Morning Thoughts: Other People

by Howard Hain

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Other people. That’s when things get complicated.

Being patient, forgiving, meek, honest, prudent, wise…when it comes to our own wellbeing is hard enough…but when it comes to dealing with the world’s offenses against those we love—especially those put into our care—things can really get out of hand.

For living a life of integrity and peace, of “turning the other cheek”, seems somewhat possible when it’s my cheek, but to ask me to act the same when it comes to witnessing an injustice against my mother, my wife, or my daughter, then it’s a whole other ballgame.

The lamb becomes a lion. I want justice. Now. A roaring lion. Game on. And it is no longer about defense. No, a full-frontal offensive attack is launched. Crush the opponent. Leave no opportunity for the “hyena” to not fully understand: “Not on my watch, you vile creature—you don’t stand a chance—and now you’ll pay tenfold.”

This is all figure of speech, of course. But internally, this hypothetical dialogue is somewhat close.

But then there comes the question of action itself.

What do we actually do?

What should we actually do?

Each situation of course has its own set of circumstances.

But Truth and Wisdom apply to every situation and circumstance.

And that hits upon what is perhaps the biggest affront the world inflicts upon those placed in our care: The lie that Truth, Morality, Virtue, Justice, and Goodness are relevant to time and place, to culture and historical period.

Truth is Truth. Moral Virtue is Moral Virtue. Justice is Justice. And offenses against Eternal Truths are offenses against Eternal Truths, whether you live in Poland, the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, or Zimbabwe.

And yes, I am fully aware that the above statement makes the assumption that there are Eternal Truths. There are. Period. God’s Love and His demand for Human Dignity are real. God’s reality insists upon it.

Perhaps then this is the best first step in truly defending our families: To know the Truth. To stand in the Truth. To anchor ourselves in and to the Truth.

Day by day. Hour by hour. One Eucharistic encounter at a time.

Here then is such a nugget* that might help us navigate the turbulent waters of this new day:

“The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.”

—Habakkuk 2:4


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* nug·get
/ˈnəɡət/
noun
a small lump of gold or other precious metal found ready-formed in the earth.

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Extreme Weather: Why?


A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.

A rise in the sea level, for example, can create extremely serious situations, if we consider that a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and that the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.

Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.23

Pope Francis. Laudato SI 24, 31.

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Living in a Dirty Home

Garbage

Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.
Pope Francis, Laudato SI, 21

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23rd Sunday a: Telling People They’re Wrong

For today’s homily, please play the video below:

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Change and Automation


17. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.

19. Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet.
Pope Francis, Laudato SI, 17-19

Avoiding an “irrational confidence in progress and human abilities”, we need to make “a fresh analysis of our present situation,” the pope says. He speaks of the “rapidification” of life– a fast changing world that cares little for nature or sustainable human development.

Like automation, smart cars, or whatever else puts people out of work and removes them from involvement in society or having a hand in the progress of our created world?

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Friday Thoughts: A Common Question

by Howard Hain

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Does it make any sense to ask “why” but not want to know why?

It depends on how we see an answer. For there is one answer that applies to each and every question, that fully satisfies each and every query—one certainty that fully answers all wonderings.

All other answers—true although they may be—are subordinate to this one primary and exhaustive answer.

And this one answer has many expressions, but only one meaning. It has several names, but only one significance. It has billions of manifestations, but only one divine presence.

The answer is “I AM”…

The answer is “Truth”…

The answer is “Pure Existence”…

And on and on….

But let us express it one additional way: “The Perfect Will of God”.

If we believe this—if we believe in God we must believe this—then we have no questions to ask. Unless of course we ask for a different reason—a reason other than wanting an answer. And what may that reason be?

To experience God.

To “know” He is real.

To feel He cares.

———

For does an infant question his mother’s love?

Does he wonder if she will offer her breast?

Does he ask any questions at all?

No. He cries.

He prays with utter faith to a power beyond his capacity to wonder why.

For the newborn “knows” why.

The infant “knows” he is loved.

Yet he cries.

———

And we do too. We cry “why” to a God who knows our every need and has preordained our every righteous desire.

We pray like infants—like newborn children—when we ask our all-knowing and all-caring God a question we instinctively “know” is already forever answered.

We pray when we cry out loud in the direction of Him whom we believe exists—no matter the form of the cry.

For prayer is active believing. Asking is simply a common language.

Either way, the translation is the same.

———

“Why Lord?” (I believe in You)

“Why God?” (I trust in You)

“Why, Lord, why? (I love You)

———

And God always answers.

He always nurses.

More faith…more hope…more love.


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Feast of the Birth of Mary (September 8)

st.ann basilica

Church of St. Anne, Jerusalem

An ancient feast celebrated by western and eastern Christians churches alike, it was first celebrated in Jerusalem after the Emperor Constantine and his successors built churches over important biblical sites in the Holy Land in the 4th and 5th centuries. After celebrating this feast there, Christian pilgrims began celebrating it in their own churches back home.

Barnett - 771

Ruins of Bethesda and ancient church

Paralytic

The feast was celebrated in the 5th century at a church built over the ancient pool of Bethesda, near the Gate of St. Stephen, just north of the Jewish temple. Here Jesus  healed a paralyzed man,  John’s gospel says:  “Now there was in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, a pool in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of the blind, lame and crippled,”  (John 5,2) At this healing place, where pagan gods  like Asclepius and Serapis were invoked, Jesus, the Healer, healed a paralyzed man.

The healing pool with its porticoes, parts of the ancient church and ruins of a temple of Asclepius (2nd-4th century) were uncovered by archeologists in the last century.
Jerusaelm streets

Soon, the church over the healing pool became associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus, because third century Christian writings connected her family with this area of Jerusalem. Mary’s birth and early life came to be remembered in this church. Barnett - 781

Early stories said that Mary’s parents, Anne and Joachim, faithful Jews who represented generations waiting for the One who was to come, were old and childless. Joachim supplied sheep for the temple sacrifices, but the two were looked down upon for having no children. An angel announced they were to conceive a daughter. Their faith, like that of Abraham and Sarah, was miraculously rewarded.

The Greek Church celebrates the feast of Mary’s parents September 9. The Roman Church celebrates their feast July 27th.

The Feast of the Birth of Mary and stories of her childhood became part of the liturgy and devotional life of all the early Christian churches. After conquering the Holy Land in the 11th century, the crusaders rebuilt the small church over the healing pool which had fallen into ruins under Moslem control, and also built a larger church honoring St. Anne, the mother of Mary, southeast of the pool. That church. one of the most beautiful of Jerusalem’s churches, stands overlooking the remains of the old church and the healing pool. It’s a favorite destination for pilgrims today.

Jerusaelm streets

Church of St. Anne, interior

The readings for this feast present Mary as the representative of all her ancestors.  The gospel  is St.Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, starting with Abraham. Mary fulfills what generations before her, and indeed the whole human race, hoped for: “We commemorate the birth of the blessed Virgin Mary, a descendant of Abraham, born of the tribe of Judah and of David’s seed,” (Antiphon, 1st Vespers, Roman rite)

“This feast of the birth of the Mother of God is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today, the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages…
Today the created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.”
(St. Andrew of Crete, bishop, Office of Readings, Roman rite)

The created world, all creation, all of us have a place in her birth.

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St.Ann and Mary, her child

The Orthodox Church in its liturgy sees Mary as the mysterious ladder that Jacob saw in a dream reaching from earth to heaven. (Genesis 28,10-17) She is the way the Word comes down to earth’s lowest point, death itself, and returns to heaven having redeemed humanity. The Orthodox liturgy also associates  Mary with the miracle of the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda. She has a role in healing our paralyzed humanity.

The Orthodox calendar year begins on this feast of Mary and ends with the feast of her Dormition, on August 15th.

 

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