Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Unemployment is a great excuse for not caring about others

This morning I received the monthly e-mail from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops about Catholic education. It includes links to excellent study guides for understanding the Pope's latest encyclical, Charity in Truth (Caritas In Veritate). They reminded me that I've been thinking too much about getting more money for my family and me and not enough about giving more to people whose needs are so much greater than ours.

My time and consciousness are filled these days with concerns about marketing our writing buisness and fitting our family budget to our reduced income. I'm still depressed and resentful from getting laid off in February. That doesn't leave much room for thoughts of others.

Of course, it's important that we make a decent living and save for retirement and college. But it's also important that my son see our faith and values at work in our response to our current financial troubles. If faith isn't central to our lives in difficult times, then just how faithful are we?

One of those lessons that I have to keep re-learning is that worry and fear over my situation in life drives out faith, hope and love. Now that's happening to us as a family. We devote our collective attention and talk to what needs to be done to improve our own lives. We haven't spent time talking about those in need and what we can do for them.

I pray for the faith to put our situation in God's hands so I'm freed to turn my attention to charity. That's the response I believe our son should see. I pray we're able to show it to him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What would I say in a speech if I couldn't research it first?

Last night, I had a dream. A large corporation, I don't know which one, invited me to their headquarters in New York to make a speech to their executive team. When I arrived, they took away my laptop (!) and told me my speech was scheduled for tomorrow morning. I could spend the night in their offices if I wanted to.

I had to deliver an important message, but I couldn't gather a lot of information beforehand. If you know me, you know how anxious that would make me. What would I say? What do I know on my own that could possibly matter to other people, let alone the management of a large company?

In the dream, the answer came to me: Have faith. Believe that God, however you imagine him, is benevolent and loving and created you, individually, for a purpose because he believes in you. He doesn't look at you rationally. He sees you through the eyes of a loving father, which means he doesn't let your mere behavior affect how he feels about you or what he thinks of you. You are worthy.

Therefore, invest accordingly. Invest your time, money and reputation courageously, as though there will be a better future, even if you cannot see today how each day of that future will unfold. You know you will end up someplace good, but you don't yet know what scenery you'll see on the way there.

Then one of our dogs woke me to let her out of her crate. I'm pretty confident of the truth of this dream because I remember it much more vividly than I do most dreams. More important, I'm confident of its truth because it's essentially what I've said in every witness talk I've given at a Cursillo or Christ Renews His Parish retreat. I think I just needed to remind myself at a time when I'm struggling to be confident in myself and optimistic about the future.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How many Catholics heard today about charity "as a matter of equality?"

Today I didn't make it to morning Mass at my home parish, St. Alphonsus Liguori, so this afternoon I went to a nearby parish. The priest there had a pretty good homily, tying the Old Testament reading (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24) and the Gospel reading (Mark 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43) to a homily theme about humility.

While I'm all for humility, I was struck by the fact that he didn't talk instead about charity. He didn't say anything about today's reading from Paul's letters -- 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 -- which says:
Brothers and sisters:

As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written:

Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.

With four readings to choose from, it isn't unusual for the Sunday homilist not to address one or more of the day's readings. But this priest's omission was striking because today is the Sunday when parishes were supposed to take the Peter's Pence Collection. That money goes directly to the Pope "to provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression, and disease."

Yet, during this particular Mass, in one of Indiana's most affluent parishes, not only did the priest say nothing said about charity, but he also made no mention of the Peter's Pence Collection.

Our Lord tells us not to judge others. Judging is one of the sins that's particularly hard for me to resist. So let me just say I was disappointed. I was disappointed that this one priest didn't take today's opportunity to encourage people who have an abundance to give part of it to the Holy Father so he could give it to people who have needs.

On the way home I began to wonder how many celebrations of the Mass in other affluent American parishes today also didn't mention Peter's Pence Collection. How many other homilists also chose not to remind their parishioners of what Paul said to the Corinthians, that they should excel in "this gracious act....that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs"?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Web is exciting, but...

I'm excited by all the changes taking place on the Web, as I explore social media for the path to my next career. But I'm grateful for the USCCB's daily reading site, American Catholic's Saint of the Day and Fr. Richard Rohr's daily meditation. They aren't stimulating like the hype elsewhere on the Web, but they speak to my heart and thus remind me of what's truly important.