At a recent children’s Mass that I attended, the Gospel reading for the day was from Luke 12:49-53 where Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Christ continued to explain that father would be against son, mother against daughter, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and so on.
After the reading, the priest spoke to the children and said, “That doesn’t sound like Jesus. In the Gospel, he said one person would be against another person even in families; but Jesus came to unify people not to divide them. He wouldn’t want us to be against each other.”
Then the priest explained that what Jesus was talking about was how sometimes we disagree about Jesus and what he wants of us. The priest gave the example of going to Mass, when some family members do not want to go. He said, “You know, boys and girls, sometimes Moms and Dads don’t want to go to Mass on Sunday. You might tell them, ‘but we’re Catholic, we have to go to Mass on Sunday’ and they might say, ‘well we are sleeping in, we are not going.’ That’s the division that Jesus was talking about.”
I was so struck by what this priest had to say. The division and conflict in the Catholic Church does not come from outside sources. It doesn’t even come from high ranking officials. The unrest and lack of peace in the Church comes from within each one of us, especially in our families.
When we turn away from what Jesus has taught, we experience an unsettled hunger. Our peace is gone. By embracing the teachings of Christ, we are fostering a peace with deep roots of comfort for ourselves. It is truly our free-will gift to choose –away from Jesus and sorrow or toward Jesus and joy.
Recently Bishop Blair wrote a letter concerning fund-raising for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. His clear statement addressed the problem of cancer research and the use of embryonic stem cells. While Susan G. Komen ofNorthwest Ohiodoes not directly fund cancer research, it does send 25% of the collected donations to the parent company which does offer grants for cancer research.
Bishop Blair is responsible for imparting the teaching of the Catholic Faith to the people ofNorthwest Ohio. It is a responsibility that he neither takes lightly nor can choose to ignore. In that capacity, the Bishop addressed the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, one of those teachings. Since some cancer research institutions use unwanted embryos from fertility centers for their research, there is potential that these small human lives are not being respected.
In addition to support of life in the womb, Bishop Blair also offered support for those struggling with cancer when he suggested directing donations to the Mercy Cancer Centers. The Northwest Ohio Susan G. Komen Foundation had been sending money to the Mercy Cancer Centers as part of their outreach so the Bishop’s suggestion does not diminish this work.
It is very important for us to realize that any past fund-raising we may have done for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, done in good faith, was not wrong. However, knowing what we do now, it is important to direct our donations to life-affirming organizations.
Finally, since embryonic stem cells have been used in research, they have never been proven to assist with any medical condition. In fact, they react much like cancer cells. On the other hand, adult stem cells, which harm no human being, have been proven to help with leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, juvenile diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, heart damage, corneal damage, and dozens of other conditions. Just from a scientific perspective, it does not make sense to direct funds to research that has proven itself ineffective and away from such a viable alternative.
I would hope, though, that we would approach this issue through the eyes of faith. I pray that as Catholics we can see that when we treat any human being, no matter how small or vulnerable, as less than dignified, we tear at the very fabric of our own humanity, our connection to the Creator.
Jan Kahle, Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Toledo
When it comes to Christmas, I have my favorite songs. Music always brings me places.
The “Carol of the Bells” takes me to a reflective quiet place.
“Mary Did You Know?” makes me gentle.
Any Karen Carpenter song makes me a member of a choir, as I love to sing with her.
“Some Children See Him” makes me an advocate for world unity and peace.
“I Wonder as I Wonder” makes me extra holy, as I wonder at the plans that God worked through a child, a son, a Messiah. I wonder how God will touch my life as I begin a new year.
“The Friendly Beasts” brings me back to a time when I was a farmer and my dad would invite us kids to treat the animals particularly well on Christmas because Jesus came to change all creation.
Christmas songs move me. And I truly believe that Christmas is supposed to move us also. If a song can take us places, how much more can the One, who makes Christmas what it is, take us places we never imagined? To have a song in one’s heart is one thing. To have Jesus there is quite another story. To know we are so loved, through the birth of God’s Son, makes traveling through this world to the next a journey of love. Love moves us to do amazing things. Let Christmas move you. Let the Lord move you, for love is born on Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas to all of you. Have a song in your hearts. Have the love of God, Jesus, there also, today and every day.
I’ll be home for Christmas. Not because of my traveling, but because He has made His home in me.
(Written on Wednesday, Nov. 17)
Hi to all you bloggers,
I’m all excited about tonight’s activities for our teenagers: square dancing. I love to square dance. I grew up with it as part of family weddings and physical education in school. I also square-danced when I used to have a date or two (boy, has that been a while). I still call them for different functions, and now we have this activity as part of our religious education program.
You may ask, “How is square dancing related to religious education?” First of all, my cousin, Fr. Mel Lochtefeld, taught square dancing years ago. Much of our faith comes from tradition. I’m just continuing the tradition.
Next, our students are studying the Theology of the Body. So much is made of what is inappropriate. We thought of a way to teach what is appropriate. Just because you dance with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean that you are dating them.
My nieces and nephews have been square dancing with each other at weddings for years. They’ve been dancing since they’ve been in grade school. To be able to hold hands with boundaries and a purpose is a good thing. So much of what we teach in regards to the physical person is taught in response to fear or suspicion. Dancing gives an outlet for good fun and social appropriateness.
The Church says, in John Paul’s writings on The Theology of the Body, that the physical aspect of man is good. I believe that our square dancing lessons will bring out the good in our students and respect for the physical person.
If you’ve ever seen our students in sports, you know how physical they can be. Tonight, they can see how they can work together to dance with the stars. We need a name for our class. “Dancing with the Stars” is taken. Maybe someone can come up with a good name.
I’m off to practice my Li’l Liza Jane.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I am what I am, too bad if you don’t like it.” Challenges come every day, be they small, large or life-changing. We can embrace those challenges or we can run from them.
Everything you experience today helps you become the person you will be tomorrow and helps you grow into the person you were meant to be. Personal growth, the hard way, comes to us through those life-changing situations. We can take life as it comes and not really spend any time thinking that we need to grow or we can embrace the change, knowing it may not be easy, but we’ll never be the same.
Sometimes we can see where others need to grow, but never really think we need to grow. What is the Bible verse about getting the log out of your own eye? “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3.
Everything we experience helps us minister to others. I have come to know that all our experiences make us who we are, so we can help minister to God’s people. Happy or sad experiences, all of them, help us grow into who we were destined to become and help us relate to others…God’s plan for us.
What a great gift from God that is – to have our experiences and then that, in turn, helps us to “love one another” better. Love is what it’s all about. Love is the bottom line. Take some time and let those you love know it. Thank those who have mentored you and find others who need love and share it.
When faced with a decision, always error on the side of love. Prioritize your lives and see what you can get rid of so you can love and have the time for what is important. Who are you called to be?