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Pinionmarc Pinionmarc Menu Skip to content Home Current Events Faith Matters Family Matters PORNOGRAPHY Prayer Page REFLECTIONS AN ABRIDGED DICTIONARY Resources IS LIBERALISM A HERESY FIRST THINGS June/July 2016 — IS LIBERALISM A HERESY? Francesca Aran Murphy argues that liberalism and a market economy are based on Christianity. The only viable vehicle of conservatism in modernity is a market-oriented liberalism that regards freedom within law as the means to the common good. Some religiously engaged conservative intellectuals cannot accept this. What drives their animus against the only workable form of conservatism in modernity? They cannot accept that this version of conservatism is at all conservative. But how conservative is it to refuse to act in and through the givens of our historical moment? Is the paradox of liberalism as the way of being conservative too whimsical for conservatives to wrap their bookish noodles around? Could it be rationalist irritability with the irrationality of liberalism? Is the conservative affronted by liberal-ism’s vulgar historical success, like a Ph.D. student who cannot enjoy a popular movie? Is he like the teenager in Little Miss Sunshine, who cannot bear the boisterous eccentricity of his family? Does lib-eralism’s cheerful, can-do lack of a rational founda-tion drive the conservative into dark Nietzschean foreboding? Does he share the Marxist’s contempt for the bourgeoisie who are at home in the market economy? Is he too logical to be persuaded that the only human beings who actually and historically ex-ist are individual persons? The fact remains: For at least two generations now, the most politically effective conservatism in the West has largely been a conservative liberalism. This political success has not been accidental. As a social, political, and economic form of life, liberal modernity does justice to important truths about the human person. At the origins of modernity lie the market economies of late medieval Europe. A mixture of the rule of law and respect for personal freedom enabled market economies to emerge. People readily took to the roles of buyers and sellers of goods, be-cause buying and selling involves the kind of role-play in which human beings flourish. The market econ-omy involves an exchange of goods in which both parties benefit. The seller trades his goods for what he really wants, payment, and the buyer hands over his money for what he really wants, the goods. Because they obtain what they desire, both buyer and seller gain more than they give. Appealing as that may be, market exchange has a still greater allure. However well-meaning the administrator, we would exchange an administered life for the tension of auctions, the drama of negotiations, and the stratagems of the salesman that test our self-discipline. Buying and sell-ing became a driving force and expressive feature of modern societies, because the clever play of conceal-ment and exposure through language and gesture it entails fits our social, dramatic natures like a glove. Modern philosophers reflected upon modern eco-nomic practice. Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling took homo economicus to be “humanity” as such. They rightly drew the lesson that human beings are made for praxis, for action, and for dramatic role-playing. But these bookish philosophers were not men of action themselves. In their recoil from the sheer inscrutability of the free play of market exchange, they exaggerated the fact that exchange involves competition for marginal advantage. They mytholo-gized this into a conception of human culture as a life-and-death struggle, and reinterpreted the role-playing in free-market exchange as competition. That hypes up role-play into a battle of wills. According to them, the marketplace trains us to think of life in terms of winners and losers, masters and slaves. In all of this we find part truth, part Gnostic fantasy. On the one side, our exercise of freedom in the particularity of daily life makes us enigmatic to others. A market society is built around this relative inscrutability. Whether the exchange takes place at the local fish stall or in large-scale transactions of complex financial instruments executed by comput-ers, buyers and sellers play their parts. Each seeks to take advantage of an exchange, wanting as much as possible without scuttling the deal by eliminating any benefit for others. Human nature is expressed in this serious play of exchange—the brinksmanship of negotiation, the uncertainties of market conditions—which liberal philosophies capture in their emphasis on freedom and its drama. Yet the marketplace and our roles in it look like a Gnostic melodrama when the play of exchange is inflated into a metaphysical drama rather than a hu-man one. A German idealist like Schelling pictures God-and-humanity as the single “playwright.” The struggle to get the best deal on day-old bread becomes the engine of human history. For Hegel, God storms through history in the guise of strug-gling and ascendant human desire. Sellers seek to incite desires in buyers. Seventeenth-century vendors during the tulip mania in Holland asked, how can one do without the exotic tulip bulbs? Buyers seek to satisfy their aroused desires, often for goods they never even knew they wanted. This pattern of desire evoked is the fuel of a market economy. Hegel inter-prets the open-ended nature of our market desires as a metaphysical desire for divinization. He made the further assumption that we play for keeps, and thus the market game of angling for advantage becomes the struggle for mastery, which is the world’s story. For two centuries, Christians have quarreled over how to deal with the mixture of imagi-native half-truths, philosophical errors, and Gnostic heresies that make up modern phi-losophy. Between Vatican I and Vatican II, Catholics tried to sort things out and develop a philo-sophically cogent and spiritually sound approach to modernity in two different ways. Fortified by Thomis-tic encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII, Thomists thought that the way forward required a rejection of liberal philosophies and a revival of the premodern philoso-phy of Thomas Aquinas. They assembled a litany of errors that they ascribed to liberalism: making man the major of all things, exalting will over cognition, denying are created nature and more. . . . (Pages 39&40) Article concludes on Page 45 with the following paragraphs: . . . Do we encourage liberalism to remember its birth in a market economy that drew ordinary people into habits of free action for the sake of satisfying desires, or do we anathematize it for itself self-caricature as a Gnostic capitalist heresy? . . . Liberalism is no heresy, and the market ex-change from which it emerges does not sin against the light. It is a healthy byproduct of Christianity, and the only means by which Christians can fight Marxist-capitalism, that stage-managed freedom in which the benevolent will of the powerful consults reason, discerns what people “truly” need and want, and then superintends over and administers the al-ways vulnerable freedom of ordinary people. If one were searching for Gnostic heresies, surely this tech-nocratic political economy, which is very much with us today, is a good candidate for anathema. RR Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at FIRST THINGS. First Things, June /July, pages 39-45. This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2016 by Paul. PUBLIC SQUARE — PERMANENCE FOR MARRIAGE Family and faith. These are two powerful ways of belonging, one natural, and the other supernatu-ral. But they, too, are weakened by the dissolving forces of our time. Pope Francis’s recent Apos-tolic 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 “ir-regular” situations can participate as fully as possible in the Church’s sacramental life. The effort to be more pastoral characterizes this pa-pacy. 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 ques-tion of whether those in “irregular” situations can receive Communion, including those who have been civilly di-vorced 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 “objec-tive situation” of divorce and remarriage, Francis implies that what really matters is the “ideal.” The driving ques-tions become subjective, not objective. Divorced and re-married? 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 hin-ders 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 di-vorced 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 vul-nerable existence, because we lack in-stitutions 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 with-out 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 dis-cernment without negative judgments. Which is why our therapeutic age is awash with ide-als and values. They’re in university mission statements. Corporations proudly tout their values, and “ideal-ism” 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 flour-ished 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 your-self 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 can-not 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 mar-riage 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 situ-ation 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 institu-tion, 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 per-manence 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 no-tions 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 in-dividual 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 sig-nify; they do not symbolize values. His Church is an “objec-tive situation,” a civitas with her own cult, rites, and laws. Pope Francis speaks often and eloquently about “accom-paniment.” 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. This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2016 by Paul. 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 some-thing 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 discom-forts 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 incentiv-izing 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 dec-ade 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 nur-tured 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 corpora-tions—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 share-holder 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 custom-er 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 open-ing 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 busi-ness 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 demand-ing that the giant go on a cost-cutting binge aimed at generat-ing 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 ex-plained, 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 con-cerned 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 extrava-gant 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 expect-ing 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 invest-ment 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 bak-ery 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 includ-ing 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 warn-ing (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 recalci-trant 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 con-glomerate 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 com-pensation 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 com-mon 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 pow-erful, 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 upris-ing—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. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 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 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 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 high-est 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 mil-lion 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. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 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. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? This entry was posted in Readings, Reflections / Family on June 1, 2016 by Paul. EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, JULY 31, 2016 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 31, 2016 Moving beyond Illusion LECTIONARY #114C Focus: To claim the highest good. http://www.usccb.org/biblereadings/073116/ctm Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23 Today is the only time in the Sunday Lectionary readings that the Book of Ecclesiastes is used. This may be the result of its pessimistic tone. Ecclesiastes is the most skeptical book in the Bible. The work identifies its author as “Qoheleth” (1:2), a name that is best translated “preacher.” Qoheleth is searching for happi-ness, but he is not successful. His constant refrain is “All things are vanity” (1:2b). The Hebrew word translated as vanity literally means “vapor” or “thin air.” It is Qoheleth’s way of describing the futility of life. Despite all of his effort to find joy, nothing satisfies. Things may attract us or intrigue us, but nothing has lasting value. Even wisdom, which is so treasured in Jewish thought, is elusive. Finding it is like chasing the wind (see 1:17). The rabbis debated at length over the appropriateness of including such a negative work within the Jewish canon of Scripture. Yet Ecclesiastes offers a valuable truth. It reminds us that we can never find full happiness through the posses-sion of earthly things. Thereby, it prepares the way in Jewish thought for the later promise of resurrection and eternal life. Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17 (1) Psalm 90 is a corporate plea for help. It moves from a sober assessment of the human condition to a petition for God’s assistance. The psalm has been chosen for today’s liturgy because its view of human life echoes the thoughts of Qoheleth. It laments the tragic nature of life that flourishes only for a while and then, like the grass of the field, quickly wilts and fades. This psalm will not abide hollow courage or false optimism. It views the realities of life with unflinching realism. Yet, unlike Qoheleth, it moves from the pessimism of human existence to prayer. With God’s kindness, our lives can be blessed with gladness. Human life may pass like summer grass, but God is able to grant us joy. Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 Whereas Qoheleth and Psalm 90 soberly evaluate our earthly condition, the author of Colossians calls us to raise our thoughts to what is above. He reminds his readers that they have entered into a new life. The verbs to “take off” and “put on” (see verses 9 and 10) are references to the baptismal practice of being stripped before water immersion and clothed afterwards. In that action the Colossians have been incorporated into Christ. The old distinctions of Jew and Greek, slave and free, no longer define them. Christ is all in all. The author ties this new life to moral responsibilities. Immorality, impurity, and evil desire must be put aside as the clothes taken off before entering the baptismal waters. The injunction against greed prepares us to evaluate the action of the rich man in today’s Gospel. Luke 12:13-21 Two scenes in this passage pull in the same direction. Both are found only in Luke and illustrate his concern over the correct use of material possessions. The first scene is a brief exchange between Jesus and some-one in the crowd concerning a family dispute over an inher-itance. Jesus refuses to resolve the dispute but uses it as an opportunity to warn against the illusion that wealth will bring happiness. Like Qoheleth, the person in the crowd is seeking satisfaction in a fragile world. Unlike Qoheleth he does not realize that the wealth he seeks is vanity. His illu-sion is that “having” will make him happy. Jesus is adamant that material possession will not satisfy us. He uses a parable to drive home his point. The only character in the parable is a man who is already rich. He acts as though the purpose of his life is to remain so. He increases his barns so that he will have joy for years to come. But his sudden death reveals his folly. Life is tran-sient. So investing all of his energy in this life will never satisfy him. The last line of the Gospel directs us to be “rich in what matters to God” (12:21). What matters to God? We do not need to strain to answer the question. God’s interests are found throughout the Scriptures and especially in Luke’s account of the Gospel. God calls us to care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. God is always concerned about the poor and marginalized. They matter to God. Using our wealth to assist them will make us rich in the way that counts. Jesus’ teaching can be seen as a response to Qoheleth. Not all is vanity. Accumu-lating wealth certainly is. But using it for others is not, because it serves God’s purposes. Doing what matters to God is the highest good. It will bring lasting satisfaction and eternal happiness. Connections to Church Teaching and Tradition ? “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safe-guard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an econ-omy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” (EG, 53). ? “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs” (EG, 57; quoting St. John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio, II, 6). ? “In their use of things people should regard the external goods they lawfully possess as not just their own but common to others as well, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as themselves” (GS, 69). Foundations for Preaching and Teaching ? Scripture Backgrounds for 2016, LTP, pages 134-135. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Reflecting on the Gospel Linus is the Peanuts character who is always drawn holding a blanket to his head and sucking his thumb. Linus is a beloved character who reminds us that we all need a hug, a security blanket once in a while. Borrowing his name and image, Project Linus is a national organization that provides free security blan-kets for critically ill or traumatized children. Some of the blankets donated are larger, intended for older children. Pain, fear, and insecurity know no age limits. Whenever we face any life-threatening occasion, we naturally reach out for whatever relieves us, whatever wraps us in hugs, love, security. We can readily identify, then, with the rich man in the gospel who has a “bountiful harvest” and doesn’t want to waste a single grain. Although he is rich and probably already has plenty, he portrays what each of us harbors in the depth of our hearts: we can never have enough. We always want to increase whatever we think gives us security in face of life’s inevitable exigencies. How mistaken we are! The rich man in the gospel thinks building bigger barns to hold a boon of “grain and other goods” will give him enough security that he can “rest, eat, drink, be merry.” When his life is “demanded” of him, however, his store of “grain and other goods” proves not to be the ultimate security—an eternal inheritance. He is misguided about the bigger barn he really needs to build. In the end, what “matters to God” is a “barn” full of what only God can give: life, love, holiness, fidelity, generosity, compassion, Life. No barn can ever be big enough to hold these. No barn we build can hold the security that is God alone. The only secu-rity we truly possess is a loving relationship with God—and this is surely what matters most to God. It should matter most to us. Even with all our Christian living and reflection, we still struggle with what God graciously offers us—not more possessions, but fullness of Life. The gospel challenges us to direct all of our work toward a quality of life based on growing in our relationship with God and each other. Even our possessions and how we use them have this end—to bring us into right relationship with God and each other so that ultimately we possess what really counts: God’s eternal Life. God offers us what matters most—fullness of Life and the secure happi-ness that only God can give. God alone is our sure security blanket. Living the Paschal Mystery If most of us take some time to think about the way we live, we would have to admit that the pressures of everyday life tend to be our main focus. We are all concerned about calendars and schedules, bills and getting ahead, sickness and health. Our lives tend to be so busy that our immediate goal is simply to get through another day. What would happen if we would truly take some time to think about what we possess (and where we store it all!) and what possesses us? It takes conscious effort to ask the question, To whom do we belong? In some sense this is a question about priorities and putting God truly at the center of our lives. The answer must be more than an intellectual commitment to grow in our relationship with God and have God as our center. We must stop building (using) larger storage barns and begin changing the way we live so that our pri-orities are evident. Practically speaking, this probably means settling for fewer possessions. But with God at center, we really gain everything—fullness of Life. Magnificat, July 2016, page183. Focusing the Gospel Key words and phrases: inheritance; build larger ones; grain and other goods; rest, eat, drink, be merry; life will be demanded of you; what matters to God To the point: The rich man in the gospel thinks building bigger barns to hold a boon of “grain and other goods” will give him enough security that he can “rest, eat, drink, be merry” When his life is “demanded” of him, however, his store of “grain and other goods” proves not to be the ultimate security—an eter-nal inheritance. He is misguided about the bigger barn he really needs to build. In the end, what “matters to God” is a “barn” full of what only God can give: life, love, holiness, fidelity, generosity, compassion, Life. No barn can ever be big enough to hold these. No barn we build can hold the security that is God alone. Connecting the Gospel to the first reading: Qoheleth teaches that it is a great “sorrow and grief” only to focus on the things of this world, which vanish like vapor (“vanity”). The gospel illustrates this poignantly. to experience: The rich man’s reality is everyone’s desire: to have enough so that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow’s needs. Prudently providing for our future is responsible planning. Nevertheless, Jesus challenges us in this gos-pel not to place our security in possessions, but in God alone. Connecting the Responsorial Psalm to the readings: Psalm 90, from which this responsorial psalm is taken, contrasts the stability and steadfastness of God with the uncertainty and tran-sience of human life. The verses used in the Lectionary express Israel’s prayer that God teach them true assessment of their life and work. As the reading from Ecclesiastes indicates, they already realize hard work and physical pos-sessions give no sure value. What is worth possessing is the kind and “gra-cious care” of God (psalm). Jesus affirms this stance when he challenges his hearers to turn from evaluating their worth based on physical possessions to evaluating it based on being “rich in what matters to God” (gospel). It is significant that the psalm refrain is taken not from Psalm 90 but from Psalm 95, a psalm which refers to the infidelity of Israel’s ancestors during their desert exodus from slavery to the Promised Land. No matter how much God gave them (water, manna), they constantly whined that they did not have enough. The Lectionary’s choice of this refrain is acknowledgment that reckon-ing our days and assessing our worth in God’s terms is a challenging task. May this be the work God prospers in us (psalm). to psalmist preparation: The refrain for this responsorial psalm is particu-larly challenging. Sometimes when you hear God’s voice, your heart hardens. When do you experience this happening for yourself? How does God help you hear in spite of your resistance? 2016 Living Liturgy? For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 187. Homily Points In this life, what do we need? Food, clothing, and shelter readily come to mind. But how much of these necessities of life do we really need? It is easy to confuse wants with needs, greed with security. This gospel challenges us to evaluate possessions, pursuits, priorities. This parable reminds us how fleeting are the things of this world and how easy it is to have a false sense of security in ourselves and our possessions. In both this world and the next, our ultimate security can be found only in God. What do we need to clean out of our “barn” to make more room for God? Perhaps we need to stop asking Jesus to correct the behavior of someone else (“tell my brother”) and start letting him transform our values and behavior. Perhaps we need to take inventory of our possessions, attitudes, relationships in order to make more room for “what matters to God.” The more room in our “barn” for the things of God, the more secure we become in God alone, the more surely we secure our eternal inheritance eternal Life. 2016 Living Liturgy? For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 188. C A T E C H E S I S About Liturgy Liturgy’s true focus: Just as with our everyday lives and all the possessions we have, it is also easy to lose sight of the true focus of liturgy itself. Without realizing it we can get so completely caught up in the doing of liturgy that subtly we put ourselves at the center. For example, we can be so concerned about hospitality that we forget this isn’t a simple gathering of the folks, but an assembly gathered to hear God’s call to be in divine Presence. Or we can be so caught up in doing good music that we forget the music’s purpose is to draw us into the ritual action to be transformed into being more perfect members of Christ’s Body, the church. Or we can be so caught up in our own need for private prayer time that we can easily forget that at liturgy we surrender our-selves and our own personal needs in order to be the church called into God’s Presence. Each Sunday it would be a good practice if each assembly member examined why he or she comes to celebrate liturgy. Ultimately we come to respond to God’s call and to give praise and thanks for God’s tremendous gifts of life and Godself to us. At each lit-urgy committee/commission meeting it would be a good practice to ask, what exactly is the parish’s focus of liturgy? What are the liturgical priorities? Are we filling our liturgical “barns” with all the wrong things? What are the subtle ways we place our-selves and our own needs at the center? How faithful are we to the church’s practice of liturgy that draws us into God’s Presence for transformation? About Liturgical Music Role of the responsorial psalm, part 3: The primary transformation taking place in us as we respond to the Liturgy of the Word is deeper surrender to the pas-chal mystery. The word issues a prophetic challenge that we be true to the ideal which stands before us in the gospel, the person of Christ. The word reminds us that we are the Body of Christ and our mission is to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and forgive those who injure us. The word confronts us with how far we fall short of that ideal and reassures us that God forgives this failure and continues to call us forward. What we hear in the proclamation of Scripture, then, is a continuously fresh presentation of the reality of God’s faithfulness and of the ideal of faithfulness to which we are summoned in response. When we sing the responsorial psalm, we express our surrender to the paschal mystery in song and voice. The psalmist leads the surrender, embodying it in breath and melody and mirroring through gesture the dialogue which is taking place between Christ and his assembled church. When we the assembly respond, we sacramentalize our assent, that is, we make our surrender audibly, visibly, physically apparent. In other words, we are doing far more in the responsorial psalm than merely singing a song. We are saying yes to the ideal being placed before us. Moreover, that ideal is not a set of directives but a living Person calling us to die to self so that we might have new and fuller life. 2016 Living Liturgy? For Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, page 189. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? LECTIO DIVINA – A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE The Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Luke 12:13-21 Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me” (12:13). For Jesus, resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51) to lay down his life on the cross, such trivial squab-bling must have made his heart sink. The man, in his small-mindedness, reminds us of the prodigal son’s complaining elder brother (Lk 15:29-30). This perilously distracted person is more concerned with my brother than with “Our Father” and his true inheritance. A redeeming grace: he recognizes the authority of Jesus as Teacher That awareness can turn our pettiness into magnanimous faith, hope, and love. He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” (12:14). “Friend,” “man”: Lk 5:20; 22:60. Reducing the Lord to a functionary, the griper has not paid attention to how Jesus has heretofore revealed himself: as a baby lying in a manger (Lk 2:7); as one sent to bring glad tidings to the poor [and] to proclaim liberty to captives (Lk 4:18); as one who eats with tax collectors (Lk 5:30); as one who accepts kisses from the notoriously sinful (Lk 7:45). How can one thus construe Jesus to be a “judge”? Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (12:15). Other references to “guarding”: Lk 2:8; 4:10; 11:21. Father John R. Donahue, s.J.: “Covetousness (literally, ‘the desire for more’) [was called by Hellenist moralists] ‘the metropolis of evil deeds’ or ‘the greatest source of evil.’ It is equated with idolatry. It is not the mere possession of material goods which will spell the downfall of the rich man but his con-stant desire for more which leads to surplus possession.” Saint Leo the Great: “The ancient enemy well knows to whom he may apply the fever of greed. He unsettles the minds of all people, preying upon our anxieties, search-ing into our dispositions, seeking opportunities of causing evil where he sees each one to be most vulnerable.” Saint John Fisher: “By avarice the affections of the heart become distorted and turn to creatures, especially to self.” Blessed Jacopone da Todi (t 1306): “Obsessive avarice, a worm that knows no rest, has eroded the mind with endless preoc-cupations. Mercy sends avarice into exile, and great are the riches she dispenses.” Jesus will soon tell his disciples: Sell your belongings and give alms (Lk 12:33); Everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:33). Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked him-self, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?”‘ (12:16-17). This parable is a prelude to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: Lk 16:19-31. Saint Basil the Great: “This is the return the man made to his divine benefactor. He forgot that we all share the same nature; he felt no obligation to distribute his surplus to the needy. His barns were full to bursting point, but still his miserly heart was not satisfied. The result was a hopeless impasse: greed would not permit him to part with anything he possessed. He was incapable of making a deci-sion and could find no escape from his anxiety: What amto do? His land yields him no profit but only sighs; it brings him no rich returns but only cares and distress and a terrible helplessness. He laments in the same way as the poor do.” “And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!’ (12:18-19). Basil: “What am I to do? It would have been so easy to say: / will feed the hungry; I will open my barns and call in all the poor. I will issue the generous invitation: ‘Let anyone who lacks bread come to me. — Instead, utterly self-absorbed, he talks to himself. “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (12:20). Donahue: “The word ‘demand’ is commonly used for col-lecting a loan. The rich man did not realize that the fruits of his harvest were ‘on loan’ from God and not to be used for his own gratification.” Basil: “You who have wealth, recognize who has given you the gifts you have received. Consider yourself, who you are, what has been committed to your charge, from whom you have received it, why you have been preferred to most other people. Take decisions regarding your property as though it belonged to another.” “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for them-selves but are not rich in what matters to God” (12:21). Saint Cyril of Alexandria: ‘The one who is rich towards God is one who does not love wealth but rather loves virtue, and to whom few things are sufficient. It is one whose hand is open to the needs of the poor, comforting the sorrows of those in poverty.” Magnificat, July 2016, pages 411-413. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time The Lord hands down the sternest warning to those who would store up treasure for themselves but who “are not rich in what matters to God.” What does matter to God? Qoheleth readily recognizes the vanity of laboring, toiling, and acquiring. Sorrow, grief and restlessness persist nonetheless in plaguing such a per-son. What matters to God is that, through baptism, we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Life’s richness consists in seeking the One who is above, and claiming the New Self of-fered to us through him. Christ is all. Our treasure lies in claim-ing Christ our life, who has appeared. Magnificat, July 2016, page 417. Rich in What Matters to God So it is written about one who loved earthly things: “You say, ‘I am rich and wealthy, and lack nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable, destitute, naked, and blind. I advise you, buy gold tried in the fire, that you may become wealthy.” O kindest Lord Jesus Christ, consuming love, what a wonderful lesson you have shown us sinners for our salvation in warning us to buy tried gold, by which is understood wholehearted love: for as gold surpasses all other metals, so does love surpass all other virtues. However, this gold must have been tried in the fire of your love and made to burn through and through by this love of yours. It cannot be bought for any money, but by a good will, good desire, good disposition. Thus nothing can be bought that is better than this love, and nothing is more precious than this when it is gained. 0 most gentle Lord Jesus Christ, rich in love, I am wretched and pitiable, destitute, naked, and blind; give me this tried gold, that is, love of you, so that my heart may be set on fire with it, that it may be restored and calmed in you, and I myself, enriched by your grace and love, may reach love’s eternal Kingdom. BLESSED RAYMOND JOURDAIN Blessed Raymond Jourdain (?14th century) was a prolific French spiritual writer. He was a Canon Regular of Saint Augustine, and became abbot of Celles, France. Magnificat, July 2016, page ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? SMALL GROUP GATHERING – EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21. http://www.usccb.org/biblereadings/073116/ctm Leader: Good and gracious God, help us to hold our possessions lightly. Help us to see that what we have packed safely and neatly away might in fact be beneficial to someone today. Help us to let go of stuff and share with others in need. Fill us, Lord, with what matters to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. All: Amen. HEARING THE LORD’S GOSPEL (Pose these two questions: ? “What draws you to this gospel?” “Where do you resist this gospel?” ) Reflection In this week’s gospel, Jesus’ words give the lie to the line that suggests that “the one who dies with the most toys wins.” His words resonate loud and clear; “one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Every once in a while, there is an instinct within us that has us seeking to organize our lives and our homes with plastic bins, labeled and filled with stuff that we don’t need and probably will never use again. And yet, while I want to be able to honestly say that I do not see myself in the rich man in this week’s gospel, I am always saving something for the someday that I might need it. What and for whom am I saving all this stuff? I traveled to Haiti some time ago and was told a story about the woman religious with whom I was staying in Les Cayes. Her older sister shared with me that, as children, whenever a new dress was added to the closet, Jeannette would promptly give another dress away. Her reasoning was simple, you can only wear one dress at a time and someone needed the other dress. Nothing was safe in their home, you only needed one of this or that and the other one belonged to someone who needed it also. Magazine articles and spots on TV shows about living life better are filled with advice on how to reduce stress by reducing clutter in our lives. This gospel reminds us clearly that in the end, we can’t take it with us. 0, to be rich in what matters to God, not all that stuff in plastic bins, so much of which could be useful to others in need. Questions for Reflection and Conversation ? How many stuffed plastic bins do you have? ? Share a time when you felt God was moving you to simplify your life. ? How many toys do you have? To what extent do your possessions posess you? ? What does it mean to you to be “rich in what matters to God?” How rich are you? HEARING THE GOSPEL’S LORD (Pose These Questions: “What do you want to hold on to for yourself from this session?” “How are you/we being called to live in response to God’s word?”) ? Sift through your possessions to see what you can share with those who have a greater need of them. Contribute them to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in your area and so open your heart to be filled with “what matters to God.” ? Volunteer your help with the Malta House of Care (www.maltahouseof-care.org; 860-725-0171). Its mission is to provide free primary health care to the uninsured through the operation of a mobile care vehicle that has a fixed schedule in neighborhoods across the cities of Hartford and Waterbury. ? Plan for a weekend retreat at an area retreat house. Holy Family, West Hartford, 860-521-0440, Wisdom House, Litchfield, 860-567-3163 or Our Lady of Calvary, Farmington, 860-677-8519. Prayer (Pose these questions: “What does Christ in his Spirit say to you now?” “What do you say to him in response?” Following this sharing, members join in singing, “Only This I Want,” #510. When the song is complete, the leader invites prayers of praise, thanks-giving and petition. To each prayer members respond: “Help us to empty ourselves, 0 God. May we be filled with what matters to you.” The session concludes with the praying of the Lord’s Prayer and the exchange of a sign of peace) A Reflection Booklet for Small Christian Communities, pages 44-47. The Pastoral Department For Small Christian Communities, Archdiocese of Hartford, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002. 860-242-5573×7450; www.sccquest.org; info.scc@aohct.org. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? R. (12b) Do not forget the poor, O Lord! Why, O LORD, do you stand aloof? Why hide in times of distress? Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted, who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived. R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord! For the wicked man glories in his greed, and the covetous blasphemes, sets the LORD at nought. The wicked man boasts, “He will not avenge it”; “There is no God,” sums up his thoughts. R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord! His mouth is full of cursing, guile and deceit; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He lurks in ambush near the villages; in hiding he murders the innocent; his eyes spy upon the unfortunate. R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord! You do see, for you behold misery and sorrow, taking them in your hands. On you the unfortunate man depends; of the fatherless you are the helper. R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord! “A prayer and picture for today as we prepare to elect a new president.” ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? HOMILY by Father James Hogan Sunday, For July 24, 2016 17 Ordinary C ’16 (Coming: Homily for July 31, 2016) http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072416.cfm Genesis 18:20-32 ? Colossians 2:12-14 ? Luke 11:1-13 In my homily last week I mentioned my recent trip to Morocco. It is a 100 percent Islamic country. I have a high regard for the People of Islam. I appreciated the call to prayer that echoes across cities five times a day. They worship God who is one, living and merciful. They endeavor to submit themselves without reserve to the decrees of the Gracious Mystery they call Allah. Prayer, fasting and alms-deeds are the pillars of their faith. The gospel text today prompts me to consider some of the similarities between the people of Islam and we who are Christians. In this text we heard Luke’s version of Jesus’ teaching his disciples / us to pray to one God as “Abba” – “Father.” Muslims pray to one God as Allah. For them and for us, prayer means to open self to God and God’s will. Both Islam and Christianity emphasize and call us to stand in awe before the mystery of God. Both traditions are rooted in the sincere practice of submission to God’s will. Both the people of Islam and we who follow the way of Jesus know there is something transformative about continually turning to God. I also recognize a negative similarity between Muslims in Morocco and we Christians who live here in the United States. I asked many Moroccans if they are Muslim. Almost all said yes, as most of our peers would answer when asked if they are Christian. Do you pray? Some said yes but most said once a day. Perhaps for most Christians here in the United States it would be far less than that. Do you attend the mosque on Fridays? Some said yes but most said only during their annual observance of Ramadan. An increasing number of Christians in the United States gather in our churches only for Easter and Christmas. “Jesus was praying …. and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’.” Most of us are familiar with and have memorized Matthew’s version of what is commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer.” In writing his version of the Lord’s Prayer, Luke adds a short parable about persistence. Luke’s Jesus then ends his instruction promising that if we are persistent in prayer, “the Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” Note this. He does not promise, “the Father will give you whatever you ask.” No! He says, , “the Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. I believe our Abba / Father does “give the Holy Spirit to us….” When I was eighteen years of age, a priest at Carroll College in Helena taught me about meditation and contemplation. He encouraged me to spend at least one-half hour daily in prayer. I began that practice, and now 63 years later am still persistent in setting aside at least 30 minutes each morning as a time for contemplative prayer. My daily practice has extended into a consistent awareness of God. During the day, simple prayer often arises from my heart. My brief visit to Morocco prompted me to carefully consider my own prayer life. Then writing this homily provided further stimulation to examine my practice. Although I still begin my daily prayer time as I always have, I find it more and more difficult to remain engaged in contemplative prayer for that amount of time. I sit upright. I slow my breath. I use a simple mantra to keep my mind and heart focused on the Great Mystery in which we live. Even so my posture soon slumps, I neglect my breathing, and I fall asleep. Sharing this with you in this homily has helped me consciously re-establish the discipline needed for me to pray. I share my own experience to encourage your efforts to persist in prayer. If your prayer time is wordy, it probably means your own prayer life is about “asking.” Unless you are trying to change God, such prayer can be an excellent way to practice submitting self to the will of God. However I suggest you consider adopting the sort of discipline that will free you to engage in contemplative prayer. Daily contemplative prayer can awaken you to the beauty and goodness in you, which arises from the presence of that Gracious Mystery we name God deep within you. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Pentecost Sunday – Jennifer Hubbard After my little one died, I begged his direction. Head bowed low, I waited on him to do what, in my own strength, I could not. In this sense, I feel his Apostles’ longing for specific direction when they discovered that what they had thought would be, was actually not. I wonder if it was be-cause of their hearts’ urge to flee to the comfort of what they knew and the life they had left that he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak” (Acts 1:4). They are instructed to wait. In their waiting, Scripture is fulfilled and the truth of his provision revealed. A helper, the same Spirit that descended like a dove during his Beloved’s baptism, is sent. It is only then, when filled with this grace, that the disciples speak in tongues, heal the sick, raise the dead, and establish the Church. He sends the Spirit, not because of our ability, but because of our lack of it. It is because of the Spirit we can proclaim, / have the strength for everything through him who empowers me (Phil 4:13). The Father gives his gift freely to accepting hearts and makes possible what is seemingly impossible. It is his grace revealed through a quiet whisper that reminds me to stand in confidence when the urge is to flee. It is God’s grace that fills me with the strength to lift my face to the sun, cour-age to defy the enemy, and hope in the miracle that awaits. (Jennifer Hubbard resides in Newtown, CT. The younger of her two children, Catherine Violet, was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.) Magnificat, May 2016, page 215 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The Announcement of Moveable Feasts On the 27th day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (From the Roman Missal, Third Edition, Appendix I) Magnificat, January 2016, page 45. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners for: One-liners in Faith: (May 2016) Any simple task or simple chore done in the name of Jesus can be a great dance of love. “I do not pray for success. I ask for faithfulness.” — Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta “It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman.” — Saint John Paul II Every sunrise is a message from God. Every sunset is His signature. One-Liners in Faith; (June 2016) It’s not enough to count your blessings. The point is to make your blessings count. God should be our steering wheel, not our spare tire. Love is like the five loaves and two fish: it doesn’t start to multiply until you give it away. “That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for the mission.” – Pope Francis’ “evangelization” prayer intention, June 2016. One-Liners in Faith; (July 2016) “Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” – Matthew 11:28 “Do not accept anything as the truths if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.” – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross “The most beautiful ACT of faith is the one made in darkness, and sacrifice, and with extreme effort.” – Padre Pio Take KNOM with you – read the KNOM newsletter on your computer, smart phone, tablet, or other Internet-capable mobile device — visit knom.org/static/620 in your web browser. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? SEE YOU IN CHURCH! THE DOLLAR AND THE CENT… A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk) “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – -”You don’t go to church as often as I.” ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Model Prayer of the Faithful Proposed for The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 31, 2016, (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.) For the Church For the Church’s faithful announcement of the Gospel: that God’s Word may increase love and give full mean-ing to pain and suffering, That all members of the church witness to the world what it means to seek what matters most to God, That God protect and purify his holy Church, that its work may prosper, For all members of our Church, that we seek to be a sign of God’s presence in the world through service and compassion toward others, For bishops, priests and deacons, may their teaching and example encourage and assist the faithful in pouring themselves out more generously in love and service to others, For missionaries in the Church, may God continue to bless them with the grace and strength needed to persevere in preaching and teaching the Gospel throughout the world, For all members of the church, may we be a light to the world, and lead others to grow in holiness, For priests and bishops, may they continue to be faithful instruments of God’s love and mercy, That the pope, bishops and all clergy will continue to be enriched by the gifts of the Spirit as they work to lead us closer to Jesus, For all members of the Church, may we always listen attentively to the voice of Christ and faithfully follow his teaching, May Church leaders model how to value you more than any material goods, For a Church that is a field hospital for those in need of God’s healing touch, That the Church will always be a place of refuge in the midst of life’s storms, May the Church be a place of welcome for all people, For the clergy, that they love their sheep as clearly as St. John Vianney did, That we, as Church, witness the life that comes from embracing our crosses, May all Church members announce the dazzling presence of Christ in our midst, For the World That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very exis-tence are threatened, will be shown due respect, (Holy Father’s Universal Intention) That all leaders of nations focus in their deliberations on what matters most to God, That our nation seek not to store up treasures but to grow rich in what matters to God, For our national and world leaders, may they enact policies that protect religious freedom for their citizens, For countries torn by war and ethnic conflict, may their people find reconciliation and healing, and thereby put an end to the cycle of violence, For those in elected office, may they enact laws and policies which protect and safeguard the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception until natural death, For those in public office, may they turn to God for guidance in forming laws and policies which protect and care for the poor and vulnerable, For all people in positions of leadership, may they use their influence to foster cooperation and reconciliation, That all who hold and seek public office may be guided by the pursuit of the common good above any personal gain or advantage, For countries torn by ethnic and religious division, may hatred and violence be transformed into peaceful co-existence, May world leaders bring relief to the dying, suffering, and dismissed in society, For people of every land, that they are fed through by a just distribution of the world’s goods, That those bombarded by the storms of war, violence, and evil, ask Christ to be near, May leaders of nations be approachable and not hard-hearted, For political leaders, that they find honor in caring for their people, That those whose cross is heavy find hope in the support of the human family, May our love and care for others transform the world, person by person, For the Oppressed / Any Need That God in his kindness will watch over all refugees and victims of war, and bring them to a place of safety, That God will come to the aid of the afflicted, pity the lowly, raise up the fallen, and show his face to the needy, That those who struggle with any need find their security in the God who gives all good things, That every person recognize and resist the greed permeating our culture, That those with bountiful harvests share their abundance with the poor and needy, For those who are hungry or homeless, may they be assisted in their need by committed Christians and people of good will, For those who are homeless, may they find shelter and assistance from Church outreach ministries and people of good will, That those who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus may be blessed with the grace and strength needed to persevere in the face of adversity, For those who feel unworthy to approach Jesus to experience his conditional love, That we take time to pray in solitude to God, as Jesus did, That we might be freed from any resistance to accepting life’s difficulties, May we use the goods you have given us to give you thanks and praise every day, For believers to take what God has given and offer it in service to others, That doubt will open the door to deeper faith and greater attention to Christ, May we trust that Jesus’ saving love has a home within us, May we be moved, as Jesus was, by those we find pushy, needy, or lacking in faith, For people who seek to know God’s love clearly in their lives, as did the people of Ars, That we learn to love as totally and selflessly as Christ loves us, May we take time to remember and honor God’s transforming love in our lives, For the Local Community That our parish may flourish in faith, hope, and love, That our community of faith share its material goods and live by spiritual values, For catechists and educators in our parish, that the Holy Spirit may continue to inspire them in their efforts to share our Catholic faith with our youth, For young people in our parish discerning a vocation to the religious life or priesthood, may they be blessed with the wisdom and support needed to respond to God’s call for their lives, For all pastoral ministers, that they love their parishioners as St. John Vianney did, For our parish, may we always strive to be a faith community that offers a warm welcome to visitors, and all those in search of a parish home, For the members of this parish, may we find ways to extend God’s love and mercy to our family, friends, coworkers and others we meet, For this parish community, that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy the message of God’s forgiveness may shine brightly through our words and actions, For the Assembly For the grace this week to put to death impurity, evil desires, and greed, That each of us gathered here store up in our hearts the love and compassion that lead to an eternal inheritance, For each of us, may we continue to grow in our faith and love for the Lord so we may give a more faithful and effective witness to the Gospel, That each of us may turn to the Lord each day for the grace to remain steadfast in our faith and live out our baptismal promises, May we hear God announce us as beloved, with whom God is well pleased, For the Sick For those who have cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, that they may find strength and hope in prayer, and emotional support from those around them, For those who are chronically ill, may their faith in Jesus bring them healing and peace, For those suffering from depression, may they be blessed with the support and assistance needed to begin the journey toward recovery, For those who are sick, may they experience the healing consolation of Christ through their caregivers, family and friends, May Christ bring wholeness to all who are broken in any way, That Mary, who stood at the foot of the Cross, may teach us how to stand there, too, For the Deceased For those who have died, may they find comfort in a heavenly reward, For those who have died, that they may enjoy perfect happiness and peace in heaven, For all who have died, may they join the company of all the angels and the saints in heaven, For those who have died, may they find eternal joy in the company of the angels and saints in heaven, For all those who have died, may their souls rest in peace, That those who have died may, through God’s grace and mercy and the assistance of our prayers, enter into eternal life in heaven, For those who have died, may they experience the eternal peace and joy of heaven, UNIVERSAL PRAYERS FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACKS WORLDWIDE: 1) For the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks in Nice, France, may they know that God is with them in their pain and grief, through the prayerful support of people of faith throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord. 2) For who were injured in the Bastille Day attacks in France, may they find strength and healing in their faith and in the support of compassionate caregivers as they begin to recover from their physical and emotional wounds, let us pray to the Lord. 3) For the leaders of France and all nations, may God give them grace and wisdom as they face difficult decisions about how to protect their people in the face of terrorist acts, let us pray to the Lord. 4) For all members of the Church, that, as followers of the Prince of Peace, we will steadfastly oppose the misuse of God’s name as an excuse for terrorism or any acts of violence, let us pray to the Lord. Faith Catholic Online, 2016 Daily Prayer, Magnificat, Living Liturgy, & Liturgical Press for July 24, 2016. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? General Intercessions for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 24 July, 2016 – Cycle C Mass Special Intentions: 5pm Sabina Ferrari; 7:30am Dr. Bill Haynes 9am Brett Hefele 11am St. Peter Parish Family 6pm Sandra Molitor Presider: Like Abraham before the gates of Sodom, let us beseech the Lord for the salvation of all. 1. For an end to perverted interpretations of God, who God is, and what our duties are to God; We pray to the Lord. 2. That our elected leaders, and candidates for public office, will focus their concern on people more than votes; We pray to the Lord. 3. For a healing of racism and prejudice: that all people may look upon one another as sisters and brothers and work for the betterment of one another; We pray to the Lord 4. May parents not fail to teach their children to pray every day with thanksgiving, and to lead them by the example of their own prayer life; We pray to the Lord. 5. That all who gather to share this Eucharist remember those not present, especially the sick and homebound, . . . . We pray to the Lord. 6. May your mercy be a welcoming judge to all who have died, especially for . . . We pray to the Lord. 7. For a successful Beyond Sunday campaign to assure that our Catholic schools remain competitive to attract and retain skilled teachers and staff; We pray to the Lord. Presider: Father in heaven, in your goodness you satisfy those who persist in prayer. Open the door when we knock to make us bold in asking, thankful in receiving, tireless in seeking, and joyful in finding, that we may always proclaim your coming kingdom and do your will on earth as in heaven; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. This entry was posted in Liturgy/Prayer, Sunday Preparation on March 25, 2016 by Paul. SEVENTEENTH WEEK IN O.T., JULY 24-31, 2016 SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2016 SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME Lectionary 111: 1) Genesis 18:20-32; 2) Ps 138:1-3, 6-8; 3) Colossians 2:12-14; 4) Luke 11:1-13. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072416.cfm FOCUS: Our heavenly Father lovingly watches over us and provides for what we most truly need. Jesus taught throughout his life and ministry that God the Father watches over us and provides for what we most need. We must try to trust and rely upon God a little more each day and ask him for the deepest desires of our heart. For whoever seeks, finds; and whoever knocks has the door opened. In bargaining with God, Abraham demonstrates a real persistence in prayer (1). Jesus invites us to persist in prayer as well, to “ask…seek…knock” (3). May our prayer open us to God’s will, and so build up his strength within us (Ps). In baptism, we have died with Christ, and have been raised to life with him (2). LITURGY OF THE WORD In the first reading, Abraham implores God’s mercy in saving innocent inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. The second reading reminds us that through baptism, we were given new life in Christ and the promise of salvation. The Gospel recounts the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. He does so with the words of the Our Father. PN World Youth Day will be held in Krakow, Poland 25 July-1 August, 2016. Monday, July 25, 2016 SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE – FEAST Lectionary 605: 1) 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 2) Ps 126: lb-6; 3) Matthew 20:20-28. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072516.cfm FOCUS: Jesus calls us to humbly serve the needs of others, and bear our share of hardship for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus lovingly cared for all those who came to him for healing and salvation. And ultimately, out of love, he freely gave his life on the cross for the sake of our salvation. We, as disciples of Jesus, are to pattern our lives after his and endure our share of hardship for the sake of the Gospel. Called as an apostle (2), James is the first to be struck down (1). Those who sow in tears will reap with joy (Ps). LITURGY OF THE WORD In our first reading, Paul explains how Jesus’ disciples endure hardships, but are strengthened by God. Through imitating Jesus’ sufferings, he tells us, we give witness to him and are raised with him. In our Gospel, Jesus teaches that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. James, brother of John, is called “the Greater” because he followed Christ before the other apostle of the same name (see 3 May); first of the Twelve to be martyred, being decapitated by order of Herod Agrippa I, c. 44; venerated at Compostella, Spain; named in the Roman Canon; patron of pilgrims, of Spain, Guatemala, and Nicaragua Tuesday, July 26, 2016 TUESDAY OF 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary Lectionary 402: 1) Jeremiah 14:17-22; 2) Ps 79:8-9, 11, 13; 3) Matthew 13:36-43. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072616.cfm FOCUS: Hope in the Lord; he will not forget us. Despite how difficult life may seem, our heavenly Father is in control and watching over us. If we persevere in leading our lives according to Jesus’ teachings, like the good seed mentioned by Jesus in today’s Gospel, we will be raised up and shine like the sun in God’s kingdom. “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake” (1, Ps). Jesus explains the parable of the weeds in the field (2). LITURGY OF THE WORD The first reading speaks of the suffering and destruction that comes upon the people of Israel as a consequence of their failing to walk in the ways of the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus explains the parable of the good seed. He and his angels will come and separate the good from the evil, so we need to be prepared and await his return with confidence. Names for the parents of Mary found in the 2nd c. Protoevangelium of James; veneration of Anne originated in the 6th c. East; patroness of childless women and miners; devotion to Joachim dates from the 8th c. Wednesday, July 27, 2016 WEDNESDAY OF 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME Lectionary 403: 1) Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; 2) Ps 59:2-4, 10-11, 17-18; 3) Matthew 13:44-46. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072716.cfm FOCUS: The riches of God’s kingdom bring salvation and fulfill the deepest yearnings of hearts. Many people go through life moving from one thing to another in a seemingly unending quest to find true and lasting happiness. This needn’t be the case for us, as Jesus taught that the way to salvation, and true and lasting happiness, is through loving God and helping to build up his kingdom – the true treasure of our lives. Doubt fills Jeremiah, but God promises to be his refuge (1, Ps). More precious than all possessions is the kingdom of God (2). LITURGY OF THE WORD The first reading and the responsorial psalm remind us that God is to be our refuge and our strength. In the Gospel, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a treasure that one finds buried in a field; upon finding this treasure, one sells everything in order to possess it. Thursday, July 28, 2016 THURSDAY OF 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME Lectionary 404: 1) Jeremiah 18:1-6; 2) Ps 146: lb-6b; 3) Matthew 13:47-53. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072816.cfm FOCUS: When Jesus returns in glory, there will be a final judgement which will separate the good from the bad. Jesus taught clearly that there will be a final judgement in which the righteous will enter into eternal life in heaven while the wicked will go off to eternal punishment. As such, we have a choice before us to follow the Lord and do his will, or suffer the consequences of our own selfishness. Even when we stray from the path, our God invites us to return to him. As a potter, God, who made heaven and earth (Ps), will fashion his peo-ple anew (1). Angels will separate the elect from the wicked (2). LITURGY OF THE WORD The first reading reminds us that God is the potter and we are the clay. He continues to mold and shape us to live more fully as his sons and daughters if we but cooperate with his grace. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the net to make clear that at the end of time, there will be a final judgement in which the good will be separated from the bad. Friday, July 29, 2016, FRIDAY OF 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME Lectionary 405: 1) Jeremiah 26-1-9; 2) Ps 69:5, 8-10, 14; Lectionary 607: (3) John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072916.cfm FOCUS: In all situations and circumstances, we are to place our faith and trust in Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. Martha eagerly goes to meet Jesus when she learns of his visit. She has faith in Jesus despite her brother’s death. Let us strive to imitate the faith of Martha when we are tempted to lose hope. We must turn to Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, with our cares and concerns, trusting that he will give us the strength needed to shoulder our burdens, and raise us up to see the light of a brighter day. Jeremiah bears insults (Ps) for exposing the false security of the temple cult (1). Martha welcomes Jesus into her home (2b), him “who is to come into the world” (2a). LITURGY OF THE WORD In today’s first reading, Jeremiah issues a warning that God will bring judgement upon the Israelites if they do not turn back to him and obey his law. The people reject Jeremiah’s message. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to Martha about resurrection, asserting that he is the resurrection and the life. She proclaims her belief in him. Martha, ? 1st c.; sister of Mary and Lazarus; model of hospitality and faithful disciple; confessed her faith in Jesus as the Son of God; patroness of housewives, waiters, and waitresses. Saturday, July 30, 2016 SATURDAY OF 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME Optional Memorials: Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church; Saturday in honor of BVM Lectionary 406: 1) Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24; 2) Ps 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34; 3) Matthew 14:1-12. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073016.cfm FOCUS: Living as a disciple of Jesus means putting God first and being faithful, regardless of the cost. At times we may want to take the path of least resistance. The examples of the prophet Jeremiah and John the Baptist remind us to put God first in our lives, no matter the cost. Whatever our daily situation might be, we are called to strive to live as Christ’s disciples, even when it means going against the prevailing culture or putting the needs of others before our own. Some seek the death of Jeremiah (1) who is protected by God’s saving help (Ps). Herod has John killed (2). LITURGY OF THE WORD In the first reading, we hear of the opposition to Jeremiah’s call to the people to change their way of living and become more faithful to God. His life is spared, but eventually he will be put to death because of his message. Today’s Gospel tells of the circumstances that lead King Herod to order that John the Baptist be put to death. Peter, ? c. 450; called “Chrysologus” (Х?νσολ?у?) meaning “of golden speech” for his exceptional preaching ability; 170 homilies are extant; bishop of Ravenna. Beginning with EP I of the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, vol-ume IV of the Liturgy of the Hours is used until Advent. SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2016 EIGHTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME Lectionary 114: 1) Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23; 2) Ps 90:3-6, 12-14, 17; 3) Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; 4) Luke 12:13-21. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073116.cfm FOCUS: Let us seek to store up treasure not in worldly goods, but in what matters most to God. The time we have on this earth is precious and short. It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of wasting precious time pursuing happiness in the things of the world, which will not endure. Let us seek to grow rich in the things that matter most in God’s eyes and bring us to share in eternal life. Listen carefully to the voice of the Lord (Ps): set your heart on what will last forever (2). We only fool ourselves (1) if we believe that our possessions will bring us happiness and life. Instead, “grow rich in the sight of the Lord” (3). LITURGY OF THE WORD The first reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything good comes from God. The second reading from Colossians exhorts us to put to death the parts of you that are earthly, and focus on what is of God. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that we are to take care to guard against greed, for our life does not consist of possessions. FAITH CATHOLIC ONLINE; PAULIST ORDO; MAGNIFICAT for the 18th Week In Ordinary Time . ? ? ? ? ? ? D A I L Y R E F L E C T I O N S ? ? ? ? ? ? Reflection – Sunday, July 24, 2016 Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A cousin wrote to me hoping to re-establish our relationship after years of separation. It took three letters before I responded, “I’m not sure where this can go, but your persistence re is in the first reading minds me of Jesus’ teaching on prayer.” Her gentle persistence helped me reconnect with my father’s family. Jesus teaches us to approach God with gentle persistence by calling God Father, praising God, seeking to live God’s reign, asking to forgive as we have forgiven, and to be freed from the final test. Ever the good parent, God gives us good things, even when they are not exactly what we asked to receive. Jesus revealed God’s persis-tent love for us. How persistent are we to see, know, and live that love through the regular communication of prayer? Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 239. Reflection – Monday, July 25, 2016 Feast of St. James, Apostle St. James (the Greater, d. 44) was brother to St. John the Beloved, and Zebedee’s son. The first Apostle to be martyred, tradition holds that he preached in Spain, whose patron he is. He is also patron of pilgrims. His mother asks what many mothers wish, some assurance that their offspring receive honor. Jesus makes clear that God assigns places of honor. Greatness for his disciples is about service, even unto death. Do we seek to serve and draw others to Christ or to be served and gain a place of honor for ourselves? Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 249. Reflection – Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary Today is liturgical grandparents’ day. We honor Anne and Joachim, parents of Mary. We know nothing of this couple from Scripture but legends abound. Anne—which means grace—like Samuel’s mother, Hannah, longed for a child. Her wish was granted. Faith-ful people that they were, Joachim and Anne must have planted the good seed of faith into their daughter’s heart and nurtured it enough for Mary to be open to God’s messenger, Gabriel. If your grandparents are alive, you might want to visit, phone, text, e-mail, or send a card to them today. Thank God for them, or seek healing if your relationship could have been better. Let the seed of faith planted in you grow into a flower that shines with the light of Jesus Christ. Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 241. Reflection – Wednesday, July 27, 2016 Weekday What is so valuable to you that you would sell all you have to obtain it? A friend told me on her deathbed that she wished she had invested more time and energy in relationships. She realized the two things of greatest value to her were her relationships with God and with her family and friends. The Kingdom of Heaven is about relationships. Jesus taught us to love God by loving our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God and neighbor go hand in hand. St. Francis de Sales preached, “Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.” Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 242. Reflection – Thursday, July 28, 2016 Weekday God casts a wide net, hoping to catch those who follow God’s way and those who do not. Jesus’ life, Death, and Res-urrection make that clear. Yes, we must choose to accept God’s invitation and live according to the light of God’s way, but God offers us every opportunity to start over again. Too often we make a judgment as to who is acceptable. That is God’s job, not ours. St. Francis de Sales taught us not to be disheartened by our imperfections, but to always rise up with fresh courage. Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 243. Reflection – Friday, July 29, 2016 Memorial of St. Martha Martha and Mary could be models for sibling rivalry, at least Martha’s words indicate that kind of rivalry. We often put her into a box. She is the busy sister, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet as a dis-ciple. Women did not take that posture in Jesus’ day. He broke open many con-ventions of his day, including the treat-ment of women and men. Mary chose the better part because she accepted her role. Martha could not accept that her role was different than Mary’s. Disciple-ship requires acting and reflecting, doing and listening. Do we accept our role in the life of faith or do we try to make others into ourselves? Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 244. Reflection – Saturday, July 30, 2016 Optional Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church St. Peter Chrysologus (406-450) was called “Chrysologus” because he used golden words. He preached short, clear homilies, so as not to bore anyone and to encourage people to live their faith. He was like today’s portrayal of Jere-miah, whose clear, concise words changed the minds of the people. They neither put Jeremiah to death nor refused to view him as a prophet. We are called to announce God’s presence in word and deed, like Peter and Jere-miah. St. Francis de Sales offers this advice: “The worst way of speaking is to speak too much. Therefore, speak little and well, speak little and gently, speak little and charitably, speak little and amiably.” Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 245. Reflection – Sunday, July 31, 2016 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A friend, whose cancer was in remis-sion for nearly seven years, was hospi-talized with a fever and shortness of breath that made clear his cancer had metastasized. His life would be much shorter than he had anticipated. “You fool,” God said, “this night your life will be demanded of you.” We often bank on more time and energy to enjoy more goods. The more becomes the enemy of the sufficient. The future becomes the enemy of the now. In reality, now is all we have. We should take stock of our lives often and consider where we place our time, energy, and focus. If today is your last, do you feel right and rich with God? Daily Prayer, July 2016, page 246. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? An Independence Day Prayer We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen. ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLL Archbishop Carroll (?1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States. Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63. — ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— ?— Ordinary Time (As of May 23 Ordinary Time Continued) Wasted time is not a prized commodity in American society. We are a people ruled by the clock. Time is money because time is to be filled with purposeful controlled activity which is productive of things which can be sold. We are convinced that we must be in control of time. The last thing the productive American would want to do is waste time playing around with realities that do not pro-duce a saleable commodity. But the Creator of heaven and earth is described by the scriptures as the original and the best of players. Creative activity is playful, and creative people do not feel that what they do is a job. Creative peo-ple also have a sense that their creativity and all that they fashion in the creative spirit are gifts they have received. The Christian can speak of this and the contemplative vision which sees all reality as gift or grace. Our thankful response we call worship or eucharist. We cannot speak of Ordinary Time without speaking of Sunday. The every seven-day celebration of the Lord’s Day is the basic struc-ture upon which the Church Year is built. The great liturgical sea-sons of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter are more expansive cele-brations of particular aspects of the one paschal mystery which we celebrate every Lord’s Day. These special seasons focus our atten-tion upon critical dimensions of one mystery, a mystery so over-whelming that we are compelled to separate out its various ele-ments for particular attention. These seasons in no way minimize the critical importance of the Sunday celebration throughout the rest of the year. Ordinary Time is not very ordinary at all. Ordinary Time, the celebration of Sunday, is the identifying mark of the Christian community which comes together, remembering that on this first day of the week the Lord of Life was raised up and creation came at last to completion. Sunday as a day of play and worship is a sacrament of redeemed time. How we live Sunday proclaims to the world what we believe about redeemed time now and for ever. What happens in our churches every Sunday is the fruit of our week. What happens as the fruit of the week past is the beginning of the week to come. Sunday, like all sacraments, is simultaneously a point of arrival and departure for Christians on their way to the fullness of the kingdom. This is not ordinary at all. This is the fabric of Christian living. Taken from the Saint Andrew Bible Missal, reprinted with permission of William J. Hirten Co., Inc., Brooklyn, New York, Brepols IGP. 0 1982. All rights reserved. Paulist Ordo pages 30 and 31 and 125. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? What can I do to fast in communion with others? Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet. Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do: They apply to us all… “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.” “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.” “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.” “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.” “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.” “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people. “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.” “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.” It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent. Have a good week and I’ll see you in church! Monsignor Jack 1-3-5 ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD A Map of Mankind by Anthony Esolen AN OLD MAN, DRESSED IN A LOOSE RED ROBE, bows his head in respect, one scholar to another. His skin is a kind of dark amber, and his eyes glitter behind lids that sometimes make them look half shut. He is a storehouse of ancient lore. He knows the paths of the stars and the planets, what makes for a wise and useful minister, and what sacrifices are to be offered in honor of one’s ancestors. He can tell the virtues of the good emperors and the vices of the bad. He is mas-ter of the multitudinous and labyrinthine pictograms of his written language. “Honorable Father,” he says, “I am ready to see the map.” The other scholar, a man in his prime, is dressed in the same manner, but he wears a cross around his neck. His flesh is permanently sun-darkened, and gleams with a tinge of bronze. His hair is black, with that wave in it that signifies foreigner. He responds to his visitor with the intimation of a smile, and rolls out a large parchment upon the table. It is covered with impossible shapes, like those of fabulous beasts, shaded in various colors, all of them lurking or peering be-neath a grill of arcs and parallel lines. “Here it is,” says the young man. They remain silent for a while. The old scholar touches the parchment here and there with his fingertips. “I do not see my land, Father.” “We are here, my good friend Pao,” says the young man, pointing to a spot near the Great Sea. “All of this land, from the cold wasteland of the Mongol here, to Ton-kin in the south, and from the sea westward to the mountains of Tibet, all of this great land is yours.” “I had thought we were almost the whole world,” said Pao, shaking his head a little sadly. “Master Pao,” the Jesuit Matteo Ricci replied, laying a hand upon the old man’s shoulder, “that is a fond dream to which all men are prone.” ■MEETING PEOPLE IN LOVE.■ When Matteo Ricci traveled to the Far East as a missionary in 1580, he knew he had to learn everything he could about the Chinese culture, in order to bring them the Good News most effectively. He understood that the Chinese were an an-cient and proud people, with long and venerable traditions. He spent several years in the Portuguese colony of Macao, mastering Mandarin Chinese, a language as different from any in Europe as it is possible to be. He had already studied mathematics and astronomy in Italy under the famous Father Christopher Clavius, with an eye to using those studies to earn the esteem and the friendship of the Chinese, who believed that the moral task of mankind on earth was to reflect the beautiful, silent Order of Heaven. In other words, Matteo Ricci was what we now would call an anthropologist, as were so many others among his brother missionaries. I have heard people pride themselves on being “multi-cultural” who read at most two languages, and whose idea of culture seems to be limited to what comes out of the oven and what flag flies from the eaves. They have much to learn from the Catholic missionaries. You cannot bring the Good News to a people, or really any news at all, unless you know them, but to know human beings to the core you must love what is lovable in them, honor what is honorable, and for-give what is foolish or wicked. So the missionaries observed the peoples to whom they ministered, and their letters and diaries are invaluable sources of information. But more than information. It is one thing to be aware that the Chinese believed that their land took up almost the whole globe, and to know that they would be surprised and dismayed to learn otherwise. It is quite another to be able to disentangle that pride and folly from their admirable sense of order and tradition, spanning many centuries. Matteo Ricci, like Juniper° Serra, and Isaac Jogues, and Jean de Brebeuf, learned from the inside what the people were whom he loved. And we must insist upon the fact of this love. ■ LOVE THAT SEEKS TRUTH ■ Consider what happens when the depth of Christian love is not there. Margaret Mead, the queen of anthropology, went to the South Seas and studied the mating habits of the natives, resulting in the too influential and now discredited Corning of Age in Samoa. She had something of a liberal agenda; the natives caught on to it, and played their cards accordingly. The people under the microscope flipped the lens the other way around. I’m not saying that Mead de-spised the Samoans; she liked them very much. But Father Ricci had to love the Chinese, with the charity that hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things. Father Ricci had to love them with a love that would defy one disappoint-ment after another, unto death. He was not martyred, but he would never return to his native land. He never enjoyed the accolades due to a celebrated scholar. I think that the Catholic missionaries had to be most dis-cerning, precisely because the articles of our Faith are of ul-timate concern. They could not simply say, “The people of China leave food offerings for their deceased ancestors, so they must be worshiping them as deities.” Maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t. Father Ricci determined that the most learned among them considered it an act of filial piety. Since they brought food to their elders in life, they thought that the best demonstration of their honor would be to “bring” food to them after their death. The common people, however, had mingled the practice with a good deal of superstition, and that, too, had to be taken into account. Father Ricci sought out the wisest sages among the Chinese, and determined that the most ancient Chinese de-ity of all was the T’ien-Chu Shih-/—”heavenly Lord” or “Lord of heaven.” That Lord was the one in whom all things had their origin, and whom all things in heaven and earth obeyed. So after long observation and careful study of the old texts, he wrote The True Doctrine of God, a short and brilliant catechism of the Catholic Faith, filled with citations from the venerated words of such ancient wise men as Confucius and Mencius. For we believe that God does not leave any of his beloved people entirely in darkness. ■ LOVE OF GOD, THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP ■ After many years of patient labor, Matteo Ricci was ac-corded the rarest of privileges. He, a mandarin from the West, was allowed entrance to the Forbidden City, the abode of the emperor himself. It was a momentous occasion. For we are not talking about slick operators, buying land from indigenous peoples by paying them nuggets of glass, or rotting out their virtue by soaking them with firewater. Matteo Ricci came alone, with the best that his world had to offer, as a gift to the best of the people to whom he was both preacher and servant. What a sight that must have been, in the early weeks of 1601, when Father Ricci, summoned at last by the Emperor Wan-Li himself, walked along the stately courtyards of the imperial grounds! I imagine him escorted by a parade of counselors and scholars and priests, while porters carry upon a litter the most fitting of gifts—maps and clocks and the as-trolabe about which Father Ricci’s teacher Clavius had written with so much precision and admiration. There before them rises the many-colored palace itself, its tiers of roofs curled in the style of the East, where dwelt the emperor, the North Star upon earth, whose duty was to rule his people with the same constancy as the North Star above ruled the heavens. The man of God met a man who longed for God. Is that not the profoundest thing we can say about our fellow men, in whatever culture we may find them—that in the recesses of their hearts they long for God? If so, then only someone whose heart and mind are turned to God can ever really un-derstand the hearts and minds of others. I will not enter into the disputes that arose, the most bit-ter of them long after Father Ricci had died, between the Jesuits on one side and Dominicans and Franciscans on the other, regarding whether the mode of worship the Chinese Catholics had adopted was licit, or whether their continuing to honor their dead in the traditional way smacked too much of paganism. It is a tangled affair, ending in defeat for the Jesuit position. But Matteo Ricci has not been forgotten. The best of that noble culture, which the methodical and murderous Mao Zedong tried to sweep from the face of the earth, survives yet, and the moral seriousness of the Chinese, their natural piety, and their love of the beauty and order of the universe will someday, I firmly trust, find their fulfillment in Christ. Yet another reason to turn in prayer to the east. ■ Anthony Esolen is professor of English at Providence College, a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine, and a regular contributor to MAGNIFICAT. He is the translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House) and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal ■ Magnificat, February 2016, page 210-214. This entry was posted in Daily Liturgy, Liturgy/Prayer on October 10, 2015 by Paul. FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE – Rusty Reno on Russell Moore FIRST THINGS April 2016 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 put-ting 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 pro-vides us with the opportunity to rediscover the power of the Christian message. The choice also winnows. He re-ports 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 expan-sive 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 fac-ile “seamless garment” approach. Defending the lives of the innocent, especially the unborn whom our legal cul-ture 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 con-science draws upon the Baptist tradition. From its incep-tion it recognized the dangers that flow from too close a connection between religious authority and civil authority. Moore provides theological justification for our constitu-tional 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 founda-tion of the Church’s freedom. Sex, marriage, and family are today’s battlegrounds. They’re the reason why we’re arguing over religious lib-erty. 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 pub-lic engagement by conservative American Protestants, one that moves in the direc-tion 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 bib-lical 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 wel-come them is a powerful way to claim cultural territory. Unlike many who recognize the de-Christianizing main-stream culture, Moore does not shy away from the culture wars. As he knows, we can’t avoid them. Secular progres-sives 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 This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2015 by Paul. Pope Francis – “Amoris Laetitia” – Exhortation On the Family ← ?The Joy of Love?. The Structure and Meaning of Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pope Francis’ Exhortation on the Family an ‘Organic Development of Doctrine’ Posted onApril 8, 2016by Reyanna Rice 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 Sch?nborn 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 Posted on April 8, 2016 by Reyanna Rice 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 ? 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 This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2015 by Paul. CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE EVERY DAY, POPE FRANCES 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 Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. 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 Be a fan on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Forward to a friend Copyright ? 2015 Thomas More Law Center, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive TMLC News Alerts. Thomas More Law Center 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Dr. Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106 Add us to your address book This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2015 by Paul. A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America — By Ian Dowbiggin May 7, 2015 Euthanasia 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. Do 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. E-Mail Me Your Comments daveandrusko@gmail.com NRL News Links National Right to Life National Right to Life News NRLC on Facebook This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2015 by Paul. ABANDONMENT IS MOST SERIOUS ILLNESS OF ELDERLY Donate Now ? unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences | view email in browser www.magnificat.com 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. This entry was posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2015 by Paul. 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