Eucharistic Coherence

Catholic forums and the USBC are ablaze with the meaning of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The term of the day is “Eucharistic Coherence.” George Weigel does a pretty good job summarizing in one article called “The Challenge of Eucharistic Coherence” on February 3, 2021.[i]   Why the uproar now? 

We have a Catholic President who does not politically support “Right to Life” issues regarding the unborn sufficiently to align with Catholic values on this serious issue[ii] despite the rest of his life and his values being consistent with the overall dignity of life values that the Catholic Church teaches (care for the poor, access to healthcare, housing, education, equality, dignity, capital punishment, immigration, etc.).    He is perhaps the anti-trump where the flip is historically accurate where his actions, at least legally on the right to life front, were aggressive but poorly lacking everyplace else. 

The Catholic Church is unsure of itself and rightly so about President Biden and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  The act of committing abortion meets three elements required that would easily preclude receiving the Eucharistic Sacrament:

  1. Abortion fits the Catholic Church definition of a “Grave matter” or a “Mortal Sin” as Catholicism considers the unborn child fully human from conception.  Abortion is murder.
  2. Full-knowledge of the sin being committed is also a factor.  No doubt President Biden is fully aware of his commitments to Catholicism versus his oath as president.  The latter is a civil authority not aligned with Catholicism in all areas of law. 
  3. The person must freely choose to commit or act or plan to do it.

To my knowledge, President Biden has not met any of these conditions.  However, the Catholic Church would say he is complicit, as is our nation that ignores this issue, and many others, the dignity of life whether or not we commit an act or do not actively criminalize and incarcerate non-Catholics and Catholics who do not follow our moral definition of when life begins.    

At issue is what to do about Catholics who willfully receive communion while not in a state of grace suitable for receiving the body and blood of Christ.

I have myself, on occasion, felt unworthy of communion and willfully opted out until, with the assistance of a confessor, I sorted somethings out to bring myself somewhat closer to an acceptable state of grace to participate in Holy Communion. Was that necessary? I can make the theological case that if I approached communion with genuine intention and placed my faults, the sacrament could absorb my sinful state without blemish.  Was I guilty of grave sin?  I have been guilty of grave sins or sins that are of grave matter as any premeditated “sin of a serious nature deliberately committed is a rejection of God’s law and love.”

Have you been historically or recently guilty of grave sin?  Before you answer this question, read “What is a Mortal Sin?” [iii]. I myself am a fan of Dante’s work detailing sins:

Who among you are free of capital sins such as pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth?  All of these are an affront to God by Catholic definition (Capital sins).  Or how about St. Pauls list: 

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Catholic Church has rules for the faithful (doctrine, traditions, etc.), and many of these rules are not suggestions! Immersing oneself in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Article Three[iv] is only a starting point for conducting a spiritual examination before receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist each Sunday.  Aside from the prohibitions that are brief, this article contains 21 pages on the Eucharistic Sacrament’s beauty and meaning. 

Think of it as an elaborate invitation to the most prestigious human gale, ball, event, or wedding.  You are invited with the expectation that you will come prepared.  There is no expectation that somebody else has to check you at the door for proper attire, etc.!  They were some serious robes to the Last Supper.

What to do when these rules are not followed gets religiously complicated quickly. The Church has rarely managed well its power dynamic with kings, autocrats, dictators, or presidents. Ex-communication is the method used and authorized by Canon law:

“In Roman Catholic canon law, ex-communication is a censure and thus a “medicinal penalty” intended to invite the person to change behavior or attitude that incurred the penalty, repent, and return to full communion.[3] Ex-communication severs one from communion with the Church; excommunicated Catholics are forbidden from receiving any sacrament and refused a Catholic burial but are still bound by canonical obligations such as attending Mass or fasting seasonally. Excommunicated Catholics, however, are barred from receiving the Eucharist or from taking an active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.).[4] They are still Catholics per se, but are separated from the Church” Wikipedia has a list of excommunicated people from the first century to the current![v].

How many Catholics on Sunday morning conduct a sincere spiritual examination of their state of grace before receiving communion? If equipped to perform such an examination, what percentage would be short of the required grace defined by the Catholic Catechism?

I am less worried about President Biden’s state of grace than my own. I also have a hard time believing that one sinner or a thousand receiving the Eucharist with meaningful intention while not in a state of grace can in any way diminish God or the body of the church. I hold the sacrament as so powerful that it can heal any who come to the table willing to be healed.

The charge being levied at President Biden is Eucharistic Incoherence. I levy the same charge at myself and those throwing the stones first at Catholicism’s broad incoherence historically and current. As an institution we are far from without blemish and “more is being revealed” to us individually and collectively everyday as our humanity strives towards spiritual coherence.

We do strive to be and behave the opposite virtues of the “seven deadly sins.” What are they anyway?

Most of us are there trying our best to live a holy life, falling short individually and collectively. Celebrate and strengthen each other as these virtues are all around us everyday – people doing the right thing in the face of adversity. Let us not rush to judge or condemn with superficial knowledge and righteousness so quickly and may we receive equal consideration when our time for judgement comes today or at the end of days.

The Eucharistic Celebration, at its most basic level as originally intended, is miraculous and uniquely Catholic. Many words and paintings try to capture its essence, but only a personal journey and faith can truly reveal its meaning. Coherent or incoherent post I cannot decipher. I have not answered the President Biden dilemma that is apt to be misused by dividers and antagonist rather than by sincere soul-searching believers seeking coherence within and outside the faith.


[i]https://www.thebostonpilot.com/opinion/article.asp?ID=189316

[ii] https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a34205908/joe-biden-stance-on-abortion/

[iii] http://www.saintaquinas.com/mortal_sin.html

[iv] https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P3W.HTM

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_excommunicated_by_the_Catholic_Church

Tribute to Rush Limbaugh?

I remember President Trump being unable or unwilling to address gracefully the deaths of political foes or deaths that were inconvenient politically. Others before him did a better job on the national stage. Most of us can take off our fighting gloves when death visits us, even if only for momentary pause, a recognition of a fellow humans light being blown out for the last time.

My Aunt Gertrude many years ago listened to Rush everyday. He painted a worldview that protected her beliefs and identity as the rest of the world was moving away. It gave her peace and perhaps took off the edge of loneliness as an elderly person living in her suburban home alone in Nassau county.


Rush, thank you for providing her security as the world changed. I am confident that within your bio there once was an innocent political passion to be the vanguard of honorable Republican idealism and maybe even embers of that idealism during your waning days. Another opinion piece today gave you credit for building a very profitable and powerful conservative empire catering to all the Aunt Gertrudes nationally and new republicans in the 80s, 90s, and even today. The author also said your vision and that of several like you has ended in ashes. He said so respectfully.


I want to thank you for giving me a point on my first time ever playing in a Deadpool game. When invited to play this 2021 gambling pool to pick ten celebrities that will pass in 2021, I fondly picked you. Don’t get all ideological on me.

I also have Jimmy Carter on my list, who I didn’t like as President, but adore for his post Presidency life. My list has both heroes and villains, non-discriminatory picking from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (my team name). You and God will sort out where you fit now.


Perhaps I was a little discriminating with my list of ten. I outright could not put Pope Francis on my list both for my admiration for his Jesuit principles and for fear of being struct with great misfortune if I did!

Where does this all fit with Christian thought on sin, forgiveness, and divine Providence? For the first time now, Rush may indeed know more now than any of us who remain here toiling in human mediocrity striving for spiritual perfection.


And yes gamblers out there, there is even a pool for who will die next. Check out stiffs.com. Don’t mock me, you probably have bought life insurance before or know someone who owns a policy that may benefit you!

www.nytimes.com/2021/02/20/opinion/sunday/rush-limbaugh-dead-reaction.html

USCCB Idiocy

I penned a letter to The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops just now making the same mistake they made with their penned Inauguration Day letter. If you read the Bishops letter you would immediately note it missed the beauty of the inauguration, the many Catholic aspects and values presented, and its inconsistency with Pope Francis message as well. My error was writing my concerns at all to their media office. My words were not well thought out or prayed on, though I think my discernment with intent was on target, my words were far from kind or gentle. Here is what I wrote:

“Dear USCCB;  Once again the usccb.org has devalued Catholics, the usccb.org, and the teachings of Jesus Christ by the issuance of the inauguration statement that was so clearly political and beneath the office of the Bishops.  Handed a gift on that day, the conference chose to pen a letter of further division.  Church  authorities continue to make it difficult to defend the faith and truly be the light we seek to represent.  Reprehensible and reactive action  – ill-timed and selfishly released by usccb.  The ever shrinking Catholic lay public continues to lose confidence in the usccb as its leadership continues to thrive on being the news rather than being the solution.  No humility.  No discernment.  Why I am I writing a letter to express my discontent I do not know.  I have no expectation of the usccb.org to be able to set the horizon of ideal Catholic values and social teaching without itself becoming muddied in acrimony, division, and greed (for status, power, money, and positioning within the church).  I start my day with readings from usccb.  At the moment, I am very saddened and want to walk away from the usccb.  I want to cancel my direct debit weekly contributions.  I want to encourage others to leave.  That is not what I will do, but others will, thanks to the shortsightedness of that penned hypocritical letter.   Our nation has been through so much under the former administration – not to mention the rush to execute people on the way out the door, that to see this petty response is just plain idiocy and self-aggrandizing behavior, not the word of God being expressed by humble servants.”

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

The lines I have highlighted may be different than the ones that catch your eye so I have reposted here without commentary. I cannot imagine anyone not having heard her inauguration poem. Her oration and presentation equaled her writing. She at the young age of 22 was unknown to me, but famous to many as a youth poet Laurette at age 19. Her story includes a challenge with the “spoken word” that she holds dearly as part of life purpose and legacy at the young age of 22. A Harvard graduate with a dream of perhaps a political future? If you have not heard her work, now is the time to take a break and listen to a new voice of wisdom and hope in America:

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.

That even as we grieved, we grew.

That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried.

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.

But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain.

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Arrows of God

The recent Washington Capital riot and our national response has sent me to a quiet place to reflect and contemplate where we went wrong. Pursuit of power by any means became evident. “Too often, even in our own Catholic tradition, we have aligned our power with the power of the state, with the power of money, with the power of control, with the power of authority, or with the power of ambition, and as a result, we have distorted and even avoided the true meaning of spiritual power.”[i] We have become immune to the arrows of God.

arrow in leg

This a.m. the movement of power and shift of power orientation exemplified by Christ came to light. John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness preparing Christ’s way[ii] and John the Evangelist were both at the baptism of Jesus.  John the Baptist was practicing asceticism and cleansing baptisms in the desert.  John the Evangelist was a disciple of John the Baptist.  The first John prepared the way for Jesus Christ and the second would witness and document Christ’s life (3 Letter of John, the Gospel of John, and perhaps the book of Revelation (theological debate). 

Between the two of them and many others the definitions of power were upended forever as witnesses and Disciples of Christ.  One of today’s readings from John the evangelist, 1 Jn 5:1-9[iii], describes how the baptism and sacrifice of Jesus Christ transformed our understanding of power to how we could overcome the world by living in Christ.   That is when our faith shifted out alignment with political or religious authority to a higher power.

“In Truth, I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever rears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”[iv]   This was presumably written by St. Luke the Evangelist (fifth book of the new testament).  We have mutual accountability in every nation and individually here as well as in the United States.

In essence, Jesus came into the world as religious and political leaders were thriving on abuse of power and lay people were aligning themselves with these institutions and their leaders in both practice and identity.  Both were used by the power of brute force and use of rhetorical persuasion to justify unjustifiable living.  He was the unsuspected answer to scripture of the old testament. 

Today, whether Democrat or Republican by political party, Christians answer to a higher power.  We still vote and participate in the world that we live in as Christ had John baptize him when there was no need.   Whether as a nation, or as individuals, we must “act rightly.” 

It is evident to all that any Christian has no viable justification for supporting Donald Trump other than  seeking alignment for affiliation with being considered powerful, increasing authority, gaining wealth, or pure ambition.  Alignment with Trump can be explained in no other way.  Note political alignment with the two American parties is not the issue – the issue is aligning with the actions of Trumpism, the lies, and the abuse of power that has killed many and harmed thousands by fiat. 

This idolization of Donald Trump by many Americans and even some religious institutions has demonstrated our loss of individual responsibility is a collective societal failure. 

Continue reading “Arrows of God”

Mysticism

Friedrick Nietzsche, German Philosopher, declared “God is Dead” in the late 1800s. In the 1980s I would author opposing papers regarding this assertion. The earlier version would assert an atheistic worldview and render belief in a personal God futile. The latter version would assert the opposite, that religion was dead, having lost its way and become a dead letter rather than anything representing a guide to a truly holy life. Post enlightenment and today we are far removed from the desert fathers or the mystics of the early Catholic Church.

After reading an article in America Media this a.m. “This is your soul on Mysticism” I wondered if Mysticism and prayer was “dead” in Catholicism and Christianity.

Mysticism is not dead. About a third of Catholic believers will report if asked that they have had a “mystical” experience. That is a pretty high number given few of us have a disciplined “mystical” or “contemplative” prayer life.

The pandemic has provided us with increased isolation and an awareness of our mortality. Confronting the power of prayer now or deepening one’s prayer life is a positive pandemic opportunity.

I don’t imagine us walling ourselves off like Julian of Norwich though sometimes I wish I could live a hermetical life. Take a look at this article. How has the pandemic increased or decreased your connection to God? Perhaps a spiritual retreat is in your future.

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/12/17/mysticism-covid-19-julian-norwich-239506

Death

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
Mark Twain

I have a healthy respect for death these days, though unlike Twain, I still retain a certain degree of fear regarding my mortality.

disgust

How prepared can we be for the dimming of our own light? I have witnessed the prepared and the unprepared. Neither is pleasant, but the prepared are far better off in the final moments.

If you had a year to prepare for the day the light goes off, what would you do? Is there someone close to you who needs help preparing as well? Our lives and the lives of those we love do not need to end with despair or disgust.

Give death its due in 2021:

Make a list of what is important to you and your loved ones. Some ideas may include:

  1. Create or update your advanced directive.
  2. Take care of any asset issues (Will).
  3. Make amends where you can except when to do so would hurt others.
  4. Consider seeing a spiritual advisor (of your religious belief).
  5. Love the people in your life all your remaining days.
  6. Bucket list?
  7. Help others prepare?
  8. Exercise and eat right.

Live Life:

Giving death its due does not mean not living life but the opposite. Bring joy and happiness wherever you go. Perhaps avoid things that might kill you or make you miserable to be around!

Choose activities wisely. No sense running towards death. You probably have many things you want to do still before you meet the guy in the hoodie.

excercise

All humor aside. We don’t want to live looking backward. Do what you can now, concretely. Get it done.

Knock off the low hanging fruit first. Build in some healthy habits. Work on the human relationships as if each one was a relationship with God himself! There are so many resources out there for managing “To do” list. Planning for eternity is probably ranks pretty high up their in priorities!

Planning for a peaceful death does not have to be grim. Done with levity and purpose, it will make the quality of your life now better! It is about living our best life now. Start with a list and then get a daily agenda productivity app to make things happen in the “Life Domains” that need the most attention: personal relationships, advanced directive, will, God, health now, bucket list, or whatever is important to you. Don’t let it escape you – stick to the list even if it proves tenacious. By the end of 2021 if you do this – people will notice something different about you! They might not know what it is, but they will want to know you more! Do it quietly or do it loudly – just get it done.

Peace and serenity await you.


peaceful-death-1

Poverty

The Catholic Church declares this month Poverty Awareness month: https://www.usccb.org/committees/catholic-campaign-human-development/poverty-awareness-month.

The call to all Catholics is for “solidarity with the poor.” It is an honorable goal. The site above has information and links to sites where you can take action.

A contrarian critical mood has gripped me regarding “solidarity with the poor.” We are the poor. No I am not saying I or you can claim abject poverty. The average American has about 8000 dollars cash available. Net worth medians vary by age from 13000 to roughly 200,000 dollars. By global standards this is not poverty.

Poverty awareness however is a difficult sell. That 8000 dollar savings account can be wiped out with one or two financial blows. The net worth median in real dollars keeps shrinking for most Americans.

Fear of economic failure is a realty for many Americans. It is not a comfortable subject. COVID 19 has wiped away a lot of wealth and moved many from green to red. The balance sheet of debt, the pending bills, and the employment outlook is not something our neighbors want to share with each other.

In that position, it is hard to answer the call for poverty awareness. The reality is, in my view, if one among us is living in unnecessary poverty, we are all poor. We must answer for our indifference to human suffering caused by poverty.

A good deal of Americans, however, have been reduced to worrying about their own survival in these harsh economic times. This threat has shaken Catholic Americans and narrowed our awareness and support of the broad Catholic Social teachings regarding the poor. Many have joined the ranks of the poor anonymously.

What to do? Whatever you can! Any act of kindness, small donation, or prayer will do. Whether you are rich or poor you are part of the solution to world poverty.

All is not gloom. If the world poverty clock is right, more people are exiting poverty than joining the ranks of the poor: https://worldpoverty.io/. That does not help the 20,000 who crossed over the poverty line today or the other 743,800,000 living in poverty.

This is not an existential threat. It is real and current. Raising awareness is simply not enough.

This Stanford review article entitled “Stop Raising Awareness Already” has some powerful points: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/stop_raising_awareness_already.

Raising awareness campaigns can fail to create any meaningful action or in some cases create backlash that can even make the problem identified worse.

Jesus Christ entire active ministry was about three years. He did not just raise awareness. He taught. He served. He followed a strategic plan to transform the world. He enlisted others. And finally, he made a grand sacrifice to redeem us all.

You know what is wrong today with humanity. Social media, news media, community issues, friends, family, and perhaps our own actions testify against us in real-time. You are aware. You also know what you have to do. It is radical.

This January, go beyond aware. Create a strategic plan and act today.

I’m a Catholic who’s struggled with eating disorders. You aren’t alone if you do, too. | America Magazine

I know how isolating eating disorders can be, especially around the holidays. I am here to share some hope with you.
— Read on www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/12/27/catholic-eating-disorder-239589.

Posted for at least 1 word press follower…1 is enough, but I know there are more out there suffering anonymously.

Merry Christmas to all, even to….

Yes, even to you the the Jew, the Hindu, or the atheist. Even to you the sinner, the hypocrite, the outcast. To the proud and powerful, Merry Christmas. To the meek, the poor, and hungry, Merry Christmas.

And to my brother Christians, may you have a special Merry Christmas filled with grace and peace – and perhaps a little spiritual reckoning for a new chapter in your journey.

A nagging thought sometimes intrudes when I am reading theological works of the church fathers (like Augustine) or recent theologians like John Henry Newman. So much teaching is on “qualifying” Jesus Christ as the messiah and Christianity as the way to live a holy and spiritual life that what gets lost is what does it mean for us today, 2000 years later.

What is qualifying? In Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the pivotal signs of an alcoholic’s ability to benefit from the program or to benefit others is to “qualify” themselves by sharing their lived experience. By qualifying that they have lived the life of an alcoholic, they can then give their experience, strength, and hope to others on how to live a sober life founded on spiritual principles. In essence, they must have experienced the deprivation of being alcoholic before their message can be heard by alcoholics.

So to it was with Christ. He became man and suffered the things man suffers in the extreme so that man could accept his message on how to live a holy life. He self-qualified himself for all to see by being crucified on the cross. This qualification along with his actions during the three years of his ministry provided believers with a road map for how to treat others and live a holy life no matter how bad your suffering.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, and other 12 step groups, they don’t spend time qualifying a “higher power.” They qualify themselves as being alcoholic (flawed), they are themselves not a higher power, and that a higher power can restore them. And more importantly, the program works for many that give it their all (https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/03/alcoholics-anonymous-most-effective-path-to-alcohol-abstinence.html). They don’t fight about defining God, though many have religious affiliations. How they live a spiritual program is the key to sobriety and happiness.

So, if we got past “qualifying” Christ and all the theological evidentiary arguments, what would be left other than have faith and believe in Jesus Christ the Messiah?

An Op Ed in the NYT today by Peter Wehner entitled “The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ” will challenge Christians and non-Christians to seriously reevaluate our moral framework. The article makes the case that we water down the radical life of Christ today. It calls us, as does A.A. for the alcoholic, to live radically different lives. This can be inconvenient and even immensely challenging at first. It is radical.

The article for me is a call to practice radical compassion and empathy in all aspects of my life. This is not just a Christian ideal to be pursued only by Christians, but a human ideal imprinted in our spiritual souls and genetic DNA.

When we ignore it, we suffer individually and collectively. The bling of materialist acquisition or individual grandeur is no substitute for a substantive spiritual life. A substantive spiritual life, although perhaps guided by “qualified” religious faiths, is measured by what we do.

The article along with quoting President Lincoln, demonstrates Jesus modeled practicing inclusion for everyone.

Have a Radical 2021. It is time to be different!

+

Conquest Opportunity

Pope Franics defined six foundational points for judging the future for the American and African Continents.   Briefly, he less than 60 seconds he enumerated them for us:

  1. Reality (Opulence versus loss of human dignity)
  2. Generation of Justice (Everyday is a conquest opportunity for everyone)
  3. Unconditional Commitment versus a culture of indifference
  4. History as a guiding Axis
  5. Be God’s people, not God’s elite
  6. Solidarity (Fighting against structural poverty)

As Catholics we are in the first week of advent.  Roughly four weeks of renewal by practicing increased prayer, use of symbolism in our masses and homes, and culmination on Christmas day, the birth of Jesus Christ.  It also starts the new “liturgical year.”  It is almost like a spiritual new year’s eve, you can use the time to sure up your spiritual base and make resolutions for the coming spiritual year.   

What a perfect time to give thought to social justice and our indifference to suffering (#3) here at home and abroad.  His message though is one of hope.  Each of us has a “conquest opportunity” (#2) everyday to fight social injustice.    It calls us though to see what is before our eyes and listen to what our ears hear:  suffering all around us in many forms.  We must face the reality (#1) of a broken economic system (nationally and internationally), world hunger, COVID, and housing/education/healthcare deprivation. 

To do this we must be educated beyond the social media fades and memes of the day.  History (#4) has all we need to know for now to move forward.  We have rich experiences with failed political systems, failed religious fundamentalisms, and misuse of science by omission (ignoring reality) or by commission (our great ability to destroy people with weapons of mass destruction or environmental poisoning of their water, land, air, or food supply).         

Now comes the hard part.  Pope Francis is not calling on the elite or calling us to be the elite (#5).  He is calling on us to act wherever we are, everyday, as if we were his disciples.  As if we were one of God’s people.  How are we measuring up outside of tending to the people within our family circle? 

The mountain top is high and I am saddened to say we will most likely not see the top of the mountain where we can say we achieved before us what is God’s intention and God’s plan for heaven on earth.  However, we are still called to strive for that spiritual perfection that aims by action to move us continuously in that direction.  No one of us alone can bear the weight of this calling. 

Go forth and conquer! Maybe not. Perhaps we can go forth and conquer our own desires and actions first during this advent. Perhaps after that we can act and do something ourselves rather than looking to what others can do. If we can do those two things moderately well – we won’t have to ask others to join us in solidarity (#6), they will join us of their own volition by seeing the peace in our hearts and glow in our souls.

There are so many opportunities everyday. All we have to do is look and act. Reading alone will not suffice. Most of you that are reading this are striving to do just that everyday. May some reflection time strengthen your resolve and bolster your energy.

A special prayer today to the physicians and nurses that are our last line of defense for our many sick and dying COVID patients. In the United States our nation is indifferent and defeated from within as the virus has run its course virtually unopposed and aided by a society willingly ignoring its deadly reach. Now we suffer together as one, some more than others.

Demagoguery

The Catholic vote was practically split even between the two candidates. Those that voted for Trump often in private conversations deflect from owning Trump, saying they voted for his policies rather than his personage. A significant portion however, deny reality and accept and passionately support his presidency. Especially Evangelical Christianity. Trump himself has referred to them as idiots.

Interestingly, our non-believing genuine Atheists are able to see the secular and political truth. They by and large rejected his presidency bid both times. A mature Atheist has self-identified his/her moral and ethical responsibilities. They do not have the cover of superficial religious ideology to cover their vote either way.

Why did half of the country and almost half of Catholics support Trump? I am not among them, but I believe demagoguery played a big role. The price of taking a stand against him was too high for them. The opinion piece attached labels demagoguery and it’s genesis and firmly attaches it to Trumps base and top administration officials:

I believe that Christian Trump supporters had to suppress their spiritual conscience this second time around. Or they flagrantly embraced him exercising spiritual abandonment and extremist self-justification.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/opinion/how-to-protect-america-from-the-next-donald-trump.html?referringSource=articleShare

Demagoguery comes in many shapes and sizes. It counts on historical blindness. In all its forms it is dangerous. It can take over political and religious institutions alike. It can destroy nations from within and threaten world peace.

Is our youthful nation seeing the death of Western Christianity? It can not stand on its merits with this hypocrisy. Is our nation and national identity in jeopardy? The current extremist Republican Party is making our nation act like a failed state by undermining democracy, speaking falsehoods, and crippling government (Mitch).

It is hard as well to a Christian believer and a non-Trump supporter. Large swaths of our faith hypocritically stand by a demagogue for selfish reasons, many of them built on falsehoods.

Two pillars of my nation are defiled and assaulted today: genuine and authentic Christianity and the fundamentals of American democracy.

The price of belief in God is too high for many believers when confronted with the choice of supporting or denouncing President Trump. A vast majority of Republicans and Republican leadership have traded in any pretense of morality and ethical action for blind allegiance for Donald Trump.

America has stood up and voted out both, but only by 4 to 5 million votes. Without continued aggressive and persistent support Joe Biden and team will be crippled by political and spiritual toxicity of the far right and Trump/Mitchisms.

Only a handful of republicans and The Lincoln Project have stood up. President George Bush has also consistently stepped up after his presidency both for President Obama and now Biden.

Are you guilty of demagoguery? Neither side politically is immune to this existential threat? Nor are any of the worlds great religions immune.

At the end of the day you and I are individually responsible. No garments of religious or political affiliation will cover our actions. We will stand naked before the mirror and have to face our actions for what they are in intentions and in deed.

I did not know will not suffice. We know. And if by chance we escape honest self-appraisal, we will see the consequences of our actions here and now, not to mention a great reckoning when we face our mortality.

One could not write a more spiritually symbolic ending to the Trump presidency. A White House surrounded by walls, a leadership torn apart, COVID rampant inside its walls, a bruised Mitch, and an election lost by the greatest voter turnout ever. And still, ardent supporters cling to falsehoods.

Tyranny is not the answer. Tyranny is what Trump seeks. The silver lining is at least more than half America said no, the insanity stops here. It is too late for all those who have unnecessarily died due to covid, for over 500 children whose parents were taken away, and perhaps later today for those who may lose their health insurance. All of these actions are the responsibility of every voter who said yes to Trump and every voter whos went silent.

There are republicans out there who said no to Trump and yes to candidates down the ticket. To me they are heroes of democracy like the Lincoln Project. They would not let demagoguery rule.

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