Friday, July 31, 2020

Wearing a Face Mask: Christian Witness

There are some who say a face mask does little to protect them from the virus.  Some don’t wear a mask and say if God wishes me to catch this virus, “His will be done.”  And there are some who think their protection can be secured: “Just wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, sanitize/wipe surfaces before you touch them, and wear a mask”.

They are all right, and all wrong.  The first group is right in that protections we take for ourselves reduce our risks only somewhat, while the second group is more aggressive to protect themselves, but the key protection (according to the CDC), the face mask, does little to protect you from airborne virus, and most transmissions are airborne particles.

What both groups are trying to do is prioritize their protection, which is a good thing to do, but if those are the ONLY reasons they are taking these actions, they are selfish things to do.  We need to ask: “In this pandemic, how can I love God and my neighbor?”  Well, there certainly are the Works of Mercy (which I think I’ll write on another time), but there also is a way to, in love, seek to protect my neighbor from this pandemic.  It is doing something we don’t want to do, don’t have to do, may be expensive to do, yet we do it solely to help, in love, to protect our neighbor:  wear a face mask.

Data from the CDC (and other studies) indicate face masks offer only limited protections to the wearers from airborne virus particles.  But: face masks block our exhaled breath, allowing it to seep slowly through our mask.  Our exhaled breath may travel 6-10 feet, or over 20 feet if we cough or sneeze.  The mask-slowed breath particles only travel a foot or two outside the mask, as they seep out.  If we are carriers of this virus (and many are not aware they are), we are protecting our neighbor by wearing a mask.  Wearing a mask isn’t primarily for ourselves, it is an act of Christian love.

I wear a crucifix on a chain around my neck, keeping it outside my shirt, a visible Christian witness of my belief and trust in God, and my love of God and neighbor.  Yes, I will trust in Him and take prudent actions to protect myself from this virus, but I WILL to love my neighbor first, as Christ did.  On the sides of my face mask I have drawn a cross, a visible witness of why I wear it.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Now is the Time

I reviewed the book: The Second Greatest Story Ever Told.  You can read that review again on this blog.  It is MOST important that you do, for now is the time.
I am secluded in my home, keeping away from contacts with others which might infect me with the virus, because I am often in contact with frail seniors, as I was today when I delivered them groceries.  Alone at home, I decided to reach on my bookshelf for an old book and re-read, so I would not waste time.  And I happened to pick up The Second Greatest Story Ever Told --- or perhaps God put it in my hands.
This is a book which speaks of today, of these days.  This is a time of Mercy.  I have the Divine Mercy image posted in the windows at the front and back of my house (I think I wrote of a link to print that image).  I pray daily for God’s mercy on our country, and on the whole world. 
I read of so many sad, so many bad things going on in the world, things caused by man, and even celebrated by man as being good.  And the number of virus cases reaches a new record every day.  I read how someone wrote an Op Ed article in the New York Times and was fired, after much of the staff walked out in protest.  When told that the Op Ed piece is just another viewpoint, they responded that there IS NO other view than theirs, and so the writer was fired.  This is just another sad example of where we are in the world.
And so, I pray for God’s mercy, as the Catholic Church said we should pray when it instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy in 2000, on the Sunday after Easter.  In 2015 Pope Francis declared a Year of prayer for Divine Mercy.  And here we are, desperately in need of Divine Mercy.  And, as the book so notes, we also need what goes with that prayer:  Trust.  My Jesus, I trust in You.
The Second Greatest Story Ever Told describes the critical role Poland played in European history, saving Western Civilization more than once.  Then came Jesus’ appearance to a little Polish nun, and the election of a Polish pope, both focused on the importance of praying for God’s mercy.  Pope John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, after having heard the Vigil Mass, and received Communion.  He never gave the final sermon he had written, but it was later read aloud.
As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love.  It is love that converts hearts and gives peace.  How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy.
Lord, … we believe in You and confidently repeat to you today: Jesus I trust in You, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sower and Grower

The Parable of the Sower has two sides.  We are the receiver of seeds sown by others and God’s Word.  How much fruit we yield depends on the richness of our soil.  We can make our soil more fertile by seeking/practicing humility: we don’t seek things from God or our neighbor for ourselves.  Love is about giving of self.  If we are fertile soil, our fruit will serve others.  We can’t seek love FROM God or neighbor.  We must take actions to love them, diminishing our self-love.

We’d like to think that we have fertile soil, that we are depositories of the Word of God.  We seek to spread our supposed good fruit, our seeds, as God would wish us to.  The soil our seeds falls on WE do not change, and the taking root of our sown seeds is the result of the sun and rain, God’s actions.  But we often want to control those results.

Especially for friends or family, we often find it difficult to accept the Parable of the Sower.  We don’t sow seeds they may not like.  We don’t ask them to go to church with us or to pray with us.  We crave their love --- it’s what WE want --- and we take actions to get love, even if those are not God’s actions.  If our family, our friends, our culture doesn’t like our seeds, we stop sowing so we will feel loved.  We are followers of Jesus, spreading His Word --- unless they don’t want to hear it.  This is especially true of sexual sins, which many/most now say don’t exist.  It’s “a choice”.  And we lie to ourselves by agreeing yes, it is a sin, but giving no witness to that.  We say we believe Jesus, but don’t tell anyone else.  There are parts of the Gospel which describe these types of “followers” of whom Jesus says: “I don’t know you.”

We forget the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, like feeding the hungry, sheltering the poor, visiting those in prison, or admonishing the sinner.  In these works of mercy, we can love those who have made poor choices without supporting their choices.  Jesus ate with tax collectors, but He didn’t excuse their sins at the dinner table.  He came to save sinners, not affirm their actions.  His life was a witness against sin, as ours should be.  Part of the seeds we sow are our actions, our witness to what we believe.  We don’t join gay parades because they are fun.  We don’t go to gay marriage celebrations.  When our children come to visit with “a friend”, they sleep in separate bedrooms.  This is our witness to what we believe.  These are seeds we sow.  We don’t lecture or point fingers; they know us by our actions.  It should be no surprise.  If they want to talk about why we believe, we explain --- and if we can’t explain, we seek reasons why Jesus taught that.  I thought it ironic that a men’s group studying writings of converts found that the new Christians overcame their non-belief of Christ’s word by doing research, yet these same men said they disagreed with Catholic sexual teachings --- and never sought to research the what’s and why’s of those teachings.  Others can find the truth, but they can’t?

Sexual sins are pointed out in the Old and New Testaments.  In Revelation we read how God praises some new Christian communities, except that they commit sexual sins.  It’s not new news.  What is new is our culture not only denying they are sins, but celebrating them.  And we go along.  As do even some Catholic priests.

I heard “Yes, but they’re good kids,” and “they can’t help their urges.”  Kleptomania, alcoholism, drug addiction and pedophilia are also said to be compulsive --- “they can’t help it” --- sins.  And even if treatment programs don’t work, we expect those people to WILL to stop those sins.  Even if they can’t help feeling gay, they can will not to act on their compulsions.  Even if pornography is the number one internet web action, we can still WILL not to watch.

When we stop willing, when we excuse other’s weaknesses --- or celebration of their weaknesses --- so that “they will love us” or not think we are judging them, we are agreeing with their judgment of us.  We accept that we are wrong in our belief, and that God is wrong.  They judge us and God, and we are afraid of judging THEIR ACTIONS (not them), they might think we don’t love them.

Scripture says that if you want to follow ME, you must be willing to leave mother, father, sister, and brother.  When we publicly condone sexual sins, we have stopped sowing seeds of Christ.  We are not His witnesses.  And He will say “I don’t know you.”

And “but I wanted them to love me” will be answered with “and you didn’t want ME to love you?”

This past week the Catholic Church celebrated St. Maria Goretti, a young girl who in the early 1900’s refused to give up her virginity, and was killed.  Today laws are being passed which make some teachings of the Christian faith illegal.  Are there ANY teachings of Jesus you’d be willing to go to jail for, much less be martyred for, or are all His teachings “relative” to the times?