Tuesday, March 25, 2014

40 Ways We Fail

Once again one of my Deacons put a great reflection in last Sunday’s bulletin. I thought I would share it with you. Reflect on each. If you see yourself, if you’re like me, we have some work to do.


During these 40 days of Lent, oftentimes we should look at ways we fail and take steps to correct them during Lent. I've come across a list of 40 ways we often fail; see how many you are guilty of and make an effort to correct them before Easter.

1. Focus on all the reasons why it won't work.
2. Don't bother praying.
3. Intend to begin, but don't start.
4. Stop proceeding at the first speed bump.
5. Facing backwards, tried to re-create the past.
6. Whine and complain often.
7. Fear making an investment.
8. Put in only what is required.
9. Be a self-centered person.
10. Find someone to blame.
11. List a dozen good excuses, and use them all.
12. Absorb and reflect negativity.
13. Ignore wise counsel.
14. Hoard.
15. Manipulate people for personal gain.
16. Belittle yourself and others.
17. Fail to write down your goals and dreams.
18. Major on the minors and minor on the majors.
19. Don't prioritize your use of time.
20. Don't budget your money.
21. Live humorlessly.
22. Overreact when someone disappoints you.
23. Carry grudges and bear resentments.
24. Fail to plan ahead.
25. Never learn from mistakes.
26. Make mountains out of mole hills.
27. Maintain an overinflated opinion of yourself.
28. Strive to win every argument.
29. Refuse to grow.
30. Shrink back from committing yourself, saying "no" to everything.
31. Overcommit yourself saying "yes" to everything.
32. Be a fault finder and gossip.
33. Be less than truthful.
34. Expect to fail.
35. Keep waiting for your ship to come in.
36. Disregard integrity and morality.
37. Always play it safe.
38. Throw temper tantrums.
39. Don't finish the work.
40. Forget to say “thank you.”

Yes, it's an extensive list and hopefully, you don't have many to correct, but we still have time to work on it. Happy Lent.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pope Francis' Message to the Pontifical Academy for Life

"A society is truly open to life when it recognizes that life is precious even in the elderly population, in the disabled, and even in those who are gravely ill or in the process of dying."

Twenty years ago John Paul II instituted the Pontifical Academy for Life. Following is an excerpt from Pope Francis’ message to them in commemoration of the anniversary. [Bold highlights are mine.]

“….The work undertaken takes as its theme “Aging and Disability”. It is a topic that is extremely relevant to our own day, and something likewise always very close to the Church’s heart. Indeed, in our society one encounters the tyrannical dominion forced upon us by a logic of economics that discounts, excludes and at times evens kills our elderly––and today so many fall victim to this. “We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised––they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’ (Evangelii Gaudium (EG), 53).” The social-demographic predicament of the aged is a stark reminder of this exclusion of the elderly person, and especially when he or she is ill, disabled or for any other reason rendered vulnerable. One easily forgets that the relations among human beings are always relations of reciprocal dependence, which manifest themselves according to different degrees throughout the life of a person and become indispensable in situations of old age, illness, disability and indeed suffering in general. This requires of all of us our offers of necessary help through interpersonal as well as community relationships, in an attempt to answer the present need of these persons in their respective situations.

At the root of any discrimination and exclusion there is, however, an anthropological question: how much is man worth and upon what does one base this value of his? Health is certainly an important value, yet it does not determine a person’s value. Furthermore, health is not in and of itself a guarantee of happiness––this is verified even in the event of unstable health. The fullness toward which all human life is oriented is not in contradiction with any condition of illness and suffering. Hence, the lack of health or the fact of one’s disability are never valid reasons for exclusion or, and what is worse, the elimination of persons. The gravest deprivation experienced by the aged is not the weakening of one’s physical body, nor the disability that may result from this. Rather, it is the abandonment, exclusion and deprivation of love.

The family is the mistress, one might say, of acceptance and warm welcome as well as of solidarity. It is in the very womb of the family that education draws in a substantial manner from relations of solidarity. In the family, one learns that the loss of health can never be a reason for discriminating against any human life. The family teaches about not falling into an individualism that weighs oneself against the others. And it is here, in the family, that “taking care of you” constitutes one of the fundaments of human existence and a moral attitude that must be promoted, and again through values, conscience effort and solidarity. The testimony offered by the family becomes crucial in the sight of every facet of society in its consistent affirmation of the importance of the aged person as he or she is a subject of the community, who has a mission to fulfill, and about whom it is always false to say he or she receives without offering anything in return. “Whenever we attempt to read the signs of the times it is helpful to listen to young people and the elderly. Both represent a source of hope for every people. The elderly bring with them memory and the wisdom of experience, which warns us not to foolishly repeat our past mistakes” (EG, 108).

A society is truly open to life when it recognizes that life is precious even in the elderly population, in the disabled, and even in those who are gravely ill or in the process of dying. When society affirms that the call to the realization of one’s humanity does not exclude suffering, and instead teaches how to see sick and suffering persons as gifts for the entire community, whose presence calls everyone to solidarity and responsibility, only then may this society call itself open to life. This is the Gospel of life that, by your scientific and professional endeavors and sustained by Grace, you are each called to spread….”