Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where in the world is... the blog? Adjust your feeds and more, read on.

Greetings to the parish community of St. Edward the Confessor and all others who grace these pages! We thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter!

The Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor, founded and edited and with many reflections by yours truly. You will also find the fine work of other parish writers including Donald Harmande and Peter Avvento, among others, can now be found at this new location.

We welcome all submissions for consideration, so please consider a brief reflection. We will soon be soliciting Advent and Christmas reflections and would love to have you join our online prayer as a reader, writer or both!

If you wish, please stop by my personal blog, There Will Be Bread. That is where I offer my thoughts and reflections on faith and life.

All are also welcome to visit Pastoral Postings. This blog is my pastoral formation project as I work towards my MA in Pastoral Studies at St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. It is the parish blog of my workplace, Immaculate Conception in Glenville.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We've Moved!

Greetings! We have moved, please come find us at this new link!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Poetry Wednesday - September Flower by Donald G. Harmande

September Flower


Lovely golden beauty...

It took all Summer to bloom

As if it were to say

I'll flourish

Before the chill and gloom.

Why so late I pondered and then

I knew quite well

Life like us is vibrant, not willing

To give up, crush or quell.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11 by Colin Allyn

Sept.11th...For those who have gone on, and more so for those who remain
Photo credit: Dan Sloan, 9/10/11

There have been so many instances in our lives that stay with us long after they’ve happened. How many people have said to you “I know exactly where I was when President Kennedy was shot”. Or when the Space Shuttle exploded killing the crew (including America's 1st teacher in space). But more recently, September 11th is a day that will always hold a special meaning to all of us.

At that time I was working as a conductor for Amtrak. On That day I was returning to Albany on a train from Niagara Falls, New York. When we arrived in Syracuse a woman boarded the train saying that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. We pretty much laughed it off and continued on toward Albany. Our train was stopped just before Rome, NY where State Police boarded and ordered the other conductor and me to search the train and look for anything suspicious.

People on the train of Arab decent were terrified of arriving in New York City. I will never forget the next few days. City streets normally jammed with traffic were empty. Penn Station was still busy, but not like it usually was. It became clear that our country and way of life had been viciously attacked. It was a hard thing to make sense of, that our country was that vulnerable.

I have always been an admirer of Abraham Lincoln. His speeches always fascinated me because in many ways they were faith based. This particular speech was given as a State of the Union Address. It was not very long after the Civil war had begun. The Union was dissolving and brother was literally fighting against brother. As you read these words I ask you to think about the times we live in now. Like many of the stories in the Bible this is a life lesson. I hope find as much enjoyment from it as I do.

“ This Government must endure in spite of the acts of any man...or set of men. Nowhere in the world is the government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest among us are held the highest privileges and positions. At what point then should we expect the approach of danger, and by what means should we fortify against it. Should we expect some Trans-Atlantic Giant to step the ocean and crush us with a single blow. No...All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River, or make a track on the Blue Ridge Mountains. If destruction be our lot we ourselves must be its author and its finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time or die by suicide. Surely God would not have created such a being as man with the ability to grasp the infinite to exist only for a day. No, No.Man was made for immortality"


My friends, if we take anything from these words it should be that we are still here, standing tall and facing a flag that we have pledged allegiance to for generations. We are that one nation, under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. May God continue to bless America and us all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus - Of Popes, Work and Human Dignity, A Labor Day Reflection


In May of 1891 a papal encyclical was published by Pope Leo XIII as the Industrial Revolution continued to change the world for both good and ill. This encyclical was called Rerum Novarum, meaning Of New Things. One hundred years later, Blessed Pope John Paul II issued, Centisumus Annus, or 100 Years, to speak to the same matters of work and human dignity, one hundred years later.


In 1891 there were oppressed workers everywhere. All the mechanization of work had created a need for workers. This was a good thing, right? Maybe not so much... Work is good, oppressive work is not good. At the heart of our Catholic Christian faith is the essential dignity of the human person. Oppressive work that exists to create capital alone dismisses the dignity of the human person. This is exactly what Pope Leo XIII wanted to be clear about. Pope John Paul II expressed the same thing.

We would be wise to read, reflect and pray with each of these documents and to consider our current culture in the U.S. and in the world. It seems to me that in some ways very little progress has been made.


As I reread each of the encyclicals, I was particularly struck by these words from Centisimus Annus:

A workman's wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children. "If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice".

This reminds me of many things. One the near-constant drumbeat of messages that we hear which speak to the need to support business in the current challenging economic climate, so that business might support people. There are equivalent conversations about the opposite. As a result, hese words from Pope Leo XIII strike me in a particular way.

"Therefore, venerable brethren, as on former occasions when it seemed opportune to refute false teaching, We have addressed you in the interests of the Church and of the common weal, and have issued letters. . . .The discussion is not easy, nor is it void of danger. It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men's judgments and to stir up the people to revolt."

When he speaks of craft agitators intent on making use of differences I think of our current political climate in this country!

I know that not-so-long-ago when I was a senior corporate executive, we were faced with mounting pressure on how to cut, cut, cut costs. Now I can't speak for all companies, but my former employer was not in economic straits, not in the least. The cut, cut, cut refrain was about how to increase profits and "shareholder value."

And I might add - and this is my experience - certainly not necessarily universal, that the one way a manager could really cut costs and increase productivity, was to cut staff.  Another way was to hire people who might not be quite as competent, but who required lower salaries.

I'm pretty sure that everyone who worked for my former employer, in most business functions, did make enough money to support a family; at least for the most part. There may have been exceptions. This is not the case everywhere and may not be the case there now; I do not know.

I do know that I look back and wonder about just how and where human dignity entered into the equation. And I wonder about Pope John Paul's words, "If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice".

While I left the corporate world four long years ago, I do know of many of my friends who are employed but who live with a sword of Damocles over their heads. When other positions are cut, it is like they are the lucky ones in the cakewalk who end up with a seat. However, the pressure to do more work is ever-present along with the threat, generally silent and implied, that they could be next... So while people might be earning a good enough living, whatever that is, where is the dignity when the work is forced out of a place of fear?

This situation may seem enviable to the under-employed, the unemployed and the really long-term unemployed. However, this is another reminder that human dignity continues to be commoditized and that the value of it has dropped even lower.

We have much to pray and reflect about this Labor Day. Ultimately I think that what we might want to consider is this - where is God in this for all of us? If work , if money, if unions, if union-busters all become false gods, we are lost.

Let us all reflect and pray on what we think God is saying to us in our time. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Changing Things Up Around The Blog

Greetings all! On July 28, 2011 we celebrated an anniversary around here, with no fanfare at all; the blog turned 4 years old. Have a look at our first post from that day by clicking here.

I knew so little about blogging then - other than I had a real passion for this medium. Looking back at my rudimentary posts and at what I imagined this place might be, I have to smile... Smile in the manner that a parent smiles at a child trying to do something new, but not quite getting it right, but still trying.

In the years that have followed we have published 746 posts. We have had many people send in contributions to the blog, which is a real gift. We have our poet, Donald G. Harmande, who has been published most Tuesdays and will now move to Wednesdays. Dolores Martin was another regular contributor, who grew into having her own blog, Grace Moments. Dolores has not published much lately, but I know that she is always on the go; she will probably be back.

Colin Allyn has been submitting pieces and this has been a gift. Colin, a faithful member of our community came into the church via RCIA at Easter 2009. He has blossomed into a catechist, eucharistic minister and now blogger during this time.

During the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter we publish scriptural reflections for the daily readings, written by parishioners and others. This started off as a separate enterprise from the blog, but has merged with us.

And now Peter Avvento, who is not only a parishioner but heads up Adult Faith Enrichment here at St. Edward's and is the Director of Amazing God, our diocesan evangelization program, is also writing for us. Peter brings a wealth of insight and experience and we look forward to his regular contributions.

So what's missing?

You!

We want to get more people interested in our blog and blog Facebook page, so if this is your first visit, we hope it will not be your last. We hope that you read, comment and/or share things on your Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Google+ plus ones!

For those who have been along for the ride, thanks for your faithful presence; we hope you will find the new elements a way to enrich our online experience. Pope Benedict said:

I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship. 

That is what we hope you find here as we refocus our mission and ministry and change things up around the blog.  Please send us your thoughts, ideas and suggestions for future topics in the comments or via email to stedwardsblog@gmail.com.


Catholics Coming Home, A Personal Story - By Colin Allyn



Today while reading the Sunday paper, I came across an ad for a crystal cross with the Lord's Prayer inscribed in the center. The ad said that if you wore this cross, all your problems would go away. I laughed and thought about the kind of world we live in. 

Not so long ago I attended a Sunday service with friends at another church. The pastor spoke out saying that if you had cancer pray and you would be healed. If you had no money pray and your financial woes would disappear. And finally -  if you needed a new car, pray and the Lord would take care of that too. 

His sermon did not sit well with me, but I remained silent. When I was leaving with my wife, the pastor approached me and shook my hand. He said I looked bothered by his sermon and he wanted to know what my opinion was. I politely said I was a guest and my opinions were not important. He would not let go of my hand and again asked me for my opinion. I relented and told that I was always taught that prayer was for guidance, strength, comfort, and forgiveness. And quite frankly getting a new car was never brought up in my lessons! What he was doing was giving people false hope... I don't know what bothered me more; what he said to me, or the fact that there were people that actually bought into this.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Jim Bakkers and Jerry Falwells were on television. For some who were homebound, due to illness or injury, this was the only way they thought they could worship. For only $29.95 a month you could join their prayer chain get an autographed picture, and all of your problems would go away. 

Taking advantage of someone's faith is so wrong, yet for those who are homebound sometimes can be an easy prey. Many of you likely saw the sign outside of our church about “Catholic’s Coming Home”. Being new to our faith there is something that always stayed fresh in my mind and it is this... Father Pat always closes the Mass the same way. He tells us that God has blessed us in many ways, and to go forth and be a blessing to those that we meet. My friends, don’t we owe our brothers and sisters who have taken this path to tell them not so much what they should do but, what you do. Tell them that you worship as a community. The we all have feelings of friendship and belonging that we sense every week here at St. Edward's. You can’t shake the television's hand and say "Peace be with you”.

As Catholics, we are given so many gifts and have so much to be proud of. By sharing your gifts, you may have been, or will be, a blessing to someone. A very smart person told me once not to pay it back ...pay it forward. We are Catholic Christians. For many of us we take great pride in our faith and where we worship. Share that sense of belonging with a neighbor or friend and who knows. Maybe sometime soon you may be standing in the gathering space at St. Edward’s extending your hand and telling that person, “Welcome home”.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poetry Tuesday - When Grandma Was a Child by Donald G. Harmande

(Today is the last day of Poetry Tuesday. Not to worry however, next week, Poetry Wednesday will be our new day for work from Donald G. Harmande. Stay tuned for some other blog changes and thank you for being part of our blogging community!)


1884
A TRUE HAPPENING
WHEN GRANDMA WAS A CHILD

A shining light arose from a house
one certain eve,
a child outdoors in awe perceived.
As the darkness surrounded
the domain of the little one,
trembling, she wondered from where
this glow had come.

The child's mother beckoned
she should be with her,
for news of great sadness
and misfortune occurred.
She sadly  announced,
"Your dear father has died,
be by my side to pray and bide."

Candles were lit
to invoke God's love,
a litany of prayer
lifted up above.

Tears of past memories
were bitter for daughter
who could not conceive
what destiny brought her.

Such a heavy load
for this child of seven,
who had witnessed her Father's soul
on his way to Heaven.


Donald G. Harmande

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poetry Tuesday - Kinds of Kisses by Donald G. Harmande

Kinds of Kisses

Kisses for family, kisses for friends,
what do they really mean?
Are they just tokens to say,
"see my affection is seen?"
Or do they portray expressions by rote
with no real thought
worthy of note?
Kisses that come from the heart
with genuine warmth and love
are ones that give joy from the start.
So think next time you part with a kiss
and ask if it's real
and if it is a picture of how
truly you feel.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

“Firmum est cor meum”

  “Firmum est cor meum” - By Peter Avvento 

 


             It was a typical NYC summer day - hot and humid. But it would be for me a day like no other - Monday, August 23, 1971. It was a day when a frightened yound man from Brooklyn boarded the SS Leondardo daVinci, the pride of the Italian line, and met forty other frightened young men who would come to be the Class of 1975 of the Pontifical North AmericanCollege, the so-called West Point of the Catholic Church. We were the hope of the American Church, a church that was reeling with dissent and rebellion. It was the post Vatican II era, the aftermath of Humane Vitae, the encyclical that shook the Church and rocked the papacy of Paul VI. It was a time when the war in Vietnam was still raging, the drug culture was having a blast and the silent majority was not so silent any more. The Church in America needed hope and we were a big part of that dream. We hailed from Brooklyn, Boston, Buffalo and Baltimore; from Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans and Sioux City; from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Providence and places in between. We went by names like Jack, Jay, Billy and Danny. We were tall and short, stocky and slender, wealthy, middle class or somewhere in between.

            The unknown lie before us. We would not see the American shore for two years and would be away for a total of four years. We would not hear The Star Spangled Banner or hear the words “Play Ball!” but rather would be serenaded by the lilting anthem of our adopted country, “Italia” and doze off on Sunday afternoons watching soccer matches.

            It seems like only yesterday that we arrived in Rome and saw the Basilica of St. Peter for the first time just as the sun was setting. Rome - that eternal city of God, grace and beauty. That city of sin, corruption and infamy. Rome - that eternal city of our culture and our faith. I will never forget the crest of the College on the cool marble floor of the foyer of the North American College - “Firmum est cor meum” (“Steadfast is my heart”).

             We were being sent to learn from the giants of theology - Lonergan, Rahner, Latourelle, Fuchs, Haring, Alfaro and Galot. These were the men who shaped the theology of the Church and we would be their pupils and possibly their heirs. But first we had to learn Italian since all of the lectures were being converted from Latin to Italian although some professors would still insist on the “mother tongue”.

            Now forty years have passed since that August day and as I reflect I note how this group, the hope of the Church can be looked at as the pride of the American church producing a cardinal (RaymondBurke); eight bishops (Blair, Cote, Cupich, Hoeppner, Harvey,Mulvey,Provost, Zurek; numerous pastors, teachers, chaplains and missionaries. In addition, some of us became lawyers, teachers, businessmen, husbands and parents.
      
            So I would like to toast those pilgrims, those frightened men of the Class of 1975 who matured into great lions of God. You were the brothers of my youth and you are the “fratelli” of my faith. I lift a glass of Spumante and wish you in ministry of whatever sort, “Ad multos annos” (“T o many years”). Because of you I can still say with the Psalmist, “Firmum est cor meum”.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Theology Thursday

A post with three important links... There has been a lot of theological sabre rattling of late; sabres of the bishops it would seem. That makes me very sad and I continue to pray for the Body of Christ.

That said, I think that these three posts are very important in presenting some thoughts on recent issues. Sometimes it is time to consider new wineskins, perhaps now being such a time? I pray for the wisdom to know. 

As theology is "Fides quarens intellectum," or "faith seeking undertanding," I think that questions, probing, study and journey (we are a pilgrim people after all!) are essential to theology. And as a student of theology, I do not think I am making this up! However, there has been no shortage of conversation about recent skirmishes between bishops and theologians.

Three posts to consider...

From Catholic Moral Theology we find "Father Thomas Weinandy and the Theological Generation Gap". The author,  PhD in Theology makes some interesting points about what makes today's theology very different from that of the past.

From WIT: Women In Theology, we come upon "A Curse and Affliction Upon the Church? On Vitriol and Theologians." This author is a PhD candidate in theology at Notre Dame and she unpacks some of the similarities between Fr. Weinandy's remarks in an talk given in May and recently summarized in a column by John Allen at NCR, about commentary on Dr. Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ and recent issues with her book, The Quest for the Living God. (In full disclosure, I have read and enjoyed this thought provoking book and it has been used in two of my classes.)

From Brother Dan Horan, OFM at his blog, Dating God, we read about "Fides Quaerens Nihilum, Weinandy's Vision of Theology." Dan, who has been teaching at Siena College is a theologian himself.(In more full disclosure, Br. Dan is coming to interview me today for a future episode of his Dating God podcast.)

Read on, think, consider, ponder, pray - and repeat. We worship a Living God, we are a pilgrim people and we must literally re-member the Body of Christ. How we do that is vast undertaking.