Many of us are thinking of our Valentine’s these days — our lovers, intendeds, spouses, classmates, mothers, etc.,etc.
So, what is love?
I have officiated at the marriages of many young couples over the 39 years of my priesthood who have chosen St. Paul’s Ode to Love for their wedding Mass.
It has got to be one of the most awesome pieces of prose of all time.
In the coming weeks we will reflect on it a phrase at a time.
Take the time to take it in and see how you measure up.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, Love is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13
You are Love itself.
We give you thanks for the people in our life who have loved-us-into the persons we are.
We rejoice in them and remember them in love.
But so many of us are wounded because we have not experienced the parental love
that would allow us to know and experience how to love.
Help us take your servant Paul’s words to heart that we may understand the true meaning of love.
May we have a heart that is open to all persons, all of life, all of the universe.
To You Lord, be glory and praise, now and forever.
priest / writer
P.S. I believe the loving energy of the universe flows through the eyes of the little creatures. Note that both Shivvy and his friend are looking at you. When you encounter a little one, take a moment to make eye contact with it and see what I mean. We need to have reverence and respect for ALL LIFE!!!
(Perhaps you will bookmark this page so you might go deeper into Paul’s words each day.)
I had a delightful conversation with these two good people from Tennessee last summer while I was living in St. Augustine. Or was it Kentucky? (I have difficulty rembering which is which.). They were sitting on the curb behind the Village Inn. The conversation began with a polite reprimand to the dude for throwing a cigarette butt on the ground. (Actually, I don’t think you call a young man from Tennessee a dude, do you?) I care for the planet that supports my every step and I try my best to show respect and reverence to her and gently persuade others to do the same.
As a writer, I am always interested in people’s stories. And the conversation became quite deep quite quickly. They told me a bit of each of their stories. About their work and school and families. The young lady was still in high school. They were thinking about getting married. I was very much impressed with these young folks. Salt of the earth folks.
Valentine’s Day is coming up. Another day where our economists try to persuade us to think we have to spend money to show our love. We’ll explore the question What is love? in the next few weeks.
But what is LOVE? In the next few weeks I’m going to interweave two threads into my blog – the themes What is Love? and What is Life? The two provide the tapestry of a life well-lived. If we seek life and love every day — if we choose to turn away from hateful words and thoughts and the cruel deeds that spouses and jilted lovers throw at each other in cruel text messaging, we will find both. Love and life.
We’ll reflect a little more each day on these two themes. There’s all kinds of love, you know. There’s romance that is the kind that pervades the soaps, the news stand magazines. There’s erotic love. There’s brotherly (or sisterly) love, the love of friends, neighborly love. And there’s sacrificial love. There’s conditional and unconditional love. There’s love that isn’t love at all. We’ll look at some of these in the next couple of weeks.
But here’s a practical suggestion so that you can make your own reflection and thereby make your own meaning.
At day’s end, reflect on the positive things — even the tiny little things in a chaotic, insane day. Where was the LOVE? Where was the LIFE?
Take a moment. Reflect on your day. Pick two incidents, however fleeting, however small that you might have missed at the time. Savor them for a moment as you get ready for bed. Those are the moments in which God is speaking to you. Be ready to receive into your life and your heart the little moments of LIFE and LOVE that do happen even in on the cruelest day or even despair. It is not the destination that is important; life and love happen on the way.
God bless you, my two young friends from Tennessee (or Kentucky). It was such an honor and a joy to talk with you. And there’s a tear of joy in my eye right now as I think of you. Have a wonderful life — both of you and each of you.
I’ve been offline for awhile. Still trying to fold blog-writing into an incredbly busy life for a retired person. I have a small, quite needy little flock and they have needed my atention this past week.
And I am taking deep into my soul the events of last week — Dr. King’s legacy, and my own long standing commitment to non-violence of tongue and heart, the awesome event of the peaceful transfer of power in our nation. I am so thankful that our Constitution still works. God is indeed in control. I pray without ceasing for the transformation of our country and we just need to cooperate with the process.
And so there is much hope in Mr. Obama’s presidency. I am very graterful for his decision to close Guananamo and to stop torturing humans, although the church itself has that dark stain on its soul. But there is concern as well over the the rights of the unborn. My approach to life is “Both / And” , not “either / or”. The issue of abortion is highly complex and we are not communicating well on that issue. We are divided. I hope we can come to some dialogue.
Today’s we rejoice in the wonderful feast on the 2000th observance of St. Paul’s powerful influence as a writer. This moring I prayed that he would open a channel to me and guide my pen (or my cursor) that in my small way I could catch others up in the intimate love affair we have with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just humbly ask that I might be influenced by his ability to love and care for the many communities that were in his heart and to write to them individually and so devotedly. That is the one and onl purpose of this blog and all of my writing.
That was a bit of a segue but I wanted to comment on the insightful reflection that Bishop Michael Saltarelli (retired bishop of Wilmington Deleware) in this morning’s Magnficat liturgical magazine. He said, “St. Paul understood how to influence non-Christian and anti-Christian mindsets with charity so as to be able to be an instrument of another mind’s enlightenment.
In the abortion debate, we have to stop condemning. We have to be willing to listen. And then respectfully dialogue. With the President. I believe he is being guided bythe Holy Spirit but needs to have an aha experience And what is the huge task – with our whole culture.
I have been planning to write him for over a year now. The time has come to write it. But also to our church and our culture as well. I ask for your prayers for the Spirit’s — and St. Paul’s guidance. It may not turn out well. It may be of little consequence. But then again, it might.
Now just a little meditation on the picture above.
A photographer has to have open eyes ready to capture the moment. A second later and the light changes.
A photography notices the interplay of light and shadow and color.
And from a creative pulse that emerges from the depth of the soul the photographer is able to help other’s to see the beauty in simple things like raindrops on a car window, illumined by street lights that somehow capture two of my favorite colors — gold and tiele. Simple things. Right in front of us. Be ready to stop and ponder their beauty.
That is what life is all about for me.
Open our eyes, Lord,
so that we may see the beauty that is right in front of us.
Help us to slow down, Lord, trying to rush to the next place we’re supposed to be at
and miss the life that is happening right now.
Help us to take in the beauty, the wonder within a few feet of us.
Life is but a journey, Lord. But the destination is not important.
Help us to take in the simple pleasures along the way.
Thank you, Lord, for you are always present for those who have eyes to see.
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The other day I posted a portrait of my own of a man I admire — Joshua, a homeless man. Today I honor a mentor of mine who would have been the eighty years old today. He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968 — another young man who had a powerful influence on our country.
This is an excerpt of what I said on the fortieth annniversary of his death last April 4th:
Forty years ago today, April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers. He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that achieved great change in our land. This man is still for me one of my mentors. He was a man who committed himself to absolute nonviolence like Mahatman Ghandi and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the only way that justice and peace can be achieved. He inspired ordinary folks, black and white to stand up for their rights and to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed in.
Forty years ago tomorrow, April 5, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon. I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody. As I lay prostrate on the floor with my brothers to be ordained I sucked in a deep breath and committed my service to the Church to be in the shadow of this man whose ideal of justice and peace and freedom I wanted to absorb into my soul and body.
Today, April 4, 2008, in this land of America, we have lost most of the freedoms and ideals of that other great man Thomas Jefferson that all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today, not only young black men are listless and have no hope. This is true of young white men as well.
We are no longer a free nation when they can listen in on any of our phone conversations without a court order, our cell phones track and Google track our movements, when they deny the right to a trial, when we torture our enemies.
Where are those today who will inspire us and lead us out of our complacency?
Who will inspire us to stand up and put our lives on the line for what we believe in?
Who still dreams the dream of Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson?
Who is willing to sacrifice to restore those ideals to our beloved country?
O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, that we are no longer a free nation.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution that now lies before us in 2008.
We pray to you, God, for You are the God who cries for justice for your children
and who still hears the cries who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray to You for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL.
St. Luke attributes has Mary sing these words in her Magnificat sung or recited every evening in the church everywhere in the world. Would that we would believe it and commit ourselves to it!
“[God} has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servants
for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers}
to Abraham [and Sarah and Haggar}
and [their] children for ever.
Well, I wrote this nine months ago. And look what has changed!
We are a free nation, after all!
The people have spoken. God still smiles on us.
But I call us more than a generation later to the principles of Non-Violence Dr. King instlled in his followers.
They were trained to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Non-Violence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.
That legacy of Dr. King made it possible for Barack Obama to become preident of the United States.
Dr. King held no public office. He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.
And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in — no matter what.
Is there anything you are willing to give your life for?
I continually ask myself the same question and pray the answer is Yes!
America the Beautiful. the grand canyon / march 2008 / (c) bob traupman 2008. all rights reserved.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This post would have some ugly pictures on it if I displayed what I am talking about.
There is something very simple each and every one of us can do to transform our country: Pick up a handful of trash when we get out of our car and dispose of it properly. I do that all the time. It’s a way of being humble. Being a servant. More about that in a moment.
Yesterday evening I asked to speak to two different store managers about the trash and cigarette butts strewn along the front of their stores. I have calmed down a bit in the year’s time I have been observing this practice. I now am gentle about it and ask the manager to step outside with me. i ask them if they have pride in their (our) country. And if they do, why don’t they take pride in their store?
In October 2007 I took the side roads all through the south to my favorite monastery in Berryville, Virginia where I was to make my annual priest’s retreat. Years ago, I remember there was trash everywhere. This time there was hardly any. I visited hundreds of small towns and scenic roads in between. The simple beauty of trash-free roads was exhilarating.
I believe the earth is sacred. The earth sustains us. It holds us up and provides all of our resources. It should be treated with reverence and respect. In fact, we should love the earth. It is our Mother. We came from her and will return to her. We should teach our children never to drop a candy wrapper or a cigarette butt on the ground. We should be good boy scouts or girl scouts take responsibility for our own trash and if other’s won’t, then we can’t just leave the mess; that’s a reflection on us too!
So do you get the point? Transforming our Nation is everybody’s job. We all can pitch in and do very simple things.
But many of us say, “That’s somebody else’s job to pick up trash.” Yeah, maybe . But if somebody else isn’t gonna do it, then I will. I carry an extra bag around with me in the morning when I walk Shivvy to pick up a few bits of trash along the way.
You could do that too. Take a plastic bag along when you are out walking or pick up a handful when you go into a store.
And you know what? That is a very spiritual exercise. It’s an exercise in humility. The word humility comes from the Latin humus which means muck. We learn how to be godly people not by looking up but by looking down. To the earth. To the muck of our lives (and God knows there’s plenty of that!) and clean some of it up. One handful (one soul-ful) at a time.
My parents taught me that no human activity is unworthy work. In 1983, when I got out of treatment for drugs and alcohol addiction and bipolar illness in 1983, the only job I could get was as a housekeeper in one of D.C.’s cavernous hotels. There I was a 40 year old priest I was on leave of absence at the time) scrubbing toilets and making beds. And that was exactly what I needed to be doing because it whittled away at my ego and is one of the poignant stories I will tell when I get to writing my manuscript I’m Here: The journal of a priest with bipolar disorder.
The practical point: Each of us can find creative ways to take pride in our county, to beatify it by planting flowers and making sure that our blocks and neighborhood stores are spiffy and shiny bright. The spiritual lesson: We have to look down to the ground and then as lowly persons we will be lifted up. Now that’s a riddle for us to think about.
The other day I commented that our country was won because our founding fathers
pledged “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” to bring it about.
I remember John Kennedy’s inaugural address nearly fifty years ago in which he said,
“Ask not what your country can do for you,
but what you can do for your country.”
The first thing we can do for our country is to start at our front door.
I have heard a couple of people say that the only time they talk to their neighbors is during a hurricane and people are out of their homes because it’s too hot inside and they have to cook on grilles.
Let’s change that isolation. We can wave at our neighbor across the street when we put little Suzie in the car seat. We can thus spread a little positive, um (pardon the word lovingenergy around. And maybe Mr. Alinsky will send a bit back to you to make our day as well.
That’s how it could work, you know. Us making each others’ lives a bit easier and they doing the same for us.
I know what a pick-me-up it is when someone acknowledges me, when a young black dude with dreadlocks gives me a nod.
A wise friend of mine has commented that since World War II Americans have become more and more isolated. We’re into our own little worlds. My vision for transforming America is that we join together and help each other. This year is going to be rough on many of us, if not most of us.
We can smile at people who are different from us. We can acknowledge the person behind us in the line at the 7/11. A friendly word may be just the lift they need.
Let’s just spread a little positive energy around all day long instead of rushing around oblivious to our surroundings. Instead of responding to Sartre’s “Hell is other people” perhaps we can try Jesus, “Love your neighbor.”
I take time every day to stop and notice the many positive lessons, simple messages of God’s love (or the exuberance of the universe all around you, if you prefer not to speak of God.) When I walk Shivvy I often stop to admire a little wild flower emerging from a crack in a sidewalk He’s got guts and determination. The message this little guy gives me is an important one: “Hope springs eternal.”
Let’s not live in the hateful, angry, grasping thoughts in your head. See the beauty around you.
Now that’s how we will transform America, one smile, one kind word at a time.
We don’t have to scowl at homeless people. You’d be surprised how a smile or a kind word can give them the lift they need to get through their difficult day. If you lose your home and/or your job you might be joining them.
The awesome young man in the picture above I met in St. Augustine last spring. His name is Joshua. He was — and maybe still is — in difficult circumstances but look at the light and joy in his face and eyes. I admire homeless people who can still love and care and stay positive in difficult circumstances. That afternoon he cheered me up and takes care of his homeless friends. If he can do it, so can we!
By spreading the loving energy that is ours to give. And receive even from a lowly wild flower. It doesn’t cost us anything to smile or say good morning. But it could be worth the price of a $240 for a 50 minute therapy session.
priest / writer
january 13, 2009 / one week before the inauguration of President Obama
I think you are always calling us to live in the middle, in the center,
or at least to realize that the pendelum of life is always swinging back and forth
and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
So help us, Lord, to stop following the extremists on either side and be reconciled with each other.
Make us one, Lord. Make us one. As a Nation. As families. As a Christian Church. And within ourselves.
Perhaps, dear reader you might like to reflect on the value of reconciling opposites, of seeking our center; this taken from the Introduction of my yet- to be-published manuscript “Both / And: Spirituality in the Balance. . .”
Both body and soul. Soul and body. We need both to be human. We must learn to tend to both body and soul. There is good in bad . . . Bad in good. Those who say there is no bad within them portray themselves as filled with truth and light and, therefore, can be evil incarnate. Left and right . . .Right and left. A person who is missing one of his arms misses something important. A church that does not embrace left and right misses part of the truth. Democrat and Republican. A politic that does not embrace both left and right also misses part of the truth. A one-party government would be disastrous. Sin and grace . . . Grace and sin. Jesus teaches us that the one who realizes he is a sinner is the one who is open to grace. Spirituality and sexuality . . . Sexuality and spirituality. Every one of us has a body, and by that reason, we are sexual beings, whether we are celibate or not. Spirituality needs a wholesome sexuality and sexuality needs spirituality to be redeemed and meaningful. Heaven and earth . . . Earth and heaven. As we strive for heaven, a place of bliss and fulfillment, we remain rooted in our earthiness. Up and down. . . Down and up. Sometimes down is up and up is down. (“He has cast down the mighty… “). Sickness and health . . . Health and sickness. Sometimes sickness helps us find spiritual health and, similarly, good health only may make us feel invincible. Life and death . . . Death and life. Life prepares for death which opens up to new life after death.
Masculine and feminine. Feminine and masculine. Each of us has both qualities within us. Able and disabled . . . Disabled and abled. Sometimes the disabled do more with their disability than the able do with their ability. The seeing and the blind . . . The blind and the seeing. Sometimes the blind see more than those who see and sometimes the seeing are blind. Belief and unbelief . . . Unbelief and belief. Sometimes those who do not believe search harder and love more deeply than those who believe. Hope and despair . . . Despair and hope. Sometimes those who despair find a truer hope. Bound and loosed . . . Loosed and bound. Sometimes we need to be bound (by discipline) and sometimes we need to be loosed (from fear). Darkness and light . . . Light and darkness. We would not appreciate the light if it were not for darkness. Reality and fantasy . . . Fantasy and reality. Strive to live in reality but enjoy fantasy. Sometimes fantasy shows forth a future reality. Progressive and conservative . . . Conservative and progressive. Seek progress but conserve what is worth conserving. Sometimes the conservative is truly progressive and the progressive truly conservative (as in the environment). Rich and poor . . . Poor and rich. Sometimes the rich are poor in that they may not recognize their need for God and the poor can be truly rich in that they do. Teacher and student . . . Student and teacher. Good teachers produce better students and good students produce better teachers. Sane and insane . . . Insane and sane. Sometimes the insane prophetically see the insanity of the world that the “sane” do not see in themselves. And the either/or tendency can become violent: Israelis and Palestinians . . . Black and White . . . Gay and Straight. . . Protestants and Catholics. . .
All these conflicting tendencies can tear at our soul. We must find resolution or we will not be at peace. Thus, it is an important secret of life not to consider opposites as either/or but both/and. The key to all spirituality, I think, is to find a spirituality in the balance. In media stat virtus.
The problem is that we do not tolerate differing points of view and we may hate and want to do harm to those who embody them. What would happen if we taught people to LISTEN to one another, to search out the truths in each other’s position. Thus, I think the church and political leaders of our country might well call together those who are pro-life and pro-choice to find a way to respect one another and to listen.
You know the statue of the blind-folded woman who represents justice? She holds in her hand a balance. In choosing between disparate elements, we should choose a little bit from the right and a little from the left so that the scales balance. A little bit of light and a little bit of darkness. A little bit of body and a little bit of soul and, yes, tolerate a little bit of bad with a little bit of good in ourselves and in others. (We just cannot t dispel or disperse all the weeds from our garden!)
I strongly feel that by seeking both sides to a question we will be led to experience new horizons in which we can find God and ourselves and at least a little bit of the truth that will nourish and strengthen us.
Seek to draw the disparate pieces of your life together. Seek balance and tolerance by seeking the truth hidden (to you) in your opponents’ views. Seek respect and reverence for those who are different.
I believe very strongly that the Truth embodies both the left and the right. I know from my own life that “symbolein” — the force that draws together rather than casts out or seeks to destroy (diabolein)– is a powerful force indeed.
For me, that Force is JESUS, who is for me at least, the Stillpoint of the universe or universes.
On July 4, 1776, these men, and their families supporting them
published the sacred document, the Declaration of Independence,
that created this country. At its conclusion, they said:
FOR THE SUPPORT OF THIS DECLARATION
WITH A FIRM RELIANCE ON THE PROTECTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
WE MUTUALLY PLEDGE OUR LIVES, OUR FORTUNES AND OUR SACRED HONOR.
Imagine the risks they undertook and the courage that they needed
to bring the ideal of freedom and equality that existed in their minds and hearts into external reality.
They had to be willing to sacrifice everything dear to them — their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Their signatures, bound to their lives, created the United States of America.
We need to return again and again to that moment.
We need to re-birth America in our hearts in this time and place.
We say we honor the sacrifices of the women and men and their families
in Iraq and Afghanistan who are in service of our country.
Many of these men and women are compelled to serve tour after tour, sacrificing their physical and emotional lives and those of their families while the rest of us American people have been asked to sacrifice very little.
We very often go on with our complacent lives, untouched by the reality of war for our Marines or Iraqi children or anything much else than what affects our own little world.
In 2009 this has got to change.
John Kennedy said:
“Ask not what your country can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country.”
Each of us must be willing must be willing to make our own contribution. Each of us must do our part, neighbor helping neighbor. We sink or swim together.
God of our understanding,
we thank You for the vision of our founding fathers and mothers and their courage to bring it into reality.
May each of us be willing to transform
our hate to respect for all people,
our reliance on material things to reliance on You,
our greed and selfishness to self-giving and compassion.
May we always be willing to respond to the grace You give us
to transform our lives and our country to serve the good of all.
Let the lessons of hardship that many of us now are experiencing
prompt us to turn to You, God of our understanding,
for You, are the Source of all that is good in our lives.
May all our actions show Your wisdom and love.
This is an actual image of one of the four panels of the words of Thomas Jefferson emblazoned upon the walls of
of perhaps America’s most sacred shrine, the Jefferson Memorial.
The image was taken last October (2007) on my first pilgrimage to pray for our country’s transformation.
I continue, as I did yesterday, my personal reflections on these words.
As I offer my thoughts, I invite you to take time to make these words, of the Declaration of Independence, your own.
Realize, especially those of you who are young people, that these words conceived, founded and established our country.
What existed only in the minds and hearts of our founding fathers and mothers became the United States of America.
But, very sadly, it is my sense that we have wandered far way from this vision. We don’t realize that we are constantly re-birthing America — for good or for ill.
It is my sense that at this critical point of American history that we — each and every American — ought to
re-visit that moment of our founding. Imagine what it was like.
Imagine their vision of what did not yet exist in the external world.
Imagine the courage they had.
Next to the Word of God, there are no words that are more sacred to me than these.
They are sacred because they reflected divine reality.
God blessed these words and our country was born on the Fourth of July 1776.
When I lived in Washington in the summer of 1979 when I was 36 years old,
I would go a couple of times a week and sit in the rotunda of this sacred shrine
and ponder anew the vision of these sacred words.
I’d like to share with you what was going on in my head and my heart 29 years ago and today as we prepare to inaugurate the 44th president of the United States.
They are faith-based thoughts. I do not want to impose them on you.
I just share them because they lead me to a very positive view of our country and our world,
a view that resists the profound hatred and violence and self-indulgence of our comotose society.
As you ponder my thoughts ask yourself what vision of America, what vision of the world and our future do you yourself have?
What do you want for you, for your children, for our country, for our world, for our planet?
I believe your Holy Spirit inspired these words:
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATE EQUAL
AND ARE ENDOWED WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS.
AMONG THESE ARE THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
I, am a Christian among other God-fearing women and men.
I address You and love You as my Father.
You are my Father.
But this means that You are not just my Father, but the Father of all the ones you have created.
You care about every person on this planet who has ever lived or who ever will;
Therefore, we are all equal in your sight. We are all persons.
You conceived and created each human being with a unique identity, a body and soul, in Your mind and heart from the very beginning
and you sustain each one of us today and for all eternity.
I have come to recognize that ALL of us are in Your family, Father.
And that makes us but sisters and brothers.
Help me to embrace all of Your children on this planet in my heart.
Help me to want for every one what you have so generously provided for me —
a little place to call home,
simple food on my table,
a decent education
and decent health care.
Help me, Father to recognize and support
the right of every human person to life, liberty and the pursuit of other people’s happiness as well as my own.
Help me not to be only concerned about my own needs, my own family’s needs, but to realize that we are all one family.
But we are torn apart by hatred and violence; brother still kills brother.
Help us export love not hate, peace and development for all people, not war and destruction.
This is my constant prayer, heavenly Father, for the world in which I live.
I pray that you would allow me the grace to be able to help bring that about,
not only for the people of America but for the whole world.
To you, heavenly Father,
Father of my Redeemer and elder brother Jesus,
all honor and praise and thanksgiving now and forever.
This, sisters and brothers, is my constant prayer for the world in which I live,
the world I wish to be a part of and help to bring into reality.
It has ever been such since my lazy summer of ’79 in Washington and always will be.
I do not expect you to be able to use my words as you pray. I just invite you to make your own prayer.
Make this new season of American government a time of prayer and repentance.
We need God in our world today.
But we rely on ourselves and not on God. Capitalism, by definition, creates that illusion.
I urge you to re-birth the vision of our founding fathers and mothers in your own heart.
We need to renew that vision, that commitment every year, every day,
from the mightiest to the lowest of our land.
And I warn you (me too), if we don’t constantly attend to our renewal,
we will lose what we have and are.
Great civilizations have collapsed because of their complacency before us.
Nevertheless, it is my sense that God IS transforming us.
All we have to do is co-operate with the process.
Let us be at prayer and reflection.
Ask God for guidance. Ask forgiveness for taking all of this for granted.
We need God to bring us through these critical times.
I lived in Washington in 1979 – 80 and I had the summer to myself.
I was working in a parish in Silver Spring.
I would go down to the the Jefferson Memorial
and grok on the words of the Declaration of Independence,
the words that created our beloved country.
I prayed earnestly that summer — and even moreso —
that these words might become true not only for the future of our country but for the whole world.
In the next few days, I will offer some reflections on the powerful message of
that great man’s words emblazoned upon the walls of one of our most sacred secular shrines.
There is no doubt that Jefferson’s words were inspired and infused by the Almighty.
Our courts have forgotten that our founding documents acknowledge God.
TJ was a deist, not a Christian, but he declares that the founding fathers and mothers “relied on the protection of divine providence” in the courageous act they were undertaking.
I call us to realize that our nation once existed only in the minds and hearts of our founding fathers and mothers. It is my sense that we have to allow those sacred ideals to be reborn in the hearts of each and every one of us today. We all have to take responsibility for transforming ourselves because we are the country!
Do we still rely on the protection of divine providence?
Do we really trust in God or has our capitalism made us so self reliant that we no longer need
to acknowledge there is only one Source of good?
If those ideals are not also in our minds and hearts then our country will destroy itself.
I have been in prayer now for 18 months that God would do what we seem to be unable to do.
There is corruption on every level of society in our country —
government, military, business, church, medical profession, health insurance,
legal profession, sports, education, entertainment, media, advertising, families,
and yes, among my brother priests and bishops.
It is my sense that we have some transforming to do — each one of us — to return to the ideals of our founding fathers and mothers.
So, I suggest we take this time before Mr. Obama’s inauguration for reflection and prayer.
May we ask God to do what we are powerless to do of ourselves. O Good and Gracious God, we come to You with praise and thanksgiving.
We are hopeful and yet mindful of our many wrongs.
Forgive us, O God, our sins of hatred and violence and consumerism, complacency and self indulgence
that distorts our greatness of as American people.
Give us the grace to return to the ideals of our founding fathers and mothers
and work to make them true not only for us but for all the world.
Give us the gift of peace in our time.
We acknowledge that You, O God, are the Source of all that is good in our land.
We praise You and give You thanks for every good gift You have given us
and for sustaining us in Your love. AMEN!
priest / writer
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