Nonviolence . . . Human trafficking . . . Women . . . . The elderly . . . Immigrants' rights . . . Housing. . . Children . . . Prisoners' rights . . . Health care . . . World Hunger . . . Globalization, as it affects Latin America . . . Care of the earth . . . Seamless ethic of life

Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Frederick Buechner's Quote of the Day - 6/27/2016

Luke's gospel focuses on how Jesus views justice:
·         Pray that our hearts be in right relationship
·         Embrace the “scum” of Earth
·         Put the needs of those in poverty FIRST
Frederick Buechner Quote of the Day Logo 2012-2013
Of the four Evangelists, Luke wrote the best Greek and, unlike the other three, was almost certainly a Greek-speaking Gentile himself, who put his Gospel together for a Gentile audience, translating Jewish names and explaining Jewish customs when he thought they wouldn't be understood if he didn't. In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to somebody as "Luke the beloved physician," and without stretching things too far, you could point to three blocks of material in Luke's Gospel, omitted from the others, that might suggest that he was the same man.
First of all, there's the parable of the Prodigal Son, the account of the whore who washed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair, and the scrap of conversation Jesus had with one of the two crooks who was crucified with him.
Smelling of pig and cheap gin, the Prodigal comes home bleary-eyed and dead broke, but his father's so glad to see him anyway that he almost falls on his face. Jesus tells Simon the blue-nosed Pharisee that the whore's sins are forgiven her because, even painted up like a cigar-store Indian and smelling like the perfume counter at the five-and-dime, she's got more in her of what the gospel of love is all about than the whole Ladies' Missionary Society laid end to end. The thief Jesus talked to on the cross may have been a purse snatcher and second-story man from way back, but when he asked Jesus to remember him when he made it to where he was going, Jesus told him he'd make sure they got rooms on the same floor. Different as they all are in some ways, it's not hard to see that they all make the same general point, which is that, though he could give them hell when he felt like it, Jesus had such a soft spot in his heart for the scum of the earth that you would have almost thought he considered them the salt of the earth the way he sometimes treated them.
Second, Luke is the one who goes out of his way to make it clear how big Jesus was on praying. He prayed when he was baptized and after he healed the leper and the night before he called the twelve disciples, and Luke was the only one to mention these together with a few others like them and also was the only one to say that the last words Jesus ever spoke were the prayer, "Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit." It's also thanks to Luke that there's a record of the jokes Jesus told about the man who kept knocking at his friend's door till he finally got out of bed to open it and the widow who kept bugging the crooked judge till he finally heard her case just to get a little peace, the point of both of which seems to be that if you don't think God has heard you the first time, don't give up till you're hoarse. Luke wanted that to be remembered too.
Third and last, Luke makes sure that nobody misses the point that Jesus was always stewing about the terrible needs of poor people. He is the one who tells us that when Jesus preached at Nazareth, his text was "he has appointed me to preach good news to the poor" from Isaiah (Luke 4:18), and whereas Matthew says that the first Beatitude was "Blessed are the poor in spirit," according to Luke it was just plain "Blessed are the poor" period (Luke 6:20). He also recorded some parables, like the one about the rich man and the beggar, that come right out and say that if the haves don't do their share to help the have-nots, they better watch out, and he's the only one to quote the song Mary sang that includes the words "he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich has sent empty away" (Luke 1:53).
To put it in a nutshell, by playing all these things up Luke shows he was a man who believed that you shouldn't let the fact that a person is jailbait keep you from treating that person like a human being, and that if you pray hard enough, there's no telling what may happen, and that if you think you've got heaven made but don't let it worry you that there are children across the tracks who are half starving to death, then you're kidding yourself. These characteristics may not prove that he was a doctor, like the Luke in Paul's Letter, but if he wasn't, it was a serious loss to the medical profession.
~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remarks on the Candlelight Vigil for Orlando by Judy Goldsmith, Fond du Lac, WI

We are gathered here tonight to honor the memories of those whose lives were violently taken from them in Orlando last weekend, and to express our love and caring for those who lost loved ones that night and who weep for their loss.  We weep with them.

Hatred invaded a sanctuary of love and joy that night.  It was Latin night at the Pulse nightclub, there was dancing and partying, love and friendship.  If I had been in Orlando that night, I might well have been there.

But Hatred walked in, carrying an assault rifle and a pistol, looking to kill.  It seems that some people cannot stand it that others love differently than they do, in some way that doesn’t fit their narrow definition of love.  So they must stop it, wipe it out. 

I’ve never been able to understand that – I cannot for the life of me figure out why, when there are virtually endless ways for us to hate and hurt each other, why we would try to limit the ways in which people can love each other!  It makes no sense.

Many of our friends in the LGBTQ community are in pain, from grief and fear, feeling now a vulnerability that they were starting to get over – somewhat – because in the last few years there’s been some forward movement in public attitudes, an apparent growing acceptance of their lives and lifestyles.  Legislatures and the Supreme Court have validated their right to equal marriage, and there seemed to be a growing level of comfort with non-traditional relationships.

But then Orlando happens and reminds us that Hatred still stalks the streets.

There is an important thing to remember, though…we are better in some ways.  A friend just today reminded me that in 1969, during the infamous Stonewall Riots in New York City, which launched the gay pride movement, forerunner to the LGBTQ movement of today, police dragged gay patrons out into the streets and beat them.

But in Orlando, last weekend, police went into the Pulse nightclub, and pulled gay patrons out to safety, saving their lives time and time again, while putting themselves in the line of fire.  We thank them, from the bottom of our hearts, for all those they saved that night, and for their bravery.  We are doing better.

I cannot talk about that night without saying something else…when Hatred stalks the streets of our cities and towns, it is well armed.  I love our Constitution, and I know that the Second Amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

But it doesn’t say you have a right to an assault rifle.  With the guns they had when the Constitution was written, it took some time to kill a person…one shot at a time, reload, another shot.  But an assault rifle is an efficient instrument of mass slaughter – and it should be banned.

It used to be – and it should be again.  If I have one prayer tonight, it is that our members of Congress, who should be committed to work for the common good and our well-being, somehow find in their hearts the integrity and courage, the moral fortitude to stand up the monolithic gun lobby and restore the ban on assault weapons!

One more thing – there is again a troubling spotlight on our Muslim friends and neighbors, those in our community and around the country, because of the religious identify of the Orlando shooter (even though he was born in Queens, New York, and so wouldn’t have been affected by any proposed ban on Muslims coming into this country.

But as we know, Hatred doesn’t abide by logic or reason.  So there is a new vulnerability for our Muslim sisters and brothers, too.  Let us reach out to them and let them know that we stand by them as well. 

In fact, look at all the people who were in Pulse that night – what a remarkable picture of humanity it was!  There were many Latinos – there were Sotomayors and Hernandezes and Candelarios – there were Black people and straight people and white people.  It was a joyous mixture of humanity.

And it is that humanity that we honor tonight…that humanity that we celebrate.  And we commit ourselves here to do everything in our power, on behalf of those brothers and sisters we have lost, to combat hatred and prejudice, and to fight the righteous fight for justice for everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fond du Lac Vigil Remembers Orlando Victims

Fond du Lac Vigil Remembers Orlando Victims
On the evening of Wednesday, June 15 over 140 people gathered in Veterans Park in Fond du Lac for a “Candlelight Vigil Remembering the Orlando Victims.  Presenters included CSA,  LGBT Plus Q representative, the Muslim community, Church of Life and a Fond du Lac County Board member. Each representative spoke on  the tragedy of the loss of life and honoring the lives of the victims. Video.
How to Help Shooting Victims and Their Families

Father Ken Smit's Prayer

God of all the times and ages, 
         We believe you mourn and weep with us 
         Over the tragedy at the Pulse Orlando night club 
         In Orlando, Florida. 

 All human beings are created in your image and likeness, 
        So the devastation of the GLBT community 
        Is dear to your heart 
        As well as such communities throughout the world. 

We pray for those who have been murdered 
        Mostly young people cut off in the flower of life, 
        And for their families and friends. 
We pray for the injured and maimed, 
        Some of them with lives forever changed. 
        We pray for all of those who help to restore them to life. 
And since we are bid by Jesus to pray for our enemies, 
        We pray also for the killer Omar Mateen and his family. 

We pray for a country and culture without military weapons 
        And armaments of mass destruction. 
We pray for the lessening of fear and anger. 
        Which only serve the purpose of more violence. 
We pray for a political and social culture 
       That works steadfastly toward an ordered civil society 
       Which respects rights and establishes peace. 

Most of all we pray for that peace which surpasses understanding 
       Which only faith and hope can bring, 
       And the charity that excels all other virtues. 
Love can conquer death, even the tragic deaths of our time. 

We make this prayer in the name and power of God, 
        Present in our lives for ever and ever. Amen.

Frederick Buechner - Quote of the Day (June 17)

The apostle Matthew was a tax collector, and one of the Gospels bears his name. Like Mark's, the book was written anonymously and the name attached to it later. Maybe it contains some of Matthew's recollections buried in it somewhere. Maybe not. In any case, it's the man who wrote it who's of chief interest here, and all we know about him is what his book tells us. He didn't write it from scratch, but included virtually all of Mark in it plus a collection of the sayings of Jesus that seems to have been floating around plus some other material peculiar to him. It's what he did with it all that tells the kind of man he was.  More

Friday, June 10, 2016

World Day Against Child Labor - Sunday, June 12

168,000 children ARE being exploited in manufacturing according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). In this year’s campaign the ILO states that “ending child labor in supply chains is everyone’s business.”  As an action and in recognition of the World Day Against Child Labor on June 12th, please contact your Senators once more and plead with them to co-sponsoS.1968 Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. To date the bill has only 3 co-sponsors. We may not be positioned to rescue and rehabilitate children as Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient in 2014, has done for more than 86,000 children in India. But we can do something. Make the call or write to your Senators! Let your voice be heard!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ending Poverty and Caring for Earth

Addressing Poverty  

A preferential option for the poor has been a long-standing teaching of the Catholic Church in response to Jesus Christ’s mission proclaimed on the Sabboth in the synagogue of Nazareth. Few people would question the Catholic Church’s strong commitment to serving people in poverty and working to transform the structures that keep people in poverty. The Church’s response can be seen in various organizations. In 1970 the USCCB established the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to address the plight of people in poverty and to help them make their own decisions. Globally, the Church works through Catholic Relief Services to confront poverty. Caritas is another coalition of organizations inspired by the Catholic Faith to reach out to address global poverty. Many local congregations have their own ways of responding to the needs of families who are suffering the effects of poverty. 

Addressing Care for Creation  

The Catholic Church sees creation as God’s gift for which humankind has a responsibility of stewardship or care. 

“The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. . . Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate. . . ), #48, 51.” 

Care for creation must interface with care for those in poverty. Pope Francis, in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, asserts that the poor are hurt the most by climate change: 

Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. […] 

There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. (25) 
World organizations also perceive the interface between poverty and climate change. As many as 836 million people live in poverty today. A Newsweek article last November stated that climate change could push 100 million more people into poverty by 2030 according to the World Bank. 

Implications for the Catholic Church
At every level within the Church – international, national, diocesan, parochial – every effort must be made to interface care for the poor with care for Earth.  Women religious have been leading the way. They have long served those on the margins and are also now giving witness to care for Earth through a variety of environmental practices. Their prophetic stance within the heart of the Church will hopefully take hold so that the face of the Earth is renewed and that fewer people will be trapped in poverty. 

Laudato Si’ Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis. The Vatican, May 24, 2015. 
Catholic Teachings and Tradition Around Poverty. Link accessed on June 3, 2016. 
Care for Creation. Link accessed on June 3, 2016. 
LCWR/CMSM Joint Resolution on Climate Change (2008) 
LCWR Resolution on Transition to Renewable Energy Sources (2014) 
See what climate change means for the world’s poor. National Geographic article by Gabe Bullard. Link accessed on June 3, 2016 
Climate change complicates efforts to end poverty. World Bank news report. Accessed on June 3, 2016. 
Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. 
Hallegatte, Stephane, Mook Bangalore, Laura Bonzanigo,Marianne Fay, Tamaro Kane, Ulf Narloch, Julie Rozenberg, David Treguer, and Adrien Vogt-Schilb. 2016. Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, DC: © 2016 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/ World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-0673-5. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO. Accessed on June 3, 2016.
The report shows us that the best way forward is to design and implement solutions to end extreme poverty and stabilize climate change as an integrated strategy. Such concerted action, implemented quickly and inclusively, can help ensure that millions of people are not pushed back into poverty by the multifaceted impacts of climate change.
Poverty and Climate Change: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor through Adaptation. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  Accessed on June 3, 2016. (Though this report focuses on the Millennium Development Goals its thesis has relevance for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, the first of which is Ending Poverty.)