Action required

27913280_10213826914360740_4929589845878718805_oIt seems that Lent, my schedule, current events, and such have not contributed to good blogging. I saw this graphic on Facebook, posted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet and it struck me.

27858651_1644153752342396_207629616003888568_nThoughts and prayers are fine, but as St. James reminds us “faith without works is dead.” We must ask God to change our hearts and then respond to God’s urging. Our anger, our outrage, our sadness and tears all must be transformed – along with our hearts – into action. Doing otherwise is no longer an option.

How is it that in this so-called civilized nation, in which so many people fancy themselves as Christian cannot feed, clothe, and house its poor, especially children? Apparently it is OK to strip people with disabilities of their rights now. How is it that we can not find humane solutions for Dreamers? Not to mention other immigrants, many who were legal who are being systematically dispatched to countries they really do not know at all. Why, why, why have we seen so many shootings, so often in schools? Along with that, if now is not the acceptable time to speak about shootings, when would that time be? If we can speak of walls and travel bans at the drop of a Mexican or Muslim hat, so to speak, why can’t we speak about the shootings? Who will the wall protect when so much terror and death come from the inside?

27798214_10159957632880207_6445639966539676638_oThoughts and prayers mean nothing without action. Here is a list of actions to consider. We can’t all do them all, pick one or two and stick with them.

  1. Make a regular practice of calling your elected officials at every level.
  2. Make a regular practice of learning your reps voting history – quote from it when calling their office. Staff members who answer are typically willing to listen.
  3. Support through donations and actions, candidates who support causes that align with your own. Political campaign work can be so hard, but it is necessary and worth it.
  4. Make sure your local party is finding and putting forth new candidates for office.
  5. Take a stand – do not be afraid to share your opinion. Do take the time to understand what you believe and why.

Otherwise we are left with empty thoughts and prayers, We can do more. We will do more.

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Looking at Lent, continuing the Camino

First Yellow Arrow St Jean.jpgLent begins this week. Each year many of us make an effort to begin Lent and to stick with whatever we have chosen to give up or take on.

Perhaps last year was too close to the completion of my Camino for me to see this as clearly, but this year I am profoundly aware of the magnetic pull of my Camino as I pray about entering Lent. The two journeys parallel paths are ever closer together, one journey completed, another about to begin. That Camino and Lent are related is not unusual; what is different is how I am experiencing it this year. It is more of an invitation or call, it is less of an idea. It is from deep within, thus so much harder to ignore.

All is know as I prepare to depart is this… my expectations for what will happen and what will happen are likely to be markedly different. This year, may I surrender ever more easily to where theflechas amarillas (or yellow arrow way markers of camino) lead me to, rather than my own dogged persistence about where I “think” or “feel” I should go. Head and heart are required during any spiritual sojourn, but trusting God to lead is the challenge.

How do you imagine your Lenten journey as it approaches?

Hello

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Hello out there! Is anyone there? It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? Normally my absence is marked by some kind of busy-ness, imagined or otherwise, but not so this time. My last post was published when I was in California for my friends’ wedding. I was out there for a wonderful week in the warm, dry, desert among friends old and new. It was a truly joyful journey.

Also, I have returned to my pre-Camino levels of exercise and this is a really good thing. I think I was inspired to move from that Cali trip. This feels like nothing short of a miracle, and will (I hope) be very good for my health!

Lastly I have been reading more, which has been great. I am working my way (slowly) through this biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a super long book, which is one of the reasons I have not tackled it previously, but I am committed to taking my time. It seems a timely volume for the era in which we live. This photo and passage is not from the book, but it is Bonhoeffer, and it does speak to these times. And for now, that is all I will say about that.

BonhoefferLent starts Wednesday of course, I hope to be back blogging more!

What have you been up to these days?

What do we believe?

26239592_10155246868145878_2431172210964655127_nThe word creed comes from Old English, and has traces to other languages; all point to what someone believes. Some meanings speak to where one “places one’s heart,” others to “trust.” In Sanskrit it means “to have faithfulness.” On this day when we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, and while we reveal ourselves to one another as a nation, I am struck more by how we are one, not by how we are divided.

Yesterday I posted an image of a Black Virgin with a Swahili phrase. Soon after, I began to think about a translation of the Nicene Creed that has long stayed upon my heart, the Masai creed. I first heard about it when I was listening to an On Being podcast about Jaroslav Pelikan many years ago.

We are all the same and yet we are all different. It is in how we bring those differences together and weave ourselves into the fabric of God’s world that carries us forth.

Can we honor Dr. King’s memory by finding beauty in the differences and joy in the similarities? Or at least by finding some respect and/or mutuality? What do we believe, that we are stronger together, moved by justice, mercy, unity, and love? Or that we are better served by hate and division, insult and cruelty?

What do we believe? With that, I leave you with the Masai Creed to pray with and ponder. What does it bring forth in you? What does this tell you about belief? And with that, what does our silence say if we do not live deeply and act in the light of our beliefs?

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Bawana yu Nawe

Bro Mickey Swahili Mary

Reprinted with permission of the artist, Bro. Mickey O’Neill McGrath, OSFS

“Bawana yu Nawe” is Swahili for ” the Lord is with you.” If we believe in God, if we follow Christ, do we believe that the Lord is with us, but not with others?

Today on Sunday, January 14, 2018, Pope Francis presided at mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Among other things, he said this:

I wish to reaffirm that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

How are we called to do those things in our own lives? The first thing might just be to pray, especially if we feel fearful or challenged, and to ask God to open the door to our hearts. As that door opens, the first migrant enters – it is Christ himself.

That is what is meant by the words “the Lord is with you.” With YOU. With ME. With EVERYONE. That literally means every single person, every single human born unto this earth. Everyone, without exception. What we do with that migrant Christ who presses in need upon the door of our heart is up to us.

The Lord is indeed with us all, but it is up to us to let God in. What will we do? Block the way, or fling wide the gate? Will we cite laws and resources? Will we claim fear of the “other?” Or will we, as Pope Francis asks us to, “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate?” These are all verbs, requiring action. We can sit and fret, or we can get up and do what the apostles did in today’s Gospel – get up and go, follow Christ. To do that means to bring down the barriers of fear, and to spring into movement. It does not mean we will not be afraid as we go, it means that we know the Lord is leading the way, so we will follow. Remember –“Bawana yu Nawe.”

Life or death

LIFE_OR_DEATH_STEP-1On this last day of 2017, there are many articles and social media posts that look back at the year that was. I look back, thankful for some things, less thankful for others – and then I realize that even those things that are a challenge to be grateful for are gifts also. Every moment gives us the opportunity to glean something, to learn and to go forward. As a result, I won’t detail much of what was, but I will refer to one thing that resurfaced – regrettably so – in 2017.

Life or death? Which one do we choose? Most of us, if we are honest, float back and forth between the two. Whether it is too much sugar in our diet, or supporting a particular political position, or by avoiding the difficult and perpetual journey of examining our morals, principles, values, and conscience, we are constantly choosing one or the other.

Frankly, like many, I am not good at navigating this journey – and that is a huge part of what our faith journey requires. Heading down unmapped paths that are chock-a-block with challenges, difficult to traverse, and full of peril. Yet that is what we are called to do. Can’t I just stay on the sofa and scroll through social media or watch Netflix, not thinking about this stuff? Yet we are constantly called to make choices, most of them Continue reading

UPDATED Innocence and perspective

See below for update!
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Things on my mind today… how we easily pick and choose those for whom “the dignity of all human life” matters for and who it does not matter as much for, and also Odoardo Focherini. The phrase “dignity of all human life” no doubt brings forth images for you, and meaning.  I’m guessing that you may have never heard of Focherini, unless if you, like me, read about him in today’s Give Us This Day.  Reading about him on today’s Feast of the Holy Innocents reminded me that perspective and context are everything, and that makes picking and choosing our moral precepts problematic.

Liturgically in the church today is the day when we recall the massacre of the Holy Innocents by Herod. Enraged to learn that the magi had deceived him, old Herod decided it would be a good idea to just go ahead and murder the children of Bethlehem. You know, he was throwing a wide net “just in case.” We wouldn’t want any dangerous babies around, would we?

Obsessed as I am with matters of immigration debate, the irony is not lost on me and I find myself with a bitter taste in my mouth. Last week on December 21 it was reported that the White House was considering a policy where children would be separated from their parents in cases of undocumented human beings crossing the border illegally. You can read about that here. Honestly, reading terms like “family units” or “unaccompanied alien children” (also known as “UACs“) makes me sick to my stomach. This is how dehumanizing human beings, all born with the dignity of human life in them, takes off.

If you find yourself feeling Continue reading