Religion

Priests, prophets and kings; come, let us be on our way!

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We are all called to live out our baptismal vocation of priest, prophet, and king.
Today we need prophets willing to speak hard truths.
The truth that the overwhelming majority of whites have either explicit or implicit prejudice towards minorities.
The truth that police disproportionately stop, frisk, assault and kill minorities.
The truth that guns are the problem in our society.
The truth that just because you think everyone is equal doesn’t mean you actually act that way.
The truth that many leaders in all political parties promote white supremacist ideologies – whether from hatred or condescending messianism.
The truth that our nation locks up minorities at a disproportionate rate for drug offenses even though whites are more likely to do and sell drugs.
The truth that it’s not all about you and that when someone says you have done or said something racist, it is best to take some time to examine what you did even if it was unintentional.
The truth that our entire culture programs us to see black and brown and think crime.
The truth that police are responsible for their failures.
The truth that police unions and municipalities protect bad police.
The truth that nearly half of police participate in the code of silence to cover up bad policing.
The truth that leadership are the main cause for pressuring officers to participate in the code of silence.
The truth that whites have disenfranchised minorities through housing, schooling, healthcare access, food availability, transportation, and voter exclusion laws.
The truth that minorities are protesting the violence of gangs and taking a stand against violence.
The truth that talking about black on black crime is a subterfuge to avoid, ignore, dismiss and denigrate black and brown voices.
These are hard truths.
As prophets we are called to speak them in the streets regardless of the receptivity of those who hear them.
As prophets we call all people to examine their consciences, repent of the private and social sins of our nation, and seek a new way.
As prophets we offer hope for those who repent and choose the path of truth.
Let us be prophets. Let us speak the truth even if no one listens. Let us be Christ! Come, let us be on our way!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

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IMG_1001“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. Who mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel.”

We often forget that we need a savior. Lured by our modern culture to think that we are our own creators, we forget that we are held in the palm of another’s hand. We are imperfect, we are flawed, broken, frail, ignorant, and selfish. We are embarrassed by all of these things. Admitting our frailties to others, even to ourselves, is painful. Like an injured dog we seek to hide from our soul’s injuries in dark corners, biting anyone who comes near, even those who offer a healing hand. We refuse to accept the truth, we close our eyes to the light, we turn inward in our sins.

Because of this, God sent us a Savior. He lowered Himself to bring us closer. He came to us, not as a conqueror at the head of an army; but as an innocent, tender, defenseless child. It may be easy to turn away from Jesus and his teachings if we only ever knew him as a man. In John’s Gospel we know this to be the case:

John 6: 60-70

“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Many of the disciples left the man, Christ, when his teachings seemed to them too hard to follow. What if they knew him as a babe? What if they had received him in his infancy? Held him in their arms, fed him at table, changed his diapers, protected him from wolves? Would they be so quick to cast him aside in his adulthood? Would they not be more readily willing to listen to his words, no matter how hard they are to hear? Is the care for a child not hard? Isn’t the responsibility of raising and protecting an infant a great challenge? Let us prepare ourselves to receive the child Christ into our lives so that we may know him for completely. When Christ comes to us will our hearts be closed to him as the inn was closed to his parents? Or will he find a warm and welcoming place? If we know him and care for him as a child, it shall show us what we are capable of doing when we face even greater challenges in listening to the man, Christ, our Savior.

May God bless you this Christmas, these coming holy days, and may you welcome him into your hearts. Care for the child, listen to the man.

God’s Peace be with you!

Meet Pope Francis’ big brother!

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francis and jpii

In 1984, Pope Blessed John Paul II visited a leper colony in South Korea. There he embraced the 800 lepers, kissing them and showing them the love of Christ.

Happy Holidays! (A meme by me to help you remember)

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3annunciation

Soon we will be barraged with rhetoric about the “War on Christmas” because someone wishes us “Happy Holidays.” As Catholics, Christmas does not begin until the Vigil on the 24th of December (Christmas Eve). Before that, we are in the season of Advent. A time of preparation, of supplication, of penance, of prayer. To wish others a Merry Christmas, though well-intentioned, ignores a very important time in our Catholic faith and our spiritual lives. We must prepare ourselves spiritually to receive Jesus Christ, the bearer of the Gospel message. The Christian life is not easy, the message brought by Christ challenges everything about what it means to be human. Even the disciples proclaimed: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60). If we do not properly prepare ourselves for the Coming of Christ, we will not be ready to receive him into our hearts and lives. We will leave him in the cold, shuttering, alone and rejected. When he comes there will be no room for him just as it was so many years ago when his mother and father were left without a proper place to bring him into the world. Do not be so rushed to usher in Christmas; Christ will come just the same. But, will you be ready for him? If you do not take this Advent season to prepare then perhaps you will be the one who, when his parents knock, tells them “We have no room.”

Wishing others a “Happy Holidays” is not an attack on Christmas at all, but rather, a recognition of the Advent season and other days of observance in preparation for the coming of Christ. Once Christmas arrives, wish one another a Merry Christmas, but until then, let’s not forget the fullness of this holy time of year.

The Four Sundays of Advent
December 8 – Immaculate Conception
December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 25 – Birth of Our Lord
December 28 – Holy Innocents
December 29 – Holy Family
January 1 – Mary, Mother of God
January 3 – Holy Name of Jesus
January 6 – Epiphany
January 12 – Baptism of the Lord

For Catholics, until we get to December 24th/25th, we should all wish one another Happy Holidays or Blessed Advent!

God’s Peace be with you all!

Be a Man! Play with dolls?

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There is a lot of faux masculinity promoted in our society. One area in which this rears its ugly head is how many people oppose young boys playing with dolls, kitchen sets, shopping, dancing and various other so-called feminine activities. I take issue with this for many reasons. First, I was given a Cabbage Patch doll when I was only two or three years old. I had six sisters and three brothers growing up. We were expected to play together. My sisters wanted to play house, play with dolls, and play in the toy kitchen so my brothers and I were expected to play too. None of these activities detracted from my masculinity. If anything, it enhanced it. These times of play helped me understand healthy male-female relationships. It taught me not to demean or think that household chores were below my dignity as a man. It taught me how to nurture children, to play with them, soothe them, care for them. Playing with dolls actually helped me be a better man, and I believe it will one day result in me being a better father (as I do not currently have any children of my own).

Why is it important to allow young boys to play with dolls? Think about the status of families in the United States these days. Households are wrought with absent fathers. Now, there are many causes for this but a major cause is the lack of manhood in men; a lack of responsibility in men. Men have ceased to be taught how to put other people’s needs first. They have been raised to be selfish and have not learned how to sacrifice for others. They have not learned how to have healthy relationships with women. They have not learned how to chip in at home. They have not learned how to cooperate with others, particularly the mother of their child and/or children.

What better time to begin to instill the virtues needed for lifelong commitment in marriage and fatherhood than in a boy’s childhood. If we teach boys that men can do laundry, do the dishes, learn to sew, take care of children, change diapers, read to babies, clean the house they will be better prepared for manhood, for family life. Afterall, men living in monastic communities must do all of these tasks, are monks any less manly than others? Try telling Saint Moses the Black that he wasn’t masculine enough. 🙂

My dad is a “man’s man.” He grew up a farmer,  entered the Army in the 60’s, returned home and joined the local volunteer fire department, drove semi-trucks, worked in a factory, renovated our house room by room down to the studs (teaching us vital carpentry skills, my brothers and sisters alike). My dad also could hand stitch better than my mom, a skilled amateur seamstress herself. Dad changed diapers, washed dishes, folded laundry, rocked children to sleep, and scrubbed toilets. Dad did not oppose my brothers and I playing with dolls or playing house. He also did not oppose to my sisters playing outdoors in the dirt, learning how to swing a hammer, or bait a hook. Lest we forget about Saint Joan of Arc and her break with societal  norms of her day (and even into our own time). There were no “women’s jobs” and “man’s jobs” there were only jobs to be done for the support of the family. There was work to be done in order to support and sustain the family and both boys and girls were expected to do it. Dad helped us all learn true masculinity by ensuring that we did not impose false definitions about what it means to be a man. Instead he taught us how to love, sacrifice, forgive, persevere, fidelity, and honesty by his actions and the lessons he taught us.

There are clear differences between men and women. There are clear distinctions that must be made with regards to femininity and masculinity and cannot be ignored. Men and women compliment each other, they cannot be confused as being the “same.” However, we must be careful not to impose artificial social-constructs or stereotypes on femininity and masculinity. Doing so creates problems in many areas of life, perhaps none more than marriage and family life.

So, I simply ask, if your son or nephew comes out of the toy room carrying a doll, take the time to show him how to hold it right and care for the imaginary infant, rather than tell him to go put it away. Maybe even sit down and help show him how to make supper for the family in the imaginary kitchen. You just might help restore marriage and family life in our world.