The Apostolate of the Laity
Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
- Name: David Jackson
- Location: Portland, Oregon, United States
I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Do the Right Thing
Do the right thing.
It's a simple suggestion and yet one that has become woefully complex in American culture, today. Having devalued Christianity to just another optional religion, this land of liberty finds itself without a core set of values to rely upon to exercise prudence over said gift of liberty. In such a model there exist no absolutes, and government by the people and for the people wrestles in a world of abject relativism.
The above bumper sticker seemingly reflects a nice sentiment. How can one argue that to get along in this world we simply need to tolerate all belief systems? The challenge occurs when this tolerance becomes the basis for belief versus a characteristic. With such a mindset, all faiths are equal, and one freely establishes oneself above it all, free to pick and choose cafeteria style the attributes and practices that feel the best. Tolerance and feelings replaces prudence.
In 2008, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith conducted interviews with 230 young adults (ages 18-23) asking them about their moral lives. The results say more about these kid's parents than they do about the kids themselves. A full two thirds were unable to even describe a moral dilemma. Their standard response was along the lines of:
“It’s personal. It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say? I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”
Sunday, May 06, 2012
The Master Gardener
Separate me from myself and from all that is not you, in order to unite and incorporate me with you. Empty me of myself and of all things, destroy me utterly, in order to fill me with yourself and to form and establish yourself in me. Cause me henceforth to be a perfect image of yourself; just as you are a most perfect image of your Father. -- St. John Eudes
Works do matter.
One of the great errors that emerged from the Protestant Reformation was the belief by some ecclesiastical communities that works were merely a sign of one's agreement with Christian living, but in the end played little in the salvation economy. Profess that Christ is one's lord and savior and one is good to go. Yet the Gospel tends to point out that more is expected. One does not bear fruit simply by being. Effort, energy, commitment, and a will must be present.
It's easy to sometimes lose heart in the pruning process, which is often thought of as the way of the cross. Gaze upon the crucifix and behold the word made flesh that endured the ultimate pruning and in return produced a beauty that we can only begin to fathom.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15,5)
Let all pray for the grace to bear much fruit and welcome the inevitable pruning that leads to greater things.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
The Good Shepherd of America
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." (John (RSV) 10, 11-18)
The United States is once again in the middle of presidential election politics. Barring some kind of catastrophic circumstance, it appears Obama vs. Romney as the main event this November. Nearly two billion (that's billion with a "B") dollars is anticipated to be spent to put in place the man who will assume the role of being the face of the nation's good shepherd.
Today's Gospel reading for the Sunday Mass points to what it takes to be a good shepherd. Within seven sentences, Our Lord mentions four times that he will lay down his life for his sheep. He will give everything for the sake of those who look to him for leadership. That is not something either candidate has publicly stated he is willing to offer. Being unprepared to make this ultimate sacrifice reveals not so much an absence of fortitude, though a case could be made for that, but rather a deficiency in the one quality needed for any good leader, humility.
To lead, one has to realize that what one is commanding is far bigger than himself. The Office of the Presidency should supersede the ambition and ego of the person who temporarily occupies that office. Americans do not elect kings. They elect good stewards of democracy and the Constitution or at least they should. The challenge is that elected office has lost its way. No longer are shepherds elected but rather hirelings who best serve the interests of their respective bosses. The result is that we the people get thrown to the wolves of pride and special interests which means justice for none.
Christ has given the example of what it takes to be a good leader. Pray that Obamney or Rombama at some point take the time and have the courage to recognize that the job they seek is an endeavor of pure service to the American people. Oh that each candidate would have an assistant whose sole job was to whisper in their ear before every speech:
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Thank You Archbishop Vlazny
Statement from Archbishop John G. Vlazny March 31, 2010
It did not take long for me on the morning of March 31 to cancel my subscription to the Oregonian. This was not the first time I had contemplated such a move. When the “Catholic bashing” was principally local, I thought this was something I simply had to endure along with the rest of you. Why? The jury of public opinion seemed to conclude that the church deserved such punishment because it was no better than anyone else in handling the problem of child sexual abuse. But I was always suspicious that there was more behind all the attention given to our plight by the secular media.
Let me be specific about my complaints. In the column on March 29 by syndicated columnist, E.J. Dionne Jr., towards the end of his clever attempt to ridicule the Vatican, we find this bold assertion: “The church needs to cast aside the lawyers, the PR specialists and its own worst instincts…” If that’s not bad enough, try this: “The church will have to show not only that it has learned from the scandal, but also that it’s truly willing to transform itself.” Now you tell me, when you are served with a lawsuit for millions of dollars, is it malicious to seek a lawyer’s help? PR specialists? Dream on. As for “transformation”, ask anyone who works for the church or pays attention to church activities about all the efforts at victim assistance and child protection which have been incorporated into church policies both here and elsewhere.
Then on March 30 there was the unconscionable cartoon on the editorial page which unfairly belittled our It was a portrayal dripping with hostility, an attack against our high priest, our universal pastor, our faithful teacher, the one person who, in the eyes of the world, symbolizes all that we are and do as Catholics. I was insulted and I hope you were too. People called wondering what I would say or do. I’m grateful for the prod. Can you imagine the reaction people of other faiths or persuasions would have if their leadership were so publicly scorned? The Oregonian wouldn’t dare publish something so ugly about the Dalai Lama. Nor should they.
The last straw came on March 31. On the editorial page again, this time in the form of a prominent editorial, the editors arrogantly scolded the church for its past failures in handling this matter of child sexual abuse and, in an insulting and unfair attack, chose this most holy time of the year, during our church’s Year of the Priest, to connect the practice of celibacy among our clergy with the problem of child sexual abuse, when everyone knows that most abusers by far are married persons! Is every single person now under a cloud of suspicion? Or only single ? If only the latter, don’t you wonder why?
For more than ten years as of Portland, in one way or another, I have pondered these challenges and perhaps taken them more seriously than they merited. But I knew that reconciliation and healing among those aggrieved would only be possible if we who are the church were truly repentant and serious about doing better.
But the media could never be satisfied. Why? It’s a trick as old as the human race. “When you don’t like the message, destroy the messenger.” The , in exercising her prophetic role and responsibility, is sometimes a very lonely speaker when addressing reasonable solutions to problematic realities like abortion, devaluing marriage and family life, injustices in the economy which lead to unabated poverty demeaning the sacredness of human sexuality and the place of religion in the public forum.
The Oregonian is most likely no more guilty than its counterparts in other communities, but that’s the newspaper for most of us in Portland and other folks in western Oregon who like a paper with a “big city” feel. But the triduum of hostility, arrogance and ridicule that greeted readers during the early days of Holy Week, at the expense of the Catholic Church, is simply not tolerable and should not be condoned without some form of protest. The editors, of course, hold all the cards, so what to do? I canceled my subscription and urge others to do the same.
Something will be missing while I sip my morning coffee, but with less time for breakfast, maybe I can jog a bit farther and eat a bit less. There’s inevitably something good that can be discovered in most unpleasant situations.
My friends, we Catholics are not perfect, but we are deserving of human respect. I had thought I should delay making assertions like these until later. Well, later arrived this morning with the last issue of the Oregonian that will be delivered to my home in the foreseeable future.