Revisiting my Jewish Ancestry in a time of Hatred (as a Catholic believer)

Today a growing number of Jews are returning to Israel.[i]  In 1948 Israel became a nation in one day and had 800,000 citizens.  Now there are over 6 million Jews in Israel.  Many Jews across the world feel like it is 1939 all over again.  Anti-semetism is on the rise in the United States and across the world and Israel itself lives in threat of annihilation.  Returning from where?  The Jewish diaspora is the dispersion of Jews dating back to 8th century and 6th century BCE and countless migrations after that as a people without a land.   The actual end of the Jewish state some might say was around 70 A.D.[ii]  Prominent Influential Jews[iii] are ensuring that the Jewish state and Jewish people living outside Israel are supported and their ancestry and persecution are not forgotten.

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Without a fundamental understanding of the Old Testament dating from roughly before 10,000 B.C. from Genesis through Abraham, Jacob, The Exodus, the re-establishment of Israel under David, Babylonian Captivity, the Greek period (Hellenism), and the Roman period (37 B.C to 324 AD) and all the prophets, kings, and various sects within in Judaism it is hard to give current day “Jewishness,” or for that matter Christianity, meaning and context.

The average American Catholic today lacks heart-felt knowledge of the Jewish tradition and experience beyond didactic learning from a pre-adolescent era of learning that relied on historical teaching and painful memorization.   Many would criticize the average Catholic today lacking “infused knowledge” of Christianity itself – that is knowledge that includes teaching of the known facts of Christian tenets but guided by connection to God within us, to Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit.  That is knowledge greater than our intellect or individual efforts can provide.    If we had this infused knowledge the prevalence of hypocrisy today would greatly be diminished.  The hypocrisy of white nationalism today and xenophobia globally would not be able to represent mainstream thought.[iv]

What does it mean to reconcile with my Jewish heritage?  The Old Testament stories in various literary forms repeats a common theme of the Jewish nation turning away from God:  adopting pagan ways of neighbors, directly performing unholy and sinful acts, using priestly status for personal power and wealth, and placing worldly goods above God.    These moral and theological principles did not disappear with the arrival of Jesus Christ, if anything; they were stripped of formulaic ritual and laid bare in stark truths with “The great commandment is not to judge one’s neighbor but rather to love one’s neighbor, for judgment is God’s alone.”[v]

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We have also through time developed many ritualistic additions as well that have a tint of man-made institutions rather than divinely inspired gifts.

I cannot miss the modern-day peril of Christianity and America with the history of Judaism and Israel.  As Christians we live on a pluralistic society among atheist, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and within these large religious systems countless denominations or sects.  Additionally the idols of modernity of money, prestige, power, worldly possessions, and pursuing excess human comforts leave little room for living a holy and spiritually infused live style.  To reconcile with our Jewish ancestry we must first reconcile what it means to be Christian in a pluralistic society.  Our Jewish brethren struggled with this issue than and now as well.

Our Christian leaders today are too easily manipulated into being pawns of political machines under the cover of trying to advance our religious beliefs.  We try to mobilize our votes to support a party to legislate values rather than our values legislating behavior based on attraction, love, and living a holy life by example.    Losing sight of our own calling to live spiritual lives we turn to others to enforce spirituality.  We look outward rather than inward at what is wrong with society today.  Sometimes we find reasons to not look at how to think about excess wealth.

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We give power to charlatans who are all too willing to find villains for us – at a price that is often opposed to the greatest commandment.   They capitalize on our fears of alienation and loss of identity.  Some are petrified of diaspora from within – a displacement of our white Christian dominance within the United States and globally.  This fear has us resorting to tribalism under the name brand of patriotism or nationalism.    As recently demonstrated in Charlottesville Jewish hatred was on display.

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How can we Christians actively hate our own brothers by Old Testament biblical definition?  The entire Old Testament in our religion foreshadows Jesus Christ coming for all Jews and all people.

When our Jewish brothers are threatened we are threatened as well.  Our morality has already condemned us once before in history when we as a nation and as a religion were passive as the Holocaust was underway.   Our morality is condemning us daily today as we passively accept a war on immigrants, on minorities, on Jews, on Muslims, on Women, and on the poor of all nations through our narrow sited policies that are aimed at enriching the wealthy and powerful at the expense of, at a minimum, 4/5ths of the world’s population.

When nations and religions start running for bunkers of isolation and extreme humanely defined purity of what it means to be on the right side of holiness and humanity – we have fallen prey to a dialogue with the Devil – not God.

Within all of our nations, our religious groups, our socio-economic classes, our gender identity groups, our racial and ethnic groups lay some very evil people.  They must be contained and made visible without resorting to the must villainous instincts of our predatory natures, of our human nature.  For as evil as our enemies are, we have the capacity within us to fall prey to being evil ourselves.

Ask yourself when listening to dinner conversation, lunchroom banter, newspaper by-lines, social media memes, and our political class – is the aim aligned with the greatest commandment?

Very few Christians are called to live in isolation and prayer (Monastic life).  We are called to live with and next to people of all cultures and beliefs. We are called to love our neighbors and not to judge our neighbors.  We are called to evangelize in a prescribed fashion – not by sword, not by law, not by coercion, not by manipulation – but by living examples of mercy, compassion and love.

As a nation America will have its challenges and will continued to be attacked for its beacon of light and freedom.  We will have to defend ourselves for our world is still ruled by men’s laws and not God’s law.  Our defense of country and our freedoms should always be carried out in a manner that reflects sober and rationale actions that respect our appropriate use of nation’s power, wealth, and principles.

Just as we are called to exercise appropriate evangelism without judgment – we are called as a nation to use our wealth, our democracy, and our military in a manner that is good for all nations and people.  Without the moral imperative applied both domestically and internationally we are bound to suffer the fate of the Israelites.

Our enemies, specifically Russia, recognize that if they can spurn division and hate within our society and between our partners globally they can diminish our freedoms and strength without firing a shot.  We have other enemies as well, many of which are reactionary to our economic and political dominance that they feel is abused to the detriment of the world’s poor and oppressed.

Until recently America understood the principle of “Much is given, Much is expected.”  Our stewardship of global priorities aligns with our nation’s interest.

Unless our nation continues to use its wealth, power and status to improve global interest we will continue to be a top target of aggrieved toxic terrorist groups from within and outside our invisible walls.

The plight of the Jewish people should enlighten nations today on the dangers of being oppressed, of oppressing people, and putting wealth and power above human interest.  The Jewish problem is our problem – and it extends way beyond what it means to be Jewish.  It is about humanity itself.

To write about this is in and of itself an insult to all the veterans of WW II and all the victims of the Holocaust.     If the Holocaust and WW II could not provide a lasting lesson for humanity we are a purely pathetic species.  Is it no wonder we needed a messiah and a paraclete[vi] after he departed?   If only we would listen to the image and imprint of the divine that lives sometimes too deeply within our clouded souls.

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Unlike the Jews returning to Israel we can return to true Christianity within our own homes, our own communities, within our own hearts.  Pope Francis is doing his part to effect the arc of spiritual progression and revelation of the Catholic Church.  Now we have to continue to do our part.

[i] http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/insideisrael/2015/December/Operation-Exodus-Prophecy-Fulfilled

[ii] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-diaspora

[iii] http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/50-most-influential-Jews-403742

[iv]  “Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-nationalism-threat-islam-america.html?_r=0

[v] https://rlp.hds.harvard.edu/life-and-teachings-jesus

[vi] Holy spirit or counselor

 

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Saints

Pope Francis has taken steps to canonize Fatima Siblings (https://nyti.ms/2mW3nYl) according to New York Times article.  Do you believe in Saints?  The Devil?  The Fatima Siblings had visions and drew thousands of Christians to the Village of Fatima.  There is even a mystery of prophecy by Sister Lucia – the one to escape an untimely death – providing three predictions that many believe came to fruition – one of which may have saved Pope John Paul’s life.  I have sought counsel on modern-day visionaries – and the best advice I got seemed to be focus on Christ – if a message helps me focus more on Christ as a tool, okay, but don’t get lost seeking modern-day miracles – the Miracle was given to us on the Cross.

None the less there remains in Christology messages about the end of times (Eschatology) and the final battle.

Final Battle

Sister Lucia spoke to that as well.  Let’s place the word “Saint” aside.

Have you ever met a person who exudes humility and spirit?  Have you read about great martyrs and sacrifices?

There are heroes among us living their lives so close to the image of God, as imprinted deep within their souls, that we can be rendered speechless by their devotion, steadfastness, and courage.  They are all around us if you look, performing small and large miracles, invisible to the unsuspecting eye, silently passing you on the street, perhaps with a smile or merely a focused precision walk that announces purpose and fiery determination.    They are humans with their heart and soul given fearlessly to be used by their God to heal, to love, to serve others.  Some of them may have been blessed with visions or moments of grace that defy imagination.

I don’t know about prophecies, or mystics, or saints.  What I do know is people among us have the power of the Holy Spirit within their core and are preparing for the final battle now, preparing the  battlefield for us all.

The spiritual imagination and contemplative life can bring you places you never thought possible.

“Catholics are not required to believe in even the most approved and venerated private revelations, but many of us choose to do so. Does this battle relate to the famous discourse Pope Leo XIII was alleged to have heard in a vision between Christ and Satan, which led him to compose the prayer to St. Michael? How long the final battle will last, and what will come after? (http://www.onepeterfive.com/sister-lucia-final-confrontation-between-the-lord-and-satan-will-be-over-family-and-marriage/)”

Thanks for reading my mystical rambling.

The Day After – A Dark Night

November 9, 2016:

 

I visited the Kennedy Center today for a family activity where check in was at the Hall of Nations and the seats of power were within eyesight.  This is no small reality check given the dramatic upset that transpired yesterday in US presidential politics.  The view in DC felt dark.

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That the winning candidate has given license to the worst of our society when it comes to racism, bigotry, and hatred.  He may not represent or be these things, but those that embrace these ideals (if they can be called ideals) feel vindicated and empowered by his victory.  And those that are victims of prejudice are afraid and protesting as I write this post.

Where can I turn when my nation takes a step backwards (in my opinion).  The GOP  win may actually benefit me financially.  But the policies proposed will hurt 22 million people insured by the ACA, young people who are using the health care of their parents thru age 26 until they get into this job market, people with chronic illnesses keep their insurance, and countless protections for vulnerable people.  The party of Christian values won an election on non-christian propaganda helped by a damaged democrat candidate and FBI interference.  And yet the party has so many good people and people of principle that allowed this to be their route to power.

Where to turn to at these troubled times?  The drive home went from DC rush hour traffic to back roads Maryland.  As the distance from metropolitan centers grew the radio turned to white noise, my daughter complained, I shut it off, my wife asked why!  I said I wanted to listen but could not focus on the station dials right now — had to focus on road.  She roused herself and found a new station and was about to drift back off when I apparently yelled aaagh……damn Deer in the road.  If I changed that station we would have had one really dead Deer.

deer

My wife yelled Jesus!  I yelled what are you yelling at!  She said you yelled I can yell!  My daughter just wanted to know the Deer got away unharmed!   (Yes – and the CRV brakes worked really well).

So we arrive in Delaware safely. I have adoration chapel and off I go.  It is raining.   I find quietness and presence in the chapel.  Among other things I read about Jesus teaching the disciples about violent rejection of his message that is to come and that the good news will not be an immediate conquering of evil and disbelief.  In fact, in his humility the power of the Divine life will emerge.  Jesus spoke of service as the key.  Service to the poor, in loving all of God’s children, and devotion to God.

That is the focus we need.  If our focus is on a human being like Donald or Hillary to save the day (and save what?) we have given up our spiritual selves.  And what was the driving message in this campaign other than money, fear, and hatred?  Looking for solace and serenity can only truly come from the presence of divine presence in our lives?     A divine gift.

A quote from my reading tonight regarding if you have the gift of living a divinely inspired life:

“You won’t need your assumptions, prejudices, worries, or even your hands and feet.  However if you reject this gift where can you turn?  You will have nothing but the empty pageantry of your pretensions; you’ll have nothing, you’ll have death.” Paul McCarren, SJ

Reading the above shallow thinking Reds and Blues can easily nod their heads in agreement as if the other side has committed the errors of turning their back on God’s message and placing their worth in false gods of power or elitism.  I do not believe either side in the majority has conscientiously done that – but we are far from living divinely inspired lives.

The more we listen to others, the more we will see:

“the struggle of others to be cured of their ignorance is just like yours.  You will begin to see yourself in them.  You’ll find yourself at peace with them.”    Paul McCarren, SJ

McCarren drew these conclusions from select readings from the Gospel of Mark and other bible references.  This listening and empathy for our neighbors, friends, family, political opponents, and enemies is virtually absent in social media, newspapers, and conversations.

When is the last time you found yourself at peace with understanding rival ideas and the people who threaten your anchor, your identity, your deeply held beliefs?  

This does not mean to abandon your beliefs or silence them – it does mean to deeply listen to others, reflect, pray, and strive to understand.  It may also mean for Christians to repent (when you have failed), turn, ask, and accept God’s help.  It also means to not be afraid when tragedy strikes or things do not go our way.

This reminds me of a neighbor I had from Cuba who said, they need a church on every corner, every corner, not for me, not for me, for those xxx, xxx, xxx, who graffiti-ed my fence.    Sometimes we fall in to the trap of the other ones need help forgetting our own blindness and limited knowledge of living a truly divinely inspired life.  It didnt bother me much re-painting my fence every so often – I kept a ready tin of paint back than and I new I owed as much from my own youthful errors.

So I leave the chapel and head home.  A block away from the chapel, off to the side of the road, is a deer, just standing there, twenty feet in on the grass in the middle of Dover, De, watching me go home, feeling like, we have met before in Maryland just few hours and 50 or so miles ago?  Providence?

Now I am up a second night late – but the driving force of my deprivation of sleep is much more comforting, purposeful, and hopeful than watching the human folly the night before. People will blame Christianity for division and others will claim Christianity as their defense for their vote.  Christianity in its true form should do neither – it is loving, caring, compassionate, and modeling all the time the way of Jesus Christ.  It is a way of living that I believe no human can live perfectly except one that has come before us being both God and Man.

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Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope: Book Review

I wrestled with God and Won!

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Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan D. Chittister, is an excellent spiritual journey for all believers that have difficulties with life’s struggles and God’s appearance of indifference.  Twenty-four distinct chapters referencing the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with God throughout the dark night until dawn and the author’s own life experiences are utilized to examine “A suffering of the soul” and the meaning of Hope.  It is the first book I have read that has clearly defined for me how so many evils and tragedies can be present in our lives without jeopardizing our faith.  The book has three source validation for me with regards to Catholicism:  Genesis  32: 22-32[i], an interpretation by of this scripture by Catholic on-line[ii], and the book was loaned to me by my parish priest.

I recommend this book for anyone facing adversity, depression, loss, or other struggles that threaten your sense of self.  I also recommend this book for those that have not faced life altering events – as a primer on how to be prepared.

“God is not a puppeteer.  God is not a magician.  Our lives lie in our own hands and we will have to take charge of them before anything important about them can really come to resolution.”

Concepts of change, suffering, conversion, isolation, darkness, faith, fear, courage, powerlessness, surrender, vulnerabilities, limitations, exhaustion, endurance, scarring (being wounded), transformation, struggle and hope are illuminated in a special way.  A most read book.

The story of Jacob wrestling thru the night and suffering a mortal hit to his hip (wounded profoundly) and continueing the wrestle is a profound story in Genesis.  We can learn a great deal from jacob.

(Book is avialbe for 9.99 on Kindle – I have no conflict of interest recomending this read.  I bought three copies – one for my parish priest so he does not have to lend out his marked up copy, one for myself, and one for a person close to me).    

[i] Genesis 32:22-32New International Version (NIV)

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a]because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

[ii] http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=34353

 

St. Stanislaus Kostka Adoration Chapel

Another sacred space in the heart of Chicago.   A different experience sort out today.  However, the adoration space is inside the church proper – off to the right:

This church host the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy and a 24/7 adoration chapel.  The picture above captures the familiar Blessed Sacrament or Sacred Host (Eucharist in center shrouded by crown of thorns).  The chapel here though is an “iconic monstrance” depicting symbols of Christian thought and theology based on scripture from Isaiah and Revelation.  The details are too many too enumerate here including Mary (as the sign of God’ promise), the ark of the covenant, red and blue garments, and so many smaller symbols embedded with meaning, making interpretation in a post impossible.   One can draw analogy to Christ parables – it is in plain sight – but meaning can escape the undisciplined eye.

The larger church is equally as grandiose and represents a diverse population as well:


Despite its elegance, it always comes back to believers and the presence of God. “No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity.”   Believers stand guard and present while the Blessed Host is exposed and present for adoration.  Churches vary according to volunteers – but ideally it is 24/7 adoration.

My favorite art is on the ceiling:

No picture can capture the activity of prayer or adoration.  It is a lived experience.  What is more is no matter what you do as an individual, no matter your worth, you cannot define the mercy and the power of God or of the Eucharist.

What can one experience when in the depths of prayer?  If we are fortunate to have a relationship with God and the fortitude to maintain God at the helm, when we are faced with adversity and challenge, a good prayer can lead to the following sentiments:

“It requires an audacity we did not know we had.  It demands a commitment to the truth.  It leads to self-knowledge.  It builds forbearance.  It test our purity of heart.  It brings total metamorphosis of soul.  If we are willing to persevere through the depths of struggle we ca emerge with conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, self-acceptance, endurance, purity of heart, and a kind of personal growth that takes us beyond pain to understanding.”  (Joan D. Chittister – (Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope).”

The above depiction is a review of the story of Jacob’s wrestle with God in Genesis. It was a struggle he had alone.   Many of our struggles, despite people with good intentions (and not so good) around us, require us to walk the walk of faith alone and pray for grace, mercy, and resolution.

 

Holy Name Cathedral – Chicago

October 30, 2016 – 31st Sunday in ordinary time:  Vacation church visit

Chicago has several historic churches.   The Holy Name Cathedral enjoys five masses on Sunday and a program that is 16 pages long with the center fold, appropriately, reserved for the Order of Worship.  The parish started in 1843, not envisioning the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871.  “Holy Name Pastor and Rector, Fr. John McMullen, finds all the parish buildings in flames upon his return to the campus from elsewhere in the city. He retrieves the Blessed Sacrament; all else is lost.”

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One-hundred and thirty five years later I am a guest pilgrim in a pew.  A purist at heart, I prefer minimalist presentation.  There is a sense of sacred grace in a small space, with quiet prayer, a small congregation of the faithful, and a Priest providing Mass in its simplest form.  This is not the church for that presentation.

In the middle of the city of Chicago it has risen from the ashes and claimed its place as a historic site.   However, that does not make it a place filled with the presence of God.  The church, although framed by the finest architecture and possessing a beautiful interior, possesses something more.

Perhaps it is the organ?

Though it can’t play itself.

Mass was given by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller.  He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.  This led to more pomp and circumstance!  A German Cardinal with a strong accent gave a certain sense of authenticity.

The incense is always magical for me and it was plentiful today.   The readings were  not the most powerful for me personally.

I have covered almost all the elements except the people in the pews and the Eucharist.   The mystery of the latter and the faith of the former are what I believe brings a church alive.

Despite being a purist, the grandeur of pomp and circumstance, of music, of art, of great architecture, fills this church and does not distract from the faith but multiplies it.   There is a reverence to God captured by the creative abilities of man invested in these artistic expressions that when joined with the synergy of the mass, the faithful, and the Holy Spirit avoids the deadly trap of pomp and circumstance that derives its power from man’s false pride.

Pope Francis understands its place and his place and knows the power and risk of pomp and circumstance.  There is a place for majestic cathedrals and a place for fiats!

To truly appreciate churches, you have to go inside and spend some sacred time!  If not, its just a relic of stone awaiting an audience or the deterioration of time.

Home

 

 

 

Mortal Sin

Catholics have 69.5 million members, are the largest religious body in the United States, and comprise 22% of the population as of 2015.  What this means is 1 in 5 Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and a women who get an abortion are automatically ex-communicated from the church.  Abortion is considered the highest form of sin – called Mortal Sin.  Canon 1398 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law imposes automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication for women getting an abortion.

Make no mistake about it – if you are Catholic you face grave consequences of harming your soul and your relationship to Jesus and the Holy Father.  Below are four links that cover the catholic position.  The last two is priest for life group and EWTN daily mass.  Father Imbarrato explained the dangers of our society’s acceptance of evil and conversation with evil from an Orthodox Catholic position.  Regardless of your personal beliefs, if you are Catholic you should take a look at these four links and his 10/24/2016 homily:

http://www.whateverycatholicshouldknow.com/wecsk/sin_mortal.htm

https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/abortio2.htm

http://www.priestsforlife.org/staff/father-stephen-imbarrato.htm

http://www.ewtn.com/daily-readings/

I have addressed abortion on several posts from a secular position and a theological position that is “of this world.”  I often speak of physiological and psychological harm. I stop short of the language used by Pro-Life groups and Father Stephen Imbarrato due to my fears of pharisaic history  (and the inheritance of poverty and other social ills that our societies face).  However, if you have read through the above links you will understand the believers position – even the fire and brimstone type.

Two of the above were provided to me off-line.  By who does not matter – what matters is the intent was it is wrong Joe, between me, you and the wall that is what I believe.   The intent was I believe not for pride, or winning the argument, to claim higher moral ground, or any of those things, but to live the word of God.  That is the end of our discussion on abortion.  Father Imbarrato’s homily gave me the reasons for the strong conviction.  No reason to restate them and no reason for me to go through all the complexities of our secular world and health related issues.

At Sundays mass my favorite priest joked a little about Pharisees – but then pulled it back and said remember they were trying to apply what they believed to the code of law and that is what they had at the time.  Sometimes we need to be a little pharisaical – and what better time to be so if you believe a baby’s life is at stake?

This is a good place to end my review of abortion as well.  I have struggled with this issue and found my peace with it – I leave the rest to those who know more and are more directly affected to address the how, when, and why of social policy.  For Catholic policy you know where to look — Prayer.

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Pax Tecum, Pax Tibi

Rusted Anchors[i]

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“Anchoring or focalism is a term used in psychology to describe the common human tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.”[ii]  How many rusted anchors are holding you down from accepting new and contradictory information to previously held assumptions?  In a recent NYT article on Donald Trump the author raised the issue of “race and racism, cognitive traps that psychologists call anchoring and what we call first impressions”[iii]

The article discusses Trump’s doubling down the guilt of the central park five despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and convictions wrongly obtained being overturned.  His actions there are a different issue.

How many “Rusted Anchors” are his supporters holding onto based on his 1) false first impressions from his primary debates with fellow establishment republicans and his presentation now, 2) the success of his businesses without revealing his taxes, 3) his honesty now that Trump University suit is moving forward, or 4) what he says about how he treats people and what women and prior small business people say about him?   A good number have finally jumped ship.  The weight simply became too much.[iv]

I would argue the weight became so much that it threatened a different kind of anchor (for some) that relegated political party and affiliation secondary to principle.  Sadly some may have done so for political expediency, but I hope most listened to the anchor of their soul.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”[v] Hebrews 6:19

 christian-anchor-symbol

This is an entirely different anchor that needs protecting and care.  “Epitaphs on believers’ tombs dating as far back as the end of the first century frequently displayed anchors alongside messages of hope. Such expressions as pax tecumpax tibiin pace, or “peace be with you” speak to the hope Christians felt in their anticipation of heaven.”

Anchors can be bad or good.  It requires constant vigilance and discernment – both in the political and religious realm.  How many religious leaders are selling their faith for favor (or donations) from Donald as even their devout congregations are pulling away?   What are your anchors?

I have long been a Democrat as democrats support a diversity of social justice issues that are low on the republican ticket (excepting pro-life).  My position is “Choose Life.”   The Catholic vote has been in play like it has never been before due to Trump’s behavior and the inclusivity preaching of our beloved current Pope Francis.[vi]    I try to discern my values, my social justice concerns, my recognition of the dangers of pharisaical preaching, the risk of pride, of intellectualism, and the traps of false anchors (religious, political, cultural, and herd mentality).

With undue suffering (perhaps a vintage anchor of catholic guilt) a vote on either side of the ticket is not a vote for idealism of catholic ideology.  It is my imperfect guess on what is best right now with the given choices on all the issues (without grandstanding, without a public audience, without demonization, without rationalization of the many imperfections of our system).  A large focus of mine given 26 years of social work experience is related to liberation theology themes and hearing the cry of the poor.[vii]

There are too many issues to address them all here.  However, one issue can be addressed.  Your anchor is defined by you.  You define it by feeding it accurate information, by discerning sincere dialogue and information, and by continuously refining and caring for your thoughts, your actions, and yes your vote.

If your vote be different than mine after you have did your due diligence (minus the poison of the brightest rhetoricians, the simpleton good ole fellow routine, or fear mongering fire and brimstone types)[viii] I trust our God will find grace for us both according to our needs and deeds.

Disclaimer: I have a responsibility to direct you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church[ix] for official church doctrine – I am wholly unqualified to represent or pretend to represent the intricacies and the mystery of the faith and my wayfarer journey as a believer.    I have sought out personal guidance on some of these issues from clergy and found my anchor on some issues – but the journey and the struggle never ceases.

journey

Peace Be With You….

Footnotes:

[i] https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1TSNJ_enUS495US495&espv=2&biw=911&bih=425&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=steel+rusted+anchor&oq=steel+rusted+anchor&gs_l=img.12…21325.25860.0.28241.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1c.1.64.img..0.0.0.wRrETletl1M#imgrc=lMZfG87VC3QPfM%3A

[ii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/anchoring.htm

[iii] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/opinion/why-trump-doubled-down-on-the-central-park-five.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-4&module=inside-nyt-region&region=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region

[iv] The same argument can be made for Hillary supporters I am sure.

[v] http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/what-is-origin-of-anchor-as-christian-symbol-and-why-do-we.html

[vi] http://www.catholicdemocrats.org/

[vii] http://www.uscatholic.org/culture/social-justice/2010/01/do-you-hear-cry-poor-liberation-theology-today

[viii] You also have a responsibility to not spread false anchors or misinformation – the poisons of solid anchors.

[ix]http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/

 

Simplicity

I had plenty of adversity today.  But that is not my focus.  Only a hundred pages into a  novel, Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War, and a cord strikes home:

 “After dinner they read books, sitting on either side of the fire.  They went to bed early in the room at the back of the house.  Isabelle had painted it and sewn the curtains.”  

The novel is on loan to me from a person who appreciates literature, loves family, and knows a portion of life’s secrets, the intersection of suffering and joy.  That escapes many. These two lines in their simplicity define the complexity of finding true happiness.

Today I bought to work 12 DVDS that a number of my staff listed as their favorite films. Thanks to amazon and microwave popcorn I was able to create a quick thank you to my staff.  Leaving today half of the films were taken home by staff and popcorn for relaxation.  A small deed — but so gratifying.

Another staff person stopped me today to tell me how a gentleman enjoys the chess game that is facing the walkway out front of our office.  Myself and a colleague have a game set up with one or two moves a day for all to see.  Many people stop on the walkway and study the game.  It is shocking, given the community has a stigma of being rough and other undesirable names  that many stop and enjoy the complex game.

Our plants were dying a slow death.  Beth only left a few weeks ago and already the plants have succumbed to neglect.  A neighboring business had a person who catered to their sites plants and saw our plants dying.  She grabbed one of my staff and asked to save our plants.  They have been rescued and will be returned by anonymous.

Everyday I am surrounded by wonderful people and opportunity to enjoy life.

A day in the life of Joe.