Thursday, January 28, 2010

George Orwell couldn't have thought this up...

As Margaret Hamilton is famous for saying, "Oh, what a world... what a world!"
My friend Deacon Richard Hudzik made me aware of curricular guidelines drafted by North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction strongly encouraging students to view pro-life legislation as an example of “oppressive government” akin to laws that permitted segregated public schools and allowed for the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. (story here)
I can't help but opine that, given a choice, babies might prefer internment or "separate but equal" facilities over death. Are educators in North Carolina equally concerned by the oppressive government when it comes to laws against possession, use and distribution of narcotics; or laws labeling as "child abuse" what some parents view simply as discipline?
Oh!, what a world!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Women's groups protest life ad

Isn't it curious that various U.S. women's groups feel threatened that a mother and son would be provided a platform to opine that life is a good thing? (story here)

It seems that they think that issue is "controversial". However, I note that those complaining tend to be alive themselves. Don't they have the courage of their apparent convictions?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Renewed in service...

The Order of Deacons was restored as a permanent order in the Catholic Church as a result of the second Vatican Council. Though the order of deacons has been part of the structure of the church from the Apostolic era (see Acts VI), it had primarily been relegated to simple transitional status -- a milepost along the path to priesthood -- in the Latin Church since the middle ages.
In the 40 years since the council, the restored diaconate, particularly in the United States where it has come into broadest use, has had the unique challenge or opportunity of defining its role in the modern church. The liturgical functions of deacons are very well defined. However, as living icons of Christ the servant, deacons are called to be engaged with the world as the voice for the poor and marginalized and as the local bishop's eyes and ears. Those roles tend to play out in as many varied ways as there are deacons, and frequently individual deacons find the majority of their ministry ends up being conducted far removed from a parish setting and apart from their connections with their brother deacons.
This is part of the reason that I found the Deacon Convocation of the Archdiocese of Chicago on January 23-24, 2010 such a special event. For one thing, the convocation brought together nearly 400 deacons plus about 300 deacon's wives for what may have been the largest ever gathering of deacons in the United States. More important was the palpable level of energy shared among those so actively engaged in prayer, service and evangelization.
The deacons present varied widely in age, race, language, experience, income level and national origin. The diaconate mirrors the diversity of the universal church. These men and their wives all share a love of Christ, His Church and His people.
There were deacons who run soup kitchens and homeless shelters; others are involved in immigrant rights, others in prison ministry. Among the groups specifically ministered to by deacons are infants, the elderly, men, women, teens, the mentally ill, the physically and sexually abused, the unemployed, widows and orphans. Their work directly touches the lives of people not only in Chicago, but throughout the United States and the world. They are involved in programs to provide clothing, housing, employment, job skills, education, legal assistance, nutrition, medical care, tax assistance, addiction recovery, grief counseling and much more. Most frequently these deacons work as individual ministers even when they function within or as part of large organizations.
The convocation allowed for the opportunity for all those present to re-engage as a community of ministers motivated by a shared desire to witness to Jesus as servant. I left this weekend humbled by the love and service rendered by my brother deacons, and re-energized in my own ministry. Indeed, God is good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some of the best... and then there is the other side

Disasters often have a way of bringing out the best in people, unfortunately sometimes they allow strange things to crawl out from the woodwork. Witness some of the response to the earthquake in Haiti. I am aware of many good people who reacted immediately with an outpouring of financial support and prayers.
Then there is that intellectual light of the age, Pat Robertson, who shared with the world his knowledge that the earthquake was simply the inevitable result of the pact that Haitians made with the devil to free themselves from French colonization. No to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh also weighed in on the situation with the level of compassion I have come to expect of him.
There is also the gentleman who came into the rectory office demanding to know what the Catholic Church is doing to help. He asked the question but did not really want to hear the reply. He got aggravated when told that, in addition to a general call for prayers (as Catholics our first option is generally to go to the Lord in prayer), Catholic Relief Services immediately committed $5 million to relief efforts, the bishops have asked that special collections be held this weekend to aid the effort, and that multiple Catholic organizations do not have to go down to Haiti because they have been there all along ministering to the people of that impoverished country, or as Archbishop Dolan of New York put it, "We don't have to parachute in.
We're there anyway. We're on the scene. We know the terrain. We've got the trucks. We've got the supplies."

The gentleman left in a snit after being asked, "And what are you doing?"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A tragedy stirs memories....

Several years back I had the privilege of traveling to Haiti for a week with the aid organization Food for the Poor which works throughout the Caribbean and Central America. We spent most of that week in Port-au-Prince and the immediate surrounding area. That trip was eye opening for me in many ways. I was struck by the beauty of the country and the graciousness of the people, and most of all I was staggered to witness the degree of poverty, particularly in Cite de Soleil -- a level of poverty and want that may be matched only in the slums of Calcutta.
Despite this, the people of Haiti radiated generosity, joy and faith. My sense was that this was a nation that should be a paradise but which had been turned into a hell due to greed, corruption and the pursuit of private political agendas. This was a failed society -- but the people were absolutely marvelous.
I wanted to go to Haiti in large part because a substantial number of my parishioners are Haitian. I wanted to get a sense of who these people were by witnessing the work that was being done in their homeland.
I will never forget returning home after a week of exposure to unspeakable poverty. The day after my return I stopped in at Sam's Club. As I walked the aisles stacked to the 24-foot ceilings with merchandise in testimony to our excess, I overheard a couple shopping. "Do we need this?" the husband asked. "We want this," the wife responded. I began to tremble with memories of what I had seen in Haiti and quickly exited the store.
It is with that background that I heard of yesterday's earthquake, and was moved to again at least send a little of my excess to help out. I join my prayers with those of the people of Haiti who seek the intercession of their patron, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Think before you answer..

Here's a doozy, and another reason that if I weren't single I'd be in jail:
France will become the first country in the world to ban 'psychological violence' within marriage later this year.

The new law, which would also apply to co-habiting couples, would see people getting criminal records for insulting their loved ones during domestic arguments.

Read more:
Imagine that an answer to "Honey, does this dress make my butt look fat?" could send you up the river instead of just to the dog house.

An athlete worthy of respect...

I learned as a kid to expect disappointment whenever looking up to athletes as role models. Only a select few athletes have lived up to what I would like to expect of them, most notably for me was Walter Payton as one who performed exceptionally well on the field of play and perhaps equally as well in life.
Now I am cautiously beginning to look at Tim Tebow as a gifted athlete whose life away from athletics might also be worthy of emulation. Witness Tebow's choice of companion to the ESPN College Football Awards ceremony. He took home no award this year, but certainly walked away a winner in my book.

NFL scouts question whether Tebow's collegiate football success will carry over to the professional ranks in large part to an unorthodox throwing motion. However, were I an NFL executive, I would consider drafting this young man if only to have him as a face for my organization. A class act.

thanks to Deacon Richard Hudzik