Deacon John Bulletin Article February 25, 2018

Deacon’s Corner

The finger pointing after the tragedy in a Florida high school 10 days ago was all too familiar.  Some said it could have been avoided if guns were outlawed.  Others said we need more guns.  Some blamed poor health care or a broken educational system.  Some even blamed God.  So, where does the blame lie?  And just why would God allow evil in the world?  Those questions have no simple answers.  So, let’s start with what we know.

We know God loves everyone and that He is All-good.   We also know from experience that God allows suffering in the world.   Even ‘good’ people suffer the effects of evil, sometimes even more so than ‘bad’ people.  To answer these questions, we must first appreciate the nature of evil.  Evil does not exist by itself.  Evil results from the absence of good.  What we call “evil” is really the failure to live up to the purpose God created us for.  God gave each of us the gift of free will with the ability to choose to follow His will or reject it.  So, evil is the vacuum created when whenever we choose not to reach the true fulfillment of our lives as God intended. When we consider the evil in the world and the suffering caused by it – murder, drug abuse, rape, war, poverty, to name a few – we can see evil results directly from choosing not to respect God or love our neighbor.

So, evil exists because of the choices we make.  Sadly, choosing to sin can affect many, so the innocent often suffer along with the guilty.  Even so, God looks for us to do a good from the consequences of an evil.  St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the 13th Century, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin. God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’

So, what caused this latest tragedy?  Quite frankly, I don’t know.  Mother Theresa said, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of war, of hatred.  If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”   The answer to what happened in Florida lies somewhere in how well our culture embraces God and valuing (or not) the dignity of human life.  Those are things not resolved with laws, political agendas, Facebook, or sensationalism in the news.  Embracing God and respecting life is something that grows in the heart as we strive for holiness, perfection, and being in total union with God.  When we choose to be with God, not separated from Him, we can build a culture of life where evil can’t exist.  When that happens, our world becomes a better place to live.

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism for Adults” by Rev. James Socias

 

Deacon’s Corner 2/18/18

Did you know by the 2nd Century, Christians prepared for the annual celebration of Easter by fasting for two days?  This was the natural thing to do in preparation for the holiest of times when the Early Christians expected Jesus’ immediate return.  By the 3rd Century, this fasting was extended to all of Holy Week.  The 40 days of Lent, we know it today, began sometime in the early 4th Century.

Lent is that time of year when we buckle down, don’t eat meat on Fridays, and “give up something”.   We call this “penance”.   We do penance to remind us that suffering a little bit can make us a better person.  Through this suffering, we come to appreciate what we have and realize we can really do more with less.  Our Catechism tells us penance “can be expressed in many and various ways…above all three forms:  fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (CCC 1434.)”

When looking for something to “give up” during Lent, let’s remember the goal is to acknowledge our weaknesses so we can undergo a spiritual revival to grow closer to God.  Doing penance without reflecting on how it can change us for the better misses the whole point of Lent.  If we deny ourselves a favorite food to develop the self-discipline for spiritual renewal – that’s good!  But if we “give up” that same tasty treat during Lent as a motive to lose a few pounds, well, we should probably think again.

Lent emphasizes three very specific aspects of personal choice for spiritual renewal.  These are prayer, fasting; and recalling our Baptismal Vows to remember what it means to belong to God’s people.  “Giving up” something can include giving up our time to do Corporal Works of Mercy – feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, giving to the poor, and burying the dead.  Burying the dead can be as simple as attending a funeral for someone you don’t know, especially if their funeral is not well attended.  Doing Corporal Works of Mercy helps foster conversion of our heart by instilling a greater love for God and others.

Lent is a time of preparation to help us find our ourselves and encounter God.  May you have a Blessed Lenten Season with our Lord!  Deacon John

Deacon’s Corner 1/27/18

I sat staring at the computer last week struggling to write something.  Nothing was coming to mind.  I thumbed through my file of ideas.  Nothing jumped out at me. I paused and prayed, asking God to give me an idea on what to write about.  Then, I remembered an email a parishioner sent me about my Deacon’s Corner from last week.  It was one, simple sentence that said, “Loved your thoughts on abortion; beautifully written.” I thought about it a minute, then decided I had to write more this week.

Abortion is one of biggest issues that divides our society today.  We mourn the lives lost long before their time, the mothers and fathers who feel forced into this decision due to lack of support, the families torn apart, and the cultural betrayal of human dignity.  When we see the gift of life as expendable, we begin to disregard the dignity the unborn and all those whom we perceive as different—we become a society divided against itself.

As we witness the many offenses against human life, it is important to remember there are people out there working to build a culture of life.  A culture that fights for the protection of the unborn -for the protection of all life -will stand united.  But to do so, we must build that culture of life together.  We must rely on God and draw encouragement from the examples of the people He puts into our lives every day.  When we join this community of life, we stand united to bring forth God’s kingdom showing consistent and genuine care for all vulnerable people.  Including the unborn.  Our witness for life will move others to do the same.