As we spend more time with the ones we love, we have an even greater need to say these three very important words- “I am sorry!”
Let us make special notice that how we say sorry makes a world of difference depending on where the words are coming from…
Only our mouth: “Sorry!” uttered after taking and refusing to give back a toy or a nasty comment spoken without any feelings of sorrow. – Meaningless!
Merely our mind: “I am sorry for…. but I had a good reason because you…!” – Missed the mark of sorrow with the important “but” thrown in exempting need for real sorrow of the one asking!
Our deeply contrite heart: “I am really sorry that I caused you the pain I did with my choice to not love….” – Allows healing and forgiveness to begin!
Love for another drives our hearts to strive to be the best of ourselves and to find ways to make amends when we do not choose love. These words have the power to heal and to change when said with sincerity and true contrition (or sorrow for our sins). Contrition can only come from a humble realization of our failings and a longing to become more like our perfect God.
As we continue to focus on prayer during this Friday blog, let us consider contrition as another important type of communicating with God.
The first step must be to be honest before God and with ourselves of our failure to love. When we refuse to see our sins as an attack on our relationship with God and with each other, we cannot comprehend the need for true contrition; and therefore, we are not truly seeking communion with God in prayer.
“Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’ Sin is an offense against God: ‘Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.’ Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.” (CCC 1849-1850)
To sum it up, sin is any choice that disobeys God’s law and hurts our relationship with Him. Sin is not a buffet table where we can choice what is called sin and what is okay because it is currently socially acceptable.
The second step must happen during our daily prayer time with God asking Him to open our eyes to our failures. As we begin to see our sinful choices more clearly, we acknowledge that we chose ourselves and our wants over Him.
The next step is to experience contrition within our hearts as we long to have nothing in the way of our union with Him. Every day, we should take time at the end of our day to reflect on the choices we made that pulled us further away from our God who is Love. A daily examination of conscience is a practice that many of the saints did to keep them on the path to holiness. There are a multitude of daily choices that we make that can lead us away from the path to Heaven or keep us clearly on it. Two methods to examine our conscience are to consider how we failed to obey the 10 Commandments or how we failed to love as stated in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 13.
When our heart is filled with repentance, we can ask God to forgive all our sins. A great place to read a prayer of contrition is to read Psalm 51. It shows a heart ready for a change because of a deep sorrow within.
As the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) reminds us, our Heavenly Father is waiting for us to turn around and repent. He knows our failures, but He rejoices even more in our repentance.
The last essential step of contrition is to be open to saying “I am sorry” from the depth of our heart daily. After we have humbly reflected on our sins and wrong choices for the day, we should pray the Act of Contrition, which is a prayer of sorrow. It is the official prayer for the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we ask for forgiveness of our sins.
Praying the Act of Contrition daily allows our heart to be more ready for the Sacrament of forgiveness. It also enables us to be more in tune to our need for this incredible gift that Jesus gave to His Church to forgive sins. If we say the Act of Contrition every day, we will know it perfectly for our next Reconciliation where we receive absolution from the sins that we have daily reflected on and sought forgiveness from. It is also great to pray together with your family, too, as our witness of seeking forgiveness speaks volumes to our children. This need for contrition in our prayer is shown even in the Mass during the Penitential Rite and Confiteor which we pray before we listen to the Word of God and receive Christ in Holy Communion.
These words of “I am sorry” are not uttered nearly enough in families, communities, and society. In our times when sin abounds around us, let us seek daily a time of contrition before God so that we can receive a clean heart that is united with Him. May each one of us become a source of true contrition and forgiveness starting in our daily time with God! It is only through each individual’s change of heart that our world can change for the better.
CCC 1849-1850. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Retrieved from https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Homeschool Coordinator
Published: 17 July 2020
A Reflection on Sunday’s Readings July 19, 2020
Over the past several weeks we have followed Matthews’s Gospel as he shares the scenes, stories, and teachings of Jesus, both in the daily readings and our weekend liturgies. On this Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we are presented with the continuation of chapter 13 from the previous Sunday Gospel. We once again join the crowds by the sea sitting around Jesus as he teaches in parables.
Jesus proposes another parable, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.” —Matthew 13:24-26
This brings to mind individuals that pose the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, this parable might help to reconcile this issue of evil existing among us. Here Jesus is trying to enlighten us to the fact that though we might work hard and put much interest in sowing good seeds, there are in fact forces of evil that work against us, yes the evil one is in our midst!
Just as Jesus has sown the good seed of His Word and watered it with the outpouring of His own precious blood, the evil one, the devil, has also been at work trying to undermine all of the efforts of our Lord. But as we center on the truth, we see that the Divine Sower, Jesus, does not allow the evil one to steal His peace. Instead, He has allowed the actions of the evil one to remain for now. But in the end, Jesus states that evil and all the works of evil will be destroyed and burned in the unquenchable fire.
This parable is as true now for us as it was at the time Jesus told it because we see that Jesus does not root out all evil in our world, although it is within His power. Jesus refrains so that the good fruit of the Kingdom will not be negatively affected. In other words, this parable reveals to us the interesting truth that there are “weeds” all around us, that is, evil is alive within our world. It is up to us to ensure that it does not affect our growth in virtue and entrance into the Kingdom of God. The reality is we may have to endure evil on a daily basis and find ourselves completely surrounded by it at times, but our Lord’s willingness to allow evil for now is a clear sign that He absolutely knows it cannot affect our growth in virtue if we do not let it.
It is our responsibility to reflect upon the “weeds” around us, the evil in the world. It is essential that we be able to recognize and name evil for what it is. If we stand in the truth of Jesus evil cannot ultimately affect us. It might cause great pain, we may even feel crucified at times, but despite the malicious attacks of the evil one, he will ultimately be defeated.
Today, we must reflect and meditate upon the hope that this truth brings, reconcile ourselves to the knowledge that we live with evil, but we must not accept evil and we are to renew our trust in the power and love of God.
Prayers asking for the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel as we face and defend ourselves against the “weeds” that surround us….
St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
O glorious prince St. Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts,
guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits,
servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor,
you who shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil,
who turn to you with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection
to serve God more and more faithfully every day.
Author: Deacon Jeff Borski, Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Published: 12 July 2020
In Communication with God: A Catholic Family’s Devotion to Prayer
Growing up in Catholic households and communities, prayer surrounded our lives before we were even old enough to thoroughly understand its power and meaning. We were taught at a young age to pray; however, it was not until adulthood that we had to examine the importance of prayer in our lives as our young children inevitably threw questions at us for which we were not prepared. And so in an effort to answer their questions, we had to come to a deeper understanding of our faith: why is prayer important?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. John Damascus on defining prayer as “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559). Prayer is our primary communication with God, and in that communication, we cultivate our relationship with Him. Through prayer, we create a life-giving connection that energizes and invigorates all other facets of our faith as we seek Him out.
As we grew our Catholic family, we were faced with the monumental task of passing on this life-giving connection to our children. We started small, not wanting to overwhelm our young family with a lofty commitment; rather, we wanted to start a habit of incorporating prayer. This year, we set a Lenten goal of saying one decade of the Rosary before bedtime—one “Our Father,” ten “Hail Marys,” and one “Glory Be.” This Lenten goal was a gift to us, bringing forth fruits in our family we couldn’t have imagined. Our children learned their prayers, began talking to God, truly conversing with Him as if He was right there in the room. God’s presence was tangible when we prayed together as a family, and when Lent was over, we didn’t stop praying. In the joys of Easter, we committed to praying the rosary every night and have continued since. As St. Padre Pio famously said, “the rosary is the weapon for these times.” We firmly believe that the power of prayer has transformed our family during a tumultuous time, keeping us afloat in the storms that have come in one form or another.
While prayer might begin as a spoken entreaty to God, it does not end there. As Jesus described the growth of a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), a devout disciple may grow the smallest spoken prayer into magnificent deeds, actions that touch the lives of family, friends, and neighbors. This is where the true power of prayer becomes manifest. A family in prayer is a family-oriented to God, eager to follow and draw closer, to learn about Him and His ways more intimately, bringing themselves and everyone they touch closer to God. In the words of Mother Teresa, “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”
This is why prayer matters, why a dialogue with God the Father has significance. It is the answer to the secular disposition that “thoughts and prayers” are useless and of little comfort to the oppressed. While many outside the faith demand action and change through culture or law, it is the faithful, tethered to God in the spiritual nourishment of their connection with Him, who enact a loving commitment to the poor, hungry, sick, and suffering in a manner that can transform their lives. Without God, we are only trusting ourselves, and thus, we are only serving ourselves. It is only through our connection to God by constant and earnest prayer that we may know His will, which is love and mercy itself and carry His divine Love to each of our brothers and sisters.
Our family is deeply tethered to the rosary, a powerful way to communicate to God through his mother, but there are many other ways to pray as well. Some pray using Lectio Divina, or Scripture. Some pray in groups gathered together for a holy purpose. Still, others may prefer a quiet prayer in the morning and/or the evening on their own time. As busy parents, sometimes we offer all we can to the Lord in the moment of what we’re doing. “Come, Holy Spirit” is a prayer often offered in the cracks of our day.
No matter how it is done, the power of prayer cannot be understated or underemphasized, as prayer is a central tenet to our Catholic faith, the ultimate key to healthy communication, and therefore, a relationship with God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) retrieved from https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p4s1.htm
Authors: Gordon & Theresa Newman, CCE Parents
Published: 10 July 2020
LIFE IN CHRIST
MAN’S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
THE HUMAN COMMUNION
II. CONVERSION AND SOCIETY
1886 Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which “subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones:”8
Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.9
1887 The inversion of means and ends,10 which results in giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it, or in viewing persons as mere means to that end, engenders unjust structures which “make Christian conduct in keeping with the commandments of the divine Law-giver difficult and almost impossible.”11
1888 It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it.12
1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.”13 This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”14
What is the interior conversion needed today in the society of our country so that we might respond more in charity to the needs of others in society, especially those who are different from us?
Why do you think the Church describes her path as the narrow way of charity that passes between the cowardice of inaction and the violence of forcing decisions on others?
Today there is much talk about individual rights that even seem to place them above the rights of the society or community. The needs of the society for its development and wellbeing supersede those of the individual. For example, we may speak of an individual’s right to drive because she has her driver’s license. Yet this individual right gives way to respecting society and other drivers on the road, respecting laws meant for the healthy wellbeing of everyone.
Reference: The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Author: Fr. Philip Wilhite, Pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School
Published: 07 July 2020
A Reflection on the readings for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 12, 2020
Our lives have been upended these last few months with the Coronavirus, the economic collapse, and all the additional struggles we face in our day to day lives. My greatest consolation is that amidst all this chaos, God is right there present with us . . .
Nothing is impossible with God (Mt 17:20) on our side, which means, we must be on his side, too. What does that look like? We must take time to “be with the one we love.” If we say we love someone, we talk, listen and develop a relationship with them. God is no different and in fact, it is a must that we establish a relationship of prayer and intimacy with our Lord. This intimacy takes time and TRUST in the Lord. How do we know he is trustworthy? In Isaiah 55, the LORD our God says that if he wills something to happen, it WILL happen! His word will “achieve the end for which I sent it” says the LORD. Let our faith guide our life . . . if He says it, it will happen!
We may ask, “Well why doesn’t he do something to relieve the suffering?” I would answer, “He has and is continuing to help us.” The problem is that many times we don’t have the “eyes to see or ears to hear” as the Gospel message tells us. We want our situation fixed the way WE want it to be fixed. That is not the way of a loving Father. He allows us to suffer so that we grow in faith, hope and love – always! He never allows suffering unless good can come from it, but that assumes that we cooperate with his method of “raising his children.”
This is difficult to accept, just remember what it was like when you were a teenager and your parents directed your life . . . we did not like it, because we thought we knew better. As it turns out, I know now, as an adult, my father and mother were right! We are immature children, spiritually, and God is constantly wanting us to grow up!
The difficulties we face in our lives are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven, to those who “endure to the end.” (Mt 10:22) In other words, God is saying, whatever you have endured during your earthly life, it is worth it! In this way, you get the greatest gift – eternal life! This “endurance” is gained by being “set free from the slavery of corruption.” In other words, freedom from sin. Sin is the only thing that can make our suffering ineffectual. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us, especially through the Sacraments, we are empowered to overcome our habitual sins – we must become holy! If we say, “I can’t be holy,” that is the greatest lie that Satan has perpetuated throughout history. Read The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity by Matthew Kelly. It is very readable and not too lengthy. He writes that if Satan can convince us that holiness is not achievable, Satan will win the battle for our souls. Don’t be fooled! Believe that God’s grace can overcome ANY of our weakness as St. Paul states, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
This classic parable of Jesus is what we need to be told every day, “Listen to me.” The LORD speaks to us throughout our day . . . do we listen? Do we say with Samuel, “Speak LORD, your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:10) or do we want to do our will? The parable of the sower has a key example that I would like to highlight . . . that of the seed falling on rocky ground. The LORD tells us that the seed that falls on rocky ground receives the word of God with joy, but as soon as tribulations and difficulties arise, they fall away from the faith because their roots were shallow. Our challenge is to establish “deep roots” in Christ.
The best way to establish “deep roots” is as follows: 1) Confess and repent of our sins. 2) Receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist every week, if possible. 3) Study and meditate on The Word of God (the Bible) every day. 4) Spend quiet time with the LORD every day, at least 10 minutes in the morning and before bed, more if possible. 5) Serve those in need, start with your family and work outwards. 6) Fast every Friday or once per week. 7) Repeat steps 1 through 6.
Bearing fruit is the way that we know we are living “in Christ.” If we do not bear fruit, the consequences are serious . . . The LORD says, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7:15-20) Let’s make sure we are bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God . . . so as to see each other in heaven one day!
Peace be with you,
Author: Henry Avila
Published: 06 July 2020
Life is a pilgrimage, a journey. But what kind of journey? I once heard a story of two friends. They had been friends since childhood. One day one of them packed his bags and told his friend he felt called to move to another city. He established himself in a tiny room where he had minimum furnishings. His friend came to visit him and was surprised to see how he lived. When he asked his friend why he lived this way his answer left him pondering, “I do not need more; I am a Pilgrim on the journey I don’t need many things, I need to be ready at any time.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” —St. Augustine
This truth about ourselves is what keeps us seeking union with all that is from God. We seek Him interiorly through prayer and solitude. In some way a pilgrimage is a journey in which we search for God, for a connection with all that we consider holy, spiritual.
A Pilgrimage someone said, “is a Journey a person feels they need to take”. In all times and in all religions, there has been this drive for pilgrimage. Sometimes it is out of grief or the need for penance or seeking healing. Other times people want to visit places where someone that has been an object of their studies or influential in their spiritual journey lived or died. They want to retrace or follow in their footstep’s seeking further illumination and inspiration.
If you ask pilgrims, you will find all sorts of answers. Some of those answers are I come on pilgrimage in search of purpose in life or seeking spiritual wellbeing. I come on pilgrimage seeking adventure following the footsteps of someone. I come seeking peace and prayer. A Pilgrimage is an opportunity to take things slower and reflect on my life. I come to visit Mary who I believe is present here.
We could say all these answers are valid reasons to go on Pilgrimage. Today many people mix Pilgrimage with tourism and I guess that is all good. But why would you want to go on a Pilgrimage? Where would you go on Pilgrimage?
I have been privileged to go on many pilgrimages for one or more of these reasons, but the common reason has been that I felt I was being called to that Pilgrimage for a reason. Pilgrimages require prayer and solitude and an open disposition to embrace the inspirations and graces that will be received. I have never gone on a Pilgrimage where I have not come back with insights and graces from above.
Who does not remember St. Helena from Constantinople who in the early centuries journeyed to the Holy Land seeking to see and bring back holy relics of Our Lord Jesus Christ and build churches to mark and remember these holy places.
Many Saints have wanted to reach the Holy Land like St Francis of Assisi or St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although St. Ignatius never made it to the Holy Land, he did embark on a very powerful Pilgrimage experience that led to the development of his Ignatian Discernment Exercises and later to the foundation of the Jesuits as we know them. This experience was so powerful that he included in the Constitution of his community that all novices do a Pilgrimage before their profession of vows. “He believed that a Pilgrimage for the novice sent out with practically nothing was a real battle to overcome themselves and find freedom from the chains of their disordinate affections, and their attachments, in order to get to know Gods plans an follow in Jesus footsteps with a free heart.”1
Life is a true Pilgrimage we all must embark on. Our journey takes us through all life’s challenges and difficulties to our destination. We need to be equipped with the Virtues of Faith Hope and Love in order to find our last resting place which will be eternal. No one knows when the last stop will be, but we must be ready. We may say that our spiritual progress is that journey into the encounter with God who has been waiting for us as well as following and supporting us through the journey. But we must embark and not waste time. The journey is going to be full of distractions and difficulties. We are going to find many crossroads and we will have to discern which is the right path. As we journey, we will also be called to mission and that will be part of the journey. All of Christ-followers have a mission in life. Part of the journey is precisely to discover this mission and then to embark on it. Jesus is the way; our Faith in the Resurrected Jesus must be our focus and his teachings our map. We put ourselves in danger when we deviate or forget the commandments or forget to seek God’s graces in the Sacraments.
I ask you to read the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25: 1-13. Keep in mind that our lamps need to have enough oil to be let when the bridegroom shows up to take you to His Father’s house. Too many people are caught unprepared, we can only pray for them and hope in the loving mercy of the Lord.
Now think on your next pilgrimage. How will you prepare for it?
What kind of pilgrimage will it be?
Will you be listening and attentive to the invitation?
If you are interested in learning more about Pilgrimages, I would recommend to you a series of documentaries with Simond Reefe on Pilgrimage found in YouTube. Some of the comments from pilgrims were taken from his documentary. Watch the latest cartoon “The Pilgrims Progress” based on the book written by John Buyan otherwise you can find many versions of it on YouTube, and if you are interested in a book I would recommend The Way of a Pilgrim translated by Helen Bacovcin, Image Books, USA, 1934.
Since during this time of COVID-19 we cannot partake in a physical pilgrimage to a Catholic holy site or shrine, consider a pilgrimage of the heart in a virtual opportunity from your own home:
- Pick a holy site that God inspires you to visit-prepare your heart for your “journey”, prayerfully explore the site’s virtual tour, spend time in prayer and if possible attend streamed Mass at that site. This link has some of the most beautiful Churches that have virtual tours but there are so many more to choose from.
- “Visit” 3 sites in the Holy Land with University of Notre Dame- http://faith.nd.edu/s/1210/faith/interior.aspx?sid=1210&gid=609&pgid=32742
- Sign up before July 9 to “visit” Lourdes In a special virtual pilgrimage- https://lourdesvolunteers.org/online-lourdes-virtual-pilgrimage-experience-2/
- Attend a Virtual Pilgrimage at the Institute of Catholic Theology by enrolling in this free course taught by Fr. Steve Kunkel.
I pray that all who read this paper will prepare and be ready for the journey of a lifetime and that they may enjoy pilgrimages that will get them closer to fulfilling the journey to heaven, our true PILGRIMAGE.
1 Mensajero. Jose SL, El Camino Ignaciano Translated from Spanish to English, Iriberri, Jose, SJ Mensajero 100. Bilbao, 2015
Author: Alicia I Perez Nuno, Religious Educator and Spiritual Director
Published: 03 July 2020
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel? I don’t know, he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Sometimes we are all like Cain and don’t want to be concerned about the other people around us. Still, we have a responsibility towards each person, whether we like it or not – a responsibility to care for them and look out for their wellbeing. They, in turn, have the same responsibility towards us. Living fully these responsibilities is what occurs by God’s grace as we build up His kingdom of justice, truth and unconditional love. And at times we fail, and fail greatly, to live fully what God asks from us.
Regarding our failures, I’m reminded of when St. John Paul II was preparing the Church to celebrate the jubilee year in 2000 that he invited the Cardinals to Rome and asked them to bring ideas of how they thought we should celebrate. When they arrived he was anxiously awaiting and began the session stating he wanted to share his idea first. What was his idea? St. John Paul II suggested that the Church make a list of everyone she hurt, even unintentionally, over the past 2000 years and apologize when possible and make amends. He did just this and some of us Catholics were appalled asking why we should apologize for something that’s over and that we didn’t participate in. St. John Paul II knew and taught us that the wounds of the past remain beneath the scars of the present and complete healing necessitates opening the scar covered wounds and applying the healing ointment of forgiveness, binding them in bandages of new change that integrates being one’s brother’s keeper with an abundance of respect for the dignity of every human being.
Loss of Respect in Society
Today there is a great loss of respect for others and for their property and belongings. I remember growing up in North Houston in times when we rarely locked the back door and Dad would leave his car keys on the floorboard in his car. As neighbors, we looked after one another for security, when someone was ill or when there was a death in the neighborhood. We grew up learning how to be our brother’s keeper and how to be a good neighbor. I’m certain we didn’t live it out perfectly, but we did strive towards this common goal.
Police reform and Black Lives
First, thank you to all policewomen and men who already and daily serve the community professionally and with respect. As I mentioned in my homily weeks ago, the bad behavior of one or some doesn’t mean that all police are guilty of it. Black lives matter – not to be confused with the organization and its numerous agenda items – but simply and urgently referring to the lives of all of our black brothers and sisters IS A CRY FOR CHANGE. It’s an open invitation to dialogue on how we are and yet too how we have failed to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper regarding those of color.
So while we, the Catholic Church, espouse the belief and understanding that ALL LIVES MATTER – we appreciate wisdom passed on for generations that insists that we bring forward in our care and conversations those brothers and sisters whose lives – at times – are not fully respected nor treasured. The seamless garment of Jesus, for which the soldiers cast lots, is the symbol utilized by our Church regarding the seamless garment of humanity – ALL LIVES MATTER. Yet even our Lord became vocal to defend the life of an individual – to single out a person, a particular culture, and – yes, even a particular race. Jesus did so when he defended the woman caught in adultery when he stood up for Zaccheus the tax collector when he chose to converse with the Samaritan woman and most poignantly when he answered the question “and just who is my neighbor” with the telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember the Samaritans were considered halfbreeds – impure as a race, not just a culture, due to mixed marriages with pagans around them. Jesús was likely expected to have told the Parable of the Good Israeli. Perhaps we could rewrite this well-known parable and title it the Parable of the Good Black American.
Is it not a travesty to be more concerned about the wellbeing of statues, even religious ones that are desecrated, while not raising our voices concerned about the plight of another human being – be that person unborn or a prisoner, Black or white, young or old? Surely our lives and those of our brothers and sisters count for more than these inanimate objects.
Here I’m reminded of a homily I heard as a seminarian from Fr. Frank Fabj when he was parochial vicar at my home parish. The news all week carried the story of efforts to save a whale that had beached itself. I still feel Fr. Frank’s passion as he told us to “WAKE UP”. Telling us the obvious truth: it’s good and well to save and protect animals but it is wrong to be more concerned with saving stray animals and protecting endangered species than we are about our brother or sister in need.
Statues can be replaced, human beings cannot. BUT two wrongs never make something right. Violence does beget violence. So let’s STOP the violence and return to peaceful protests inspired by Martin Luther King who himself was inspired by our Lord who told Peter to put away his sword. Statues and paintings are often a reflection of the freedom of the artist who created them. This artistic license allows for a blending of past history and the present moment. Not every painting, statue nor stained glass window is meant to be historically correct nor need to be.
If statues of historical figures of the Confederacy, even ones erected with goodwill, are symbols of times of oppression and slavery to our black brothers and sisters- what shall we do with them? Certainly, we shouldn’t be destroying them but maybe they belong in a museum rather than in places of public honor where they could still teach and instruct regarding how the evil of slavery existed in this land but didn’t have the victory over good.
Would we think it good to fly a flag of the German swastika in places of public honor throughout Israel? Certainly, there are other such parallels we could consider that would help us to know and understand better what our black brothers and sisters experience.
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Shall I walk a mile in his moccasins?
What would I discover and how might I engage in being my brother’s (and sister’s) keeper?
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Author: Fr. Philip Wilhite, Pastor, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School
Published: 30 June 2020
A Reflection on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2020
Our 4-year-old gets overwhelmed easily. Especially these past few months, he doesn’t understand why our busy household—work, school, parish life, extracurricular activities—stopped with little warning back in March. Almost hourly each day, he finds us, reaches up, and asks, “Can you hold me?”
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”1
As parents, we carry similar anxiety, wanting to control circumstances beyond our expertise and understanding, frustrated when things don’t go the way we think they should, feeling pressured to count ourselves among “the wise and the learned” instead of the “little ones.” Perhaps we could learn a lesson from our 4-year-old.
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, can you hold me?
A few years ago, we were cutting down a large dead tree in our yard. One wrong estimation, and we’d have a 30-foot tree across the road, in our kitchen window, or worse, on top of one of us. The sound of a chainsaw called our neighbors to their driveways to watch.
After several cuts, we began talking anxiously under the precarious tree. Had we cut far enough through the trunk? Why wasn’t the tree falling? The YouTube video showed you cut this way and then that way and then it comes down.
We finally swallowed our pride and called over our neighbor for help. Within minutes, he pulled the ropes and directed the tree in a perfect crash onto our yard.
A job that was causing great anxiety became instantly simpler with the presence of a caring, competent friend.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”2
Am I receiving the comfort and rest of God’s presence? Or am I trying to carry heavy burdens alone? Father, Lord of heaven and earth, can you hold me?
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”3
“Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus offers in this Sunday’s Gospel (emphasis added).
Am I carrying Jesus’ yoke—with his help—or am I carrying burdens alone? Things become so complicated when we push forward alone. Father, Lord of heaven and earth, can you hold me?
“…For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”4
Lord, please transform the worry of my daily work and the overwhelming concerns around me with the peace of your presence. Father, Lord of heaven and earth, can you hold me?
Authors: Wally & Charlene Bader
Published: 28 June 2020
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