Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Preferential Option for the Poor

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”23But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”24 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”2526He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”27She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15: 21-28

“The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.”  “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership of goods.”*

A society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members.  How does the community share it bounty with those in most urgent need?  Do the poor get preferential treatment and access or do they receive the  “leavings of the table” of the more fortunate?
The poor have an urgent moral need that exceeds the needs of the rest of the community because of their desperate situation.  For example, it is more urgent to zone and build good, safe and affordable housing for the homeless, poor and disaffected who live in squalor -- unable to realize their dignity and potential than it is zone and build more shopping malls.  Their need is more urgent and exceeds the need for convenient access to shopping.
The plight of the poor should reside in the conscience of the community.  The community must work to not only satisfy the immediate needs of the poor, but also alleviate the root causes of their poverty and allow them a true voice in the decisions of the community.
Decisions of public policy should be viewed from the perspective of the poor and how it affects their plight.  It is the community’s responsibility to work for the poor, thereby working for the common good of all the community.

Deacon Don

Friday, August 26, 2011

48th Anniversary of "I have a dream." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these  that the kingdom of heaven belongs."

                                                                                                                             Matthew 19: 14-15

This weekend a new statue dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech will be opened on the mall in Washington DC. It is the 48th anniversary of this famous speech that spoke to the hearts of all Americans, painting a picture of a future in America of equal opportunity in education, housing, work and access to resources that creates a social complex where all are lifted up and no one is left behind.

Sadly, that dream has yet to be realized and in fact, it is further from the reach of more Americans than it was 48 years ago.  More children live in poverty, more people are homeless, more people are economically poorer, socially isolated and/or politically marginalized and more people have less access to opportunity today than ever in this 'the greatest' country.

Instead of people coming together, caring and sharing the love of Christ, we are more divisive. The gap between rich and poor widens, the divide between people broadens, our isolation from the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ deepens; we are a people who have lost the dream and now wander in the desert, alone and broken.

We need to rekindle the vision of a better and brighter future, to re-dream a dream where all live in hope and harmony working for the common good. We need to open our hearts to the love of God, a love like no other love, that gives, that shares, that puts others before ourselves. We need to conquer the fears that keep us from loving as we are loved, in the love of Christ Jesus.

It is in embracing the cross of Christ where we can find the courage to realize Dr. King's dream. It is in making a commitment to love, where we will find our way back to the dream of a future where all people can live, survive and thrive together.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker summed up our present dream status and the need for all of us to take up Dr. King's dream and "dream a dream that is strong, stubborn and relentless":

Still in America, one's destiny is not determined by merit alone; by how hard one is willing to work, by one's innate acumen or by how much one is willing to sacrifice for their dreams and ambitions. Instead, destinies in America are strongly and even savagely influenced by the zip code one is born in, how much money one's parents have, or put simply, whether one is fortunate enough -- lucky enough -- to have access to decent, safe housing, adequate health care and a thorough education. Frustratingly, decades after some of the most compelling and articulate dreamers gifted our nation progress, we still live in a country where race and socio-economic status are stubbornly, strongly and undeniably correlated with the quality of one's life outcomes.

Together, in the love of Christ, we can re-dream a better and brighter future for all people. Let the re-dreaming begin on this anniversary, with this statue dedication and with love and solidarity in our hearts that embraces all God's beloved children.

Deacon Don

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Solidarity

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

   41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

   45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

   46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

                                                                                                            Matthew 25: 34-46

We are all God’s children, not just Catholics or Christians, but all humans, everywhere.  We are one human family, children of God and brothers and sisters to each other.  When there is suffering in one part of the human family, the whole family is affected.  When we contribute to that suffering we in effect are hurting ourselves.

We have seen the good effect of global solidarity in the defeat of communism, in the aid and support for the tsunami victims and awareness concerts for economic relief for African nations.  These actions have helped our suffering brothers and sisters, but we have also seen the disasters in our failure to act globally to relieve the suffering of others.  We have witnessed and continue to witness genocides in many parts of the world, the abject poverty in third-world nations, the torture and confinements by oppressive dictatorships, the lack of access to clean water, food, healthcare, education and opportunity by people around the world.  What are we to do about these and other conditions that take away the rights and dignity of humans?

“God intended the earth and all it contains for the use of everyone and all peoples, so that the good things of creation should be available equally to all.”* We need to think globally, that the sufferings of people in other countries are our sufferings too.  As humans, members of the same family, children of the same God, we need to identify with their suffering and see that as they are diminished, so are we.  We are called to speak out for those who cannot, fight against all that diminishes our basic human dignity, and takes away our basic rights and denies justice to us all.  We are called to share the resources and wealth of the world with all.  

For as one suffers, so do we all

Deacon Don

Sunday, August 21, 2011

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Gospel - Matthew 16: 13-30

The unique sign of the Catholic Church is our ability to trace our origin all the way back to the first Apostle, Peter.  Through this apostolic progression, the head of today’s Church, Pope Benedict, XVI, is directly in line with Jesus’ choice to lead his church.

Peter, originally called Simon bar-Jonah was chosen by Jesus to be the first of his disciples.  He was just an ordinary fisherman working on the Sea of Galilee; tending his nets, working day in and day out to feed his family; making a life for them.  He was a hard working family man; going about his daily business of life when he was called to a life he was completely unprepared for – a life in God’s plan for humanity.   

There seemed to be nothing out-of-the-ordinary about this man and his life, yet he is the one Jesus chose to be first among his followers.  In his imperfection and his humanness he became the rock of the Church.

Peter is a wonderful example for the Church, the people of God.  He is one of us - in his humanness and imperfections.  Peter had many fine qualities.  He was noble, hardworking, loyal and faithful.  He was also strong-willed, impetuous, outspoken and very self-confident. 

He didn’t hesitate to speak his mind or take action.  In many ways Peter was first among Jesus’ disciples:

·         Peter was the first to climb out of the boat to meet Jesus on the turbulent waters of the lake
·         Peter was the first to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God
·         Peter was the first to rebuke Jesus when He revealed that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die
·         Peter was the first to want to build a memorial to Jesus, along with Moses and Elijah on the mountain
·         Peter was the first to proclaim that he loved Jesus
·         And Peter was the first to deny Jesus

But in these firsts - he was also first in his failures.  In this way he was also very much like us in our journey of discipleship in Christ Jesus.

·         Peter’s faith failed him as he was overcome by the doubts of this world in his attempt to meet Jesus on the water
·         While Peter was the first to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, he failed to see the ‘big picture’ in recognizing the mission of Jesus that would lead to the Cross
·         Peter, overcome by human fear, desiring to keep Jesus safe tried to turn him away from Jerusalem and the will of God, the Father
·         Peter failed to understand the Transfiguration, that it was the Person of Jesus and his mission that was central to God’s plan and not Moses or Elijah who were important
·         Peter loses his patience when Jesus asks him for the third time, if he loved him and to feed his sheep
·         And Peter denies Jesus three times as his love of Jesus is overwhelmed by the evil that led to the crucifixion

See, Peter is very much like us. 

·         While his spirit strengthened him, his humanness weakened him through fear and doubt
·         While he had the greatest of intentions to do good, he trembled at the worries of this world
·         While his love for Jesus was strong, he cowered under the evils of this world

Yet, despite all Peter’s weaknesses,

·         Jesus recognized the strengths of Peter to be the Rock upon which his Church would rise. 
·         He saw the Spirit alive in Peter - that would be the strength needed to bring this scattered band of outcasts together to continue Jesus’ mission on earth
·         Jesus understood Peter’s humbleness – a humbleness that would be needed to bring unity to the early Church; setting the groundwork upon which it stands today
·         Jesus realized the courage within Peter, - those noble qualities; that would build His Church so that the “Word made Flesh” - would spread throughout the world; bringing the Good News of Salvation for all people

In our everyday life, as followers of Jesus, let us recognize our own strengths and weaknesses – our own humanness and imperfections - and know that God works in mysterious ways.  He chooses us, - like Jesus chose Peter, - to do his will – to continue Jesus’ mission - not because we are powerful or perfect, - but because we, like Peter, are ordinary people – beloved children of God.

Deacon Don

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Deacon

When people find out that I'm a Deacon they often ask, "What does a Deacon do?" This question comes from both non-Catholics, as well as members of the Church. The greatest misunderstanding about a Deacon is that they are members of the clergy of the Church.  We are ordained by the Bishop and serve at his pleasure, usually in the community where we live. We are not "just another Altar Server" or lay person who helps out. We have prescribed duties and responsibilities in the Church that are uniquely our own.

The Role of the Deacon in the Liturgy of the Word

“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.
Believe what you read, teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.”1

The Deacon serves in two worlds: the world of the Church and the world of the people.  He is a bridge from one to the other, serving as the voice of the people and as the eyes and ears of the Church among the community.  The Deacon, in the Liturgy, is the voice of God’s people articulating their needs before Him and the voice of the Church directing the people in their worship of God through the sacrifice of the Mass. 

The Deacon’s role is more than a physical presence, assisting the celebrant and fulfilling the parts designated to the Deacon, he, as the people’s representative, fulfills a vital role as their voice to God; presenting their prayers and petitions.  He voices the hopes and desires of the people in their communion with God in the liturgy of the Word.  “This is why the Deacon is the ordinary minister of the ‘Kyrie,’ at all of the litanies and even the general intercessions . . .”2 It is through his voice that the people speak to God in the Liturgy.

As clergy, the Deacon serves the Church as a bridge between the Church and world.  He invites the people assembled to share in the sign of peace, to stand or kneel, and to bow their heads to receive God’s blessing.  The Deacon draws the people into a proper action that sets them toward receiving God’s blessing during the liturgy. 

And as the people are nourished through the Word and the Eucharist, renewed and refreshed, the Deacon sends them forth into the world, “Go in peace to serve the Lord and one another.”  It is his task not only to send them forth into the world, but also to accompany them on their journey: keeping the Word in his heart, on his mind and on his lips, ministering to the people in the world wherever he goes.

The Deacon, as herald of the Gospel, serves the Church and the people every day of his life.  By example and through instruction his life truly reflects the words spoken by the bishop at his ordination: to believe, to teach and to practice the Word, to be Jesus and see Jesus in everyone, everywhere.

Deacon Don

1 – From the Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate
2 – Deacons and the Church, Cummings, Owen F., Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Gospel - Matthew 15:21-28

I want to tell you a story and then speak about an “inconvenient truth” for Catholics.

A long time ago, in a far away place there lived a young boy from a wealthy family living in a foreign land.  The boy was attended to by a poor native manservant named Rahsme who accompanied him everywhere during the day.  The boy’s father, an important diplomat, had the finest tutors to see to the boy’s education, including a monk from the local monastery to look after his son’s spiritual needs.

Every afternoon the monk would sit in the garden of the boy’s house and read the Gospels to him and speak to him about Jesus.  The monk, Fr. Dominic, spoke of God’s love for his people and his covenant with them to be their God and they - His people.  He spoke about God’s love and mercy and how God wanted his people to be with him in heaven for eternity.

The boy, being just that - a young boy was not a very attentive student.  He was often distracted by the birds, animals and insects that inhabited the garden rather than paying attention to his lessons.  It was a frustrating time for Fr. Dominic, but being the good monk that he was, kept on with the lessons each day; speaking to the boy about Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and telling the most marvelous stories of the glories of heaven and how we could not begin to imagine how much God loved us and how beautiful heaven is, where we will rest with God for ever.

Each day, as Fr. Dominic read from the Bible to the inattentive boy and spoke of the glories of heaven, there was one listener paying very close attention – Rahsme, the manservant.  Rahsme sat in the corner of the garden and listened with rapt attention to the stories of Jesus, especially to Fr. Dominic’s descriptions of heaven and the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples.  And each night Rahsme went home to his village and told his family, of which there was a great number, about Jesus, the love of God and the glory of heaven.  His family loved to hear the stories while sitting around the fire – giving special attention to the words of Jesus in the Gospels.  They were delighted to hear about being saved and spending eternity in heaven and they were greatly troubled when the stories spoke about sin and the fires of Gehenna.

This went on for a very long time – Rahsme listening to Fr. Dominic during the day and his retelling the stories he heard to his family in the evening.

One afternoon, after the lesson was completed as Fr. Dominic made his way back to the monastery he noticed Rahsme following behind him at some distance.  Fr. Dominic stopped to wait for Rahsme to catch up to him. “What can I do for you, my brother?” said the monk as the manservant reached him.

Rahsme hesitated, not knowing what to say.  Fr. Dominic said again, “What can I do for you, Rahsme?  You have been following me instead of looking after the boy, what can be so important that you would leave him alone in the garden?”

Rahsme, in a trembling voice said, “He is not alone, my lord, my cousin is with him.”

“Good, it is not safe to leave such a young boy in the garden alone.” said Fr. Dominic.  “What is so important that you leave your charge to follow me?”

Rahsme, encouraged by the words of Jesus in his heart said, “My wife gave birth to a son yesterday and we want to have him baptized, so he can be a Christian and be loved by God and go to the glory of heaven.”

Fr. Dominic was astonished by this and said, “You are not of our faith, why do you ask this of me?

“Good Father, I have listened every day to your stories of Jesus, God and heaven for a very long time now when you were teaching the boy and have told my wife and family all these marvelous stories too.  We think this is the truth that you speak, of the love of God for all his children, so we want our child to be a child of God too.” said Rahsme.

“Bless you Rahsme,” replied Fr. Dominic.  “God loves each of us and wants us all to be with him in heaven, so I would be very, very happy to baptize your son.  Let us go to your village now to make your son a child of God.”

“If it would make you very, very happy to baptize my son, Master Dominic, then you will be very, very happy a hundred fold to learn that my entire family also wants to become children of God too.” said Rahsme. So together they set off to baptize Rahsme’s entire family to make of them Disciples of Christ.

We never know who we will affect when we spread the Word of God in the world. By our words and by our actions we are known as disciples of Jesus – spreading the Word of God to all we meet. 

This brings me to that “inconvenient truth” I mentioned - evangelization.  We are all called by our baptism to evangelize in the world – “to go out into the world and make disciples.”  Evangelization is not just for missionaries in foreign lands, but for each one of us to bring the Word of God to all who have ears to hear. 

It is our baptismal right and duty:
  • to speak of God’s great love for all his people, especially to those who have never heard the Word of God
  • to remind those who have heard the Word, but for some reason failed to understand its importance to their lives
  • to speak the Word of God to those who have hardened their hearts; turning their back on God – closing their ears to his message of love and mercy and
  • to encourage those who have listened to the Word of God – calling them into a deeper relationship with God
We are responsible for all our brothers and sisters in the world – bringing them closer to God and to his great reward of life everlasting in heaven.  We are the tools in God’s hand – accomplishing his will – spreading his message of love and peace – mercy and forgiveness -- for all his children, so that they may rest with him in his kingdom - forever and ever.

Deacon Don

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Nature is to Love

There was an old holy man sitting on the banks of the Ganges meditating while worshippers bathed in the river to wash away their sins.  The old man noticed a scorpion struggling in the water trying to get to the shore.  As it floated closer to him it became tangled in some reeds by the waters edge.  The more it struggled, the more entangled it became, so the old man reached out to free the scorpion from its watery fate.  As he touched the creature – it began to sting his hand.  Despite the pain, he continued to free it; placing it on the shore.
A young man nearby watching shouted to him, “Why do you risk such pain for such a useless and ugly creature?”
The holy man replied, “Just because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why I should give up my nature to save?”

“An eye for an eye – a tooth for a tooth. . .” – aren’t we all familiar with this phrase?  We often hear it used when someone is hurt or offended and they're seeking revenge: to repay a hurt for a hurt.  We use it to say: “I will get you back for what you did to me.”
Many people agree that this is a just act of vengeance – to repay in kind for a hurt caused.  I’ve even heard people justify its use because it appears in the Bible.

But what is the root of this phrase found in Leviticus?  It is a philosophy known as “lex talionis” - a system of retributive justice – not vengeance.  Simply put, under lex talionis, no one could exact revenge or ask for compensation that was greater then the hurt.  It set limits to vengeance to prevent people from plunging into escalating blood feuds that could last for decades and waste countless lives. 

It was philosophy of justice to maintained peace and civility among the people, but today people often use it as a standard of justice on which they believe they are compelled to act.

Jesus revokes lex talionis when He says ". . . do not seek vengeance – an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, - but if you are struck on your right cheek - turn your other cheek as well.  If someone sues the shirt off your back - hand over your coat as well. , if someone presses you to a task – give more than is asked.  By these signs will you make known the power, glory and love of God."

It isn’t easy being a Christian.  Every day we are challenged to be loving followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Who can pick up a newspaper or watch a talking TV head or tap into the social media or listen to talk radio without someone making us hot, raising our blood pressure or making us want to shout, “Throw the rascals out!” 

Rarely are we led to say, “Now, let us pray. . .”

Jesus challenges his followers to live in a radically new way – to love our neighbor – to be signs of God’s love in the world for all his people.
And who is our neighbor?  Besides the obvious, they are:
That person who cut you off at the toll plaza –
That rotten, no-good son-of-a-sea-cook who . . .(fill in your own demon du jour)
Even those people espousing fear and hate; vowing to destroy us and our way of life
All those in the world – our brothers and sisters, children of God – who struggle as we do each day for peace, dignity, respect and love.

Love those people?!
Pray for those people?!
Wish them every good thing in life as you wish for yourself?! 
Asking nothing in return?!
Jesus shows us that this is the way to eternal life – loving as we are loved – His is - the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus shows us the way of the Father and His love for all his children – the just and the unjust - the good and the bad.  We are all God’s children and he treats us all with equal love.  If we are followers – true disciples of Jesus, then we should “be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect.”

Perfection is living the love of God – loving one another as we are loved.  Not a conditional love - bartered or socially contracted – we do not love because we are loved or because someone loves us in return.  We love because it is our nature to love - for we are children of love, - God - who is love.

Our journey of discipleship is a journey toward the perfection of God’s love.  We do not love our enemy because we hope our love will change him, but because it is our way - we are Christians – we love because we are called to love.  It is the nature of our discipleship in Christ Jesus, Son of the Loving Father.

No, it’s not easy being a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, but it is the Way, the Truth and the Life that leads to eternal life.

Deacon Don

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Rights and Responsibilities

"Naked I came forth from my mother's womb,
and naked I shall go back again.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord!"
                                                                         Job 1:21

The fundamental right to life, food, shelter, healthcare, education and employment is common to all people, everywhere.  The right to participate in the decisions that affect our lives is also a basic human right.  With these basic rights are duties and responsibilities.  These are to: respect the rights of others, protect these rights for everyone, and exercise these rights in working together for the common good of all.

God has given us life, this precious gift of His love for us.  It is a gift beyond value, primary to all that He has given us.  Life is to be treated as our most precious possession, for us and for all others.  Protecting life is our ultimate responsibility, from the moment of conception to natural death.  There can be no greater duty and responsibility – all life is precious.

Sustaining the precious gift of life, affording us the opportunity to rise up in dignity so that we may realize the full potential of our lives is basic and common to all human kind.  Food and hydration, shelter and healthcare allow us to continue life and live it in good health and comfort.  Education and employment allows us to realize our potential as humans, to live in dignity with respect and standing in the community.

We each have the right to life.  We each have the right of access to those things that sustain life.  As Christians and Catholics, we each have the responsibility to ensure that everyone everywhere has these same basic rights.  It is our duty to work for the common good of all humankind, to ensure that these rights are not denied, withheld or subverted and that all peoples have access to them.

Deacon Don

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vocation - God's Love

"I lay down my life for my sheep;
- no one takes it from me;
I lay it down freely.
                                                    John 10:15, 18

During morning prayer I read the above scripture and was reminded of my vocation. Jesus, the Good Shepherd laid down his life for our salvation; expiating our sins. His total commitment to others was God's love in action. Blessed Mother Teresa's life too was God's love in action, dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. That's why she is being 'fast-tracked' to sainthood - as a modern model of selfless giving and love.

Not that I expect to lose my life for others, or plan on moving to a slum to serve God's least children (or ever expect to be tracked, in anyway, to sainthood). Most of us are not called to serve in those ways, but we should be open to how the Holy Spirit will move our hearts to do God's will.  We must listen for the call of God's Spirit in our hearts and discern the challenges He places before us in serving those whom we encounter on our journey to Life Eternal.

God's love is in how we give of ourselves for others. This is how we return God's love for us. Loving God and Loving one another is one and the same.  We show our love of God in the love we show to one another, especially in our love for the least of His children.

The talents we are given should further the Kingdom of God. We use our hands, our heads, our feet, our backs and especially our love to bring God's love into this world. Not that we are called to do great things, but great things are accomplished through the love we show in our service to one another. Blessed Mother Teresa said it best, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." 

When I think of my vocation I am reminded to do this - to use my talents to do small things with great love, to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and to discern the path God has chosen for me to follow . This is how I can freely lay down my life for others.

Deacon Don

Sunday, August 7, 2011

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Gospel - Matthew 14:22-33

At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Today is not unlike that day when the disciples found themselves away from the Lord, being tossed about in a boat on a stormy sea. We too, can feel alone and afraid in the storms that surround us. Storms that shake our world, both locally and globally, to its foundation.

These storms can overwhelm us; making us feel as if we are drowning.  They sap our strength, melt our resolve and wear away at our courage. We begin to lose hope and see only dark clouds on the horizon. As our strength and courage wear down, we begin to doubt, like Peter, in the Lord. He who loves us so much He invites us to, Come" and walk with Him upon the waters.

Jesus is our strength and courage. He is our teacher and guide who cares for us so much that in our fears and doubts He reaches out to support us; calming us and renewing us. When we are wounded and afraid He holds us in His embrace. He carries us when we are weary and exhausted.

We know that Jesus is Lord He is the Way, the Truth and the Life - He is with us always - to the end of the age and His love is eternal.

Do not be afraid.

Deacon Don

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - For the Common Good

"If one members suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it."
                                                                                              1 Corinthians 12:26

“When one suffers, we all suffer.”  St. Paul sums up the meaning of this principle of Catholic Social Teaching in this one line.  We are not a society of individuals separate and distinct from each other, we are a community of humankind.  None of us can claim success in life if there is at least one person who suffers.  It is likened to a team that loses a game.  No player can celebrate a personal victory if the team has lost.  All the players suffer the same fate as the team - together.

While there is poverty in the world, we cannot claim success for the society of humankind.  Where there is oppression in the world we cannot claim to be truly free.  Where there is hunger and thirst we cannot claim to be satisfied.

The suffering of people in the world is our suffering too, and their welfare our responsibility.  We are called to speak and act on behalf of those who cannot do so for themselves.  It is our right and responsibility to take on their fight for dignity, freedom, self-determination, and life itself.  We must speak out for those who are oppressed and disenfranchised, abused by their governments and others, maimed, murdered, starved, raped, marginalized or displaced by war, famine, disease or natural disaster.

We can do this not only through donations to relief organizations like Catholic Charities, but also through political power by raising the awareness of others and bringing the plight of the suffering to the world arena; exerting pressure on governments to take proper care and responsibility for the basic rights of their people, asking our own politicians to speak and act on behalf of the common good of all humankind.

Deacon Don

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Dignity of Work and Workers

1 Timothy 5:


3 Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching.


For the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is threshing," and, "A worker deserves his pay."

We do not live to work, but work to live.  Work has value to the human condition and spirit.  On one level work helps us to maintain our existence, sustain our families and provide a means for the ownership of property.  On another level it gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment, recognition for our craft and skill and dignity as a contributing member of the community. 

Work is a necessary part of our social environment, giving us a standing in the community that allows us not only a freedom to compete in the economic marketplace, but allows us to participate in the common good through our contribution.  Work gives us meaning and purpose.

Hand in hand with work is a decent return for one’s labor.  Fair wages and benefits, safe work environments, access to ownership of ideas and competitive initiatives all serve to dignify the work and honor the worker.
Unemployment is a social disaster, individually and collectively.  Unemployment separates a person from the community and jeopardizes their standing in that community.  Mass unemployment not only wrecks the economics of the community, but also creates, for the whole community, a depressed social and economic condition that can stigmatize and traumatize; perpetuating a downward cycle affecting the entire community.

Work is a basic right of humankind, wherein people find dignity and self-actualization; participating in the life of the community and contributing to the common good of humankind.  Respect and dignity for workers is fundamental so that we may live in peace.

Deacon Don