Thursday, February 20, 2020

AMERICA IN DANGER

   Benjamin Franklin famously said that we have a Republic, if we can keep it.  Our founders knew that our Constitution and our country could not work unless the American people had a strong and clear religious faith, strong family life, and a strong commitment to public service.

   Sadly, at this point in our history we have fallen from these ideals.  Our country is now engaged in a social, moral, cultural and political civil war.  We have fallen dangerously below ordinary political differences into a swampland of irrational, vicious separations that are eroding our Constitution and the Rule of Law.  In fact, our present fall is not just in what we are doing, which is our moral life, but it goes all the way to who we are, which shows us our very souls, our very meaning of who we are as humans and as Christians, i.e., it goes to our spirituality.

   The present crisis calls for the deepest possible reawakening of our true meaning as humans and as People of God.  In the process, we need to clarify and deepen our understanding and expression of our faith.  What we do follows from who we are.  Therefore, our moral conduct follows from our spirituality, which shows us that we are images and expressions of Jesus, the Eternal Christ, the presence of Divinity on earth, who is living and acting in today's world in and through us.

   Our faith is vital to our politics because it shows us the wholeness and integrity of who we are.  It also shows how to see and understand the very meaning of our government and country.  In the heart and mind of Christ we do not simply accept all the particulars of any political party.  We choose political leaders and programs that can most realistically work for our whole society, a society that is marked by love for all without exception, with emphasis on the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.

   Today, our faith is telling us that we have to make vital, life and death choices.  One very important example arises from the fact that we are divided between the challenge of abortion and the challenge of a broken Constitution rising from a continuing attack on the Rule of Law.  Looking at the whole picture, it seems clear that we have to face the challenge of our broken Constitution and the Rule of Law.  If they fall, America falls.  No empire is guaranteed to last forever.  We don't know what amount of chaos will follow if America falls but in the chaos abortion will be  pushed into the background as we struggle to rebuild our broken country.

   Both challenges are spiritual because, as I said above, both show us who we are as Americans and as Christians.  These are no ordinary times. I suggest that the danger to our country is so immediate and so great that we are being called to put our particular concerns aside, no matter how vital they are, and to focus on the life and death concern to make our beloved country whole again.  

    God bless America. 











Friday, February 14, 2020

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

   (From Mark 22:28-34:  "Which is the first of all the commandments?  Jesus replied, "You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

     The second commandment can sound like an impossible one to obey and live by.  How can we love terrorists and those who would destroy us?  How can we love those who disagree with us in today's rancid political atmosphere?  How can we love anyone who would harm us or our society in any way?

     I suggest that the answer to these questions lies in the meaning of "love."  We usually think of love as the beautiful, sentimental affection for someone one.  We want to be with those we love.

      Love can be love of friendship, or sexual love, or love for the sake of the other.  This last kind of love is agape.  Another word for agape is charity, i.e., love that goes beyond affection to the point of our freely sacrificing something of ourselves for the other.  This, for example, is the love of husband and wife, of parents for their children, and even of soldiers in battle who risk and sometimes love their lives for one another.  It is the love of Jesus on the Cross.

      Christianity is not naive.  We don't have to like someone in order to love them.  We can hardly be expected to like those who would harm or even destroy us.  Agape is not naivety, it is spiritual maturity.  It extends to all those who would harm or destroy us and moves us to work to get through to such people so that they can live at peace with themselves and with us.  We must of course protect ourselves against those who would harm us.  That may even call for defensive military action after all peaceful means have been exhausted.  

      It is normal and healthy to get angry at the injuries and injustices being inflicted upon us by the leaders of our society, be they political, educational, corporate, etc.  Such harm to all of us definitely calls for political action.  Likewise it calls for well informed action when our school do not educate our children properly.  And it calls for social action when our culture is attacked and made more crude and even violent. 

      In all cases, it calls for action that is informed and inspired by the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of creative, healing and world-transforming love.  It is not enough to say what is wrong.  In Christ we must learn and proclaim what is right and then use all the peaceful and just means available to us as citizens and voters to change what is wrong into what is right in the service of the common good.




  

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A CHRISTMAS BALLAD


A CHRISTMAS BALLAD
                                                                     by 
                                                       Anthony T. Massimini                                                                                                                          (1954)   

Across the moonlit desert sands
   The mission bells were ringing.
'Twas Christmas Eve and in the night,
   Three happy men were singing.

In coming home from Prairie Town
   They'd seen the Christmas Fair,
And luckily, these cowboys three
   Had won some prizes there.

The first one had a cuckoo clock
   With features quite bizarre;
The second had a pretty doll;
   The third, a green guitar.

Between their carols as they rode
   they spoke of the delight
The prizes that they each had won
   would bring their folks that night.

Then, in the sky they saw a star,
   Its darkness rose and fell;
'Twas the electric emblem
   of the Texas Star Motel.

"Let's stop a while," one cowboy said,
   "We've time and home is near,
Let's join the travelers at the inn
   and drink the season's cheer."

The other two they quick agreed,
   The inn was not too far.
So each one turned his sturdy steed
   and started for the star.

Now at the in, the atmosphere
   was extra warm and bright,
For many people, traveling home,
   had stopped there for the night.

The overjoyed proprietor
   was counting each receipt;
His inn was full, his wine well stocked,
   his happiness, complete.

When through the din a quiet knock
   was heard upon the door.
"Too bad," thought the proprietor,
   "I haven't room for more."   

The door came slowly open;
  A Mexican stepped in;
Behind him softly came his wife;
   Her face was dark and thin.

"Please, Mister," said the Mexican,
  "My wife, she very sick;
Please give her some warm place to stay.
   And get a doctor, quick!"

"Hold on!" said the proprietor,
  "I can't do that for you!"
But then he looked again and said,
   "I'll see what I can do."

"Maria," said the Mexican,
   "Have courage, dear, and pray."
Maria smiled, then bowed her head
  and answered, "Yes, Jose'."

Then back came the proprietor,
   and slowly shook his head,
"The only place to stay," said he,
   "Is outside in the shed."

"God bless you!"  said he Mexican.
   And then the lonely pair
Withdrew to find their resting place
   out in the desert air.

Now by this time, the cowboys three
   were nearing the motel;
Their caroling still rent the air,
    and all was going well.

And as they passed an open shed
   that stood beside a hill,
They saw a light and turned to look;
   The sight there stopped them still.

A man was kneeling down in prayer,
    A woman knelt close by;
And from some hay between the two,
   there came a baby's cry!

The cowboys three, they went to see
    this fascinating sight,
And they remembered vividly 
   that other Holy Night

When Wise Men three came bearing gifts
   across a desert far,
And how they found the Holy Child
   by following a star.

Now they too wished to give some gifts
   to this poor couple's son;    
They wondered what; and then
   they spied the prizes they had won.

The first one gave his cuckoo clock,
   with features quite bizarre;
The second gave his pretty doll;
   The third, his green guitar.

Across the midnight desert sands,
   The mission bells were ringing;
'Twas Christmas eve, and in the night,
   Three happy men were singing.


















































































                             


Monday, December 9, 2019

CHRISTMAS 2019

     The story of Christmas us the greatest story ever told. 

       To fully appreciate Christmas we start with our belief that Eternal, Infinite, Divine Love has been present throughout the universe since the moment of creation 13.8 billion years ago.  The omnipresence of Divinity throughout the universe from its very beginning has a name.  It is "Christ," which means, "The Universe Anointed with Divine Presence."
  

     Jesus was the Christ, the Divinely Anointed Universe, come to earth in the form of a 1st century, male Jew.  Mary, his mother, is exalted because she is truly the Mother of Infinite, Eternal God-with-us in human form.    

     While God is the universal Basis of our faith, Jesus is the global Center of our faith.  When we focus on him here on earth, we see the timeless, universal God in human form.  In his birth and life we directly learn of God's infinite, overflowing love for us.  

     No wonder that when Jesus was born, an entire army of angels sang, "Glory to God in the Highest!"  No wonder that we venerate Mary, who birthed him forth into the world.  No wonder that St. Paul wrote that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth."  (Phil. 2:10)

     In our Catholic, all-embracing understanding, Jesus represents love for everyone on earth without exception.  St. Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is people fully alive."  Jesus showed us how to be fully alive, i.e., by imitating him and showing love for everyone.  He taught that everyone is our brother and sister in Christ.  By loving others, we help them become the fully alive persons that God intends them to be.    

     St. Paul expressed our love for everyone in Jesus, the Christ when he said that in Christ there is not Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all in all. (Col. 3:11).  

     Today we can say that while we rightly recognize the differences among us, by raising ourselves to the higher consciousness of Christ we can say there is not Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Hindu, etc., not White or Colored, not citizen or immigrant, not right or poor, nor Democrat, Republican or Independent, etc., etc., but there is one justice, peace and love for all without exception.  

      In Jesus' Christmas Love, may we be vessels of peace and good will for all, so that we may all flourish in our blessed humanity and so that his prayer, "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven" may take even a little step forward.

      In the Universal Love of Christ present with us in Jesus, I wish a very Merry Christmas to all my readers--and to the whole world.

     

      

             





  

       

        

Sunday, December 1, 2019

OUR CATHOLIC FAITH AND OUR POLITICS

  The Impeachment Inquiry is challenging us to review our allegiance to our political party, to our country and to God.

   Some may argue, "Wait! We must keep our religion out of our politics!"  True, if by that we mean that America must never adopt any official religion for our country.  But that does not mean that we must keep God our of our politics.  Our Catholic faith tells us that God is present in the entire universe, and therefore is present in everyone on earth and in everything we do.

   At the burning bush, God told Moses, "I Am Who I AM," and then simply, "I AM."  In our language God is EXISTENCE.  If EXISTENCE  is not present is something or someone, that thing or person would not exist.

   God's presence in the entire universe, the world and in all of us, has a name. It is "Christ," which means "anointed."  God "Christs," i.e., anoints the universe with Divine presence, making the universe and everything and everyone in it sacred.  When we vote, we vote as sacred people who are fulfilling a sacred responsibility to one another, to our government and to our country.

   Jesus is our perfect example of Someone who acted in a sacred way in everything he did.  He was actively involved in the politics of his day, preaching and acting for the greatest possible order, justice, peace and love for everyone without exception, with special care for the poor, sick, the vulnerable, the stranger and the outcast.  And so he is our sacred political model and guide.

   As the Catholic, i.e., Universal, People of Jesus Christ, we should act politically as Jesus did, i.e., universally, for everyone in need without exception.  This means that our political party must stand for all the values that Jesus stood for.  "Whatever you did for one of these least of these. you did for me." (Mt. 40:25)

   Whether we are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, we have the clear purpose for our political views and activities.  If our political party reduces our choice to a cult-like allegiance to any particular issue, person or cause that denies others their sacred rights to necessary care, we must strongly reject our party's position.

   Many of us Catholics favor president Trump because we believe that he is against abortion.  In truth it is a totally clear social, moral and scientific truth that he does not care one bit about abortion or about anything or anyone else except himself.  He is a deeply wounded man, beyond the ability to help himself or others.  We who are the followers of Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, embarrass ourselves when we fail to see that Donald Trump is living an out-of-his-control life of lies and hatred.  He needs our fervent prayers and not our mindless chants at his self-aggrandizing rallies.  

     If he is removed from office, Vice President Pence will be truly and genuinely opposed to abortion.  

   The Impeachment Inquiry has shown itself to be a tragic display of political and moral corruption as many of our fellow Christians in Congress are trashing their oath of allegiance to our Constitution and the rule of law.  They are telling outright lies and crudely attacking those who have served our country faithfully and honorably and are telling the truth.  With our Catholic minds and hearts, should we not see and understand that Christ is being abased by our fellow Christian representatives?  Do we not see that for the basest of reasons, they are mocking the truth while showing complete indifference to the fact that  they are crucifying Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

   What has happened to us?  What have we done to ourselves?  How could we have permitted ourselves to lose our Christ-consciousness to the point where we have polluted our political integrity and lowered our society to the level of Godless, hateful inhumanity and hellish tribalism?  

    How could we have created a fetid swamp from which Christ cries out to us to proclaim the Truth of our sacred faith that we have buried in our hearts?  And for what?  Have we fallen for such anti-Christian views as White Privilege, in which asylum seekers, immigrants and Americans of color have little or no rights to live and flourish?  What has happened to us that so many of us can hate so strongly without realizing that we are mocking God and crucifying Jesus anew?

   At this time of deep crisis for our beloved country,we should pray for light and guidance so we can act as true Catholic Americans, whose sacred commitment is to Order, Justice, Truth, Peace and Love for everyone without exception in the Spirit of Jesus, our Brother and Savior.

   Dear God, please bless America now in our moment of our special need, and forever.





























         

Sunday, October 6, 2019

ARE WE AIDING IN THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR AMERICAN SOUL?

   These days we are being challenged to choose the kind of world we want to live in.  We all live in various "worlds," e.g., the world that is our family, community, job, culture, church, ethnicity, political party, etc.  The problem is that we can use our various "worlds" to cut ourselves off from people who are different from us.  To the extent that we diminish our caring for all peoples and the entire earth, we diminish our humanity and our American soul.  "Catholic" means "Universal," or "Whole," so we should take a look at our American Catholic souls .   

   As Catholics we live in a world that is as big as the earth and that embraces everyone and everything on earth, without exception.  We may not like some aspects of our world.  In fact we should not like certain aspects, e.g., selfishness, greed, indifference, crime, religious disdain for "different" people, etc.  And we should agree that anything that puts the different parts of our world against one another, e.g., racism, sexism, political separation instead of compromise, suppression of the poor, etc., is not acceptable.  These negative and sometimes vicious aspects make up the "world" that Jesus said hates us Christians and hates him, and that we must avoid.  (John. 15:18)

   Our Catholic world is a world in which we accept everyone in the all-embracing love of Christ.  Even with all the world's imperfections--and we look to ourselves first to see the log in our own eye (Mt, 7:1)--we live in a world in which we must reach out to everyone.  Obviously we will disagree with some others but we must never permit our disagreements to become hostile separations.  And we must strongly disagree with all those, especially our political, economic and religious leaders, who foment separations and hostility.

   In our Catholic view, God is present throughout the world, and we recognize God's presence in the world as the universal, global Christ-Reality that Jesus was.  In sum, we see the world as the one beautiful Body of Christ.  And the Body of Christ is not to be divided by any hostility. 

   From the very beginning, God gave us dominion over the world, i.e., the responsibility to lovingly care for the earth and its creatures.  (Gen. 1:26)  Our responsibility to care for the earth and its inhabitants is a shining example of our human dignity.  Anything less than wholeness in love, any breaking up of our lives and of the earth into warring divisions corrupts and even destroys the wholeness of love and destroys our humanity and our Christianity.

   One big enemy of wholeness in love is our over-emphasis on individuality.  We must keep clearly in mind that while each of us is a unique individual, we are unique individuals in society.  We do not stand alone outside of society.  Everyone is our brother or sister.  We an only develop our individuality within society.

   Today's physicists help us understand our wholeness in love.  They tell us that the universe is made of consciousness and that we are all expressions of the one, universal consciousness.  We must never forget that we arise out of unity of consciousness and develop ourselves within unity and wholeness of consciousness.  We Catholics see unity and wholeness of consciousness as unity and wholeness in love.  The universe is made of unity and wholeness in love!  

    Sadly, our Catholic view of the wholeness of love is being attacked.  The attack includes the pressures on our family life, the collapse of our politics, the greed of corporations and their disregard for the ecology, and even our schools and universities that over-specialize and thus fail to give our children a wholistic picture of the world and of themselves.  All this leads to the disintegration of our American soul. 

    More sadly, this disintegration is being aided by some of us Catholics who have fallen into the tribal mindset of white privilege, and those who are permitting our political leaders to attack the rule of law and our Constitution.  Some of us are confusing politics with our Catholic faith! 

    In the Spirit and Love of Jesus, the global Christ, our Catholic world knows no bounds.  It is our Catholic vocation and duty to embrace the wholeness of our entire world and to work to bring the creative, healing and world transforming/evolving love of Christ to our nation and as far as possible, to the whole world.  Everyone is our neighbor to be loved and assisted, with special care for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.  The whole world is sacred and to be cherished and protected.  A world that is smaller than a world of love for all the people and creatures of Earth is not acceptable to Christ and should not be acceptable to us.















  

    

















   








       

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

WHAT COLOR IS THE AMERICAN CHRIST?

     Years ago when I was doing my doctoral studies in Rome I met an American missionary priest who's order ministered in Africa.  One day I said to him, "So, you are going to bring Christ to Africa."  He said, "No.  We don't have to bring Christ to Africa.  He is already there.  And he is black."

     He was of course not referring to the Jewish Jesus, who was not black.  He was referring to the global Christ Reality, who is Divinity present in every person of every color, gender, nationality, creed, social standing, economic standing, or sexual orientation.  In particular, my friend was preparing to minister to the black Christ whom he found in the native Africans.  

     At the Second Vatican Council the Africans made it clear that they indeed had a Black African Christ and a Black African Catholicism.  They had Masses at which they beat drums, chanted in their own language and danced in their own way to express the joy of Africa at having received the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The Council confirmed the validity of Africa's Black Christ, along with the validity of every ethnic expression of Christ throughout the world.

    So we can ask, "What color is the American Christ?"  Given the collapsed condition of our society, many of us would say--even insist--that the American Christ is white.  No!  "Christ" means "The anointed One."  Every individual, every ethnic group is Christ-ed, i.e., anointed with divinity.  So to Catholic eyes, the American Christ is European white, African black, Latino and Mid-eastern brown, Oriental yellow, and Native America red.   All expressions of the American Christ are blessed with equal dignity, respect and the right to strive toward a full life in peace, justice and love.  In the American Christ, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is enjoyed by all!

   Our fallen society requires us to be the everyday mystics that we are, and to act upon what we see with prophetic vigor.  To be a mystic is simply to see what is hidden from the unbeliever's eyes.  Each of us has the mystical gift to open our eyes and see the one sacred humanity that we share with everyone without exception.  With this gift comes the responsibility to never see anyone as an "other" whom we can treat as less than human.  

    Clearly, the victims of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and elsewhere were our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And not so obviously to too many of us, so are the shooters.  But today's social atmosphere tends to separate us to a dangerous degree.  I am old enough to remember the old neighborhood where my mother knew what I had done wrong before I got home.          

    Today, we are dangerously separated from one another.  We break up the one, sacred body of Christ into lifeless pieces. For example, when ICE took away 680 undocumented immigrants from their families, they inhumanly left little children behind crying in agony.  The photo of the devastated little girl seared our very souls.  Their leader said that ICE is a law enforcement agency, not a social service agency.  If he had recognized the American Christ, he would have said, "ICE is an agency that enforces the law.  But we will not not act until there are people who can take care of the children who will suffer because of what we are about to do."  That of course did not happen, and we were left with a heart-wrenching experience of inhumanity.  At that raid, Christ bled on the Cross and some of our fellow Americans did not care.

   In a very dangerous way, America is now an arid spiritual desert.  Our American brothers and sisters who say they are Christians and who are white supremacists, or those who would attack or even kill a gay person, or who say nothing when immigrant children are pulled from their parent's arms, worship a false Christ, an ugly Christ, a Christ who is dangerous and to be feared.

   This is not a time to be shallow or weak.  We must hear anew the ancient prophet Isiah calling from the desert to, "Prepare the way of the Lord.  Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God." (Is. 40:3)  Centuries later, St. John the Baptist confirmed that Isiah was calling for us to prepare the way for Jesus, the Christ. (Mt. 3:3)

   Today the call is going out again.  Far too many of us have fallen into a swamp of self-serving spiritual shallowness.  It is time to shout, "No!  We will not accept the status quo!"

   It is time for us to repair our torn social fabric so that we can be true neighbors again.  We must rethink and re-pray our severely corrupt politics and economics that are producing ever more profits for the few privileged ones to the deep detriment of the rest of us.  

    It is time to rethink our educational system so that it will graduate truly educated and humanized students who see themselves as Americans committed to cooperating with and caring for their American brothers and sisters even as they compete fairly with one another for prestige and wealth.  It is time to demand in the name of the American Christ of many colors and ethnicities that we have justice for all with special care for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast.

   We must awaken to and welcome the American Christ in all his glorious colors and ethnicities. The need is so great that for anyone to call him or herself a Christian and then reject any of our American brothers and sisters in Christ, including legitimate immigrants and refugees, is to work to destroy our society and our country in a most anti-Christian, even hellish way.