Friday, September 28, 2012

Letter to a friend

Dear Friend,
It's very hard to love your church and find yourself unable to reconcile the behavior of its representatives. It is an incontestable truism that we hold our priests to a higher standard and when they fail (in this case perhaps epically), the sense of abandonment must be monumental.
I remember when I first returned to the church over 25 years ago, I had an idealist's view of what I could expect of Catholic behavior. I was disabused of the notion of  that mythical creature after I enrolled my kids in Catholic school. Take one part small school population; add one part privileged vs. the have nots; mix with insider legacy mentality; and simmer until you have a noxious mess.
Yes, that is how I felt after a while. A lot of what I was feeling was a sense of exclusion and a feeling that somehow I had gotten it wrong; that my expectations were set too high. In reality, I was depending too much on relationships with others and not enough on my relationship with God. I felt if I didn't fit in, than my kids didn't fit. Well, I didn't so they didn't and the principal was a real disappointment in problem solving between the haves and have nots. Solution? I took the kids out of the situation and therefore, myself as well. It was the best decision I ever made.
Funny how perspective and hindsight show one how unimportant these things are. Hindsight also shows us missed opportunities. It took me a while but I'm now seriously studying the Faith; not the Faith as it's lived daily. It can get pretty polluted with day to day influences from commerce, politics, media, distortion of the arts, etc. But the Faith as it was given to us by scripture and tradition and its completeness and compatibility with the ideal of what we can achieve as individuals and as a species.
I guess what I'm trying to say, dear friend, is that perhaps there is an opportunity here. Your work environment was a satisfying one for many years. Now it has changed and you've been disappointed by the people whom you expect to have the extra something that comes from hearing the Call and answering it. Unfortunately, they come with all the same insecurities and failings we humans all deal with and your new boss isn't managing things very well.
I'm thinking that rather than struggle with how their behavior reflects on the church and your faith in the church, perhaps it's time for you to reflect on how you react to this challenge. And you are definitely being challenged. I think there is a door opening for you here. You have made contacts. You know people. What you do can be done elsewhere???? With another agency????
Or perhaps this is the time for you to go inward, study and reconnect with relationships without the job in your way. It's interesting how retirement opens you up to a world of possibilities that work blinds you to.
Our priests are supposed to be the stewards of the Gospel. If they fail, it doesn't mean that God failed. There is no darkness that God's word cannot overcome. I have to remind myself that persecution of the Church comes from within and without. The persecution from within is a lot harder to deal with because it comes from a direction we don't expect. So pray, friend. And pray to His Mother. Ask them what they want of you. Persevere. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
All my best,

Today in Cardinal Dolan's Blog

Double Standard

Last week, the New York Times published a column and an editorial about an incident at Saint Catherine of Siena parish. In response, Father Ray Rafferty, pastor of Corpus Christi parish, wrote a letter to the editor of the Times. As of today, the letter has not been published, and he has heard nothing from the Times. With Father Rafferty’s permission, I’d like to share the letter with you. Here it is, verbatim.

To The Editor:

I agree that it was wrong of the clergyman at St. Catherine of Siena Church to print a seeming endorsement in the parish bulletin.

However, for many years, every Monday in the weeks leading up to the elections, THE NEW YORK TIMES frequently contains an article about a political candidate who is welcomed and who speaks at the Sunday worship service of Protestant churches, often ones that have large African-American congregations.

I have never seen your paper denounce this. Usually the article and photos are laudatory. Is it not using a double standard to denounce this one incident in a Catholic church and not denounce similar actions in non-Catholic churches that operate under the same tax law?

Raymond M. Rafferty
Pastor, Corpus Christi Church

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Plague on Man

Religious hate is a disease. Muslim fanaticism has lead to destruction and murder throughout the Muslim world. The crazy Baptist preacher (in Florida these days???) spews his hate and provokes others and stirs their fear into hate. Now we have the Nepalese protesting and demanding the safety of an artist who has received death threats over his depiction of Hindu deities. Religious hate is no different from a plague. One kills the body. The other kills the soul.

A Nepalese artist appears with his face painted in
protest outside Katmandu, Nepal, on Thursday.
The protesters demanded safety for Nepalese artist
Manish Harijan, who has received death threats over
his depiction of Hindu deities.
(© Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A final thought on the DNC Benediction

I recorded the last three hours of the DNC convention so that I wouldn't miss Cardinal Dolan. I was impressed by his simple and prayerful Benediction at the RNC convention. I had mixed feelings about him doing the same at the DNC. I struggled with the idea and came to the the realization (again) that we are here for all and there were many hearts there willing to hear and many more who NEEDED to hear
As I fast-forwarded two hours and 55 minutes, I felt like I was speeding towards an even bigger revelation. And there it was. Power. Voice of authority. Clarity of message. The man doing what he was born to do - be used as a clearly understood conduit of God message to us all.

Thank you, God, for your son, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A simple Facebook comment grew into this.

I POSTED THIS ON FACEBOOK TODAY - The word "God" is back in the DNC platform. And the affirmation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is back in. It caused a way bigger dust up at the convention, more than the DNC expected. Jewish votes and religious black voters were being chiseled away by this action. There was an immediate backlash. Bad management is alive and well at the convention in North Carolina.

JOHN'S Reply: It is silly to put so much emphasis on a word being printed or said. Putting the word God into a speech or printing it on a dollar bill does not make us a Godly nation, only our actions can do that and as a nation both parties are dropping the ball as far as honesty and compassion go.......God would rather not have his name on a dollar and have everyone follow his word.

MY Reply: Removing the name of God won't cause a crisis of faith in believers. Removal is symptomatic of the humanistic secular road our country is on. The farther down that road we go, the farther away we are from the completeness of truth. Secularism tells us what we can do and those permissions (from man) are subject to change based on who is making the decisions and dispensing permission. Basing our rights on God's gift of truth to us is steadfast. Those permissions will never be taken from us because God gave these truths freely to all humanity whether they believe or not.

JOHN'S Reply: It just seems that in an equal society where every citizen has the same rights many Christians do not want to give equal rights to those who are not Christian. I see more political oppression done in this country "in God's name" than in any others. Hindu's do not protest for Kali or Shiva to be on the dollar, I see no one asking for Buddha or the Dali Llama on a coin.

Christians seem to always cry victim when someone wants to separate church and state but when another groups rights come into play that differs then we can deny them rights because "it is God's word".

MY Reply: John, I'm not talking about equality. I'm talking about the discernible difference between a free society based on religious beliefs and a secular society. One has the freedom to be as it will; the other is permitted its freedoms only at the will of whoever has the power. Secular societies do not last.

Christianity does not teach or promote the suppression of other religions. There is absolutely nothing is scripture or tradition that promotes it. Anyone can believe as they will and when Christianity is truly suppressed here, it will only be a matter of time before other religions are targeted. Take down the Catholic Church and you are half way home. The history of the Church in this country shows that it takes a lot to get the Church's back up. Now we are standing up against the HHS mandates and attacks on Christianity here and we are standing for everyone, not just Christians.

Atheists are attacking every public cross they see. Ask yourself this. How long will it take for them to go after the presence of menorahs or any other publically displayed religious symbol once they are ready to move on from crosses?  The effort to exclude the mention of God at military funerals was an actual action. When did military cemeteries lose their status as hallowed ground? Fortunately, that didn't succeed but that doesn't mean they won't try again. There is always another time.

And since we are on the subject of crying victims, let's talk about the Muslim persecution of Christians everywhere; India where the Hindus and Muslims hated each other so much India became India and Pakistan; the Sudan where the power was in the Muslim north and they destroyed their country in an effort to eradicate the Christian south.

There is plenty of blame to go around for every religious group but the fact is when you take God out of the equation in any society, you are sounding the death knell of that society.