Most thoughtful Americans are conscious of the difficult lives that are lived by migrant farm workers. Their jobs in any given area last only a short period of time and the workers move on with the changing harvest schedules. This has disastrous affects on the education of children and although many of them heroically manage to get into and finish high school, it is only after extreme difficulties are overcome. And then college. Migrant families have a difficult time putting enough food on the table. They are in no position to pay the extraordinarily high cost of today’s college expenses.
Forty years ago, Brother Stephen Walsh, President of St. Edward’s University, saw a need, had a vision and chose to do something about it. St. Edward’s established the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and happily, other colleges, especially in the South and Southwest, have developed comparable programs, but St. Edward’s CAMP is the original and, in my opinion, the most successful.
CAMP is not simply a first rate academic support program, as important as that is. It also creates a family like support system for students coming in from rural areas frequently with very limited academic credentials. CAMP students soon bond together as a family. They help each other, encourage each other, and are thrilled to see those ahead moving on to graduation and success beyond college.
Since 1972, two thousand, seven hundred migrant students have graduated from this program and are scattered across the country in business and professional roles.
St. Edward’s has a lot to be proud of. Those who know the university know that we can be thankful for the vision of its leadership.
Let’s hear it for CAMP!
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Today is a holiday- Memorial Day.
Arlington National Cemetery
There will be a lot of picnics and one-day outings, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, every one of us should take serious time today to be thoughtful and prayerful about the fact that we have so much for which to be thankful, so much to remember. That thankfulness and remembrance is to center on the fact that so many of our fellow Americans over the last two hundred years have given their lives in order that our country might be free, and that this freedom and prosperity could be maintained in a difficult world that has constantly threatened it.
The facts can be laid out on the table, the figures can be totaled out but there is no way that they can begin to grasp the reality that is behind these numbers. During the first one hundred years of our existence, 683,000 Americans lost their lives with the Civil War counting for 623,000 of that total (91%). The next one hundred years, a further 626,000 Americans died through two world wars and several more regional conflicts. Of this latter figure, World War II represented 65% of that total.
Let’s look behind those cold statistics. For every one of those digits, there are heartbroken parents, crushed fiancées, brokenhearted wives and children by the millions. Yes, we must remember and we must give thanks for their generosity. However, while we are giving thanks, we should pray fervently and work within the confines of our own situation in life to do whatever we can to lessen the threat of war. In some ways, we find ourselves in a unique moment of history. We have developed structures that improve communication between countries and lessen the type of resolving conflicts with guns and bombs, but at the same time we do have weapons of mass destruction that if we don’t handle ourselves rationally, all of the losses of our wars will seem minor compared to what could possibly happen. Remember? Yes, indeed remember! But also pray – pray – pray.
For an excellent book describing the proximity of our peril, try reading How the End Begins by Ron Rosenbaum. This book thoughtfully describes what the author sees as a road to an approaching nuclear war.
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Everyone likes to be active. It’s normal to want to participate in the events going on around us. The Church in its wisdom has long known this, and therefore fosters participation. Think about it- not just choirs and altar servers, but bringing up the gifts at the offertory, processions, etc., etc.
Advent calendars are an excellent example of this. They give children in the family their own personal symbol of Advent, and they enjoy the changes that occur day by day, as they move closer in their excitement towards Christmas. Whether they are the vintage window-paper style, more elaborate modern versions, or even chocolate, let’s get the kids opening up those doors-Jesus is down the corridor!
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I don’t think any person would admit to being FOR injustice. We all want a just society, just laws, just relationships, just pay and we seek to fulfill our just responsibilities. If that is the obvious situation, why is there so much INJUSTICE?
The formal description of justice is that it is a moral virtue that consists in a constant and firm desire to give to God and a neighbor whatever is their due. The street language would call that simply, “Doing the right thing!”
Why is there so much injustice? Here is where we see how moral virtues interlock with each other. So many crimes, especially petty crimes, are the result of a failure to practice the virtue of prudence. Once a person finds that they have a facility in acting unjustly then, regretfully, it becomes ever easier and evermore likely to be repeated. Just like prudence doesn’t fall from the sky, we develop the virtue of justice and strengthen it by constant practice in our efforts to deal fairly in all of our relationships, first with God and then with the people with whom we are sharing life.
Practice in this area is easy to find but one of the most obvious is in the use of the power of speech. How often do we talk about our family, our friends, our neighbors in a manner that is unjust without giving them the benefit of the doubt, projecting negative motivations to their actions and not defending their good name when others malign it?
Practicing the virtue of justice can save us a lot of trouble. Put justice and prudence together and we will have an easier time in life. Let’s try harder.
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Everyone loves First Communion Sundays! The children are so beautiful, and they look so holy. We know that for each one of them, this is a very special moment in their lives, even though they do not really understand most of what they have been taught.
Jesus comes into the life of these innocent children through a gift that He gave the Church in order that He might never be too far from us. The Eucharist is Christ’s greatest gift, and the one most appreciated in the Sacramental life of the Church.
But is anyone else touched by this ceremony? I personally believe that it can be a greater spiritual gift to the parents and older friends, then to these delightful seven year olds. If the parents involve themselves in their children’s preparation for First Communion; if the parents, by example, show the awesome reality that is involved in going to Holy Communion on Sunday morning; if the parents can reflect the fact that Jesus’s presence is extraordinarily important to them as grownup people, then the ramifications are almost immeasurable!
The kids will not really grasp most of the theology that is presented to them, but they will certainly understand from their parents’ example, that there is something awesomely and beautifully happening not just in their individual lives, but in the life of their family!
Parents cannot be reminded too often that they are the principle teachers of their children. Their formation, their sense of direction and values, are almost overwhelmingly coming from their parents in those first formative years. As they go to the altar, do not let them go alone. Be with them every step of the way.
As at Emmaus, “they will see Him in the breaking of the Bread!”
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Family life, family life, family life. The Church is always talking about the importance of family life. Most parents who are committed Catholics endeavor to carry out their family responsibility in the context of Catholic values. If that is true, and I certainly believe that it is, why is it that so many parents relate to me how sad they are that one or another of their children has ceased the routine practice of the faith or formally gone off in a different direction?
There are many reasons, and every situation is different. A couple factors, however, are in play across the board. If you are raising teens, or maybe college-aged kids, they have lived most of their lives in an overall environment that is indifferent to religious practice, and often even hostile. A second, sadder reason is that many religious formation programs in the last forty years have been woefully inadequate. That’s true regardless of whether they were in public or private schools, by the way. Most of these youth have experienced constant negative onslaughts from the movies, television and the influence of their peers, who are so often completely negative.
Wait,though, because there is a good side. Very frequently these young people return to ardent practice of the faith after they have entered marriage and a baby is on the scene. Things that were utterly unimportant, or worse, boring when they were free and easy now move to center stage in their lives and they begin to feel the need for value and meaning.
What to do?
First of all, while an individual family has great influence over its children, the fact is that it is not always dominant. Do not be discouraged. I would encourage parents to vigorously LIVE their faith, always giving good example to their kids. Be calmly confident that if you continue to push the importance of your own beliefs, and constantly express your faith and love to your children, there is a fine chance they will return to the tradition of their parents and grandparents.
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