The Adulation of Hypocrisy

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! – From the classic scene in Casablanca, made in 1942

presidentTwenty years ago – January 17, 1998, news broke on Drudge that then-president Bill Clinton had “relations” with a young intern in the White House.

That was the moment when I thought our nation had lost discretion and decorum.  It wasn’t only that I was disappointed (hardly shocked) that the leader of the free world might engage in illicit sex.  No, it was the explicit nature of how the media described the “affair.” And following that came the hypocritical outcries from politicians and press suggesting they had no idea such things ever happened.

Last year we witnessed the Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.  Goodness…a movie director asking pretty girls for favors in exchange for stardom.  Everyone in the movie industry was shocked – the same people who are churning out movies and television shows filled with violence, profanity, nudity and explicit sex. Continue reading

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The Catholic Love of Life

lifeWhile chatting with the kids from Sunday school, I asked them, “What do you want to be when you grow up”?  Some of the most popular answers were doctors, firemen, policemen etc., and why?  Because they can save people, save a life, and save the world!

In our human nature, we all have in our hearts “a law written by God” (Rom 2:15).  We all have this moral conscience to love the good and avoid evil (Veritatis Splendor 54), to love one another (Jn 13:34) and that we should not kill anyone (Ex 20:13) but instead, to save lives for “human life is sacred” (CCC 2258). Continue reading

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Lessons from the Flu

fluI have the flu. It hurts.

I’m saying that not because I’m looking for sympathy. I’m just one of a few million people who have the flu.

I mention it to put everyday life in perspective.

Most of us have dreams: places we want to visit, career levels to achieve, a book to write, a hit song, getting all the kids through college.  Sometimes our dreams are practical and materialistic: a new house, a fancy car, mink coat, a bass boat. Continue reading

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Epiphany in Hurt Park

hurt

Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world.   Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor. 

-St. Teresa of Calcutta

My friend was homeless on the streets of Atlanta decades ago.  Looking at me as we stood on the corner of Courtland Ave. & Gilmer St. with Love & Serve Atlanta, he tried to make me understand a reality that is so far from my experience, he knows I won’t get it. “Hurt Park is not a happy place, Kerrie. There’s not a lot of hope here. That’s why we come.”  This was years ago.  I keep coming back with my family, especially on Christmas Eve. Continue reading

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Into the Promised Land — with Joshua

imagesThe Book of Joshua is an epilogue to the Pentateuch where Joshua finally led Israel into the Promised Land after being in the wilderness for 40 years.  Under the command of Joshua, Israel experienced a brief period of spiritual faithfulness and military success, where there were far fewer instances of covenant breaking in comparison to Moses’ time.  This book showed a leadership contrast between Moses and Joshua, hence, the necessity of having Joshua to accomplish what Moses could not.   Continue reading

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5 Ways your New Year’s Resolutions Can be Totally Catholic

 

resolutionsResolutions are near and dear to the Catholic heart for a few reasons that run in our baptismal DNA.

We love to have the firm purpose to amend our lives, as we promise every time we go to confession.

We love conversions, including our own ongoing conversions of life.

We aspire to give our will to the Will of God- a life surrendering resolution.

We also love the seasons of our faith, having times that we all focus together on a specific aspect of Christ’s life and mystery.

Yes, New Year’s resolutions are very Catholic.

At the same time, our faith asks us to rely on grace and not try to be the protagonists of our own salvation. We need to make sure our resolutions rely on God and our co-operation with him, not on our own plan for self-improvement based in pride or vanity, or on a determination to ‘earn our salvation’ (which of course, we cannot do, by the way).

Here are 5 thoughts to bring to prayer if you are looking for ways to have totally Catholic new year’s resolutions. Continue reading

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Ravioli — The Next Generation

ravioliThe moment had been creeping up on me for more than a quarter-century, but I didn’t see it coming.

Not the time. Not the place. Not the circumstances.

I sat in my kitchen, just a couple days past Christmas 2017. Four other people bustled about the kitchen rolling dough into pasta, mixing cheese and spices, putting together dozens and dozens of ravioli made from scratch. The task required patience and attention to detail and the love of good cooking I recall from my grandma’s kitchen and the kitchen of my wife’s grandmother. Continue reading

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Moses Meets the Law

mosesDeuteronomy covers the time Moses and the sons of Israel were waiting outside of the Promised Land, where he recounted the happenings, introduced a new set of laws and gave the blessings and curses before he died at 120 years. Moses never made it to the Promised Land because of his broken faith with the Lord in the wilderness, and his failure to revere the Lord as Holy in the midst of the sons of Israel (Deu 32:51). But he did bring out one of the very key messages of the book that was the great commandment in the law (Mat 22:36): “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deu 6:4-5).  Moses mentioned this key message again in Chapter 30 that: “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deu 30:6).

In order to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, we must firstly circumcise our hearts and be “no longer stubborn” (Deu 10:16).  “Real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal” (Rom 2:29).  This recalls our baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, which brings upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:38) that “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).  Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with God’s love (Rom 5:5), which makes it truly possible for us to obey the law of God because this love is the fulfillment of all the law (Rom 13:10).  Therefore, Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the “circumcision of our hearts” that was predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 30:6.

 

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Labels and Francis’s Culture of Encounter

labelsA few weeks back I wrote a piece on why certain labels like conservative or liberal religious community are unhelpful. My argument was mainly that these labels bring a foreign concept – politics – into religion. However, as I thought about it, I realize a lot more places where we tend to label people. I want to compare our tendency to label people with the culture of encounter Pope Francis has called for.

Labels can be helpful: knowing I’m a “person with high blood pressure” helps me be more cautious about extra weight. But labels can also limit a person or reduce them: if you reduce me to my high blood pressure, you lose a lot of who I am as that is only the most minor aspect of me. Continue reading

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Resolved to be Unresolved

resolutionsAs the end of 2017 looms, talk turns to the making of resolutions for the new year. In this, I am a non-participant, perhaps even an anti-new-year-resolutionist.

My reason for eschewing New Year’s Resolutions is simple; if there is something that I should change about my behavior, I should start right now, not on some “special” date.  And to be frank, the only things special about January 1 are it being a Holy Day and it is time to put a new parish calendar on my office wall. Continue reading

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