Wow! A List of Weaknesses

By , July 31, 2010 12:56 am

Tomorrow, sacred texts again draw from the teachings that Jesus is giving the people as he continues towards Jerusalem and His death. What a list! The first reading challenges us to seek humility in the way we live our lives and relate to one another. Jesus points out the simple fact that our lifetime is very limited, and that the endless pursuit of wealth is foolish, to say the least.

The Gospel text is a graphic example where a man takes all of his material resources and centers his life and future on them. The resources remeain, but the man dies attesting to the fact that greed is a very destrutive tempatation that produces no results for the person who uses it as a guide on how to live.

Today the Church calls us to humility, simplicity and generosity. When we hear these sacred readings, let’s think for a moment as to how we are doing. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34

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Ignatius – a Soldier Marches On and Up!

By , July 30, 2010 12:46 am

Tomorrow we will celebrate the memory of one of the most important persons in the Church in the last 600 years or so. Tomorrow is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In this Spanish soldier/priest, launched one of the most important organizations in the history of the Church. He is right there with Benedict,  Francis, and Dominic. Ignatius founded the

Society of Jesus, and over the last 400-plus years, they have been seen by many as the greatest source of strength in the church in almost every area of ministry in Church life.

Ignatius was born in Spain in 1491. As a young man, he found himself in military service and at war. In that process he was badly wounded. His injury provided him with time for reflection and evaluation of his own life. In so doing, he chose to give up a military career and offer his services to his Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.

Beginning with only a small band of half dozen, his work has moved through the centuries till today, when there are over

19,ooo members of the Society working on every continent, in virtually every aspect of Catholic activity.

We call them the Jesuits.

In the United States, they are best known for their work in higher education. There are 27 colleges and universities run by the Jesuits. Can you imagine a private organization building 27 universites in one country?

God bless them, and we should thank God for them!

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Agnosticism Anyone?

By , July 29, 2010 8:55 am

Most people living in the United States take for grated that the great majority of their fellow citizens are people of faith. This is true whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or something else. Most of us believe that there is an ultimate being who is responsible for the totality of creation and existence. Of late, there have been some very aggressive promoters of atheism, but their number, overall, continues to be small.

A larger group that we may think less about is the agnostics- men and women who do not believe in God because they do not believe His existence can be proven. Agnostic- the word “nos” is the Greek work for learning or knowledge; “ag” is the Greek negative. Therefore, an agnostic is a person who does not believe.

In my opinion, agnostics have, up to a certain point, a logical position. Their problem is that there simply is no answer to the question of existence and causality. The things that we believe (A.) can’t be seen, and (B.), can’t be proven. I’m surprised the vast majority of the intelligent adults in our society are not agnostic. Why is that?  It’s because it’s innate in the human mind that if you want me to accept the concept of a Creator, you have to demonstrate the objective goodness of that or why it’s subjectively perhaps good to me. We instinctively demand proof.

A believer admits problems regarding the direct, scientific proof of the existence of God.  However, in placing their faith in that existence, they provide themselves with a very meaningful answer. The agnostic has no explanation and no Divine Being to whom he should direct some  respect and adoration; whereas the believing person has an explanation just as meaningful as the agnostic’s denial, and at the same time has the consolation of slipping back into something comfortable and secure.

Faith is a beautiful gift- let’s thank God for it!

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A Fantastic Program and Much Needed Ministry

By , July 28, 2010 12:20 am

It is about 11:30am, and there is a knock at the front door. An elderly lady in the corner house can barely make it to her feet to open the door for the visitor. A man two blocks down can’t get up but leaves the door open, expecting the same visitor. In both instances, these two isolated, sickly, low-income people are greeted by a warm hello, a hug or a kiss, and a much-needed hot meal.

Meals on Wheels is one of the best programs ever developed in this country as a way to help the sick and the elderly. Regretfully, the difficul financial strain that the country is feeling is negatively impacting Meals on Wheels as well.

Dan Pruett is teh CEO and President of Meals on Wheels in Austin. It breaks his heart to have to tell people who are applying to get on the list for a hot meal that the Austin program simply does not have the resources to respond positively.

Let’s try to change that! churches should be putting blurbs in their bulletins at least once a month asking people to step forward and help Meals on Wheels, either with financial donations, or, better still, involvement in helping to deliver the food. It is a wonderful learning experience and it makes a person appreciate his or her own situation in life that much more. Blessings to all the volunteers!

In Austin, Meals on Wheels is located at 3227 East 5th Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512)476-6325

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Starting Off the Week RIGHT- Thanks, Fr. Ganz!

By , July 27, 2010 12:06 am

There is a very strong tradition in the Roman Catholic community of faith that we should begin every week worshipping our heavenly Father and celebrating the continued presence among us of His divine Son. I have been asked from time to time what I would really like Sunday morning to be for most Catholics The answer is simple.

I love to visualize Catholics pouring out of their churches, filled with joy and a sense of thanksgiving with a clear understanding that the strangers in the pews around them are their brothers and sisters in faith.

I received a gift in that department when a friend of mine, Dr. Jill Grimes, recounted a recent Sunday morning experience in the small town of Crested Butte. Jill was almost ecstatic over the joy that she and others experienced that morning. The priest was a visitor. No one knew him. Yet, he celebrated mass in such a manner as to unite the entire community, not only in faith, but also in joy and love!

The priest was Fr. Rick Ganz, and his extended family was celebrating a family reunion. Many of his family were not Catholic, but all chose to come together and worship as he led mass that morning. Fr. Ganz made a special point of including all members of the congregation in the service- those Catholic, and those not; family member or not- and all left mass charged with positive energy and the love of God.

Every Sunday celebration should produce those results. How sad that so often it does not, and people walk out the doors of church with a sense of frustration and disappointment. Those people have been denied a great gift. I am thankful for that priest in Colorado. I know there are hundreds and thousands like him, but Catholic liturgy must stress joy and love along with faith in its Eucharistic celebrations!

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How Can You Categorize Sins?

By , July 26, 2010 12:23 am

Another flap! I had hoped that somebody in the Vatican was scurrying around trying to locate a very talented person to run the PR office of Vatican City. We all remember when the Pope attacked the Muslim faith on his way to Turkey. About fifteen or twenty people lost their lives because of that. We remember when he rehabilitated an English Bishop that denied the Holocaust had ever happened.

Today, however, I want to address the latest blunder.

The press has had a field day for the last two weeks, running cartoons, commentaries, and blistering criticisms of the fact that a Vatican statement condemning certain human errors (read sins) put two items on that list that in the minds of an average person should never be joined. One was the strong condemnation of the sexual abuse of a child or minor.

The other was a condemnation of any person attempting to ordain a woman to the priesthood.

Obviously, the Vatican is truly opposed to both actions. However, to put them in the press release on the list together was a startling communications error! Even though there were many other issues on the list, putting these two items together handed the Press yet another opportunity to ridicule Church leadership.

What do I think? I believe the Church’s views on women and their role in society remains Medieval at best. Those positions will eventually change, but one battle at a time. The sexual scandal has been so devastating to the well being of the Church, that the Church should do whatever it can to restore the confidence of the people. This news story had destructive ramifications, and has produced the opposite effect of what we need.

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Now THAT’s Praying!

By , July 24, 2010 12:36 am

Tomorrow is the 17th Sunday of the year and the sacred texts center on a crucially important aspect of our lives and how we live our lives; namely, the importance of prayer.

The Gospel excerpt places before us a beautiful scene in which Jesus taught us how to pray.  He developed what we call, by its simple name, the “Our Father.”  With this text, Jesus reminds us that he hears our prayers and answers them, but maybe his answer is not exactly what we were expecting.

For me the most delightful of the texts is the first reading from the book of Genesis and the scene in which Abraham is walking with the Lord.  He tells Abraham that he is so disgusted the morality in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that they are going to be destroyed.  In my opinion, then Abraham gives us a good example of one aspect of prayer.  He challenges the Lord, “Will you destroy everyone?  Suppose there are fifty innocent people there?  Will they be destroyed too?”   The Lord defers and then if there fifty there the cities will not be destroyed.  We all remember that Abraham goes on to bring him down to 45, 30, 20 and finally 10.  I think it is a wonderful example that we should not be afraid to continue approaching the Lord day-by-day with our various needs and problems.

Let’s hear it for Abraham!

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My Time in Prison

By , July 21, 2010 10:34 pm

I have been in prison many times! Don’t be shocked. I’ve been a Catholic priest for 55 years, and part of our work takes us into jails and prisons.

I have never been in prison more than 2 or 3 hours. Any time I went in, I knew I would be leaving soon. Never the less, the slamming of that steel door behind me always sent chills up my spine. It’s a horrible sound.

The corridor through which I had just passed was relatively quiet and orderly. Now that I’m on the inside, I confront noise and chaos. Everybody knows that prisons are unpleasant places, but few people have experienced how terribly noisy they are.

You hear the prisoners talking to each other from their cells. Frequently emitting short verbal expressions. “Goodness gracious! Sakes alive, and my oh my”- are not usually heard, but rather more… forceful expressions.

I don’t enjoy going to jails and prisons but I have always come out with a slight sense of elation that I have been able to make some man or woman feel a little bit better about the difficult situation in which they find themselves.

There is no burden that can’t be placed in a brighter context. Let all of us on the outside take a moment to give thanks for our freedom,  and to pray for those men and women who are incarcerated.

.

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Pity the Poor CEOs?

By , July 19, 2010 4:23 am

Last week I mentioned that there was a struggle going on in Austin, Texas to make sure that construction workers were able to have drinking water and rest breaks since dozens of them are denied those “privileges.”

Let’s look in the other direction.  A comparison of salaries paid to CEOs in large companies often earn more per day than many of the employees of that company earn over the course of an entire year.  This survey by Douglas McIntyre of Daily Finance is startling.  The CEO of AT&T makes $29.2 million a year.  A starting associate with that company gets $10 an hour or $26,000 a year.  One CEO equals 1,123 entry level employees.  Another example is Target where the CEO receives $16.1 million per year and a starting cashier receives $8.50 an hour or $22,100 a year.  That CEO earns the same as 728 entry level employees.  And so on and so on.

Clearly, there are some generous CEOs out there as well- look at Apple’s Steve Jobs. And few, if any, start off saying they want to make millions while their workers suffer. I’m simply pointing out there are huge discrepancies.

Do you want more information?  Check with http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/how-many-workers-can-you-hire-for-the-price-of-one-ceo/19540733/

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Saturday, July 17th, 15th Sunday of the Church Year, Cycle C: Abe Lincoln Got it Right

By , July 17, 2010 4:18 am

While campaigning for the presidency, Abraham Lincoln was challenged by some religious leaders for not being affiliated with any particular church.  Abe admitted that he was not formally associated with a church.  When asked why, he replied that he was somewhat confused by the many conflicting demands of the various denominations.  He then went on to say that he would be proud to belong to any church that taught and practiced the quote from the tenth chapter of St. Luke: “Jesus asks what is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  The questioner replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” He could have answered correctly, “Do this and you shall live.”

I have read several biographies of Abraham Lincoln and in my opinion he lived by that and could well be considered a saint.

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