Happy Independence Day!!

Today, we are called to celebrate the birth of the United States of America! There will be parades, displays of fireworks, and of course speeches. I wonder what tone these speeches will take; either a call for all peoples to come together; or will politics takeover. There are times when, after hearing the speeches, the interviews, the commentaries; that I want to shout out “A pox on both your houses!”

To paraphrase, these words from the Declaration of Independence continue to move me; “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights., that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words have inspired many, both in this country and abroad to work for their fulfillment here and now. It is also true that the interpretation of these words has lead to fierce debate, arguments, strife, and a Civil War. There continues be fierce debate over how these rights are to be implemented, with little effort to seek common ground.

We are entering, I believe, a time of strife, both nationally, and internationally, where words like “discussion,” and “compromise” are considered weak, equal to “surrender!” There is little respect for the views of others, no addressing what might be causing the fears that drive people to radical beliefs and actions.

Perhaps the world needs to learn the concept of “synodality” as the Catholic Church is beginning to learn about it now. One definition of it is “listening.” Listening to the hopes and desires, the joys and the fears, what they want this country to be; and not be judgmental, but learn about the other. And in learning, finding common ground.

What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.” The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.

Remembering January 6th!

To say I am a tv junkie, would be an understatement. When my parents brought in the first black & white television home, I was sitting right there. Cartoon shows galore; along with action heroes and adventure shows. And of course, comedies!

But there was time, when the tv showed events that were not funny. Winter storms, and hurricanes, and the damage they wrought! Then there was the assassination of a President; the killing of a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. A bloody war in an Asian country. The death of another Kennedy; shot by a gunman. Riots, protesters, violence, all shown on the glowing tube.

But nothing prepared me for the sight of rioters charging up the steps of the. Capital Building! What was even more disconcerting, was the number of watchers who were supporting the rioters, egging them on! People were in danger of losing their lives! People were injured! People died! Yet, there were politicians and pundits trying to make political gain out of this violence!

Now is the time for a deep introspection of us as a country. Why are so many people so intensely suspicious of government, politicians, contrary news reports coming over cable and the web! The country appears to be tearing itself apart! Why!

There will be different answers, coming from different sources, to this question. But at the very least there has to be a frank and honest dialogue between citizens. An openness to at least try to hear what the other side is saying; and what circumstances are driving it. If we cannot agree on what concerns have validity; what we can address and come to mutual agreed upon solutions; the country is in real trouble.

As a Catholic Christian, I firmly believe in the teaching that we are called on to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. To come together as a people; this is the great challenge we have always had as a nation. This is a challenge we may or may not be able to meet; but we must try. “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” From Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address.

2021 AD begins!

The first day of 2021 is almost over! Outside our apartment window, I can hear rain falling. A storm is sweeping over us! It has been a quiet day, dinner was leftovers from an earlier meal. I have been sending “Happy New Year” to relatives and friends over Messenger and Facebook! Now I am wondering what the year 2021 has to bring.

The pandemic is still roaring across the country! I have been fortunate to be able to work at home, earning an income and maintaining my health benefits. But after all this time working my computer, on a folding card table, it is getting old! I miss coworkers, a change of scenery. And I am sure my wife would love to get my workstation out of her living room!

My ministry as a Deacon has sort of become more internal. I do get to assist at Mass once a month and am able to preach. But the parish congregations are sparse, social distancing and mask wearing are mandatory. Virtual meetings and prayer gatherings are becoming the new normal. Yes, I am a Zoomer!

As year 2020 comes to close, and year 2021 is just getting started, things do not look that great! Besides the already mentioned pandemic, there are other issues affecting the nation and the world at large. In this country, we have just been through a largely divisive elections season. And the the results are still being challenged by factions among our politicians. The question of U.S. democracy surviving has been raised.

Within our Catholic Church, there are signs of cracks in the Bark of St. Peter! Persons who claim to be loyal to the Papacy, are questioning the legitimacy of the current Pope! The Church is still struggling to justly react to child sexual abuse. And the Church has to deal with issues of women’s role within it’s structure; the role of the laity in Church governance. And among all other issues, are the questions about how we are to be Church in the world.

And sadly, the discussion about the above matters, both secular and religious, has been quite divisive (to put it mildly)! The internet, the World Wide Web, blogs, Facebook, Tweeter; gives everyone an unfettered platform to argue, sometimes violently.

We have forgotten that we are called by Jesus to love one another, even those we call our enemies! We need to return some sort of civility to the discussions. There may never be a total accommodation, but at least we can part, recognizing that while we may disagree, we are still part of the same community!

This blog has been silent for a long time. I cannot say I will always be able to overcome this writer’s block, but I will try! I will try to be civil and respectful in my writing. Let’s see what 2021 brings! Blessings!!