In a week of pronounced tragedies, the Spirit is bubbling up in hope and promise. To surrender to fear and defeat is the easy way out, which just keeps us bottled up and immobile. But there ARE signs of the Spirit emerging, and I write them as they surface:
In countless prayers services…in people planning new summer endeavors…in volunteers joyfully reaching out…watching children at play…learning about refugees…witnessing the outpouring of compassion for parents who mourn…the strengthened unity of the LGBT community…living in the present moment… having lunch with pastors who love their people…a dad who was able to recognize loved ones…a prayerful daily Mass…children safely at play…
These are but a few signs of the Spirit bubbling up…emerging…sometimes bursting forth. Look for them in your own life by reviewing the events and people experienced throughout the day. How was God experienced in these ordinary moments? As you re-experience these moments in prayer , God surfaces and the Spirit lifts your heart in Joy, even when there are tears.
Whenever hope and compassion gain the upper hand, God is revealed and the Spirit set free.
After celebrating our 9:00 am Mass, I was filled with joy and hope. The liturgy was prayerful and spirited, thanks to the deep faith and strong community. But my mood quickly shifted to shock and grief as I learned about the slaughter, yes slaughtered, of over 100 human beings, fifty who lost their lives. It appears one man planned and carried out this horrific event that lasted hours, and it was perhaps carried out in the name of ISIS. The details are still sketchy, but one thing is clear: this was an act of hatred and bigotry against the LGBT community. The father of the alleged shooter said his son was deeply perturbed when, two months ago while in New York, he saw two men kissing. To respond with such unspeakable violence suggests that much more was going on within the mind and heart of this young man.
What is our response to what has occurred, and what is happening with greater frequency? First, prayer, for the victims and their families. Second, try to limit the non-stop watching of the endless network and cable coverage. Third, don’t give into fear or generalizations. Fourth, learn about the teachings and tenets of Islam. Fifth, read the historical background to the Middle East and its seemingly constant struggles and divisions.
As a culture, I hope we can have an open and honest discussion about gun violence and the Second Amendment. Did our Founding Fathers envision that this amendment would be used to defend ordinary citizens amassing an arsenal of weapons, including Uzis and other rapid fire guns? But gun violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it is connected with the violence we see in the various forms of entertainment, the violent language we use in common discourse, the lack of respect for people who are different from us or who are vulnerable to a culture of indifference. Human life must be respected at all stages, and this respect includes facing a culture that often treats people as objects of manipulation.
What happened in Orlando demands thought, prayer and open dialogue. The issues are deeply complex and demand, not knee-jerk reaction, but thoughtful reflection. In the meantime…pray, pray, pray.
PEACE. Fr. Frank
Trying to “go green,” or doing one’s part to eliminate the forces that contribute to human influenced climate change, is daunting and life changing. Case in point: I daily drink Propel water by the liters, causing my plastic bottle use to skyrocket. I made a huge discovery at the grocery store: Propel comes in powder packets sold in small cardboard boxes. I went to Rei, purchased three metal thermos containers, and I daily fill them with tap water, adding one of these propel packets for flavor. No more plastic bottles. I just have to find a water purifying system, since I’m not supposed to drink directly the water from the faucet.
Living “green” involves making choices that affect one’s lifestyle. The amount of garbage we create, all in the name of convenience, is astronomical. And in the name of convenience we are demeaning, not only the environment, but the poor, who pay the dearest price for our comforts and easy way of living. Our disposable culture gradually insulates us from consequences. If the earth and the natural environment become objects of manipulation, so too will human life.
Going green means not only changing one’s lifestyle but, more importantly, changing how one sees creation. Human beings are a part of Creation, NOT above it or beyond it. Our faith teaches us that we came from the earth and will return to the “mother”earth. We are in relationship with the created world around us, compelling is to see the earth, water, air and skies as our “mother”, “sister”, and “brother.” We are ALL part of one big, beautiful family. Seeing life and the world with this Franciscan vision makes the color green a color for all seasons.