In a time of violent extremism can we ask ourselves, ‘What is an appropriate Catholic response?” As the events unfolded on Wednesday, January 6 (the traditional day to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany), many of us awakened to the anger, resentment and violent expression that lies had fueled for a long time. Regardless that Mr. Pence nor any member of the House of Representatives and the Senate could have overturned the duly counted electoral votes from each State plus the District of Columbia a mob attacked to stop the count. We saw the scenes unfold and, in the days, since of the real violence, injury and deaths that occurred. For many Americans this was a total shock to see a coup planned and carried out that could have caused serious harm to members of our governing body. Is there a specific Catholic response to the sedition, violence, and destruction witnessed? Are there moral considerations and judgments that would be equal to the loss of life, property, and personal safety issues? No matter what political spectrum you come from, Catholics in the United States are invited to express their concerns following First Amendment rights, not violent riots and insurrections. Catholics in this nation adhere to strict guidelines for peaceful demonstrations in the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, St. Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, and many Catholic saints. Catholics do not support the violence evidenced, nor embrace the hatred and rage that filled the Capitol building and other state capitols. Catholics do not support untruths and the narratives that encourages and engages to upend, destroy, and dehumanize. Catholics know about the accountability of one’s sins and the responsibility of restitution for their offenses(sins). Catholics know to not only ask for forgiveness but also show repentance. Catholics must think very carefully before race and political ideology begin to consume the person or whole groups of people with narrow understandings of the larger truth which must include Christ’s truth. Catholics carefully balance what are just rights over and against entitlements. Catholics seek legitimate ways to overturn broken laws and situations. Whether, conservative or liberal Catholics do not paint everyone with the same brush in order to justify ignorance, prejudice, and close mindedness. Catholics must weigh very carefully their words and actions, because they will always have a consequence on someone and in some situation. In short, brothers and sisters there are appropriate and moral responses we can make. We do not turn our hearts over to evil and act to erase those who disagree with us but pray for their conversion, and one day be reunited together with the dream that God has had of this country and peoples.
As we begin to open up the Church for indoor Masses and activities beginning on Monday, January 18, I ask again that you adhere to the following directives for the benefit of all your fellow parishioners:
Thank you for your consideration. Peace and Health.
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What are you looking for?
Like Jesus did to Andrew, who became one of his first disciples, in this Sunday’s Gospel passage, he says to you and to each of us: “What are you looking for?” When you pray, and when you look at a crucifix, or when you see a picture of Jesus, what exactly are you looking for?
Jesus says: “Come and see!” Come and see what? His love? His healing power? His supernatural ability to answer our prayers? Whatever we’re looking for, the reason we’re seeking it is because we don’t yet have it.
Jesus is the fulfillment of every promise by God the Father. Jesus is the fullness of love, the provider of mercy, the divine healer, the perfect mediator of all our prayers and concerns and everything else we truly need. So, why does it feel like something is still missing? Why do our lives feel incomplete? Why do our prayers seem unanswered?
The answer is revealed in what happened after Andrew began to follow Jesus. We read about it in Samuel’s response to God’s invitation. We proclaim it in the Responsorial Psalm: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”
Andrew, his brother Simon Peter, and the other disciples were privileged to witness first-hand the wondrous miracles of Jesus. They personally experienced God’s love through the gentle eyes of Jesus, the tone of kindness in his voice, and the forgiveness that was visible in his smile.
Yet with all of this, they did not really find all that they were looking for (remember how easily Peter felt afraid or confused or uncertain) until they were on the giving end of it. They didn’t discover the fullness of Jesus until Jesus was no longer present in the flesh and they accepted their calling to continue Christ’s earthly ministry.
The same is true for us who have never seen Jesus’ actual eyes or heard his actual voice. We find what we’re seeking when we give it to others. Why? Because then we discover that we really had it all along! This is the miracle of “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”
What do you think he might say if you asked him about recent events in our world?
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It’s been over twenty years ago now, since the time I was asked (or was given permission), to paint a mural cycle in the lobby of the Curia General in Rome.
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Congregation of the Mission
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“The past is no longer in our power; the present is in our power, but the future is not. Let us take the opportunity of giving ourselves utterly and completely to God.” – St. Catherine Laboure – Heavenly Father, I want so much to give up my attachment to the past, especially to past hurts
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
812 Duke Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
Monday through Friday
8:30 AM – 2:30 PM