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Monday, June 29, 2015

How Desperate Are We for God?

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 28, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

How desperate are we for God? 

In today’s Gospel passage (Mark 5:21-43),we hear of a series of healings by Our Lord.

We first hear of a man named Jairus who approaches Jesus and begs Him to heal his daughter who is dying. He falls at the feet of Jesus and cries out,
“My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” As Jesus goes to heal the girl, we then hear of a woman who is suffering from hemorrhages. She had suffered for a long time, and the doctors could not help her. She had spent all her money! She heard about Jesus and desperately went to Him for healing!

My brothers and sisters, in each incident in today’s Gospel the persons were desperate
Fr. John Paul Shea
for the healing power of Jesus. They were desperate for the intervention of the Lord in their life situation, and they begged the Lord for help.

It is when we also turn to the Lord in our need for Him that He acts in our lives. But, Our Lord does not want us to wait until we are facing a life crisis before we come to Him. He wants us to be desperate for Him now. He wants us to live our lives for Him.

When we live for Christ we are given grace to help us prepare for future struggles… Each one of us will face struggles in life. Many of us have faced major struggles already. Wherever we are at in our lives at this time, today’s Gospel calls us to turn to the Lord and beg for His help and mercy!

So many people today live their lives in misery because they do not turn to the Lord. So many today wander around each day with no hope. We harm ourselves. We misuse our bodies and our sexuality… Some get hooked on drugs… Others get taken up with other wrong behaviors. It is often not until we hit rock bottom in our destructive behaviors that we realize our need for God. But it is when we acknowledge our need for Him and beg for His help that He comes to our aid.

We are reminded in today’s Gospel that we need to come to our Lord in faith. We must trust that He will provide for our needs. When the woman in today’s Gospel approaches Jesus and falls down before Him He says,
“Daughter, your faith has saved you.”

If we want the Lord to work in our lives, we must come to Him in faith.

So let us ask ourselves, “Where is our faith today?” Do we trust in our Lord? Do we submit ourselves to His will in our lives even though we do not see Him face to face?

The woman in today’s Gospel simply wanted to touch the cloak of Jesus. She said,
“If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” My brothers and sisters, as Catholics we don’t simply
touch a piece of our Lord’s clothing. We receive Him into our very bodies through the Eucharist! Do we come to the Eucharist with passion and devotion in our hearts knowing Who it is we are receiving? Do we strive to receive our Lord worthily in the Eucharist by following the teachings of Our Lord’s Church?

We live in a world today that is filled with lax Catholics. Only 36 percent of Catholics here in the United States attend Mass regularly, and many Catholics who attend church still do not follow Church teachings… Ireland, which is supposed to be a Catholic nation, has just voted for same sex marriage. A nation of Catholics has voted for a law that is against God’s laws.

Now, since two days ago, we have same sex marriage here in the United States as law of the land. Now that same sex marriage is part of the United States Constitution, this decision of our courts will test the faith of every Catholic at some point in the not distant future because the devil wants to destroy marriage. As Pope Francis taught while serving as Archbishop in Argentina: "Same-sex marriage is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is a move of the ‘father of lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."

My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel calls us to be on fire for our faith! Our Lord wants us to be desperate for Him. He wants us to be passionate for His truth!

We are living in a critical times right now… both in our Church and in our world. For the devil is in full force striving to deceive souls! God does not want lax Catholics. In fact, in the Book of Revelation our Lord says that we must be either hot or cold in our faith. But if we are lukewarm He will spit us out His mouth (Rev. 3:16).

As Catholics we have a choice to live our lives for Christ through His Church and His teachings or to live for the world which is passing away.

As you know Pope Francis just came out with an encyclical on the environment where he reminds us of the desperate need to take care of the earth because the earth itself is
“crying out” for justice. Yes, God wants us to take care of the earth. But what is most important is the salvation of souls.

Ultimately, this earth is being renewed both spiritually and physically. This world of sin is passing away, and God will make a new earth for those who are found worthy. This is why Our Lord Jesus has come into our world. He has come to save us from a world that is perishing. This is why our Lord commissioned His disciples to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins!

If we want to know what taking place in the future of the world we live in today, all we need to do is look in the Book of Revelation.

Or we simply listen to the words of Jesus Himself who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
What we await is a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no disregard for the earth. There will be no more war. No ISIS. No terrorism. No abortion. No pornography. No adultery. No ‘so called’ same sex ‘marriage.’ No crooked politicians… No violence. No pain…None of this stuff! For the meek and humble shall inherit the earth.

The only thing that is going to save our souls from the death of this world is conversion of

heart. The only person who is going to bring healing to our souls is Our Lord Jesus Christ. But we must come to Him. We must be desperate for Him. We must beg Him for healing. When we come to Him with a humble and contrite heart, He is always there to help us.

Did you enjoy this sermon? There are more!  Climb Aboard the Ark of Our Salvation!     

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Same Sex "Marriage:" Another Chapter in Grimm's Fairy Tales

"Today the Supreme Court is Wrong Again!” warns Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky

by Susan Fox

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex “marriage” in a decision called Obergefell v. Hodges on Black Friday June 26, 2015.

It’s another chapter in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Chastity remains a virtue and God made them male and female. (Gen 5:2, Mark 10:6) Fairy Tale Writers on the Supreme Court cannot change reality although they are creating a hostile living environment for believing Christians and innocent children. Any civil law that contradicts Natural Law causes injustice. It never fixes anything.

“Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, adding that forcing the states to license same-sex “marriage” is a tragic error that will harm the most vulnerable among us.

He went on to say, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail.”

And guess what papal encyclical he quotes to prove his point? Laudato Si, the much maligned environmental scribbling from Pope Francis I!

“The unique meaning of marriage as the
Pope Francis' "integral ecology" includes marriage
between one man and one woman.
union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote,” Archbishop Kutz said. 

Environmentalists, you can’t embrace homosexual “marriage,” and expect Catholics to think you actually love the earth! Tree-hugging heterosexuals, you can’t use contraception and expect us to believe you respect the environment. Contraceptive hormones appear increasingly in our drinking water causing fish populations to die in three short generations while people drinking hormone-laced water have unexplained plummeting sperm counts, soaring incidences of testicular cancer, infertility and childhood gender confusion.

The Catholic Church encourages every person -- whether they experience same-sex or opposite-sex attractions -- to live chastely, and in marriage to be fruitful. And with the recent publication of Laudato Si, we now know this is good for the environment.

While bathing the White House in rainbow colors  Friday night, U.S. President Barack Obama applauded the Supreme Court decision saying the government was
White House bathed in Rainbow Colors on Friday night
committed to “equality and diversity.” He subtly suggested that those who have embraced the idea of same-sex unions should “reach back and help others join them.”

“Shifts in hearts and minds is possible,” he said. Conservative commentators are taking this to mean, “We need to help people overcome their religious beliefs” on the issue of same-sex “marriage.” 

Obama’s speech before Notre Dame University’s graduating class of 2009 contained the same subtle hint that there was only one right side to the abortion question. While complementing the youth present for their pro-life values, which he opposes, he reminded them that they could become a “crossroads,” a person of faith who admits doubt. “Remember, too, that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt.”

"What difference does it make (why 4 Americans were
killed in Benghazi?)"-Hillary Clinton 1/23/2013 
U.S. Presidential Hopeful Hillary Clinton is not as subtle. She has said that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” in order to protect access to abortion. What hubris! What makes her think she CAN think her way out of a paper bag?  

Abortion and same sex “marriage” have now both been legalized through tyrannical judicial fiat in the United States. Both so-called “laws” need to be resisted in every setting in the United States – abortion mills, hospitals, marriage tribunals, notary public, licensing offices, wedding florists, bakeries, photographers, churches and all public media. The law won’t go into effect without the cooperation of U.S. Citizens. Don't cooperate.

Good Catholics actually don’t have a choice. “Human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence,” wrote the prophet Pope Saint John Paul II in the Gospel of Life concerning legal abortion and euthanasia.

But same sex marriage is contrary to right reason as well from the simple fact that same sex relations are not structurally complementary, and cannot naturally produce children. “There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection,” Pope John Paul II admonished us.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron along with Vatican advisor Edward Peters say that
Detroit Archbishops Allen Vigneron
Catholics who promote same sex "marriage" should not receive Holy Communion. The 
Archbishop told the Detroit Free Press Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay "marriage" would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury." About 30 other U.S. bishops have said that pro-abortion or pro-gay "marriage" Catholics should not present themselves for communion.

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home,” Archbishop Kurtz said. See: A Child’s Right to Mom and Dad: Why Kids of Gays Oppose Gay Adoption 

Pope Francis spoke about the same matter on April 8: “Children also pay the price for immature unions and irresponsible separations: they are the first victims; they suffer the outcome of a culture of exaggerated individual rights, and then the children become prematurely precocious. They often absorb the violence they are not able to “ward off” and before the very eyes of adults are forced to grow accustomed to degradation.”

A cursory reading of Jephthah’s Daughters:
Innocent Casualties in the War for Family “Equality,” demonstrates that parental chastity is essential for healthy human development, and a child should not be taken from his natural parents to satisfy the hunger of a same-sex couple for parenthood. Jephthat’s Daughters Co-Author Rivka Edelman, raised by a female same-sex couple, said, “Children are not a right.” Because of their difficult upbringing, Edelman – along with numerous other adult children of same sex couples – oppose same-sex “marriage” which comes with the right to same-sex adoption and surrogacy. The Catholic Church would add, “Children are a gift to marriage.”

However, many people, who self-identify as homosexual, do not understand this viewpoint. Why can’t two people who love each other get married and have children? They have created new hashtags on Twitter to celebrate the mindless Obergefell v. Hodges decision: #LoveWins, #LoveisLove, #IDo and #June26.  

They see the matter simply as an injustice: Opposite-sex attracted couples can marry. Why can’t same-sex couples? Opposite-sex attracted couples can naturally have children. People who self-identify as homosexual must have the same right to children even though they are involved in a biologically fruitless activity. They look at the Church’s refusal to bless same-sex unions as a form of hatred.

I tweeted the opinion of Dissenting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who said the Obergefell v. Hodges decision represents a “threat to democracy” and nothing but “judicial Putsch” – a violent and underhanded attempt to overthrow our government. And one man tweeted back that Justice Scalia “hated gays.”

This response makes sense if you understand that many confuse their activity with their identity. With respect to homosexuality, they often believe they were “born that way,” “can’t change,” and “I’m gay.” The Catholic Church encourages us instead to find our identity in Jesus Christ, or at the very least in our own personhood, i.e. I’m not “straight.” I am a child of God.  I am a person.

“This is quite possibly one of the most difficult topics for people to understand,” said “Andrew” in
With Open Hearts published by Pursuit of Truth Ministries. (With Open Hearts is approved both by the local ordinary and by Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church, which ministers to persons with same-sex attractions and their families.)

“Many of us at one point struggled with understanding why the Church would ever try to prevent two people from loving each other. That is where our minds and hearts were at before we encountered Christ, who planted in our hearts an unceasing desire to grow in virtue and holiness.”

“Andrew” admits that once members of his ministry came to know Christ they “disengaged from unchaste romantic and or sexualized relationships of all types - including those with same-sex partners.”

“We share this to help people come to understand that we were motivated not out of "fear of misbehaving in the eyes of the Church" but rather because we love Jesus Christ,” Andrew said.

“With regards to same-sex marriage in particular, we again, came to realize that the Church was not inventing its own truth. Rather it was upholding objectively truths about the order of creation.”

Therefore Pursuit of Truth came to understand:

Male and Female Ideal for Fruitful Marriage

 “1. It is an objective truth that there is a particular type of union by which the intended purposes of our reproductive systems can be completely fulfilled. That is in a union between a male (XY) and a female (XX). The Church doesn't invent this.”

Chaste Living is necessary for Healthy Child Rearing

 “2. There is a particular type of union that provides the greatest potential degree of stability for child rearing, and that is a set of parents who are not damaging each other's neurochemical bonding mechanisms by having multiple partners, but who rather are enhancing their bonding to one another through the practice of chaste living. The Church doesn't invent this.”

A Female Cannot Give Perfectly What a Male Can & Vice Versa

“3. Males and females have unique gifts to offer the world - AND their children - including conditioning on how to grow relationally with others, as the brains of males and females respond differently to the same relational stimuli. That is, a female cannot perfectly give what a male can give, and a male cannot perfectly give what a female can give.”

Every Child Has the Right to a
Mother and Father

“...As well, the Church recognizes that while it takes at the very least a male and a female for there to be the structural openness to new life, it takes one male and one female, to bring about the likelihood of the most stable and well-bonded parental relationship. And because a stable and well-bonded parental relationship leads to the highest likelihood of a relationally stable environment into which a child may grow, it is this type of family structure that the Church recognizes to be most beneficial for a child. Again, the Church doesn't invent this.”

So Pope Francis and Archbishop Kurtz comments do not represent hate speech against people who have chosen to self-identify as homosexual. They did not invent the facts on which our Catholic faith is based, nor did they create the way that our bodies work. But the Supreme Court has twice now violated the U.S. Constitution and disregarded children’s rights in favor of selfish adults, both in Roe v Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges.

This fact was not lost on Justice Scalia, who
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia disgusted
with same-sex "marriage" legalization
had many humorous and sarcastic comments on the idiocy of
Obergefell v. Hodges: "If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall... to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."

And he also said, "Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say." Laugh Out Loud. That’s not my marriage!

Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz,
a rising star in the American Catholic Church
Archbishop Kurtz concluded his statement on the institution of marriage beautifully, “Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”

“I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.”

“Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mary Loves A Chaste Heart

by Christopher Ziegler 

Mary loves a chaste heart—
But so often have I struggled.

A wandering mind begets temptation.
When I remove my eye from Mary,
I begin to believe I can trust myself.
Soon the cravings of sin slither from the shadows...

My memory is stained by lurid images.
These visions of lust have their own power
To bend the heart.
My urges disturb me.

They conjure uninvited thoughts.
These thoughts are not gentle.
They are not compassionate.
They are unworthy of Mary.

When I remember the love she has shown me
I am filled with shame.

The way out of temptation is humility.
Brought low by weakness,
I bow my head, clasp my hands
And call on the name of Mary.

I am bathed in peace and regain control.

I can tell her grace is at work
By the swelling of my heart.
She has proven once again 
How much she cares for me
And how much I need her care.

Without her strength of grace
I would already be dead
And my life lost forever.

Yes—Mary loves a chaste heart.
But, even more than this,
She loves a sinner in need.
Poet Christopher Ziegler
can be found on Twitter @CZWriting 
Did you enjoy this poem, Mr. Ziegler has written two others on the Blessed Mother: 
Thank You  and The Hardest Thing 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

LAUDATO SI: Care for Our Common Home Requires Heartfelt Conversion

by Susan Fox

“Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world...now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power.” (Pope Francis in Laudato Si, Paragraph #241)
Pope Francis visited the United States this week, Sept. 22-25, 2015. He spoke again about our common home, the planet earth. Few understood the point he was making. 

I was born into a great hot basin in the heart of Los Angeles, California, in 1953.

The air settled there, and collected all that was noxious from those years of rapid industrialization. This was before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cracked the whip. “People take sick ... from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agro-toxins in general.” (Laudato Si, Paragraph #20)

As a child in that toxic mix, I’m sure I would have greeted Laudato Si, the new encyclical by Pope Francis on the environment, with great joy. Finally, somebody was going to defend me! I spent much of my childhood sick, really sick because the dentist put massive mercury in my jaw and because I couldn’t breathe clean air. My bronchial tubes have never recovered!

However, the new encyclical by Pope Francis, “On Care for our Common Home,” which has many beautiful things in it, will probably never be read in its entirety because he choose a supposedly false science, that of man-made global warming, to illustrate the problem with the environment.

Conservative Catholics in the developed world are outraged, saying he has bad science advisors. Crisis Magazine – reading a leaked version of the encyclical before it was released June 18 – warned that Pope Francis’ supposed consensus of scientists claiming man-made global warming has already been debunked.  

Conservatives are outraged because the pontiff attacks consumerism. And consumption creates jobs and a robust economy – as long as the economy is producing something besides fast food and coffee!

But Pope Francis is NOT anti-business. Look what he told the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24, 2015:
"It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129)." 

The pope may have poorly chosen the scientific viewpoint he put in the encyclical, that of man-made global warming,  but he wiggled out of it in paragraphs 61 and 188.

“On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts... But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair.”( Laudato Si, Paragraph #61) This is true.

And in paragraph #188: “There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.”

I know some Catholic-hating person will say, “Susan how can you be Catholic with a pope that thinks like that?” I’ve been asked it before. But this Church document does not attempt to force any scientific viewpoint on us. We are free NOT to believe in man-made global warming.

And on the issue of consumption, he is really attacking unfettered shopping. Don’t you know anyone who shops to overcome depression? Well, they are not living in harmony with God, their fellow man, themselves nor their natural environment, according to the pope. Unfettered shopping leads to unfettered waste in time, money and materials. And I agree. I constantly fight the same temptation. The question I ask is “Do I need it?” If I don’t, I don’t buy it.

The other problem with the document though is that it presents true Catholic thinking on our relationship with nature. This thinking is not well understood unless you are already in a very high level of union with God. Think St. Francis.

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio
Few of us are ready to deal peacefully with a man-eating wolf. Most would prefer to shoot it. But the whole town of Gubbio hearing  of St. Francis’ relationship with nature called on him to save them after several people were killed by a local wolf. St. Francis met the wolf, spoke to him, and found he was lost from his pack, injured and hungry.

So he brokered a deal with the town where they would feed the wolf, and he would harm no one in the town. Now this probably seems fantastical to you. We are not used to thinking in these terms at all.

Luckily, for many years I have been involved in  Disciples of Jesus and Mary (DJM), a Catholic formation program in Prayer, Discernment and Discipleship,  and we all try to live in harmony with nature.

We take St. Antony of the Desert (251-356) as our model. Vexed with the crowds that constantly asked him questions, Antony went to live in the desert. Since food was not readily available, he planted a garden. But the beasts of the desert came and damaged his crops. So he grabbed one of the beasts, and said graciously, “ Why do you harm me when I do not harm you? Begone, and in the name of the Lord do not come near these things again.”  (St. Antony of the Desert by St. Athanasius)

The creatures obeyed him. This is what it was like when man lived in harmony with nature in his original innocence.

Believe it or not, many of us in DJM have found this form of prayer works. The other day, a big fat fly flew into my office. He was so annoyed he wanted to go outside. I looked at
him and thought of a geometric map to the screen door. And in the name of Jesus, I told him to go there, and he would get out.

Later I walked past the screen door, and the impatient fly was there. I opened it and he flew out. It doesn’t always work, but it’s better than immediately grabbing a fly swatter.

“For Christians, believing in one God who is Trinitarian communion suggests that the Trinity has left its mark on all creation. Saint Bonaventure went so far as to say that human beings, before sin, were able to see how each creature “testifies that God is three.” The reflection of the Trinity was there to be recognized in nature ‘when that book was open to man and our eyes had not yet become darkened.””  (Laudato Si #239)

Imagine that! That big fat fly had the mark of the Holy Trinity in its nature! I always tell God He’s an alien because some of his creatures are ugly! Really ugly.

He just laughs.

But some animals do make themselves to be pests and they don’t respond to prayer so we DJMs use pee. Applications of Coyote pee save our flowers from rabbits; fox pee causes skunks to exit our decks. We put chicken wire under our gardens so underground pests won’t burrow up and eat it. We plant low-water eco-lawns that don’t require much mowing. We even have gadgets that make noise that spiders don’t like. Our Catholic spirituality translates into a more harmonious relationship with nature.  That’s what Pope Francis is getting at: “We are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: ‘by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory,’ and indeed, ‘the Lord rejoices in all his works.’(Ps 104:31). (Laudato Si #69)

I distinctly remember my mother sitting in our big picture window gazing at the lush green forest in Washington State as the rain poured down. Everything was luminous green.
Tora Hutchison: "Isn't God good?"
She said, “Isn’t God good?”

Pope Francis echoes such spirituality in Laudato Si.  He writes about St. Francis, who would burst into song when he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals. “His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’” If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” (Laudato Si #11)
Image of African family planning from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda, do some good charitable work, but they have fallen into the trap of thinking that reducing population will benefit the poor. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation states that their goal is to “bring access to high-quality contraceptive information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 ... with the longer-term goal of universal access to voluntary family planning.”

Unfortunately, birth control pills pollute the water supplies especially in rural areas that depend on wells, causing fish, frogs and other small animals to develop abnormal sexual organs, and it also affects human children because the drinking water is polluted with hormones.  But nobody wants to look at that. “Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate,” Pope Francis says in Laudato #50. “At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure, which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health.” To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.”  In other words, contraception and abortion do not solve poverty and will not save the earth.
Ocean Front Condo in Downtown Malibu on Billionaire's Beach 
Fifteen years ago, my 12-year-old son and I attended a family get-together in Malibu, California. My dear cousin, who lived there, rented a hotel room downtown on Malibu Beach. We had a view of the ocean and a small balcony on the beach.

We home-schooled and it was our practice to say Morning Prayer every day, so we opened our breviaries, sat down on the balcony in that lovely environment, and started to pray.

The Invitatory (beginning) of Morning Prayer usually  starts with Psalm 95.  “Come, let us sing to the Lord and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us... The Lord is God, the mighty God, the great king over all the gods. He holds in His hands the depths of the earth and the highest mountains as well. He made the sea; it belongs to him, the dry land, too, for it was formed by his hands.”

My son and I were praying that when I suddenly realized that the beach below our balcony was restricted to people staying at the hotel. The private beach was only 30 feet long (Malibu property is expensive), but from each direction our hotel had put up a sign that said, “Stay out. Private Property!” California joggers politely ignored the signs and crossed “our” beach anyway. My son and I burst out laughing. God made the sea. It belongs to Him! The dry land too, for it was formed by His hands.

This understanding is the basis of Laudato Si. “A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.” (#75)

Pope Francis also points out the hypocrisy of the Left, which seeks to buy and sell carbon credits to justify a lavish lifestyle while killing unborn children, who are deemed unwanted. “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love.” Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.”

In my youth, I lived for a short time with two other young women in a big house in Spokane, Washington. One had a big beautiful and kind white dog. The other got a nervous female Doberman puppy and left it unsprayed when it came into its menses, which was a mess.  Both dogs were left in the basement all day and their leavings were almost never cleaned up. The laundry room was in the basement, and I had to dodge dog droppings when I tried to do my laundry. My roommates were negligent in the care of their pets.

Unsurprisingly, the spiritual lives of these young women were also disordered. They went bar hopping on the weekends and brought men home. I used to shove a chair under my bedroom door at night because I never knew when I would find a man passed out drunk in our bathroom. One roommate went to Seattle, had a one-night stand with a married man and got pregnant. She smoked dope as she prepared to have an abortion. The other was an alcoholic, and suffered from depression. She had a close relationship with a man, but they kept breaking up because of her promiscuity and drinking. I wrote poems about both of them: Skid Row Profiles 3: Betty the Alcoholic   and The Choice

A nun rescued me. Realizing I stayed there because of the low rent, she asked, “Susan, what do you pay in monthly rent?” I answered, “Sister, I pay $125.” She found me a small house that rented for that amount exactly. It was across the street from a good Catholic family with six kids. She even got me furniture. I moved out of the disordered household. Sadly, after I moved out, I heard a car killed the beautiful white dog we all loved.

This story illustrates one of Pope Francis’ points: “It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people.” (#92)

And in Paragraph #117, he said man cannot care for nature when he fails to see the worth of an unborn child, the elderly, the poor or a handicapped person. “Neglecting to monitor the
harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”

Finally, Pope Francis understands that man is a bodily creature, and we find our ultimate meaning in the Incarnation. “For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation. ‘Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation.’” (#235)

I wondered how is Pope Francis going to change the hearts of everyone in the world with this message? Only parts that support the liberal mindset will be broadcast. Well at the end, he gave us a couple of prayers to pray....

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
hat we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

A Christian prayer in union with creation

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

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