I find it rather ironic that today the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, patron of peace and justice, is also the 18th anniversary of the riots in Los Angeles. These riots took place after the acquittal of the four white policemen for using excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King. All of this following closely on the heals of the new law in Arizona! As Archbishop Dolan recently said "And, here we go again! Arizona is so scared, apparently, and so convinced that the #1 threat to society today is the immigrant that it has passed a mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant.
What history teaches us, of course, is that not only are such narrow-minded moves unfair and usually unconstitutional, but they are counterproductive and harmful.
Because the anti-immigrant strain in our American heritage, however strong, is not dominant. Thank God, there’s another sentiment in our national soul, and that’s one of welcome and embrace to the immigrant."
Perhaps we are called to imitate this wonderful saint, to help heal the wounds of division and pain. Catherine is a wonderful example of a peacemaker. A task that is not easy and quite often misunderstood, but one which the gospel calls us to daily.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Today is the feast of St. George, the martyr, who lived around the 3rd or 4th century. The early centuries of our church were filled with countless dangers for Christians and many were killed because of their faith. I think it is hard for people here in the U.S. to imagine people being persecuted because of their beliefs or to have to worship in secret for fear of being discovered. I dare say many take their faith for granted, and yet we have many men and women throughout our history that died for this faith. St. George is most often shown killing a dragon, the dragon symbolizing evil or wickedness. It is easy to see evil or wickedness around us, but what about within us. Those habits we have or comments we make that can be far from Christian! St. George is someone we can pray too to help us overcome these things; maybe that is what we should do today to honor this early martyr.
Monday, April 19, 2010
There seems to be something magical about people receiving their first communion. Young or old, they seem to grasp the mystery and wonderment of the sacrament. The unfortunate thing is, as time goes on we tend to lose some of this and almost take it forgranted. In fact, I think many folks walk down to communion without putting any thought in at all. Our body senses others standing up and moving and off we go! What would happen if we took a moment and remembered the gift we were about to receive? Perhaps another question is do we allow ourselves to be transformed after receiving the sacrament?
Friday, April 16, 2010
St. Bernadette Soubirous, was a simple peasent girl, nothing extraordinary about her. To her our Blessed Mother appears, with the message to "pray and do penance". It's a bit ironic to me that her feast day falls a day after the ruling by a Wisconsin Judge that ends the custom of a "National Day of Prayer." Started in the 1950's and set as the first Thursday in May in the late 1980's. The judge is very clear to state that there is nothing wrong with people gathering prayer, the problem comes in the government sponsoring it. Many of the original settlers of this country came fleeing religious persecution. People wanted the freedom to practice any religion they desired. Prayer is not a 'national event' but a personal one that takes place between the individual and God. St. Bernadette did not say that Mary's message was for the nation, rather for individual, perhaps it is time for us to look at positive things we can do to change society, instead of finding fault in others.
I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day and asked how he was able to take care of his parish (he is the only priest there) and work at a local university. His response still stays with me "I take a great deal of solace from the quote from Vincent dePaul 'Do the doable, not the impossible.'" Even as I think of this now, I smile- how often have I tried to do the impossible?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
As I have walked through this season of Lent, there have been so many moments of transformation. None more than the comment I overheard made by a small child. His mother was telling him how Jesus suffered, died and rose for all our sins. After thinking about this for few moments, he proudly exclaimed to his mother "So, Jesus paid it forward for all of us." Children have a beautiful way of getting to the heart of the matter! Perhaps as we go forward from this Lenten Season, we can all remember to 'pay it forward'.