I have friends, in high places–see my homepage. M…

I have friends, in high placessee my homepage. My wife Amy is trying to organize a fax sending campaign but can’t find the fax number. She hasn’t asked me and I have it. Here it is:

+39 011390669882122

In your message send it to: Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz

Bishop Dziwisz is Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary. He once referred to my insights, relayed to him by a close Jewish friend, saying “who is this man, he is genius.”

Rumors that I am a secret Vatican spy are unfounded by the way, but see if you can get the Pope to autograph anything.

Peggy Noonan’s description of the Pope in this par…

Peggy Noonan’s description of the Pope in this paragraph should win her an award:

The pope is an old man, gravely ill, exhausted by his ascesticism. He is unable to show feeling or emotion through the Parkinsonian mask that freezes his features. When I saw him walk into a room two years ago–bent, moving slowly, his left eye drooping and rimmed red–his face seemed that of a half-submerged whale looking silently at the world, a great mammal risen from the deep.

She is so..o..o..o right about this too:

The pope has no doubt been told, repeatedly, that this is a media-driven scandal. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick this week told the Washington Post, his parish paper, that journalists are having “a heyday.” The cardinal no doubt believes this to be true, but it is not.

Has anyone who repeats this line, that this is a “media driven” crisis, (and I hear it constantly in the Catholic environment that I am in), ever taken note of who is reporting the stories (Catholic journalist of all ilks–conservative and liberal)? Or have they taken note of the fact that most of the story is not even being reported, (Bishops are doing their best to remove accused priests without anyone knowing it–especially the press)? I know of a priest who was removed for having abused a 12 year old girl a month ago, and no newspaper had reported it yet. I also know that the priest has been arrested, why not?

This is so true, when Amy and I visited Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, we saw the Cardinal’s residence (from a distance), it was like viewing the White House, but only one man is the resident:

The pope should know that many of the cardinals he will speak to have grown detached from life as it is suffered through by ordinary people. The princes of the church live as princes of the world. They live in great mansions in the heart of great cities, dine with senators and editors, and have grown worldly not in the best sense, in real sophistication and knowledge, but in the worst. They are surrounded by staff who serve them, drive them, answer their call. They are used to being obeyed. We all suffer from some degree of arrogance. But I have never seen star treatment ennoble the object of that treatment.

If I had my druthers, the Pope wouldn’t remove any of them. Rather he would declare them penitents, and impose the following penance:

Have them walk around in rags, live in a public housing project and suffer eviction at least a couple of times, make them walk everywhere they need to go (no more jetting around the country), no housekeepers or servants–in fact they should be employed as night janitors or some other task. Actually this is no penance but rather a description of the Son of Man’s life, “who had no place to lay his head.”

Most of the Catholic Cardinals are no different then the televangelists who appear with their heavily made-up, Dolly Parton wigged wives on television. Most of their apologies have not come anywhere close to a tearful Jimmy Swaggart’s “I have sinned against you!” Rather, they read just another statement that is aloof and leaves most yawning like their other statements. There is no passion, not about any of this anyway.

A radical reform, instituted by the Pope would address these issues and the Cardinals would be spending their days with the poor, like a Mother Teresa.

Then the politicians would really have something to fear from the Catholic Church because you would have men renowned for holiness calling the rest of us to imitate them as they imitate Christ.

Amy has posted some great pictures of Joseph, our …

Amy has posted some great pictures of Joseph, our son, here.

The Third Step of the 73: 3. Then, not to kill….

The Third Step of the 73:

3. Then, not to kill…

I still remember vividly an incident that happened when I was a child and my family was on vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On a particular day we had just arrived at the summit of the mountain where the “Old Man of the Mountains,” a natural rock formation is located (it is on the New Hampshire quarter). We were sitting on some rocks and nearby was a long haired bearded guy—a hippie.

There were plenty of hippies in New England in the 1960’s, so there was nothing novel about that, but the action of this one was very memorable. He kept brushing away flies that were surrounding him. The more they continued to land on him, the more he would gently urge them to find another place to alight. His gentle tone and the words he spoke to the pests made it clear that he did not want to harm them.

My mother bent down to say that she had figured out that he felt that it was wrong to kill even a fly. Later I would read about people of various Eastern religions that shared this belief, “that all life was sacred,” which of course is what we believe too–but we usually make endless distinctions.

St. Benedict’s counsel is simple. He does not elaborate about who or what we are not to kill. He keeps it simple and allows us the simple injunction to simple “not kill.”

This counsel follows after the first two; love God and love your neighbor. Now we are told not to kill. God is the source of all life and the Scriptures make it clear from the first pages of Genesis that to take back the spirit of Life is the domain of God and that blood spilt cries out to heaven.

It is also clear that in the first pages of Genesis that our neighbor is not only the people that surround us but every being in creation. We should respect all of creation in the same manner.

The hippie who allowed the fly to live on that vacation day in New Hampshire does not remain in my memory as some nut but rather as a prototype of a holy man who understands this fundamental truth. If you and I want to grow in holiness then we must reverence the life force that God has placed in all of creation.

“Not to kill” also extends beyond physical murder. We are to be a life force in God’s creation. Building up rather than tearing down. Uplifting rather than destroying.

I remember a friend in school who was fond of bringing up in the midst of conversations that were less than charitable about others a simple question, “How is this building up the body of Christ?” It really ticked off everyone at the table but like the hippie with the fly it has remained in my memory whereas the topics of our table conversations have long passed on into obscurity.

There are many ways to kill without actually taking someone’s physical life. Unfortunately there are too many walking dead in our midst who have had their spirit killed by those who were not careful in their speech or their judgments.

Lifting up these poor souls, reversing the damage done is a way to positively live out this injunction. It is not simply a matter of what not to do but to have an attitude of doing the opposite. The person who puts God first will carry with them an imitation of God who “breathes life” into inanimate clay.

What will this day be like if in every instance I put God first, treat all those who inhabit my environment with the attitude that I want to be a life giving force, a person of affirmation? Without God this is impossible and that is why prayer is something that is a 24/7 activity. We need to constantly turn to God, at every moment, in every encounter; to be silent until God is brought into the moment and then to be life giving as God is.

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