Friday, August 17, 2018
I believe that religion is first and foremost about God…our worship of and relationship with God; and then, also, about our relationship with our fellow human beings created by God.
As a Christian, I believe that religion is also about Jesus Christ coming to our world to redeem us and teach us, teaching us about our relationship to God..."Our Father, who art in heaven"...and about our relationship to other people. "I was hungry and you gave me food…"…(etc., and)…"…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)
As a Catholic, I believe that God gave us the Church to help us with all of the above. I believe the Mass and the Sacraments help me grow closer in my relationship to God; and I believe the Church helps many people with food and other needs, and encourages us to do so personally, as well. But...
Churches are administered by human beings and, as such, are subject, in their humanity, to inhumanity. The sins which the Catholic Church (and other churches) preach against are sometimes committed not only by churchgoers but even by Church leaders (Catholic and others)…and sometimes, as we have been seeing, have even been covered up by Church leaders. This is very wrong. I am so very sorry for anyone affected by this. I can't even…there are not even enough words to express my sorrow for those affected.
For me personally (and I do speak as someone who has never been abused within the Church), I see the Church as both Divine and human; and while I decry the sins and crimes of some of its leaders, at the same time, I appreciate the blessings that come from the rich liturgies of the Church, from those in the Church who are following their vocation as they have been called to it, to minister to God's people in love and in sacrifice, the blessings which come from those many who are not committing crimes against their fellow human beings.
I see some people say, 'stop giving money to the diocese' – and while I understand where they might be coming from and I judge no one for that sentiment – for me personally, that would mean two things, to give less to programs which help the needy (although one can do that elsewhere, if they actually will or do, and I'm sure many do). And I see it as giving less to the support of seminaries and other avenues of continuing the Mass and Sacraments. For those who have given up on the Church, obviously they probably won't give money; but if I want to continue to attend Mass and receive the Sacraments (and I do), then it seems to me that I will also want to continue to contribute to making that possible.
I also believe that the number of priests who abuse their position is relatively few…relative to the total number of priests who serve; although I fully acknowledge that even one would be too many. The numbers we have been hearing about in our recent past are way too many. I have seen the Church take steps in more recent years to change this, and I hope it will continue this progress and - not slowly but - quickly and completely. I hope - and of course pray - it will move "full forward" on vetting and accountability, and "full stop" on tolerating abuse, crimes, and cover-ups.
As always, what I have written is my opinion and my viewpoint, and does not necessarily represent anyone else. What I have written is also subject to my own humanity, and I may be saying too much for some and too little for others.
With a heavy heart, but trusting in God's love, and in his healing for all those affected,
Sunday, May 06, 2018
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Sometimes we find Him at church and sometimes in the works of His creation, sometimes both at the same time.
Be with us, Lord. Comfort us and strengthen us in the trials of this world and help us to comfort and strengthen others. Amen.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The term "people who work for a living" has been on my mind. You see, right there, in those last three words, "for a living" is the problem for many folks! I'm totally convinced that most adults – and many youth - either work or want to work.
But working "for a living" is not simply a matter of desire. It is not the sole responsibility of the worker to make enough money to pay for housing and food.
Let me put that another way. Most workers cannot set their own wages or salaries! That might be so obvious that you might even laugh. But do you see the correlation there? We – society, social media - sometimes blame people that they don't "work for a living", even though many do work, but many employees aren't given the opportunity to make an actual living.
And most employees today can't simply work two jobs or work overtime, even if they have the health and enthusiasm to do so. It's amazing to me how many full time jobs require that their employees refrain from moonlighting, expect them to not pick up another job during their time off. And this is often true even though they are not making adequate money to support a family or, sometimes, not enough even to support one person.
Then there are the many part-time jobs which never offer full time work for most of their employees, yet require full-time availability. May I respectfully repeat that one, for those who aren't aware of it? Many part-time jobs (retail is an example, but not the only example)...many part-time jobs require full time availability even while offering only part time work.
"We need you to come in for this meeting tomorrow." Or: "We need you to fill in (during a time that you don't normally work) for this person who called out (or who quit)." Oh, but when you do, then, next week you may get fewer hours, because we can't have you getting paid for more than "x" number of hours in a pay period. Often, it's tough for the "bosses" too. I'm not blaming them for this! The problem is much greater than their position, and I'm not even sure I understand the ultimate problems and solutions. I'm just saying it's the way things are today, and while I think changes need to be made, that's not my topic this morning.
This isn't a rant about employers, but rather, it's about pulling together! ...instead of (verbally) beating each other up! (whether individually or in the things we say and pass on in social media). It's about encouraging people, in an empathetic way, and truly listening to them, instead of implying (whether intentionally or not) that we've got it all together and the other guy doesn't.
It's scarier this way, though, isn't it?...especially if we do have it all together ourselves, at least economically, at this time in our lives. If I admit that maybe my brother's troubles might not be his own fault, then I'm admitting to myself that troubles might come my way, too.
You see, it's true. Troubles might come our way! When they do, are we going to beat ourselves up or are we going to comfort and encourage ourselves? And do we want others to truly listen to us and try to understand?
Or, maybe those troubles already have come for you, and for that, I am truly sorry. And I know most people do have some kind of trouble or another.
We don't have to go it alone! Not, that is, if we accept one another and try to acknowledge the world as it is, and not only as we would like it to be.
I believe we are all stronger, the more we pull together. Do you think so too?
Love and blessings to you all
Saturday, April 22, 2017
I once thought the climate issue - "global warming" as I often heard it called - was just a political football. I am not a scientist and I don't understand all of it.
However, I do understand that if we don't care for our land, it won't keep caring for us and our children.
I do understand that if we pollute our drinking water badly enough, people will die. If we pollute our rivers and our air, people will die or be sick. If we erode the soil or put poisons under and into it, that affects our lives and even our food supply.
And I understand that these things are happening, and have been happening for a long time, in different degrees and different places, here and in other countries.
But I also know that sometimes things get better! I understand that smog is not what it used to be, back when I often couldn't see my beloved sky when I lived in Los Angeles. I understand that air quality is at least somewhat better in many places, and some of the reasons are that factories were more regulated and cars were switched to unleaded fuels. Solutions based thinking can be valuable.
I've begun to think that the so-called "climate issue" is not just about climate but that it's a whole lump sum. The important thing is sustaining life and preserving resources, just like when I was a child and we re-used and repaired. And just like when we went camping or stayed in a motel, my parents taught me by word and example to try to "leave it better than we found it".
My science education hasn't improved much over the years, but my life experience and logic whisper to me that the term "global warming" may at times be a misunderstood term, especially by those who, like me, are not experts in science. It doesn't really matter precisely what someone believes or understands about the climate. What does matter, though, is that we can all breathe and drink and eat, not just the rich, but all of us.
Although concerns over this, mixed with politics, may at times lead to over-regulating the wrong entities, such as burdening individuals or small business, this does not take away from a very real need to regulate the extent to which companies can use and abuse resources. It does not take away from the need to minimize damage and to leave our resources a little better whenever possible, rather than a lot worse tomorrow for the sake of profits today. In some cases, those tomorrows may even be catching up with us.
I believe that both on a voluntary personal level (through education and awareness), and on the level of working toward the just regulation and restraint of large companies, especially mega-corporations, that we need to all work for that seemingly old-fashioned, real-life value, to try to leave things better than we found them…for the vulnerable among us…and for ourselves…and for our children.