About Presidents and security and . . . You never know . . .

62ddd5c1-1dd8-b71b-0bf70c23a3528536Today is Presidents’ Day.  It’s always celebrated on the third Monday of February, but it originally was meant to mark George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. It’s come to honor all presidents, past and present.

We’ve had some great ones, and some turkeys too, as some of us of various political persuasion will argue over several beers into the wee hours.

But our present times are difficult ones. I doubt that hardly anyone would argue that these times are not times of uncertainty.  Mr. Trump has had a hard go of it so far, though he has been reluctant to admit.  So, I went back to two old articles I had written on “Coping with Uncertainty” that turned out to be quite prescient at both times they were written.

The first was published on September 1, 2001. Ten days later we entered uncertain times indeed. The second, published in September 2008, proved to warn of the economic meltdown to come a few months later, especially the mortgage crises that forced so many people out of their homes.  

What I am wondering at this point is: What are we in store for in 2017 -18 and . . . ?  I, for one, do not feel particularly safe or secure at present; I don’t know about you. I just offer the following for your reflection and  encourage you not to put your head in the sand.  Wake up and pay attention! And above all, get down on your knees and pray!  

Here is the article I wrote in  September 2008 while George Bush was still in office and Barack Obama was not yet elected. 

The Gospel teaches that . . .

      . . . you never know. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Or for that matter, what the next moment will bring. The stability that you and I have acquired could be cut from under us at any moment.

How well do we face uncertainty?

How will we cope if we are hit by a hurricane or a tornado or a fire or a flood, or if we face foreclosure on our home?     Sudden events, such as a car accident, a heart attack, a natural disaster, or the threat of terrorism can confront us with stress on every level. Many of us have great difficulty dealing with the uncertainties and insecurities of life. We can be filled with worry and anxiety.

Some of us, however, find some level of security in the midst of insecurity. Some of us roll with the punches better than others. We plod along not sure what will happen next. The ones who will be OK are those who are prepared. Who are always ready for life to change on a dime.

“To be at ease is to be unsafe.”

             ~ John Henry Cardinal Newman

Recently (back in the fall of 2008) I have been getting to know some homeless people. I admire and respect the ones I have met because they look out for each other.   My whole perspective on my own worries has completely changed as a result. It has led me to profound gratitude and real compassion. I thought long and hard what it would be like to be homeless. And then I realized there are going to be many, many more.

Note this from The Miami Herald — 9/20/2008: The Bush administration [proposed] an unprecedented bailout of the financial sector that will cost taxpayers ‘hundreds of billions of dollars.’ It jolted the markets for a day, but questions remained about whether the bold efforts would actually work. The truth is no one knows. America and its financial markets haven’t been down this road before.”                  

 Our economy is based on the premise that we should buy, buy, buy – sell, sell, sell. It is not a godly economy.   In my opinion, our present American society is not a healthy one. In order for our economy to work we are constantly prodded to buy stuff. And the more we buy, the deeper in debt we get. Foolish. Insane, actually. 

Many will not be able to cope. But what will be a great grace, some will find God and turn to the one only God and away from the false idols of a material rather than a spiritual way of life. They will have the opportunity perhaps for the first time to find meaning and love and authentic relationships. They will come to understand what life is for. Many will find Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.   Hopefully, it will bring us and our nation to its senses.

What will happen next? To you? To your job? To your family? To your bank? (hundreds of banks are at risk.) The bailout (so far) is only for the rich. The elderly who are living on 401k’s and IRAs are very much at risk. The bailout will not help them. ( Remember, I wrote this in 2008; what will we all be facing in 2018?)

No human being can know for certain what the next moment will bring.   Uncertainty is just part of life.   No matter what, we can be assured, if we have some faith and hope, that the presence of God in our life will give us the strength and the courage to hang on and hang in. God will give us the grace and the resources to deal with any life situation, though it may be difficult or not to our liking.

We need to look for certainty and security on a deeper level.

It would seem that having a sense of the presence of God in our life will give us a foundation that is not so easily shaken by uncertainty. The scriptures present Jesus as the one who can quiet the storms of life (Matthew 8:23-27); He can be the Rock, the foundation on which our life is built.

People who have a desperate need to control their own or other peoples’ lives will have the most difficulty with uncertainty or insecurity.    (This has been true of some of our Presidents too, with some agonizing consequences.)

But control is ultimately an illusion. We are, in reality, not in control, for at the very next moment, we might have a fatal heart attack with not even a second more to arrange our lives. Thus, we perhaps take for granted that we have a secure home where most everything is predictable, that we have a place where we can relax and feel safe. We are drawn to be deeply grateful for the good-ordering of our lives. Profound thanks are in order when everything is working together for good.

Failing to accept life on life’s terms can cause anxiety and depression whereas hope takes the bite out of uncertainty. Through thirty years of learning to cope with bipolar illness I have learned to keep going . . . no matter what. I call you, my reader, to the same faith and hope and love in every moment of your life. Only God can provide the security we need in uncertain times.

Jesus taught his disciples to accept uncertainty as something valuable. He told them “Take nothing on your journey but a walking stick — no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in purse” (Mark 6: 8-9). He wants his disciples to not place ultimate security in things (a warm tunic or some coins in your purse) but to find security in a well-lived, lifelong, open and trusting relationship with God.

For fifteen months now I have been calling us to repent of our sins of complacency and greed and idolatry and lust for power and preoccupation with hate and fear and violence that permeates our society (again I was writing in 2008, but certainly the words apply to America today.)  Every day I pray that God restore our beloved country to shining beacon on a hill we once were. I just invite  you, I implore you: Let us get down on our knees and restore our nation’s relationship with God and justice for all races and peoples in our land of immigrants and indigenous people.

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the sea. . . The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” (Ps 46)

And now, my prayer . . . .

Good and gracious God,

we come before you today to ask your blessing

upon this vast and great land of ours.

We are grateful that our republic has stood safe for 241 years now.

And so, we  ask your continued blessing upon us.

Please bless President Trump and all elected and government officials

that they would have the best interests of all of the people in mind and heart.

Let there peace at home and peace throughout the world.  

For Yours, O God, is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.  

Amen!  

 

And now, before you go, here’s Pete Seeger and a Chorus singing “This Land is Your Land on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love, 

Bob Traupman 

contemplative writer

 

Nine days of Prayer for Life

 

Taken in St. Augustine, Florida in February 2007. Each cross represents 1 million unborn children. Image taken by Bob Traupman.
Taken in St. Augustine, Florida in February 2007. Each cross represents 1 million unborn children. Image taken by Bob Traupman.

Nine Days of Prayer for Life

I always publish this blog near the time of the anniversary of  Roe v. Wade. And I always have this to say . . .  .

Let us stand down, stop the condemning and judging and seek light and understanding, forgiveness and wholeness, kindness and compassion for the young in desperate situations who have no one to turn to and who may themselves be abandoned.

We live in a world that will not recognize the inviolateness and sacredness of every person on this planet.  And that may include those who say  they are against abortion.

My sense is that the sin of those who are quick to condemn others is as great as those who bring violence and bloodshed into their very own bodies.

We ALL have much for which to ask forgiveness.  We ALL need to ask God to increase our capacity to love and turn away from hate ~ especially this year after this awful election campaign. The hatred still hasn’t stopped and the President has not taken the lead to crush it.

There is too much hate in this world — sometimes even from those who minister the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar.

The ones Jesus loves the most are the lost sheep of this world.  He would reach out to those who have had abortions and offer his mercy and forgiveness.  And Pope Francis keeps telling his priests he wants them to have the “smell of the sheep,”   and get out there and minister to them.

The enemies of Jesus are those who justify themselves, the self-righteous, the hypocrites, the ones who know nothing of compassion, those who would not think of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes but would lash out with their tongue (or a tweet?)

President Trump says he will defend the unborn and appoint Supreme Court justices who will do so. But Pope Francis is more concerned with what Cardinal Bernardin  spoke about as “a consistent life ethic,”  that’s more than just about abortion. It also includes policies that are anti-war, anti-poverty, pro-prison reform, pro-immigration, pro-environment, anti-death penalty, and for compassionate end of life care. So, Catholic bishops and the U. S. Church in general may not be so much  in lockstep with his policies.  In fact surprisingly, they’ve already asked him to go slow on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

This year Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has  opened up the one day of Prayer for the Legal Protection for Unborn Children to Nine Days of Prayer for Life and it’s been widely adopted by other dioceses. Here is an outline of the themes for each day. . . .

Nine Days of Prayer for Life

Day One ~ Monday, January 23rd . . . For the conversion of all hearts and the end of abortion.

      ~ How can we build a culture that supports women and respects life?

Day Two ~ Tuesday, the 24th . . .  May each person (woman or man) suffering from the loss of a child from abortion find hope and healing.

       ~ God is ready to forgive each of us! Don’t be afraid. Draw close to his heart.

Day Three  ~ Wednesday, the 25th . . . May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift and worth living.

        ~ How will (or did) you show someone today that their life is a gift?

Day Four ~ Thursday the 26th . . . May those near the end of their lives receive the medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives

        ~ How will (or did) you show someone today that their life is a gift?

Day Five ~ Friday the 27th . .  For an end to Domestic Violence.

      ~ 75% of Americans are reported to know a victim. Learn the warning signs.

Day Six ~ Saturday the  28th . . .  May those affected by pornography receive the Lord’s mercy and healing.

       ~ Only God can truly fulfill our hearts. How can we invite him into ours?

Day Seven ~ Sunday the 29th . . . For those who long for a child be filled with trust in God’s loving plan

        ~ Lord, help us to see the ways you love us today.

Day Eight ~ Monday, the 30th . . .  For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

        ~ How can we bring hope to others and be examples of God’s merciful love?

Day Nine ~ For an end to Human Trafficking and modern slavery.

         ~ Smile and speak the name the clerk in stores you visit today and say “thank you!

 

IMG_0663

       Dearest Lady, mother of Jesus,

whose tender love brought Love Itself into our world,

  help those who have never known the tender embrace of their own mother’s love

  to receive the same tender care and love you wish for each of them. . . for each of us . . .  as you offered the strict, yet tender, love of a Jewish mother upon  Jesus, the Son of God 

     who was nourished at your tender breasts,

              cradled in your arms,

         bounced upon your knee;

                   whose booboo was kissed by your lovely mouth,

              whose dead body you received come down from the Cross.

You were the one from Jesus learned the joys of human love.

  Receive today all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters on this planet, born and unborn.

  Draw us all into that one great mystery of divine/human love which is the glory of our Christian faith,

  the Incarnation of the son of a young beautiful woman, Son of God,

       our Brother, our Friend, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  

                      Amen. 

And now, before you go, here’s the penitential hymn “Remember Your Love”  Click Here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

Bob Traupman

 contemplative writer

And P.S.  Don’t worry about the aborted children;  the innocent ones will shine like the stars in God’s kingdom.

The tragedy is that they will never set foot on this beautiful planet.