National Catholic Reporter
A lay Catholic weekly, bi-weekly during the summer, that contains global up-to-date coverage of news of interest to thinking Catholics.
Bread for the World
A national faith based organization founded to lobby Congress on behalf of the hungry throughout the world.
Road to Recovery, Inc
Road to Recovery, Inc is the initiative of advocates for victims of sexual abuse. Advocacy is two-fold: 1. To provide a path for the healing of victims; 2. To confront perpetrators and those who cover up the sexual assault of minors and vulnerable adult.
A timely Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits. American keeps us up to date on both news and opinion relevant to timely issues and events.
This link will keep 'parishioners-at-large' in touch with current creative liturgy sources and resources that respect a variety of 'traditions' within the Church.
Voice of the Faithful
A 'movement' of lay Catholics 'inspired' by the abuse scandal calling for greater accountability of bishops to 'Catholics in the Pew.'
Survivos' Network for those Abused by Priests or Religious
A National Network of self-help support groups for people abused by clergy or religious.
Vital information about the disclosure of sexual abuse and related issues affecting Catholics in the pew and the manner in which Bishops continue to exempt themselves from accountability
A 'lay' Catholic weekly publication with an accent on an intelligent analysis and commentary on curent issues, trends and concerns of interest to Catholics.
Bill Moyers and Company
A must link for all who desire to be kept informed of the truth about 'truths' communicated by the commercial media and the political pundists who hsve another agenda that makes truth a precious commodity.
+ 1st Week in Advent
Seeing is believing, or better, believing is seeing.
Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24 Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14 Matthew 9:27-31
The Lord says this: “In a short time, a very short time, shall not Lebanon become fertile land and fertile land turn into forest? The deaf, that day, will hear the words of a book and after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.” [Isaiah 29:17-18]
From my childhood until the present, I have never ceased to be in awe at the work of the ‘Seeing Eye’ here in Morristown. Trainers walk the streets with dogs of a variety of breeds that will become in time the eyes of their physically blind owners.
At a certain point, they are introduced to their new owners with whom they will spend the rest of their lives.
I have heard it said that people who lose the gift of one of their senses are compensated by a heightened sensitivity in one of their other senses. I think this is true. The physically blind are often more insightful about life than we who have the gift of physical sight.
Earlier this wee week on one of the PBS stations, there was a documentary on a young man who lost his sight as a teen or young adult. He experienced the usual traumatic effects of such a loss. But over time, he received the grace and the courage to resume a normal life. With his walking stick as his ‘guide’ he made his way around the neighborhood and then on to the super market and other services to take care of the basic necessities of life and yes, he even learned to prepare meals for himself. Then at some point he got the notion to travel – not by car, train or plane but on foot. He waked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I believe it took almost six months but he did it. He hooked up with other hikers but spend many nights on his own in the lonely cabins provided for hikers along the trail. I was and remain in awe of this young man. His vision of life carried him and gave new meaning to sight and insight.
The gift of sight precious but the gift of faith is even more precious and enables believers to see far more than the human eye can see. People of faith are visionary and tend to view life as a mystery to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. People of vision search for creative solutions to human differences and do not resort to violence or warfare. They are pro-life in every respect. They value creation and reverence the presence of God in all living creatures.
Advent provides many lenses which enable us to see a Jesus saw and to walk with greater confidence that life is more than what the human eye can see.Daily Scripture Archive»
Don’t shout! I can hear you.
Unless we have borne a handicap from birth or early childhood, we tend not to appreciate the stigma that is too often associated with a physical or emotional handicap, particularly as children. It is not unusual for handicapped children to be ‘tagged’ by their peers becoming targets for puns and objects of humor for amateur comedians.
Even adults with handicaps are not spared offensive jokes and jests. But lest we go to excess in the other extreme, handicapped persons are not without a sense of humor. I suppose there is a fine line between gentle banter and demeaning jokes.
This story was told by a man who himself had labored with a hearing impediment and other chronic ailments. Despite his handicaps, he has never lost his sense of humor or the ability to laugh at himself.
Having suffered a major hearing loss, he was persuaded by his loving family to purchase a rather expensive hearing aid so that they could refrain from shouting at him. So frustrated had they become with his repeated requests to speak louder, they pledged to pay for a new hearing device no matter the cost.
Off he went and on his return was pleased to announce that they would pay through the nose for his new aid. As he entered the room, he announced, “This will set you all back $10,000!” To which they responded, “Yipes, what kind is it?” He replied, “It’s three o’clock!”
Speaking of which, I have reached the stage at which I am unable to distinguish words or decipher sounds when I’m in a large crowd. Until a few years ago, I had assumed that hearing loss has to do with volume, but this is not always the case except at wedding receptions. Speaking of which, I attended a particular reception last year and at one point, I went out to the bar and asked the bartender for either another scotch or a set of ear plugs to which he quickly responded, “I have both!”
Jesus was particularly sensitive not only to the blind and the deaf but to the weak and vulnerable of every class and category. He was careful never to attach a stigma to a physical or mental handicap connecting it with wrongdoing as was common among his peers.
How many parents who have given birth to a child with severe disabilities have carried the burden of guilt and suffered the consequences of a sin they didn’t commit. This is not God’s way!
In more recent times some parents of sons or daughters who turn out to be of a homosexual orientation have also been known to suffer guilt or estrangement as if somehow they were responsible for the orientation of their children. In their guilt they attempt the impossible and end up alienating their own flesh and blood from home and hearth. This is not God’s way!
The scriptures this weekend deal with handicaps of one kind or another but the biblical authors use them as a metaphor for a hearing disability among his disciples that many of us seem to have inherited. In this sense are we not all handicapped children of God?
Our handicap may or may not be physical though, to be sure, sooner or later if we live long enough, we will be afflicted by one kind or another, you can bet on that! After my dad died, I found a magnifying glass in every room! At 92 he experienced the early stages of macula degeneration. I can expect the same when I reach 92 if not before, so I’ve saved all the magnifying glasses. I have one in my pocket as I speak!
But most of our handicaps are spiritual. Carl Jung said that many of the psychological mishaps that derail us in the course of life are often rooted in a lack of insight and spiritual blindness. Healing starts when we acknowledge our handicaps and cry out for help.
The Scriptures do not provide simple answers or magic solutions to our handicaps—not at all. On the contrary, they challenge us to find answers and work toward solutions that bear out the fact that God intervenes through human minds and hearts and hands. Isn’t this what the incarnation was all about? Was Jesus himself spared from the search? Was he spared the stress and strains of being clothed in human skin?
As we continue to grapple with the serious issues of the day, not least of which is universal health care and unemployment it is important that we listen before we speak and do the homework necessary to form an opinion. Moreover, it is essential to remain civil in our dialogue and not bite anyone’s finger off no matter how much we disagree. I suppose it’s also true that we should avoid pointing our finger at anyone and risk losing it!
I have found the Dali Lama’s “Instructions for Life” worthy of some consideration during these challenging times. I think his wisdom is the perfect corollary to today’s lessons:
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three R’s:
• Respect for self,
• Respect for others and
• Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. (And I would add, a blessing.)
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home [and heart] is the foundation for your life.
Now go and live it to the best of your ability with God’s grace.