Papa Luciani!!

I read with delight an article written by William Doino, Jr., on Pope John Paul I, Papa Luciani, over at First Things. Those of us who were present in Rome during those 33 days of Luciani’s papacy in the summer of 1978 will never forget him, and how he in so many ways foreshadowed Pope Francis in his approach to the papacy and church mission.

Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer of us who remain from that 1978 in Rome and the Vatican. Whenever I mention Luciani’s name to those younger than 55 years, they invariably nod and say Luciani wasn’t around long enough for them to recall him or for him to have had an effect.

Yes, his papacy was only 33 days and he wrote no major documents during those days as pope, but he in my mind had an enormous effect on the subsequent papacy of John Paul II who in turn paved the way for Benedict, only to have Francis follow – not only Benedict in succession, but Luciani in tone and emphasis.

Take a look at this link.

Remembering the Smiling Pope

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Quote for the Day

“True peacemakers are those who preserve peace of mind and body for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, despite what they suffer in this world.” — St. Francis of Assisi

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Quote for the Day

“Mercy is not the same as moral relativism. Disagreement is not the same as discrimination. Tha law goes too far when it demands that the church abandon its beliefs in the pursuit of an entirely novel state of equality.” — Cardinal Donald WuerL

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Sunday, 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

July 11/12, 2015

Amos 7: 12-15; Eph 1: 3-14; Mark 6: 7-13

Faith and mission. Today’s first reading and the Gospel speak of faith and the mission we are sent on if we accept this faith. We are called and sent by God with the gift of faith! Amos was sent; the Apostles were sent; you are sent!

What is faith? Faith has two aspects to it. The first is the Deposit of Faith or the content of our faith that has been entrusted to the Church by the Lord Jesus himself to protect and proclaim to the nations. The Deposit of Faith is those revealed truths from God which we all must believe which we learn in the Catechism and in what we call the Apostolic Tradition, i.e., the teaching of the Apostles and their successors, the bishops.

The second aspect of Faith is the gift of faith. This gift can be thought of as the gaze of the soul on the presence of God, on divine Love, in daily life. Yes, the gift of faith allows us to see God’s presence and his love in the midst of our world which gives us the hope that propels us forward into loving God and each other. This gift God freely bestows on us.

Faith brings certain fruitfulness, or fertility you might say to all we say and do. It brings sacrifice also. It brings conversion and change, just like it did with Amos who was changed from a dresser of sycamore to a prophet, and faith will give you a mission or purpose in life.

Faith requires what we go on a mission. We must hand on to the next generation what has been given to us. Our lives have purpose and we must accept it, whatever that may be. Faith challenges us to “venture” or risk a lot for our faith, to put our lives on the line. All of us who are married know this. Marriage demands we become fertile and faithful with each other. It demands we put our lives on the line for each other. Marriage is a mission and it is a witness to the world of the love of a man for a woman, and parents for their children.

This is the message of all of today’s readings. We hear it in the call of Amos. We hear it in the Gospel and how Jesus chose 12 men to be his apostles, gave them the gift of faith, changed and converted them, and then sent them out on a mission to bear fruit, to become fertile, generating new life by their preaching and healing. They were rely on their faith in Jesus and not rely of material things such as tunics, money or extra sandals; rather rely only on their faith in God and in God’s fidelity to them. They were sent out with little more than the gift of faith for one purpose: to be fertile, to generate a new generation of believers.

Indeed, faith-filled and converted witnesses are sorely needed. We especially need married men and women willing to venture much, to become missionaries for marriage, to show the world by example what the true nature of marriage is.

Don’t think you are too small for the job. Amos was just a dresser of sycamores. When the Old Testament uses the phrase we heard, i.e., “The Lord took me from the flock,” it is a way of saying that God converted him. You are like Amos. Amos thought he was just a gardener but God called, prepared, converted, and sent him on a mission. Amos left all behind including his country and his possessions, trusting in God’s call. Amos risked everything because he was given the gift of faith. He was sent out to prophesy to be fertile in converting many people of his time, bringing them back to God, uniting them and reminding them of their dignity as the Chosen People of God.

God calls you, prepares you, converts you and wants to send you out also. “Trust me!” God says. “Have faith!” God insists. “If you accept the gift of faith, you will be fertile; you will multiply many times over the faith which has been given to you.”

Yes, to truly accept the gift of faith is to prepare for a fruitful life and to become a missionary, to become someone who is to bring others to the faith and become children of faith. To accept the gift of faith is to become a father and mother to many, because true faith makes you fertile, and demands that you give witness to that faith and bring others into faith.

Have faith in God who sends you out into life.

Your faith will bear fruit. Your faith will lead to the creation of new life, to a new generation of believers. Your faith will bring newness of life. Faith is never sterile; it is always fertile. You will see God’s presence and your soul will be able to gaze upon him.

You have been called. You have been given the gift of faith. You are now sent out to change the world and bring others to God.

Have faith! Believe! Go forth!

 

 

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Quote for the Day

“Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” — St. John XXIII

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Holy Father’s Call for Change: PLEASE READ!

My dear readers,

Please take the time to read this address of the Holy Father. It is a bit lengthy, but I would sincerely ask you read what he actually is saying before you begin to take in the soundbites and fragments that the press and other information sources will be feeding us.

This address of Pope Francis, I am told, was somewhat unusual in that he didn’t ad lib; rather, he kept to the text which makes one consider that the Holy Father intended this to be a teaching document of importance.

Blessings,

Deacon Yerhot

PARTICIPATION AT THE SECOND WORLD MEETING OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER

Expo Feria Exhibition Centre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia)
Thursday, 9 July 2015

[Multimedia]


Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

Several months ago, we met in Rome, and I remember that first meeting. In the meantime I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. I am happy to see you again, here, as you discuss the best ways to overcome the grave situations of injustice experienced by the excluded throughout our world. Thank you, President Evo Morales, for your efforts to make this meeting possible.

During our first meeting in Rome, I sensed something very beautiful: fraternity, determination, commitment, a thirst for justice. Today, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, I sense it once again. I thank you for that. I also know, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Turkson, that many people in the Church feel very close to the popular movements. That makes me very happy! I am pleased to see the Church opening her doors to all of you, embracing you, accompanying you and establishing in each diocese, in every justice and peace commission, a genuine, ongoing and serious cooperation with popular movements. I ask everyone, bishops, priests and laity, as well as the social organizations of the urban and rural peripheries, to deepen this encounter.

Today God has granted that we meet again. The Bible tells us that God hears the cry of his people, and I wish to join my voice to yours in calling for the three “L’s” for all our brothers and sisters: land, lodging and labor. I said it and I repeat it: these are sacred rights. It is important, it is well worth fighting for them. May the cry of the excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.

1. Before all else, let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed. Here I would clarify, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I am speaking about problems common to all Latin Americans and, more generally, to humanity as a whole. They are global problems which today no one state can resolve on its own. With this clarification, I now propose that we ask the following questions:

Do we truly realize that something is wrong in a world where there are so many farmworkers without land, so many families without a home, so many laborers without rights, so many persons whose dignity is not respected?

Do we realize that something is wrong where so many senseless wars are being fought and acts of fratricidal violence are taking place on our very doorstep? Do we realize something is wrong when the soil, water, air and living creatures of our world are under constant threat?

So, if we do realize all this, let’s not be afraid to say it: we need change; we want change.

In your letters and in our meetings, you have mentioned the many forms of exclusion and injustice which you experience in the workplace, in neighborhoods and throughout the land. They are many and diverse, just as many and diverse are the ways in which you confront them. Yet there is an invisible thread joining every one of the forms of exclusion. These are not isolated issues. Can we recognize that invisible thread which links them? I wonder whether we can see that those destructive realities are part of a system which has become global. Do we realize that that system has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature?

If such is the case, I would insist, let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change. This system is by now intolerable: farmworkers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable … The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable.

We want change in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to local problems. The globalization of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference!

Today I wish to reflect with you on the change we want and need. You know that recently I wrote about the problems of climate change. But now I would like to speak of change in another sense. Positive change, a change which is good for us, a change – we can say – which is redemptive. Because we need it. I know that you are looking for change, and not just you alone: in my different meetings, in my different travels, I have sensed an expectation, a longing, a yearning for change, in people throughout the world. Even within that ever smaller minority which believes that the present system is beneficial, there is a widespread sense of dissatisfaction and even despondency. Many people are hoping for a change capable of releasing them from the bondage of individualism and the despondency it spawns.

Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea – one of the first theologians of the Church – called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. This is the “dung of the devil”. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home, sister and mother earth.

I do not need to go on describing the evil effects of this subtle dictatorship: you are well aware of them. Nor is it enough to point to the structural causes of today’s social and environmental crisis. We are suffering from an excess of diagnosis, which at times leads us to multiply words and to revel in pessimism and negativity. Looking at the daily news we think that there is nothing to be done, except to take care of ourselves and the little circle of our family and friends.

What can I do, as collector of paper, old clothes or used metal, a recycler, about all these problems if I barely make enough money to put food on the table? What can I do as a craftsman, a street vendor, a trucker, a downtrodden worker, if I don’t even enjoy workers’ rights? What can I do, a farmwife, a native woman, a fisher who can hardly fight the domination of the big corporations? What can I do from my little home, my shanty, my hamlet, my settlement, when I daily meet with discrimination and marginalization? What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to a neighborhood with their hearts full of hopes and dreams, but without any real solution for their problems? They can do a lot. They really can. You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands, through your ability to organize and carry out creative alternatives, through your daily efforts to ensure the three “L’s” – do you agree? – (labor, lodging, land) and through your proactive participation in the great processes of change on the national, regional and global levels. Don’t lose heart!

2. Secondly, you are sowers of change. Here in Bolivia I have heard a phrase which I like: “process of change”. Change seen not as something which will one day result from any one political decision or change in social structure. We know from painful experience that changes of structure which are not accompanied by a sincere conversion of mind and heart sooner or later end up in bureaucratization, corruption and failure. There must be a change of heart. That is why I like the image of a “process”, processes, where the drive to sow, to water seeds which others will see sprout, replaces the ambition to occupy every available position of power and to see immediate results. The option is to bring about processes and not to occupy positions. Each of us is just one part of a complex and differentiated whole, interacting in time: peoples who struggle to find meaning, a destiny, and to live with dignity, to “live well”, and in that sense, worthily.

As members of popular movements, you carry out your work inspired by fraternal love, which you show in opposing social injustice. When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person, the exploited child, the mother who lost her child in a shootout because the barrio was occupied by drugdealers, the father who lost his daughter to enslavement…. when we think of all those names and faces, our hearts break because of so much sorrow and pain. And we are deeply moved, all of us…. We are moved because “we have seen and heard” not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh. This is something quite different than abstract theorizing or eloquent indignation. It moves us; it makes us attentive to others in an effort to move forward together. That emotion which turns into community action is not something which can be understood by reason alone: it has a surplus of meaning which only peoples understand, and it gives a special feel to genuine popular movements.

Each day you are caught up in the storms of people’s lives. You have told me about their causes, you have shared your own struggles with me, ever since I was in Buenos Aires, and I thank you for that. You, dear brothers and sisters, often work on little things, in local situations, amid forms of injustice which you do not simply accept but actively resist, standing up to an idolatrous system which excludes, debases and kills. I have seen you work tirelessly for the soil and crops of campesinos, for their lands and communities, for a more dignified local economy, for the urbanization of their homes and settlements; you have helped them build their own homes and develop neighborhood infrastructures. You have also promoted any number of community activities aimed at reaffirming so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three “L’s”: land, lodging and labor.

This rootedness in the barrio, the land, the office, the labor union, this ability to see yourselves in the faces of others, this daily proximity to their share of troubles – because they exist and we all have them – and their little acts of heroism: this is what enables you to practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We need to build up this culture of encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; no one loves a concept or an idea. We love people… Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities… of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world.

So I am pleased to see that you are working at close hand to care for those seedlings, but at the same time, with a broader perspective, to protect the entire forest. Your work is carried out against a horizon which, while concentrating on your own specific area, also aims to resolve at their root the more general problems of poverty, inequality and exclusion.

I congratulate you on this. It is essential that, along with the defense of their legitimate rights, peoples and their social organizations be able to construct a humane alternative to a globalization which excludes. You are sowers of change. May God grant you the courage, joy, perseverance and passion to continue sowing. Be assured that sooner or later we will see its fruits. Of the leadership I ask this: be creative and never stop being rooted in local realities, since the father of lies is able to usurp noble words, to promote intellectual fads and to adopt ideological stances. But if you build on solid foundations, on real needs and on the lived experience of your brothers and sisters, of campesinos and natives, of excluded workers and marginalized families, you will surely be on the right path.

The Church cannot and must not remain aloof from this process in her proclamation of the Gospel. Many priests and pastoral workers carry out an enormous work of accompanying and promoting the excluded throughout the world, alongside cooperatives, favouring businesses, providing housing, working generously in the fields of health, sports and education. I am convinced that respectful cooperation with the popular movements can revitalize these efforts and strengthen processes of change.

Let us always have at heart the Virgin Mary, a humble girl from small people lost on the fringes of a great empire, a homeless mother who could turn a stable for beasts into a home for Jesus with just a few swaddling clothes and much tenderness. Mary is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. I pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patroness of Bolivia, will allow this meeting of ours to be a leaven of change.

3. Third and lastly, I would like us all to consider some important tasks for the present historical moment, since we desire a positive change for the benefit of all our brothers and sisters. We know this. We desire change enriched by the collaboration of governments, popular movements and other social forces. This too we know. But it is not so easy to define the content of change – in other words, a social program which can embody this project of fraternity and justice which we are seeking. It is not easy to define it. So don’t expect a recipe from this Pope. Neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social reality or the proposal of solutions to contemporary issues. I dare say that no recipe exists. History is made by each generation as it follows in the footsteps of those preceding it, as it seeks its own path and respects the values which God has placed in the human heart.

I would like, all the same, to propose three great tasks which demand a decisive and shared contribution from popular movements:

3.1 The first task is to put the economy at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say NO to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.

The economy should not be a mechanism for accumulating goods, but rather the proper administration of our common home. This entails a commitment to care for that home and to the fitting distribution of its goods among all. It is not only about ensuring a supply of food or “decent sustenance”. Nor, although this is already a great step forward, is it to guarantee the three “L’s” of land, lodging and labor for which you are working. A truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration, must ensure peoples’ dignity and their “general, temporal welfare and prosperity”.[1] (Pope John XXIII spoke this last phrase fifty years ago, and Jesus says in the Gospel that whoever freely offers a glass of water to one who is thirsty will be remembered in the Kingdom of Heaven.) All of this includes the three “L’s”, but also access to education, health care, new technologies, artistic and cultural manifestations, communications, sports and recreation. A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older. It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life. You, and other peoples as well, sum up this desire in a simple and beautiful expression: “to live well”, which is not the same as “to have a good time”.

Such an economy is not only desirable and necessary, but also possible. It is no utopia or chimera. It is an extremely realistic prospect. We can achieve it. The available resources in our world, the fruit of the intergenerational labors of peoples and the gifts of creation, more than suffice for the integral development of “each man and the whole man”.[2] The problem is of another kind. There exists a system with different aims. A system which, in addition to irresponsibly accelerating the pace of production, and using industrial and agricultural methods which damage Mother Earth in the name of “productivity”, continues to deny many millions of our brothers and sisters their most elementary economic, social and cultural rights. This system runs counter to the plan of Jesus, against the Good News that Jesus brought.

Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment. It is about giving to the poor and to peoples what is theirs by right. The universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech found in the Church’s social teaching. It is a reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of peoples. And those needs are not restricted to consumption. It is not enough to let a few drops fall whenever the poor shake a cup which never runs over by itself. Welfare programs geared to certain emergencies can only be considered temporary and incidental responses. They could never replace true inclusion, an inclusion which provides worthy, free, creative, participatory and solidary work.

Along this path, popular movements play an essential role, not only by making demands and lodging protests, but even more basically by being creative. You are social poets: creators of work, builders of housing, producers of food, above all for people left behind by the world market.

I have seen first hand a variety of experiences where workers united in cooperatives and other forms of community organization were able to create work where there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy. I have seen some of you here. Recuperated businesses, local fairs and cooperatives of paper collectors are examples of that popular economy which is born of exclusion and which, slowly, patiently and resolutely adopts solidary forms which dignify it. How different this is than the situation which results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!

Governments which make it their responsibility to put the economy at the service of peoples must promote the strengthening, improvement, coordination and expansion of these forms of popular economy and communitarian production. This entails bettering the processes of work, providing adequate infrastructures and guaranteeing workers their full rights in this alternative sector. When the state and social organizations join in working for the three “L’s”, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity come into play; and these allow the common good to be achieved in a full and participatory democracy.

3.2. The second task is to unite our peoples on the path of peace and justice.

The world’s peoples want to be artisans of their own destiny. They want to advance peacefully towards justice. They do not want forms of tutelage or interference by which those with greater power subordinate those with less. They want their culture, their language, their social processes and their religious traditions to be respected. No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice. For “peace is founded not only on respect for human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular the right to independence”.[3]

The peoples of Latin America fought to gain their political independence and for almost two centuries their history has been dramatic and filled with contradictions, as they have striven to achieve full independence.

In recent years, after any number of misunderstandings, many Latin American countries have seen the growth of fraternity between their peoples. The governments of the region have pooled forces in order to ensure respect for the sovereignty of their own countries and the entire region, which our forebears so beautifully called the “greater country”. I ask you, my brothers and sisters of the popular movements, to foster and increase this unity. It is necessary to maintain unity in the face of every effort to divide, if the region is to grow in peace and justice.

Despite the progress made, there are factors which still threaten this equitable human development and restrict the sovereignty of the countries of the “greater country” and other areas of our planet. The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain “free trade” treaties, and the imposition of measures of “austerity” which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor. We, the bishops of Latin America, denounce this with utter clarity in the Aparecida Document, stating that “financial institutions and transnational companies are becoming stronger to the point that local economies are subordinated, especially weakening the local states, which seem ever more powerless to carry out development projects in the service of their populations”.[4] At other times, under the noble guise of battling corruption, the narcotics trade and terrorism – grave evils of our time which call for coordinated international action – we see states being saddled with measures which have little to do with the resolution of these problems and which not infrequently worsen matters.

Similarly, the monopolizing of the communications media, which would impose alienating examples of consumerism and a certain cultural uniformity, is another one of the forms taken by the new colonialism. It is ideological colonialism. As the African bishops have observed, poor countries are often treated like “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel”.[5]

It must be acknowledged that none of the grave problems of humanity can be resolved without interaction between states and peoples at the international level. Every significant action carried out in one part of the planet has universal, ecological, social and cultural repercussions. Even crime and violence have become globalized. Consequently, no government can act independently of a common responsibility. If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence, that is to say, our healthy interdependence. Interaction, however, is not the same as imposition; it is not the subordination of some to serve the interests of others. Colonialism, both old and new, which reduces poor countries to mere providers of raw material and cheap labor, engenders violence, poverty, forced migrations and all the evils which go hand in hand with these, precisely because, by placing the periphery at the service of the center, it denies those countries the right to an integral development. That is inequality, brothers and sisters, and inequality generates a violence which no police, military, or intelligence resources can control.

Let us say NO, then, to forms of colonialism old and new. Let us say YES to the encounter between peoples and cultures. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Here I wish to bring up an important issue. Some may rightly say, “When the Pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the Church”. I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM, the Council of Latin American Bishops, has said it, and I too wish to say it. Like Saint John Paul II, I ask that the Church – I repeat what he said – “kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters”.[6] I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America. Together with this request for forgiveness and in order to be just, I also would like us to remember the thousands of priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the Cross. There was sin, a great deal of it, for which we did not ask pardon. So for this, we ask forgiveness, I ask forgiveness. But here also, where there was sin, great sin, grace abounded through the men and women who defended the rights of indigenous peoples.

I also ask everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike, to think of those many bishops, priests and laity who preached and continue to preach the Good News of Jesus with courage and meekness, respectfully and pacifically – though I said bishops, priests and laity, I do not wish to forget the religious sisters who have been so present to our poor neighborhoods, bringing a message of peace and wellbeing – ; who left behind them impressive works of human promotion and of love, often standing alongside the native peoples or accompanying their popular movements even to the point of martyrdom. The Church, her sons and daughters, are part of the identity of the peoples of Latin America. An identity which here, as in other countries, some powers are committed to erasing, at times because our faith is revolutionary, because our faith challenges the tyranny of mammon. Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged peacemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide – I insist on the word – is taking place, and it must end.

To our brothers and sisters in the Latin American indigenous movement, allow me to express my deep affection and appreciation of their efforts to bring peoples and cultures together – a coming together of peoples and cultures – in a form of coexistence which I like to call polyhedric, where each group preserves its own identity by building together a plurality which does not threaten but rather reinforces unity. Your quest for an interculturalism, which combines the defense of the rights of the native peoples with respect for the territorial integrity of states, is for all of us a source of enrichment and encouragement.

3.3. The third task, perhaps the most important facing us today, is to defend Mother Earth.

Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin. We see with growing disappointment how one international summit after another takes place without any significant result. There exists a clear, definite and pressing ethical imperative to implement what has not yet been done. We cannot allow certain interests – interests which are global but not universal – to take over, to dominate states and international organizations, and to continue destroying creation. People and their movements are called to cry out, to mobilize and to demand – peacefully, but firmly – that appropriate and urgently-needed measures be taken. I ask you, in the name of God, to defend Mother Earth. I have duly addressed this issue in my Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, which I believe will be distributed at the end.

4. In conclusion, I would like to repeat: the future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you. Each of us, let repeat from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age. Keep up your struggle and, please, take great care of Mother Earth. Believe me; I am sincere when I say from the heart that I pray for you and with you, and I ask God our Father to accompany you and to bless you, to fill you with his love and defend you on your way by granting you in abundance that strength which keeps us on our feet: that strength is hope. It is something important: hope does not disappoint. I ask you, please, to pray for me. If some of you are unable to pray, with all respect, I ask you to send me your good thoughts and energy. Thank you.



[1] JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra (15 May 1961), 3: AAS 53 (1961), 402.

[2] PAUL VI, Encyclical Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967), 14: AAS 59 (1967), 264.

[3] PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 157.

[4] FIFTH GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN BISHOPS, Aparecida Document (29 June 2007), 66.

[5] JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), 52: AAS 88 (1996), 32-22; ID., Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987), 22: AAS 80 (1988), 539.

[6] Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 Incarnationis Mysterium (29 November 1998),11: AAS 91 (1999), 139-141.

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Thursday, 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Year I

Here is my homily from this morning’s Mass. God bless all.

All week we have been hearing in our first reading the account of Joseph. As you recall, Joseph was the youngest of twelve sons born to Jacob (Israel), and his father seemed to favor him in a way. Joseph had been given a coat of many colors, and indeed won his father’s heart. The older brothers grew jealous of Joseph and decided to do away with him, and so they sold him into slavery and lied to their father about his disappearance. This brought great grief to Jacob and famine struck the land. He was presumed dead, only to be reconciled with his brothers and family, as we hear today.

What is it we learn from these readings?

I would  suggest there are two things. The first is something our Holy Father has written about, and it is this: unity is superior to conflict and the whole is greater than the part.

I wonder if we think about this when we are faced with the choice to enter into conflict or to maintain unity? How often we we are tempted to enter into petty disagreements over small matters in our families and our parishes! How often do we remind ourselves that we indeed have a choice, to be united or to be in conflict. Far too often we choose to split hairs, to disagree, to divide rather than unite. The whole is greater than the part, our Holy Father has said, indeed many have said before him. We need to remember this.

The second thing we learn from the account of Joseph is this: God never creates evil, but he can allow it because of our free will he can make something good arise from it. God can take the darkest of hours and bring light into it. The great evil committed by Joseph’s brothers did not stop God from making something importantly wonderful occur. God took Joseph from near death and slavery, gave him the attention of the Pharoah, and then Joseph became second only to Pharoah in governing a nation. In doing so, Joseph was able to save his people from death.

Isn’t God wonderful in his works? May we praise him always!

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Thank You, Sioux City Deacons and Wives

A heartfelt thank you to the deacons, candidates, and wives of the diocese of Sioux City, Iowa for allowing me to serve them last week as retreat master for their annual retreat. It was held at St. Benedict’s Priory in Schuyler (pronounced SKY-ler), Nebraska, a wonderful place for such a retreat. Here is a photograph, courtesy of St. Benedict’s website.

Courtesy of St. Benedict's Center, Schuyler, NE

Courtesy of St. Benedict’s Center, Schuyler, NE

The photo below includes their Director, Deacon David Lopez, Ph.D. and comes courtesy of the Diocese of Sioux City.

Courtesy of Diocese of Sioux City, IA

Courtesy of Diocese of Sioux City, IA

 

I preached on the theme of faith and the various aspects of faith that I gleaned from our Holy Father’s encyclical Lumen Fidei and his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. 

The 76 some men and women were wonderfully attentive, and the fraternity enjoyed delightful. On Saturday evening, there was a social during which time many of the men shared the “highs and lows” of ministry. Many splendid stories were told that brought laughter and refreshment to all.

May they have many more years of fruitful diaconal ministry!

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Thursday, 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Year I

Here is my homily from this morning. God bless all!

The last verse from today’s Gospel begs the question, “Do I hear God’s Word, the teachings of Jesus, as spoken with authority, or not?”

Indeed, it is easy for all of us who are here every day for early Mass to say we hear God’s Word and accept its authority, and perhaps you do. But what happens when the storms and difficulties of life hit and we are buffeted by wind and hail? Do we have that strong foundation that only faith can give to us? Do we remain in faith, or do we excuse ourselves and our  situations.

A great question for our lives, especially our moral lives. How easily do we become faithless when influenced by the forces of the world?

Jesus is telling us that only by listening to his word in faith, and responding to what we have heard will we have that solid  foundation upon which to build our lives. It is only our shared faith which will give us the ability to weather the storms of life. Yes, life can be difficult, and in those moments we need to be able to see the presence of God in the midst of the storm and it is only with faith can we see God’s presence. Faith marks the presence of God in our world. Faith casts a light on God’s ever-present love. Without faith, we are blind and darkness seems to overcome us.

Indeed, some listen to God’s Word without faith, without a response, and they recognize no authority in it. Others, in the listening, respond and build upon that Word, knowing its authority and call to obedience.

May we pray for one another this day, that we all grow in our shared faith, listen attentively to God’s authoritative Word, and assist each other in the difficulties of life.

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“I Identify as…..”

I read with consternation in recent days of what many consider newsworthy regarding the resignation of the NAACP chair in Spokane, and all the surrounding commentary. From what I can ascertain, Rachel Dolezai has said she “identifies” as a black woman although her parents and family accuse her of lying and are saying she has no African-American bloodline. So it begs the question, doesn’t it, of what is the “truth” regarding Ms. Dolezai’s racial heritage.

We will hear in the upcoming weeks, as long as this story is kept in the headlines, that the “truth” of one’s race will be that with which one wishes to “identify” which is another way of saying that one’s racial identity is subjectively determined. Others will say that racial identity is genetic or perhaps familial.

Why do I even comment on this today? Because it is just another predictable and deplorable effect of the relativization of the Truth. If we so completely buy into the philosophical idea that truth is relative to the individual’s perceptions and judgment, then not only will one’s sexual identity, gender, and race no longer be objectively verifiable, but truth in all things will not be verifiable in any manner. Indeed, as the philosophers would opine, we risk falling into solipsism, and as the theologians warn, we fall into the heresy of Gnosticism.

Consider this: If truth is relative, then our judicial system is irrelevant. No judge or jury will be able to sentence anyone, sanction anyone for violations of the law. To what would a witness swear if the truth is completely subjective? Who’s relatively defined truth would prevail? How can anything be proven “beyond reasonable doubt?”

My readers, perhaps the greatest heresy of modern times is Gnosticism, i.e., the belief that the truth lies is special knowledge given to a few, a belief that denies the incarnational aspects of Truth, and a belief that brings disunity and social entropy. Gnosticism is so prevalent. What we need is a return to a true understanding of the Incarnation and how we share in that incarnation. We must return to an understanding that there does exist something and someone out there greater than me and that greatness is a Person and that Person, whom we call God, determines what is true for he is Truth and he wishes to reveal that truth to us. It is this truth for which we search and find. It’s not us; it’s him. He is the Creator; we are the creatures made in his image.

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Archbishop Nienstedt resigns, Archbishop Hebda appointed Apostolic Administrator

Earlier today, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche of the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. As you no doubt have heard in recent years, the archdiocese has been hurting due to sexual abuse perpetrated by priests of the archdiocese – abuse that may have occurred years ago as well as more recently – and the manner in which the archdiocese responded to these incidents.

I will not comment on all of this save to say that I truly pray for healing and peace for all involved.

Pope Francis also appointed today Archbishop Hebda, currently coadjutor bishop of Newark, New Jersey, as apostolic administrator until a new archbishop can be appointed. Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens will now serve the Church in the Twin Cities area.

Below is a link to the letter from Archbishop Hebda.

Hebda-With-Cross

Source: Letter from Archbishop Hebda

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 2015

Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless you all!

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

June 13/14, 20015

Ezekiel 17: 22-24; 2 Cor. 5: 6-10; Mk 4: 26-34

 “It shall put forth branches and bear fruit and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it and the shade of its boughs. I, the Lord, bring low the high tree and lift the lowly tree. As I, the Lord, have spoken, so will I do.” Ez 17:22-24

Where is the Church today? Is it a lowly tree being lifted high, or a high tree being brought low? Is it, as Ezekiel described, a young green tree full of life, or a withered one?

It seems like many people have many different opinions of the Church, lots of opinions, feelings and beliefs about who she is, what she is about, and what their relationship is and ought to be with the Catholic Church. Indeed, so many are attracted to her for a variety of reasons, and many seem repelled by her for a variety of reasons. Sadly, very few in today’s world understand her, or to say it differently, so many misunderstand who she is and what she is about.

The Church is ever young, and yet so very ancient. The Church is so full of life and activity, so full of spirit and she bears such wonderful fruit with her charitable works, her educational institutions, her advocacy for the unborn, the aged, the ill, and in so many other ways, yet she is wounded by the sin of her people, her members and so the Church to some is a withered useless tree best cut to the ground (and many are trying to do just that). For others though she is a tree in which they rest, live, and find refreshment, she is a magnificent community of believers who make up the Mystical Body of Christ, she is beautiful beyond description, and she is present in the smallest and most ordinary of places, hidden from view, always at work. She is humble and bold, holy and marred by sin, elegant yet commonplace, but she is the Kingdom of God!

My friends, the Church is the Kingdom of God, which Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel. The Church is the high tree brought low at times, and the lowly tree raised high. She is the house of God, the dwelling place of the Most High. She is the People of God, you and me. She is the sheep of God’s flock, she is the Body of Christ, and we, all of us, must find our home in her, in her branches, under her boughs, sustained by her grace and the sacraments. We, the People of God, cannot live or love, grow or thrive in this world, and become who we were created to be, without her.

Yes, our home is the Church, the Body of Christ, the community of believers, this Kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed. We find our home in this Kingdom, walking by faith and with great courage.

Jesus continually proclaims in the Gospel that the Kingdom of God has come, has suddenly been revealed in our lives, in our time, in our world. Just as in his day very people left Jesus and did not follow him because they did not understand his teaching, so too today so many misunderstand. Today, as in Jesus’ time, many would want to silence her voice outside of these church walls. Jesus tells us though that we must scatter the seeds of faith and truth in our society and world.

We must sow the seed of faith in our world today! We must scatter the seed of life, of love, of truth, of fidelity and obedience, of justice, the seed of the Gospel. Each and every day we must wake up, get up and go out to sow perhaps what may seem the smallest of seeds in every corner of our lives, in our families, in our parishes, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. We must trust God, wait and watch in faith. The harvest comes after we are gone. We must water and nurture what we sow. We must scatter everywhere and often.

My dear people, we must find a home, a place of refreshment in God’s Kingdom, always walking courageously by faith in our world today. We must proclaim Jesus Christ in his Church. We must walk with faith, always in love, in a world which rejects God’s Kingdom all too often.

To those who would silence her or crush her, I can only say that it is in the Church that I and so many others have encountered Jesus Christ, that it is only in the Catholic Church that I have been given the Eucharist, that it is in the Church that I have found peace and forgiveness, that it is in the Church that my life has meaning and purpose. These are the same gifts given to each of you. Let us embrace God’s Kingdom and scatter the seed of the Gospel always!

 

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Deacon Bob’s Homily for Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle

St. Barnabas was a man from Jerusalem, sent by the twelve Apostles into Asia Minor to preach. He took with him St. Paul and accompanied him on his mission there. In Antioch, to which they traveled, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.

It begs the question, “What is a Christian?”

Before the coming of our Lord Jesus, before Mary said, “yes” and conceived the Son of God in her womb, before Jesus lived, suffered, died, rose, ascended and with the Father sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit, those chosen people of God called themselves followers of the Law. After Jesus’ resurrection his followers called themselves, “Christians,” followers of Christ.

Indeed, the person of Christ took precedence over the Law. All the Apostles were clear about this: Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law, and it was knowing Jesus and the power flowing from his resurrection, that was paramount, not observance of the Law. Yes, the Law was glorious in its own right, but the glory of knowing and being in relationship with Jesus far outshone the fading glory of the Law. This was the great message of the Apostles which they preached and taught and largely died proclaiming.

A Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ, knows him, and wants to tell others about him. All the laws follow from this and are subordinate to it.

Mind you, this does not diminish the law of God or the Church, for in truth, it magnifies that law and illuminates the law, and gives us freedom in obedience to the law. The law of God  and the Church give us life (not death), when we understand them in the light of the resurrection of Jesus and our knowledge and relationship with Him.

This is our great gift, from God and to others. Let us be ever so grateful. Let us go forth to share this gift with others.

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Random Thoughts

Again, many weeks actually have elapsed since my last original posting. I have been busy preparing to preach two retreats, the first in just a couple of weeks and the second later this summer. Both are rather major events, and I am excited to be ministering to my brother deacons and their wives in this way.

FullSizeRender
I have placed in my office a new icon. It’s presence is a constant reminder of who I serve in this life, and His watchful care and guidance throughout my day. A silent reminder, but speaking in a  manner that conveys a certain peace for which each of us search.

I have been thinking about three questions that were proposed to the deacon directors at their annual NADD convention in Minneapolis a short while ago, namely: 1. What do you work for? 2. What are you working toward? 3. With whom or in what do you rest and find leisure? Interesting questions. What motivates me to attend to the duties of my work life? Where is my work taking me? Do I find true leisure in life, and with whom or in what, and how is that different than mere “entertainment” or “diversion.” I guess the fourth question that needs asking is, “How do I integrate work and leisure in life?” This question is in contrast to the question so many ask, i.e., “How do I balance work and leisure?” The “balance question” is a treacherous one to ask because it invariably puts into opposition work and leisure, whereas the “integration question” leads one to consider their seamlessness, or at least trying to accomplish that. So many of us work just for a paycheck (as important, good and needed that may be) and we scarcely ask  ourselves what value(s) are being pursued in our work  (where is my work taking me). Far too many of us find “leisure” in distracting entertainment rather than in personal encounter and self-awareness.

With the continual drumbeat of news on the social front, especially regarding sexuality, gender and marriage, one has a hard time remaining hopeful for our society’s health and well-being. I am frankly amazed that so many so quickly have been misled and confused by faulty thinking and erroneous assumptions and ideas. To some extent I fault  our educational institutions for failing to teach students critical thinking skills, and how to recognize arguments lacking validity and conviction. I think we must fault the Church for falling short in her articulation of truth in a convincing manner comprehensible to the contemporary man and woman. Pope Francis has mastered this, and I hope with his leadership we turn this around.

Of course, we must not dismiss Satan and his influence throughout all of this. Not a fun thought, but an important one. How often do we pray for protection from his deceptions?

My hope is that today, each of you find a day of peace and rest. God bless all of you!

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Pope approves “abuse of office” proposals for bishops in sex abuse cases

On Monday, the Holy Father accepted the recommendations of Cardinal Sean O’Malley and others whom he, Pope Francis, charged with the responsibility to advise him of needed changes in response to bishops fail to fulfill their episcopal responsibilities when dealing with clerics in their dioceses who have committed the crime of child sexual abuse.

I have provided you a link below that will take you to a short article describing the changes that are to be implemented.

Let us pray that our Holy Father continue to receive wise counsel and make needed decisions in responding to these crimes within the Church, and in reaching out to those victimize.

Source: Pope approves “abuse of office” proposals for bishops in sex abuse cases

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