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.”

Advertisements

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

Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

san-bol-feet

My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today is Continue reading

Catching up

FranZimSmithHello all! The world has been blog free from me lately, but for a quick spell, I am back. Where has the world’s least disciplined blogger been? What has she done? Does anyone care? If so, here is a recap.

Walking – with a mere 76 days to go until my camino, I have been out walking a lot. Writing vs. walking has walking winning. Alliteration unintended! Last Monday was my final day of vacation, so I got out there and did 7 miles… with my pack on, despite choosing a local bike/hiking path where one would expect to see an actual backpacker. I’m glad I did it.

Vacation – so yes, we went on vacation. We were being prudent so we went for a few short days, not an entire week. Instead of our usual beach trip to Ocean City, NJ, we went to Cape Cod. Our little rental was so lovely, and the journey was one of the most relaxing ever. In the end I am more of an OCNJ person than a Cape Codder, but I did love it and can imagine returning for another short stay. It was a richly peaceful and prayerful time, a period – albeit short – of relaxation and happiness for our family.  I Continue reading

Church as field hospital

560ecde71400002800bfc002.png

Yayo Grassi and his boyfriend meet Pope Francis in October 2015. Yayo was a student of the future pope in Argentina.

While we are all busy continuing to read and take in the words of Amoris Laetitia, which has unleashed many reactions, my mind drifts back to an earlier time. In September of 2013, Pope Francis was interviewed by fellow Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, SJ, who is the editor of the Italian Jesuit publication, La Civiltà Cattolica. You can find the interview at America Magazine. In that interview Pope Francis referred to the church as a field hospital. He said:

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.”

These words matter – at least to me – as I read and study Amoris Laetitia. But more about what I think another day. When I saw the image below on Facebook, I laughed, but then stopped. It is what I call #FunnyNotFunny. Some in the field hospital are challenged by the doctor’s orders.

giphy-downsized-large.gifWhat about you? Are you happy with the document as you understand it? Disappointed? Outraged? What do you think?

 

UPDATED: Pope Francis said what?

Ce37JtsUIAAVT_DToday we have the release of Post-Synodal Aposotlic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia
of the Holy Father Francis to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons,Consecrated Persons,Christian Married Couples, and all the Lay Faithful on Love in the Family. That is quite a title! The document was released about half an hour ago. At 260 pages, it will take me awhile to go through it, but here are some places to begin.

First up – the link to the PDF of the exhortation in English from the Vatican website. As I said, it is long.

Our second link, from William T. Ditewig writing at Aleteia says tells us that Pope Francis says this early on in the document:

“Given the rich fruits of the two-year Synod process, this Exhortation will treat, in different ways, a wide variety of questions. This explains its inevitable length. Consequently, I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text” (AL 7).

Our third link comes from Fr James Martin SJ offers us his top 10 takeaways in a piece from America magazine.This particular sentence struck me: “We should no longer talk about people ‘living in sin.’” To which I add a very loud AMEN!

There are many more things to read (see updates below), but these are great starting points. Of all who react, many will be overjoyed, many will be angered, many will be disappointed, many will be outraged. This will be interesting to follow. So much for my hiatus!

UPDATE: Some additional links for you:
From Fr Thomas Reese SJ writing at the National Catholic Reporter who suggests that we “start with chapter 4“.

Also from NCR, Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee begins with these words… “In a radical departure from recent pastoral practice, Pope Francis has asked the world’s Catholic clergy to let their lives become “wonderfully complicated” by embracing God’s grace at work in the difficult and sometimes unconventional situations families and marriages face — even at risk of obscuring doctrinal norms..” Read more here.

Lest one accuse me of presenting only “liberal” sources, here is a link from the National Catholic Register where Edward Pentin suggests that maybe chapter 8 has cause for concern, and the challenge of ambiguity. The link can be found here.

And it is no surprise that the highly traditional One Peter Five blog says outright that Pope Francis has departed from church teaching.

Last but not least, one of my own most valued, trusted, and insightful resources is  church historian and Vatican expert Massimo Faggioli weighs in at dotCommonweal with this post.

To all of this I will add – we all have to face God with our consciences. Do we expect and desire a God of exact certitude, one that directs all in a bittorent-like stream of teaching that is precise without interpretation and lived grace? Or do we expect and desire a God of transcendent mystery, joy, and hope who invites us into full relationship? There is doctrine, there is dogma, there are rules – but there is at the heart of all of this the inviting love of Christ. It all might be hard to pin down.

 

 

 

 

Now we begin

resOn Good Friday we hear Jesus say:

“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Today what was before us is gone, and now we begin anew.

When I was growing up in the 60’s, I went to a more old fashioned church, a mission parish, very tiny, and traditional. The changes from Vatican II trickled in, but I have very vivid memories of Latin masses, incense, the works. Yet it was not a strict and scolding message, which many others may have heard. Yet, Continue reading