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Bike Journal: RT 66 Country Commute PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 March 2014 23:11

Its been a long cold winter.  I was well prepared for cold weather but the icey conditions combined with my schedule has made commuting to work difficult.  I'm dying to back to the commute this next week, after the ice melts. 

During the past year, I have been collecting photos of the scenery on my commute to share with you all.  My commute from my home in the Missouri Ozarks is my favorite among all the commute routes I've had over the years.  The route heads down historic RT 66 through the country side of Missouri wine country.  There's some nice scenery including the oddest of all landmarks, the world's largest rocker. 

 

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The Pope's Direction: Comments on Casuistry & Marriage PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 28 February 2014 21:58

There's been much talk and concern about the direction that Pope Francis might be taking the Church with the Synod of Bishops on questons related to family and marriage.  Many fear that he will soften the Church's approach to divorce and remarriage which would likely bring greater devastation to the institution of marriage.  There are too many spouses that have watched their families broken and destroyed by no fault divorce.  In their struggles they have not received support from the Church.  Its not surprising that they fear that things could get even more difficult for them.  So, folks are out there scouring the Pope's homilies looking for clues to where the ship is headed.  It appears the Pope may have just given us a hint with his recent homilies on casuistry.   Casuistry is case based reasoning that applies general principles to situations and has a varied methodological history.  The Pope's use of the term attaches a negative connotation to it by comparing casuistry to the questioning of Jesus by the pharisees.   From the L'Osservatore Romano:

Pope Francis then pointed to “the signs” by which we can recognize “a person who knows what we are to believe but who does not have faith”. The Pope noted two particular signs that we find in the Gospel. A first sign is “casuistry”, and he recalled all those who approached Jesus to present him with cases such as: is it lawful to to pay taxes to Caesar?” Or the case in which “a woman was widowed, poor thing, who according to the law had to marry the seven brothers of her husband in order to have a a child”. This “is casuistry,” the Pope said. And “casuistry is precisely the place to which all those people go who believe they have faith” but only have a knowledge of its content. Thus, “when we find a Christian” who only asks “if it is licit to do this and if the Church could do that,” it either means “that they do not have faith, or that it is too weak”.

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The Tenderness of Christmas PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 17:22

It's Christmas Eve and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas by sharing a wonderful reflection on the tenderness of Christmas, a theme raised by Pope Francis and elaborated on by Fr.. Carron of CL.  All my years of loving Christmas with its joy and warm heartedness, I had never given significant thought to what makes it so unique.  Sure, Christ was born in humble settings and the humble nature of Christ coming as a child invokes some simple but beautiful lessons.  Pope Francis has presented the humble nature of Christmas in terms of its Tenderness whcih brings out a unique element of humility.  The Pope was asked "What does Christmas say to people today" in an interview published in La Stampa:

It speaks of tenderness and hope. When God meets us he tells us two things. The first thing he says is: have hope. God always opens doors, he never closes them. He is the father who opens doors for us. The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness. When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they become a cold Church, that loses its sense of direction and is held back by ideologies and worldly attitudes, whereas God’s simplicity tells you: go forward, I am a Father who caresses you. I become fearful when Christians lose hope and the ability to embrace and extend a loving caress to others. Maybe this is why, looking towards the future, I often speak about children and the elderly, about the most defenceless that is. Throughout my life as a priest, going to  the parish, I have always sought to transmit this tenderness, particularly to children and the elderly. It does me good and it makes me think of the tenderness God has towards us.

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Chronicling Her Presence, Gratitude PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 20:13

The real blessing of spending time on a regular basis with a loved one with dementia is the opportunity to capture the person you once knew so well.  With my mother, I can trace the times when her personality shines through and encounter that very same person that raised me and loved me so much.  However, things have become more difficult lately as the disease has progressed and these moments seem to occur much less often.  Encountering my mother requires more affection, more time spent caring for her and more work to communicate with her. 

It has been during my time providing care giving that I have has some of my best encounters.  I have found her where I did not look for her, in the simple moments when she has expressed gratitude for my help.  Could there be an affection more human than gratitude? 

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Murder in the Heart - Gossip & Rash Judgement PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 14 September 2013 09:34

The Holy Father Francis hit another topic on the head with his homily on Friday.  To judge someone in your heart is to be a Christian murderer!  No mincing of words there but this is nothing new as his papacy is marked by an emphasis on Mercy and straight talk.  Much ado was made of his decision to limit use of the Extraordinary Form Mass for the Friars of the Immaculate and the recent debate between Catholic Answers and traditionalists (For background see David Armstrong) such as Chris Ferrara has sparked similar commentary.  The debate has brought up the many differences in worldview and theology between traditional Catholics and radical traditionalists.  However, I don't believe these theological issues are driving the debate.  The main issue driving the debate is the concern that radical traditionalists, and in my opinion some of their interlocutors, demonstrate a significant lack of compassion towards each other.  

Mark Shea even apologized for his part in this problem with his post I’ve been an angry jerk of late.  He comes off  as harsh but he was atleast refreshingly clear about his feelings on the matter, "Yeah.  I’ve been on a pretty short fuse this week and I’ve been out of line–very out of line... In short, I chose not only to hate Reactionaries but to regard them with cold and resolute indifference (which is more serious since, as JPII observed, the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference)... Online Reactionary Catholics are the single most toxic subculture I have ever encountered in the Church. Reactionary Catholicism spends its wasted time on legalistic trivia.  It gets off on evil power trips  by cruelly inflicting guilt on scrupulous people who are already staggering under heavy psychological burdens. Reactionaries pose as courageous defenders of the Faith while huddling in bunkers and attacking people who have made genuine sacrifices and suffered huge losses for Christ."

The Pope's words help us recognize the gravity of our behavior when we judge and speak harshly about others:

After speaking to us about humility, Jesus speaks to us about humility’s antonym, “of that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbour when one becomes a “judge” of his brother”. “In this context  Jesus uses a strong word: “hypocrite”,” the Pope said.  “Those who live judging their neighbour, speaking ill of their neighbour, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings. The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness.”...  “Every time we judge our brothers in our hearts – or worse still when we speak ill of them with others, we are Christian murderers: A Christian murderer…. It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord. And there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. And every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Caine, the first murderer in History.”

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