trump…and the pope

What do these men have in common? Not much it would seem.

Trump is about Trump. Pope Francis is about others.

Trump lives like a king, isolated in his own tower. Pope Francis lives in apartment #201 at the Vatican Hotel…so he can be closer to the people.

Trump seeks the presidency so he can, as he tells it…single-handedly return America to its glory days. Pope Francis agreed to forgo retirement so that he could shepherd world citizens to do what we can for the less fortunate among us.

Perhaps the Pope’s message of inclusion will resonate with those seeking the presidency. We can only pray that those who call themselves Christians, are, in fact, Christ-like.

The Pope’s words spoken during the homily at the Mass canonizing Junipero Sera to sainthood…

Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice! These are striking words, words which impact our lives. Paul tells us to rejoice; he practically orders us to rejoice. This command resonates with the desire we all have for a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, a joyful life. It is as if Paul could hear what each one of us is thinking in his or her heart and to voice what we are feeling, what we are experiencing. Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for placebos which simply keep us comfortable.

At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life. So much seems to stand in the way of this invitation to rejoice. Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum apathy which gradually becomes a habit, with a fatal consequence: our hearts grow numb.

We don’t want apathy to guide our lives… or do we? We don’t want the force of habit to rule our life… or do we? So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?

Jesus gives the answer. He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go forth! Proclaim! The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.

The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy. Faced with this human way of thinking, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and for the world” (Laudato Si’, 229). It is the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus. For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). Go out to all, proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming. This is what the Lord tells us today. He tells us:

A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news! A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!

Jesus sends his disciples out to all nations. To every people. We too were part of all those people of two thousand years ago. Jesus did not provide a short list of who is, or is not, worthy of receiving his message, his presence. Instead, he always embraced life as he saw it. In faces of pain, hunger, sickness and sin. In faces of wounds, of thirst, of weariness, doubt and pity. Far from expecting a pretty life, smartly-dressed and neatly groomed, he embraced life as he found it. It made no difference whether it was dirty, unkempt, broken. Jesus said: Go out and tell the good news to everyone. Go out and in my name embrace life as it is, and not as you think it should be. Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living. Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father. Go out to those who are burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving Father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation. Go out to proclaim the good news that error, deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person’s life. Go out with the ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.

Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual. Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.

The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters. The holy and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into élites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.

So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). The People of God can embrace everyone because we are the disciples of the One who knelt before his own to wash their feet (ibid., 24).

The reason we are here today is that many other people wanted to respond to that call. They believed that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort” (Aparecida Document, 360). We are heirs to the bold missionary spirit of so many men and women who preferred not to be “shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security… within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). We are indebted to a tradition, a chain of witnesses who have made it possible for the good news of the Gospel to be, in every generation, both “good” and “news”.

Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these lands, Father Junípero Serra. He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters. Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.

Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!

…words inspiring us to act with mercy and compassion.

………hugmamma.

a man…a saint

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I prayed for Pope Francis. Image result for pope francis gallery

Not someone I normally think of when I pray.

I had real concerns for the Pope’s safety…still do…as he rides amidst thousands gathered to see him. There’s no way of knowing whether or not there’s a gunman among them. 

Even the Pope needs our prayers. Like us, he’s made of flesh and blood. At 78, Pope Francis has limited stamina and energy. His crusade to alter the plight of the world’s poor is a task not even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can fully accomplish with all their billions. And yet the Holy Father is like the fountain of youth, offering life to all in need…physically and spiritually.

I can’t recall another world leader, past or present, so aligned with the downtrodden. A humble man where his needs are concerned, Pope Francis is nonetheless outspoken when promoting the causes of the less fortunate. Using his powerful platform as the head of the Catholic church, the pontiff runs the risk of incurring the wrath of those who disagree with his beliefs. It matters not to him. He is about God’s work.

Just as Jesus Christ was about His Father’s work…for which the Son was crucified…and subsequently rose again in glory, to sit beside His Father.

I believe one day, Pope Francis will be canonized a saint. Yet I’m sure many agree that he walks among us today…

…already a saint.

………hugmamma

Image result for pope francis gallery

…celebrity…at what cost…

Watching the Pope disembark from his flight today at Joint Base Andrews, it was as though God Himself was walking down the steps. At least to Catholics who believe that he is God’s emissary on earth. Dressed in white, Pope Francis seemed translucent, although he appeared like a man who enjoys good food. He seemed untouchable, although he’s a man who enjoys being touched.

What a dilemma for Pope Francis. While waiting for the chauffeur to drive away, the Pope looked as though he were about to bolt from his seat. The cries of the people behind the fence tempting him to do what he loves doing…walking among them…touching them and having them touch him.

Celebrity? At what cost?

The tabloids are filled with stories of entertainers trying to escape the clutches of their adoring fans. Those who jostle their idol for some tangible proof that they were up close and personal.

Michael Jackson tried to give his fans what they wanted…access to him. Sadly, there were opportunists who took advantage of Jackson’s desire to be loved. He paid dearly. One could say…with his life.

Elvis Presley enjoyed his celebrity. It provided unimaginable wealth which he could never have dreamed of…growing up like White trash on the wrong side of the tracks. He, like Jackson, allowed fans access. Whether it was a wise decision, is something you can judge for yourself. Numerous books have been penned about Elvis by those who had access to the icon.

If I were to meet Pope Francis, I would automatically reach out to hug him. That’s just my natural inclination, unless I feel the recipient would prefer I not. I think the Pope would reciprocate my hug, but I’m not sure his security detail would even let me. Those charged with protecting the Pontiff are on high alert to protect him from all harm. And no one can blame them.

The Pope realizes that allowing his followers access might cost him his life. He is willing to take that risk. He has said…”I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time.”

Yes, Pope Francis is a celebrity…the state of being famous or celebrated (according to Webster’s Dictionary). However it’s unlikely that the pope considers himself a celebrity. He is what he has always been…

…a man among his people…

…a pastor shepherding his flock.

………hugmamma.

“a doubting thomas”

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a “doubting Thomas.” In fact  my husband, a former seminarian, has raised an eyebrow or two when I’ve taken to interpreting Catholicism differently from that of the Church.

I’m no pushover as a follower. Perhaps that’s the black sheep in me. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve always been a rebellious, youngest child. Tell me I can’t do something, and you’ve got me wondering…”Why not?”

Give me something I can understand and own for myself, and I will follow you to the moon and back. But never try to pull the wool over my eyes, for you will probably lose me.  Perhaps forever.

At the moment I’m once again a “doubting Thomas.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, “doubting Thomas,” it refers to one of Christ’s followers who, when confronted by the risen Christ is unable to accept that He is, in fact, risen from the dead. So that Thomas can believe, Christ instructs His disciple to place his finger into the holes in both hands where the nails were, and into the hole where a soldier’s lance pierced His side.

Only with physical proof could Thomas accept that his Lord and Master had indeed risen from the dead

Maybe that’s what I need. A face to face meeting with God.

You’re probably wondering what set me off this time. Well I’ll tell you.

Eastside Catholic School, an institution of some repute within our community, is in the midst of an uprising of sorts.

The school’s president and CEO, Sister Mary Tracy, fired Mark Zmuda, the vice-principal after learning that he married his gay partner last summer. She did so because, historically, the Catholic Church preaches against the evils of homosexuality. And according to her, she was acting on behalf of the very conservative Archbishop J. Peter Sartain formerly of Tennessee, who now heads the Church here in Seattle.

The outpouring of support for Zmuda from students, parents, the alumni, and the community-at-large has grown exponentially within the last several months. The protest has been brought to the attention of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and will probably make it onto Stephen Colbert’s show.

At this juncture it seems Sister Mary Tracy acted on her own.

The website of the archdiocese clearly states that it has no jurisdiction over Eastside Catholic School.  “…this school is a Catholic institution that is separately incorporated and is not part of the Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle. It is not sponsored, directed, administered or managed by the Archbishop of Seattle or his delegates.”

It’s almost a certainty that she won’t be turning to Pope Francis for help since he has publicly stated that he is fine with gays.

And it’s that papal statement upon which the protesters have decided to hang their cause. If the Pope is up for change, then why isn’t Sister Tracy?

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the school’s theatre director, also gay, intends to marry her partner this summer. To make matters worse, her contract was renewed along with an increase in salary.

Alumni member Mary Helen Nuxoll Kopczynski, class of 1996 and the school’s first female student body president, now residing in NYC, also questions how two long-time Jewish teachers at EC can follow Catholic doctrine since the school fired Mark Zmuda for “not following Catholic doctrine.” Kopczynski goes on to say that 17 teachers were fired in 2010 for wanting a grievance policy; they were each paid $7,000 for their silence. Kopczynski remarked

We are the crusaders, we are the product of this school and we don’t agree. I’m having a tough time understanding these weird unilateral, dark decisions. 

In addition, Kopczynski said the alumni want to see the school’s board include two parents, two teachers and two alumni, not just ‘rich people.’

She said the school’s attorney, Michael Patterson, donated $90,000 to the school and he is also the attorney for the archdiocese, which would seem to be a conflict of interest.

An adult protester made note that “If Jesus were here today, he wouldn’t be in Sartain’s office, he’d be out here with us.” You’d think that was a no-brainer, right?

Unfortunately the Church bureaucrats get so caught up in their rules and regulations that they forget to live like Christ. They keep Him high up on a pedestal away from His followers.IMG_2301

And so, here I go again…

…i’m a doubting thomas…and glad of it…

…hugmamma.

no brainers…

Don’t you sometimes listen to the news and shake your head in frustration?

I’ve grown a thick skin as a result of the last two presidential elections. Most news stories now just roll off my back, or barely make a dent in my grey matter. It’s either because I’ve no interest in the topic of discussion, like the recent Miley Cyrus uproar, or it’s because the news pundits seem to sensationalize every tidbit of information, relevant or not.

However there are some stories which cause me to cluck my tongue and shake my head.

From source: Two mammal-eating "transient...

From source: Two mammal-eating “transient” killer whales photographed off the south side of Unimak Island, eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Magyar: Kardszárnyú delfin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, for example, CNN kept advertising a film it aired last night…”Blackfish.” It documented the killing, a year or so ago, of a female Sea World trainer by an orca, also known as a killer whale.

A predator in the wild, it makes total sense that at any time the orca could revert back to what it does instinctively…kill. While humans like to think we can anticipate every situation, especially after investing heavily into a project, we can’t possibly know with absolute certainty that a killer whale will never behave contrary to our expectations.

Rather than admit to failure, humans resort to positive spin…”It’s rare that orcas in captivity kill humans.” Evidently once is not enough to realize that we should let these magnificent creatures live out their lives with their own kind. They are not goldfish in a bowl.

Why do we insist on having all earth’s species cater to our whims?Pope Francis met with media

Then there was the eye-popping news about a German bishop who got a smack down from Pope Francis. “Why was that?” you might ask.

It seems the cleric’s customized, new home cost tens of millions of dollar. Meanwhile, His Holiness has opted for simpler living in one of the Vatican’s guest quarters, rather than the grander papal apartment.

Why the “bishop of bling” felt he needed grandiose digs built with the generous donations of his parishioners is mind-boggling. As a Catholic, it made me want to slap the man upside the head and say “Duh??? What were you thinking?”

Why do we insist on having everything we might want…just because we can?

Finally, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre claims he is suffering memory loss.

“I think after 20 years God only knows the toll,” said Favre, who was sacked 525 times, more than any other NFL quarterback. “This was a little shocking to me, that I couldn’t remember my daughter playing youth soccer.”

Recent research has shown 

Of the 34 former NFL players who have died and donated their brains to research, the percentage of them who have pathologically confirmed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, is over 90 percent, according to a 2009 University of Michigan report.

 Evidently the NFL has taken the matter seriously enough to pay $765 million to players and their families who filed suit claiming the athletes suffered head injuries while playing football. 

I don’t even need the experts weighing in to acknowledge that if a guy gets knocked to the ground by 300 pound gorillas, his helmet isn’t going to protect his brain from being tossed around like jello inside his craggy skull. Duh???

“There is still a pervasive belief that only a concussion serious enough to knock the athlete out will do damage, but that’s not the case,” Harvard neurologist, Dr. Marie Pasinski. “Any blow to the head that leaves a person slightly dazed or not quite right may cause harm to the brain.”

Favre has wisely chosen not to seriously entertain the Rams’ invitation for him to quarterback their team going forward.  ‘ “I want to live a long time, I want to live healthy, as close to normal life as I can,” said Favre.’

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for t...

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for the New York Jets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we continue to sacrifice our bodies, minds, and souls to money and fame? And if we do, why are we shocked when our lives take a turn for the worse?

I sometimes wonder about human behavior and what makes us do what we do, when it seems we should know better. Perhaps it’s in our nature to rationalize whatever path we choose. Some decisions are pretty straightforward; others can lead us on a merry chase. More times than not we end up facing the same dead end. We probably know in our gut what the likely outcome will be. Being human however, we prefer to play the odds. We’re risk takers…

…what have we got to lose?…a lot, it would seem…

………hugmamma.