What Happens Next?

Country Mourns 1A week later, our nation is still in mourning over the tragedy occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada. 58 individuals confirmed dead; over 500 individuals wounded, some critically. And for an untold number of families and friends of victims; and the citizens of Las Vega, their lives have been turned upside down forever. What makes this event even more frightening, is that authorities still cannot get a handle on a motive; why did a person, for no reason at all, slaughter innocent persons? In many ways, that question alone is terrifying.

Prayer services and remembrances are being held in Las Vegas, and across the country. Politicians are sending condolences and words of comfort to the victim’s loved ones. There are some politicians, however, who have refused to join in such ceremonies or gatherings. They do so because such events have become far too frequent in this nation because of far too many mass shootings. They want actions that will help prevent something like this from happening again. And then, there are those who wish to mute the uproar; who are passionate about their interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They feel that any discussion on the issue of gun control, will deny them of their rights, of their way of life.

So, here is where I go out on a limb. There is a part of me that is a pacifist, who is against the use of lethal force. An early Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, of which I am a member, forbade it members to carry weapons, (during the Middle Ages, that would get you in very hot water!). Yet, at that the same time, I am a pragmatist/realist. I know that American gun culture is here to stay. I am not against those who hunt; whether for need or for sport. I am not against those who feel the need to have a licensed weapon for protection. And I know that lethal force sometimes must be used to defend oneself, and others. What I am against, is the unregulated proliferation of weapons, especially military class automatic or semi-automatic weapons, which are designed to kill as many persons, as rapidly as possible. We have seen what havoc these weapons can wreck upon a community, when they are in the hands of an unstable individual. Yet, our politicians are, in many cases, afraid even to debate or just discuss measures to address this, for fear of the powerful gun lobby.

I pray that reason will take hold again in this country; I pray that our political leaders will be able to sit down with each, and discuss a way forward, that both respects the legitimate desires of gun owners, and will protect citizens from another tragedy like Las Vegas.

I feel the need to quote from Scripture; it might be out of context, but at this moment, it speaks to me:

Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  (Matt 26:50-52)

I hope soon we will all put our “swords” back into its sheath.

Advertisements

In the Face of All This Hate.

Just after the violence of Charlottesville, after watching scenes of white supremacists, and neo-nazis, carrying torches, and chanting hate; I saw a tv trailer.  It was on PBS, and it was a scene from Ken Burns famous documentary, “The Civil War.”  The scene was of a new military cemetery, located on the battlefield of Gettysburg.  The actor, Sam Waterston, as Abraham Lincoln, was speaking the words of the Gettysburg Address.  Here is a portion:

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, not long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

We are all “the people,”  descendants of those who sought to create “a more perfect union.”  The process has been messy, bloody, imperfect, and at the same time wonderous and life giving.  We cannot surrender the process to the haters, the greedy, the terrorists, and the self-serving.  We must work together, with respect, with dialogue, and with peace in our hearts.  This ideal must not “perish from the earth!”  So help us God!

Weekend Coffee Share – July 30, 2017

The water is heated in the Keruig, and coffee is pouring into the cup.
The unpacking is pretty much done, all the cardboard boxes broken down and tossed away.  My books are on the shelves, the ones that survived the culling.  Lately, I have come to the realization that I have not read as many books as I used to.  Now, a lot of my reading is done with this darn smartphone.  I am determined to change that, catch up on the unread books, revisit the read ones.  And hopefully, I will recapture the joy of holding a printed work in my hands.

I am still working at getting a new deacon assignment here in the South Shore.  There are some leads, we will just have to let the process workout.

This will a quick cup tonight.  Hopefully, I will more to write about, more to comment about, next weekend. 

Reform and the Roman Curia

Pope Francis was supposedly elected by the College of Cardinals to initiate reforms in the Vatican. For many Western Catholics, this meant doing something about the clergy abuse of children. Things looked hopeful for awhile; with the creation of a papal commission to propose reforms. The commission was headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, MA; and included some survivors of clergy abuse.

Now, the last clergy abuse survivor on the commission has resigned. She has cited resistance from Curia members to proposed reforms; including a court to try bishops who either failed to deal with incidences of abuse or who protected accused priests.

While members of the Roman Curia deny this; there are reports of Curial officials just ignoring papal directives for reform. They may be figuring that they can wait out this Pope.

Maybe it is time for Pope Francis to take at one lesson from Trump; and became a “papal bull” on the Curial “china shop.” Maybe it is time to break it all down and begin from scratch!

(This my first post via e-mail.)

Election Day in the U.S. – 2016


After a very long, angry and bitter campaign; it is now up to us citizens.  Now, my wife, Peg, and I voted last Friday, at Beverly City Hall; the last day for early voting in Massachusetts.  The first floor was set up for voting, using old fashioned voting booths.  We checked off our preferences with a pencil; sealed our ballots in envelopes; and deposited them in a ballot box.  Even though we had to wait on line; everyone was friendly, and helpful to each other.

What will happen today; what kind of country we will have at dawn, remains a mystery.  After I saw a report on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” I am still worried.  They hired a pollster, (worked for Republican campaigns), to form a focus group.  He brought together a diverse group of individuals; who promptly went after each other’s throats.  No civil discussion, just anger came out against each other.  Even the pollster expressed fear over what he was seeing, and what it meant for the country.

The preamble of our Constitution begins with: “We, the People..”. We cannot lose sight of the fact, that each of us, in small ways and large, contribute to the ongoing experiment in democracy, that is the United States.  We may chose to build it up, tear it down, or let it whither on the vine.  This is the “choice,” we face; not just tonight, but in all days to come.

Welcome the Stranger.

 “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.  I, the Lord, am your God. ” (Leviticus 19: 33-34)

TrumpI have used the above quote from Leviticus in a previous quote, but unfortunately, it remains relevant to current events.  And I am speaking about comments made by Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on prohibiting persons of the Muslim faith from entering this country.  And he does not seem to distinguishing between Muslims from a specific geographic location, and all Muslims.  His statement has set off a firestorm of comments, both in the media, and blogosphere!  Many comments were highly critical of Mr. Trump’s opinion, accusing him of violating America’s high ideals.

The sad truth is that since America’s earliest beginning’s, there has been an undercurrent of religious intolerance in the country’s history.  As far back as Puritan Boston, when Quakers were persecuted; even hung, like Mary Dyer, for their beliefs.  Baptists and Evangelicals were discriminated against in the state of Virginia, in the newly born United States.  Mormons were, attacked, murdered, and were driven out to the frontiers of the Republic.  There has always been a subtle discrimination against persons of the Jewish faith.  And Catholics should remember the fierce opposition to believers of our faith existed in this nation.  Some of the early state constitutions had amendments that prohibited persons who “swore allegiance to a foreign ruler (i.e.; the Pope,)” from holding public office.  Catholic schools, orphanages, and convents were attacked at times during urban riots.  When the great waves of Catholic immigrants started coming to our shores, the fear mongering grew to fever pitch.  A nativist party, founded in the 1800’s, and known popularly as the “Know Nothings”; with the aim of preventing immigration of German and Irish Catholics, and limiting the access to the political system only to Protestants.  We have grown as country, and religious liberty is enshrined in both our Constitution, and the body politic.  There have been and always will be tensions as we continue to explore what the ideal of religious liberty and tolerance means in a modern society that has both religious and secular segments to it.

Persons, such as Mr. Trump, are threatening that ideal, by playing to the fears of terrorism that is afflicting our country right now.  Michael Sean Winters, of the National Catholic Reporter, in an interesting recent post on this issue.  In the last few paragraphs, he speaks about the real threat of terror.  The real threat is not the death and destruction terrorists can inflict, but the changes they can cause in a society.  When out of fear, they cause a society, like the U.S., to abandon its ideals of personal freedom, of openness to all faiths, for severe, hard-handed security practices, and make us an armed camp.  When it causes a nation to demonize a whole religion; a whole people, and discriminates against them; then the terrorist wins.

To stand up to terrorism, means to have the courage to remain faithful to those social and political ideals that make us a unique people on the world stage.  As a community of believers, we American Catholics need to remember our own immigrant roots, and not give into fear.  During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are called to extend mercy; which we experience ourselves, to others.  We trust that God’s grace will help us overcome fear and anxiety, and we will welcome the stranger.

welcome the stranger