Weekend Coffee Share – 01/22/2017

deacon coffee mugOver a cup of coffee, I would first apologize to you, then say: “THE N.E. PATRIOTS ARE GOING TO SUPER BOWL!!!”  There; sorry, but I had to get that out of my system!

Now, over a cup of coffee, I would share with you my concerns over the Presidential Inauguration that took place last Friday in Washington D.C.  Never in my life, have I been more worried about the person whom the nation has elected to guide it for the next four years; and there have been some past Presidents, that while I may have fiercely disagreed with them, I respected them. election-2016

Of equal concern to me has been the type of nation that this election has revealed.  Public television recently showed a program, entitled “The Divided State of America.”  We seem to be a country that is more separated, that is more angry, and refuses to speak to another, in a respectful manner.  Even in the American Catholic Church, there is little agreement; a survey of Catholics who voted showed that a majority of white Catholics voted for Trump; a majority of Latino Catholics voted for Clinton.  It is interesting that in today’s Sunday reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to Corinthians had this statement:

For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.  I mean that each of you is saying, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’  Is Christ divided?

Could we change the wording, and have “each of you is saying, ‘I am for Trump,’ or ‘I am for Clinton.’  Is Christ divided?”  We, as a community of believers, need to realize, need to experience that around the altar of the Lord, we are one with Christ; we are all united in the Body of Christ.  This is something we all need to work for.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you that the Catholic Church, and many of the Christian churches are in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Acknowledging that we are a divided worldwide community of believers; many people are working to find a path to unity.  We realize that we need prayer, because apart from Christ, not drawing on the power of His grace, we can achieve little.  Before I carry my empty cup to the sink, I leave you with a prayer that was distributed in 2008:

O God, source of perfect unity, pour out your grace upon your Church at prayer.   Heal the divisions and mistrust past years have wrought among your children.  We pray without ceasing for conversion of heart and a deeper faithfulness to the gospel.  We pray for a closer relationship with Christ Jesus who prayed ‘that all may be one.’  Fill us with the desire to unite ourselves to his prayer of unity.  May we live as one, as you are one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. 

Weekend Coffee Share – 11/13/16

Over a cup of ice coffee; I would share with you that I was not totally surprised by the electiondeacon coffee mugn of Donald Trump.  It has always been my belief that there was always a chance that he would win.  News analysts have pointed out several factors that contributed to his victory.  First, he spoke to blue-collar workers in those states that make up the”Rust Belt.”  These are those voters who felt left behind during the country’s economic recovery.  They felt ignored by federal government; by the Democratic Party, which originally was their party.  They now see it, and the government as supporting Big Business; and immigrants.  They claim to not recognize the country they live in; and they were mad as heck!  They were looking for anti-political establishment  figure, and found him in Donald Trump.  The irony is that it was these same blue collar workers who helped to elect Bill Clinton to the Presidency.  Reports are out there that he told Hilary’s campaign staff not to ignore the workers in states, like Michigan, but he was ignored.  There were other factors also that contributed to Clinton’s defeat; she just had too much baggage, from her e-mails, to her cozy relationship with the Wall Street establishment; a lot of people just could get excited about her enough to go out and election-2016vote for her.

Now the country waits to see what a Trump Administration means for us, for minorities, for immigrants, and for those workers who have pinned their hopes on him.  There are already sizable protests on both coasts of the country; with people crying out: “Not my president.”  The fact of the matter is that come January, 2017, Donald Trump will legally, constitutionally, be the President of the United States.  We can either accept that fact or be responsible for the ending of the political experiment that is the United States of America.

What is the Catholic Christian response to this situation?  First, to pray; pray that the Holy Spirit will invade the hearts of our political leaders, changing them from hearts full of anger and disrespect for the other side; to hearts geared towards cooperation for the sake of the nation and all its’ people.  That political and social discourse will be with respect for people on the other side of an issue.  That there will be a new commitment to make government work.  We then must also be willing to stand with the poor, the disenfranchised, the immigrant; and where necessary, speak “truth to power;” but in such a way that respects the political process, in a way that promotes civil discussion and cooperation.  I would highly recommend reading an article by Fr. James Martin, SJ, in the Jesuit magazine, “America.”

Well, my mug of iced coffee is empty; and believe it or not, I am about ready to pass out.  So I hope to see you again, over a cup of coffee.

 

 

Welcome the Stranger.

 “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.  I, the Lord, am your God. ” (Leviticus 19: 33-34)

TrumpI have used the above quote from Leviticus in a previous quote, but unfortunately, it remains relevant to current events.  And I am speaking about comments made by Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on prohibiting persons of the Muslim faith from entering this country.  And he does not seem to distinguishing between Muslims from a specific geographic location, and all Muslims.  His statement has set off a firestorm of comments, both in the media, and blogosphere!  Many comments were highly critical of Mr. Trump’s opinion, accusing him of violating America’s high ideals.

The sad truth is that since America’s earliest beginning’s, there has been an undercurrent of religious intolerance in the country’s history.  As far back as Puritan Boston, when Quakers were persecuted; even hung, like Mary Dyer, for their beliefs.  Baptists and Evangelicals were discriminated against in the state of Virginia, in the newly born United States.  Mormons were, attacked, murdered, and were driven out to the frontiers of the Republic.  There has always been a subtle discrimination against persons of the Jewish faith.  And Catholics should remember the fierce opposition to believers of our faith existed in this nation.  Some of the early state constitutions had amendments that prohibited persons who “swore allegiance to a foreign ruler (i.e.; the Pope,)” from holding public office.  Catholic schools, orphanages, and convents were attacked at times during urban riots.  When the great waves of Catholic immigrants started coming to our shores, the fear mongering grew to fever pitch.  A nativist party, founded in the 1800’s, and known popularly as the “Know Nothings”; with the aim of preventing immigration of German and Irish Catholics, and limiting the access to the political system only to Protestants.  We have grown as country, and religious liberty is enshrined in both our Constitution, and the body politic.  There have been and always will be tensions as we continue to explore what the ideal of religious liberty and tolerance means in a modern society that has both religious and secular segments to it.

Persons, such as Mr. Trump, are threatening that ideal, by playing to the fears of terrorism that is afflicting our country right now.  Michael Sean Winters, of the National Catholic Reporter, in an interesting recent post on this issue.  In the last few paragraphs, he speaks about the real threat of terror.  The real threat is not the death and destruction terrorists can inflict, but the changes they can cause in a society.  When out of fear, they cause a society, like the U.S., to abandon its ideals of personal freedom, of openness to all faiths, for severe, hard-handed security practices, and make us an armed camp.  When it causes a nation to demonize a whole religion; a whole people, and discriminates against them; then the terrorist wins.

To stand up to terrorism, means to have the courage to remain faithful to those social and political ideals that make us a unique people on the world stage.  As a community of believers, we American Catholics need to remember our own immigrant roots, and not give into fear.  During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are called to extend mercy; which we experience ourselves, to others.  We trust that God’s grace will help us overcome fear and anxiety, and we will welcome the stranger.

welcome the stranger