Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laudato Si' - Some Comments

Well, five days after its release, I’ve finished my initial reading of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato
Si’. I’ve made a whole lot of highlights, it is just that chock-filled with good ‘stuff.’ And of course I will study it more in days to come. I am extremely impressed with it. It addresses a wide range of topics; well it addresses all of Creation.

Mostly, it provides me with hope, but there are a number of disconcerting realities. I ask myself what can Pope Francis, the Catholic Church, or all of our Christian brothers and sisters do about all these things? They seem so monumental. But Pope Francis, more than anyone else, has had the opportunity and courage to address these issues clearly. This encyclical is the seed to change the hearts and minds to continue and expand how we look at creation and care for it. That is why we need to read it and know what is in it; so we can pass it on to others, and to inform ourselves as well.

When society is made aware of an abuse or a wrong it can provide pressure so that it may be addressed and corrected. There are so many examples of this. The one that comes to mind first are the foam containers McDonald’s and the other fast-food chains used to use for their products. This is no more. Public pressure forced them to change. So it is our job to make others aware and educate them, and ourselves as well.

I ask myself well, gee, what can I do about that huge mass of garbage the size of some states that are floating in the Pacific ocean? Perhaps nothing. It is so far removed from us, it is in international waters. But we can write our legislators and ask them to explore means that it can be addressed. But an even more effective thing to do, is the next time you are on a boat, or along the shore of a body of water, don’t toss that rubbish in it. And there are so many other things we can do, if we only think about it.

An important point of the encyclical, as Pope Francis turned to Saint Francis, is to consider all of
Creation as our brother and sister. To show them the respect they deserve and to care for them. We can do this in so many ways.

I don’t want to make this very long, I just want to plant some food for thought.

Below is one of the two prayers that closes the encyclical.

A Christian prayer in union with creation

Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes. Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory. Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. Praise be to you!
Triune Lord,
wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you. Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness

"Keeping the spirit of the Gospel means that Catholic institutions are to bear witness in love to the full truth about the human person by providing social, charitable, and educational services in a manner that fully reflects the God-given dignity of the human person." - Archbishop William E. Lori, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, on the "Freedom to Bear Witness"

“The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year's Fortnight will focus on the "freedom to bear witness" to the truth of the Gospel.”

I have been reporting on the Fortnight for Freedom initiate every year since it started. Anyone with their eyes open would see the many instances that our religious liberties are being curtailed. It continues and is getting worse. That is why I ask you to give this initiative your attention too, to pray daily between June 21 to July 4th, to read up on the subject, and to not be afraid to stand up for your faith even in conversations with friends and relatives. I am reminded of Matthew Kelly’s theme “Be Bold, Be Catholic.” Defend our Church when it is attacked. “From life to the Gospel, from Gospel to life,” is not merely a Franciscan theme, it is a way of life. The Gospel is radical, it is not passive and quiet, it is countercultural, especially in the secular society in which we live.

Freedom to bear witness means to evangelize our message, to bring to others the Good News, of Jesus’ love and great mercy for everyone. And it means to bear witness in our daily conversations with others.

So please say the prayer below every day and find a little time to become more knowledgeable. The USCCB has some great resources (link below), and a quick Web search will provide more. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/

“Be not afraid.”


Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pope Francis' upcoming Encyclical

As Franciscans we should be happy to look forward to the upcoming encyclical of Pope Francis entitled “Laudato Sii” which translates to “Praised be.” These words should ring as they come from St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures.

I am not an environmentalist-wacko, but I am concerned for creation. I am dismayed by the huge floating garbage pools in our oceans. Yet, I am aware of the admitted lies about global-warming made by many scientists/environmentalists to obtain more funding.

The encyclical should cause us to reflect on our own life style and explore ways we can have less impact on Creation.

I ran across this article on the encyclical by CatholicVote. Though the text of the encyclical will not be translated until June 18th, I think this is a good guess on what it will contain. I will mail the encyclical as soon as I get my hands on it. And it is a must read for all of us.

Go here.

Cardinal Wuerl - Pastoral Letter on Catholic Identity

Now and then I run across a gem. This is one. Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington released a pastoral letter on Catholic identity. Though it is intended for the people of his diocese, it is of extreme value to all of us. I have not read the entire document yet, but it sounds great. Here is a link to the document in pdf. You can save it, or print it:

To whet your appetite:

“Recent years have now seen various efforts by federal and local governments to obstruct or limit our ability as Catholics to live out our Gospel mandate.”

“Where we have crossed a very significant fault line is the latest campaign to denigrate as ‘bigoted’ or ‘mean-spirited’ those who do not embrace the new social order.”

“The Church does not require others to believe or live by her teaching. But we do insist on the freedom to do so ourselves and to ensure that those who share in the ministry of our institutions also do so. We simply ask that the freedom of Catholics to be Catholic be respected.”

“The Church is not the result of like-minded people coming together and deciding to form an organization, nor are her moral teachings decided by popular vote or societal trends.”

“The Catholic Church is not a mad-made institution at all. Her origins are found in the will and actions of Christ.”

“To be a Catholic is to recognize the role of the Church as the very means created and given to us by Jesus so that his work, accomplished in his death and Resurrection, might be represented in our day and applied to us.”

Cardinal Wuerl laments the “limited and even contrived version of our faith that some people hold.”

“Catholic institutions should be distinguishable from secular ones.”

I encourage everyone to read this document. It is an easy read.