We go to church every Sunday. We hear the Scriptures over and over again. 

We are told, for example, that we are the “salt of the earth … a light shining in the darkness … a lamp giving light to all ….”

We’ve all heard this before—many, many times. And yet, we hear it again and again.

Why?

What’s new? Haven’t we milked this dry?

What’s new is you—and me, all of us—as we hear the Lord Jesus speaking to us today.

You are not the same today as you were last year—or even yesterday—nor are your loved ones, the people you work with, your neighbors and the world in which we live.

We grow, change our minds, progress and regress. We believe and have doubts. We caress and strike out, speak kindly and speak harshly.

At this very moment, God is calling us to a renewed, a refreshed awareness of his passionate love for us and his desire to speak to us in every moment and every experience of our lives.

God loves us! That truth is the tonic to cure the ills of boredom and apathy.

  • What is God saying to you right now—a word of encouragement or correction? Is it a call to a deeper knowledge of his holy will?

  • And what is the Lord Jesus saying to us, to his Church? Is it a call to deeper faith? To be sure, it is.

  • God’s call is to make our faith a living faith—a faith that will impact the darkness in our world: the plight of the homeless, the really poor, those with no faith, or those with weak faith.

This living faith will permeate the world with the light of hope and compassion. This living faith will shed light into local and national government, into the labor movement and all scientific disciplines.

For years, the popes and all the bishops, and indeed our own parish priests, have urged us to develop a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Most recently, Pope Francis is urging all of us—clergy and laity alike—to rediscover the “Joy of the Gospel,” a joy that is the same as peace, a joy that is itself a magnificent light shining in the darkness.

So, what is this joy? Is it happiness? No, it is more than happiness. You can be happy over a good thing that happens.

Is it a spirit of gratitude? No, it is more than gratitude. You can be grateful for a gift—large or small.

  • Joy, like love, surpasses the limits of happiness and gratitude.

  • Joy is the light that shines in the darkness of your deepest hurt, your greatest need and your searing sadness.

How, then, do you acquire and nourish this joy?

You enter into the heart, mind and soul of Jesus Christ. You beseech the Father to make you one with him. You open yourself to the wisdom and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

When you at last surrender to God, you become victorious. You live that divine joy—and you can say with all honesty and the deepest of fervor and desire, “Lord God! I am yours!”

Help Me Understand …

5 Feb

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No, that isn’t I. I’m not that young or good looking!

Of course, once I was young and enjoyed being scared to death by Frankenstein and other horror flicks. But that was then—and the mayhem was not nearly as graphic as we see today, for example, on “The Living Dead.”

I can’t understand the popularity of these movies.

Would you help me to understand?

What’s the attraction?

From my position of faith, I question: Is it an effort to overcome the fear death by laughing at or cheering death; Or is it a deeply seated desire to live forever while at the same time turning a deaf ear to God’s promise of everlasting life.

What is it all about?

Share with me and I’ll share with others.

I Will Never Forget Them

2 Feb

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Sometimes, in the most ordinary, you see the hand of God.

People watching is a great way to pass time waiting for a plane, or at a traffic light, or sitting in a restaurant above a sidewalk.

It was at a Catholic Press Convention. I can’t remember the city or the hotel. I was at breakfast, sitting alone at a window of a second story restaurant. As I looked out the window, I saw people milling around below me.

The sidewalk ran under the restaurant and away from my solitary perch.

After a while, the crowd seemed to thin. It was then that two figures moved away from me, down the sidewalk.

It was a man and a woman, walking side-by-side, holding hands, man on her right, she on his left. The man was pushing along a bicycle with his right hand.

They were dressed quite simply. Her dress was worn and faded. He wore what seemed to be very old work clothes.

Besides their simple attire in the midst of well-dressed convention goers, business personnel and tourists, what caught my eye was the man’s spinal deformity—a big “S” from his shoulders to his hips.

Actually, in their simplicity, possible poverty and their apparent affection, they seemed really to belong, as real as the rest of us.

Poor, advanced in years, here they were moving along, hand-in-hand in the midst of affluence, and they didn’t seem out-of-place. To me, they embodied the essence of being human, no frills or affectation. Their presence seemed to say, “Here we are, alive and breathing the same air everyone breathes, walking the way everybody walks, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. We feel hurt and joy. We love.”

As I think back on this experience, I understand a bit better what Pope Francis tells us about including the poor in the flow of life, especially in governmental and social concerns, in an effort to help them gain self-determination.

They didn’t see me.

They didn’t even know I existed.

But I will never forget them.