Building a Catholic Food System

A blog by FAN Board Member, Kelly Moltzen

Reposted from Christian Food Movement

Catholic Food Movement

July 19, 2017

Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist – the body of Christ, the physical manifestation of the divine presence on Earth. Millions of Catholics go to mass every weekend and celebrate the Eucharist, and Christians of other denominations similarly celebrate the meal Jesus had with his disciples through weekly services. But what could it mean to take the celebration Eucharist even more literally, to live out the spirituality to which our faith calls us?

“Give us this day, our daily bread,” we pray. How can we let Christ live through us in a way that better helps to ensure the world’s hungry receive their daily bread? This question is one that necessitates… Read More

Published in: on July 26, 2017 at 11:01 am  Comments (1)  

Heart or Treasure…or both?

Reflection for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini

This reflection was originally posted in our July 24th newsletter

Treasure Chest1We are well into summer when many people are on vacation and others are just taking a break from the busy spring we had (and was it BUSY!!), maybe enjoying sitting on the front porch and doing nothing for once. As we hopefully enjoy a break, this week’s Scripture readings may help our reflection; God comes to help us as God always does. This Sunday we are faced with Scripture Readings that jolt me to attention. I believe they help us to look back at the past few months and get re-motivated for the months ahead. So what is the message that is speaking to me today?

In 1Kings, God speaks to Solomon in a dream and promises him anything he asks for. Solomon asks for “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” If I had the same dream, would I be so ready to ask for what helps me to minister to people? Or would I think of myself—what I wish, what I need? What do I need the most today from God? Maybe an UNDERSTANDING HEART is a good wish to have, considering the situation in which we find ourselves in our country and the world at this time in history.

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Here is a call for me to look at my heart and consider if I keep in my heart the purpose of my call. Yes, I am a woman religious who has vowed to follow Jesus and the example of St. Francis. Sometimes, though, in the heat of the moment I am tempted to respond to immediate situations in a way that does not show clearly that I am on Jesus’ side, that I have an understanding heart.

Finally, the Gospel of Matthew speaks to us of treasure, of pearls. The Responsorial Psalm seems to prepare the ground, mentioning a few times gold and silver pieces. I used to think that it would be nice to find a treasure, or to win a lottery, as I could help so many people with the “millions” I would get. How narrow the understanding of treasure can be! But of course Jesus is talking about a very different treasure, not made of gold, silver or fine pearls but a treasure buried in the field of my heart. My call, my purpose, as a follower of the Gospel is my treasure. My heart is the field that I should assure is in the right place. What am I willing to “sell with joy” in order to make sure I keep that field of an understanding heart?

Today when our world and nation are so divided, when it seems that we can talk only to those who think and look like us, we all need God to appear in a dream in which we can ask for an understanding heart that will allow us to find the treasure in the person who thinks differently, who looks different from ourselves. Consider it a pearl of great price to be able to be civil with these people at work, play, worship, and talk politics at the same time. So yes, the world needs Solomon, but it also needs each one of us, convinced of the purpose for which we are called.

Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on July 25, 2017 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The Spirit will Intercede

Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Secretary, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 17th Newsletter

spiritIn this Sunday’s Gospel St. Matthew warns that the Kingdom of God on earth will not be realized without effort. The parable of the weeds among the wheat (Matt 13:24-31) teaches that there will always be negativity, violence and sin within both ourselves and others that will attempt to hinder the good in the world. However, even when evil appears to overwhelm us, either the evil of the world or the evil in each of us, Saint Paul assures us that the Spirit will come to our aid “for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit will intercede “with inexpressible groanings.” (Rom 8:26)

How else can a mother pray as she accompanies her 3 year old son across the border of Mexico after escaping gang related war in her country of birth and travelling for three months in conditions that will haunt her for the rest of her life? The Spirit within her cries out with inexpressible groanings of despair mixed with hope for the future.

The spirit groans with an inexpressible yearning for peace as Mariam, a loving caretaker for our elderly Franciscan Sisters, fasts six additional days for the intention of peace in our world after the official end of the month-long fast of Ramadan.

The spirit cries out with inexpressible groanings of hope for our dying home, Earth, each time a person makes the decision to act in protection of God’s creation.

It is when we know, feel and empathize with the pain in our world that we are most open to God and vulnerable to our own transformation. As the American poet Mary Oliver declares in her poem Praying: “It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot” that calls us to prayer and is “the doorway into …a silence in which another voice may speak.” It is a silence in which the voice of the Spirit may speak with inexpressible groanings.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

How Deep are the Roots of Your Faith?

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Communications Coordinator, Janine Walsh

This reflection was originally posted in our July 9th newsletter

Tree RootsI am in awe of God’s perfect confidence as expressed in our first reading this week. Isaiah tells us the Word of the Lord “… shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” God speaks to us through His word and we hear it and allow it to impact our lives. Week after week we go to Masses and services to be filled with this heavenly instruction so as to live out the life God has ordained us for. How blessed are we to be given this wondrous gift.

In the second reading, Paul tells us that our sufferings are nothing compared with “the glory to be revealed to us.” Paul’s faith is rooted deeply in his heart which gives him the confidence to preach to the Romans and remind them of what is to come.

In the Gospel, we hear the familiar parable of the sower. The longer form of the Gospel this week gives us the intended meaning of the story, making plain the various ways we might hear the Word. Or rather, the ways we might allow that word to nurture and feed us in our day-to-day lives. We must strive for the seed of our faith to root deep within ourselves, so when we are living with “the sufferings of this present time” we can lean on our faith to get through. Like Paul, our faith gives us the power to speak the truth to those in disbelief.

My pastor, Fr. Tom, speaks often about his wish for us. He and the parish staff of St. James in Stratford, CT work very hard to offer a plethora of opportunities to deepen our faith so our hearts will be more open to God’s love, which we are then instructed to share most generously with others. These words are said at the end of almost every Mass, during a special ritual of “the birthday blessings.” After each Mass, the congregation is asked if there are any birthdays being celebrated, that day, week or in a previous week. Those with special days come up to the front of the church, get introduced and have this special blessing prayed over them:

Dearest God, our Father, thank you for bringing your beloved sons and daughters into existence. Thank you for being with them and loving them every moment of their lives. In their new year of birth, help them to deepen their faith, so their heart will be more open to Your love, and may they share that love most generously with others. Amen.

Today, I pray this prayer for all of our readers, members, friends, and partners, not just on birthdays, but each day. I hold in my heart the hope that our collective faith will grow like a flame to engulf the unjust ideas and unfair thoughts that are constantly bombarding us in society.

Janine Walsh
FAN Communications Coordinator

Published in: on July 11, 2017 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  

Feather-weight and Millstone Burdens

Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our July 3rd newsletter

Ease Burden.PackMy neighbor who cares for her husband with Alzheimer’s undergoes knee surgery. A FAN partner loses his son unexpectedly. Immigrants without documents are afraid to shop, visit the food pantry, or go to church. Refugees are banned from Muslim countries. A young Muslim girl is beaten to death on her way home after a very early breakfast with friends during Ramadan. The list goes on of families heavily burdened. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to them: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Do I dare to hear Jesus speak these consoling words to me, whose burdens today are feather-weight compared with the burdens of those who are ill, or grieving, or living in fear? We can err by making too much of our daily burdens, but also by dismissing them. All of us followers of Jesus labor to carry out his mission. On some days the burden is heavy, on other days it seems inconsequential. But Jesus does not dismiss any burden, urging all of us “Come to me and I will give you rest. …For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Here’s the key: Life places all kinds of burdens on our shoulders and on our hearts, not all the same weight on a given day, but the yoke of the gospel, the burden of love, is light, because God walks with us, sharing life’s burdens.

The psalmist reminds us that “the Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” Moreover, God’s love enables us to help each other when we stumble and fall, strengthens us to ease each other’s burdens.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on July 4, 2017 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Do I really believe in Jesus?

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our June 26th newsletter

Burden.CrossThis is a question I often ask myself. I am an early riser so I sit on my deck with a cup of coffee and my dog Howard, watching the sun come up and listening to the birds singing their morning praises. While sitting there I regularly reflect on two things; do I really believe and if so, what does that actually mean? If I believe, does it mean that I just have to go to Mass on Sunday, fold my hands the right way, participate in the sacraments, and obey the commandments? Is that the message from Jesus’ life and sacrifice? I am good at that, I’ve been doing it all my life. As I am sitting on my deck meditating, however, I feel like there is more.

In her book, Holy Thursday Revolution, Beatrice Bruteau says Jesus’ teachings and actions mean “we are to deepen our purity beyond ritual observances and not let any purity practice divide us or set us at odds with our fellows.” If we are so concerned with our rituals and our purity codes that we are not hearing the cry of the poor and oppressed and not acting on those cries, what does that make us? Sr. Ilia Delio so beautifully describes it in her book Making All Things New: “Eucharist means being an active participant in the Cosmic body of Christ, a body evolving unto fullness, the Cosmic person, through the rise of consciousness and unity in Love. The Gospel life is not a social agency of good works but a life of mindful presence or oneness with God as such sacraments do not make one a Christian.”

So what does it mean to really believe in Jesus? In Sunday’s second reading from Romans 6 we are told “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” We keep waiting for Jesus to come back again. Scholars and theologians have even tried to predict when Jesus will return. Yet this passage, like others in the Gospels, tells us that Jesus never left us. He is always with us. The apostle Thomas did not believe until he actually touched the wounds. Do we need to touch the wounds to really believe?

If we walk down the street and see a homeless person, do we cross over to avoid them, do we quicken our pace, do we look down so as not to make eye contact? Or do we see Christ and reach out to touch his wounds? Do we see Christ in the poor, the imprisoned, and the oppressed? In her book Beyond Apathy, Dr. Elisabeth Vasko states “To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be.”

The Gospel reading says “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” We tend to spend more time worshiping at the foot of the cross than taking up the cross and following Christ. Worshiping Jesus is so much easier than taking up the cross. Do we really believe in Jesus?

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on June 27, 2017 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  

One Dad’s Thoughts on ‘Trumpcare’

By Joseph McGrath

The views of this author do not necessarily represent those of the Franciscan Action Network

I’m the father of two beautiful daughters and husband to a heroic woman. Our oldest daughter, Maura, is 18 and has severe intellectual disabilities, autism and other behavioral issues and depends on Medicaid and others for all of her needs. Our second daughter, Michelle, is 17. She is gifted both academically and athletically, and has been blessed with a caring and compassionate heart.McGrath Family

The beer party celebration in the rose garden at the White House was sickening and hypocritical. They weren’t celebrating a cure for cancer, but instead they were celebrating the repeal of the ACA that includes $880 billion in Medicaid cuts. According to Senator [Bernie] Sanders, they will give estimated tax breaks of $52 billion dollars to the richest family and $4 billion dollars for a politician’s family as a result of the estate tax break. To make matters even worse, only the top 0.2% of the top 1% of richest families receive this tax break. I am not against tax cuts, but this specific cut would mean the other 99.99998% of families are worse off because of it. Shouldn’t we know how much all politicians benefit from the Medicaid cuts as well as the pharmaceutical and insurance companies? Shouldn’t politicians protect the poor and vulnerable and not give tax cuts to the rich and comfortable? Do they vote for the American people or for their personal pockets?

Thirteen male senators met in private to discuss and write a new healthcare bill. They met in private after complaining publicly about Obama’s healthcare bill seven years ago. After criticizing Obama for so long, you would think that they already came up with their replacement for Obamacare. It is hypocritical and shameful that our government, “by the people, for the people,” is writing this bill in secret.

“Trumpcare” will cut Medicaid by $880 billion dollars over the next ten years. This will happen by changing Medicaid from an entitlement, in which the federal government automatically provides states with funding based on the needs of their population, to either a block grant or a per capita allocation. This will only become worse as time goes on because many baby boomers will need Medicaid as they age. Currently, Medicaid pays for 60% of people in nursing homes. The proposed plan will also cut Medicaid-funded home and community-based services, so that seniors and people with disabilities can live in their own homes, control their own lives, and be fully included in society. This is a crucial reason why advocacy groups for the Elderly, Disabled and Poor all oppose this bill. Also opposed to this bill are hospitals, health insurers, doctors and religious leaders, including the Catholic bishops who expressed concern over what they dubbed “serious flaws.” Charities have already noted that these cuts will be disastrous. Shouldn’t all religious leaders (Shepherds) speak out against Medicaid cuts to protect their flock?

As a father of a child who cannot defend herself or even tell me if someone has hurt her, Paul Ryan and politicians with his policies terrify me. They’re commitment, or lack thereof, to the elderly, poor and disabled resemble the principles of Ayn Rand more than Pope Francis. We must speak out. Gandhi once said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” The truth is cuts to Medicaid are occurring in order to provide tax cuts for the rich. These cuts will lead to more deaths and more poverty. Also, more elderly and disabled will be forced to live in institutions as a result. I always recommend people to google Christmas in Purgatory to see how the disabled were treated in institutions. Cuts to Medicaid will cause reduced care and will cause higher incidents of neglect and abuse and ultimately death. Paul Ryan after the Manchester bombing said “To deliberately target innocent children is cowardice in its most heinous form.” I agree, but taking health care from the sick also targets the innocent. Cutting Medicaid is clear political cowardice. I make this statement as a proud Casey democrat.

I believe Healthcare is a universal human right. Cuts to Medicaid are pro-greed, pro-malice, and pro-death.

Many politicians abuse the term “pro-life” in order to garner votes. Cuts to Medicaid are hypocrisy. When politicians make cuts to these safety net programs, this leads to abortions. Unfortunately, pro-life has become has become a single issue to make abortion illegal for many. Can you support life when you support politicians whose policies hurt both the born and unborn and may result in abortion?

Are people so naive to believe if Roe vs Wade is overturned that it will end abortions? Countries in Europe who outlaw abortions have women cross the border to another country to have an abortion. Wouldn’t women just go to another state? We will always have people who choose abortion. That’s why I believe in love, care and support, especially for pregnant women and the vulnerable.

When my wife, Rita was pregnant with Maura, we found out that our child was going to be born with Down syndrome. My wife was questioned multiple times if she was going to terminate the pregnancy. The resounding answer was always no in accordance to both her commitment to life and to her Catholic faith.Maura

Maura, who at birth had only a slightly beating heart as her only sign of life and spent the first month of her life in a NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit], had open heart surgery at 4 months old. When our girls were 17 and 3 months old, we received terrible news. My wife had breast cancer. After months of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, she beat cancer. I tell you these stories because some times there are situations beyond our control. I know the fear of almost losing my wife and my daughter. The fear of Medicaid cuts are as just terrifying and I am advocating against these cuts to protect the vulnerable.

Donald Trump tweeted, “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.” The recent beer party celebrated Trump’s lie. As a result of this vicious lie, obituaries will soon read, ‘Cause of death: Trumpcare.’

Hubert Humphrey said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Trumpcare fails every single one of these moral tests. Aren’t we all better than this as Americans? Shouldn’t we be judged on our actions and try to promote life with love, care and support?

These are my experiences as a Dad and Husband that must be shared. If anything offends God, I ask forgiveness and Mercy from God.

Published in: on June 21, 2017 at 3:59 pm  Comments (2)  

“For to you I have entrusted my cause.”

Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Secretary, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 19th newsletter

hungryThe reflection title comes from this week’s first reading from Jeremiah, chapter 20.

Several weeks ago, while lobbying my Senators in Washington with the purpose of ensuring that my Catholic and Franciscan values were included in the federal budget, I witnessed the arrest of seven faith leaders praying in the lobby of the Senate Office Building. As I watched these men and women being handcuffed I questioned: what is God asking of us?

Two years ago, in his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis warned, “The warming (climate) caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.” (51) What is God asking of us, when 12 million children, women and men in East Africa, each one made in the image and likeness of God, are starving to death due to drought: a drought likely caused in part by our nation’s consumption and continued misuse of God’s creation?

As we watch images of our brothers and sisters starving throughout the world, how can we as a nation even consider a budget that will cut aid to international food programs, including taking every penny away from the International Food for Education program which helped feed more that 2 million people in 2016?

We daily entrust our cause to God. Yet, God has entrusted us with this time on earth, to live our Christian and Franciscan values at this moment in our nation’s history. With globalization and advances in communication technology we can no longer turn our heads when we see the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. We are all interconnected; over 7 billion children, women and men with one home, Earth. What affects our brothers and sisters in East Africa affects us all. Each time we say the words of the Our Father, “Your will be done” we are reminded to consider what God may be asking of us. Recognizing Christ and our humanity in our brothers and sisters suffering injustice, we cannot NOT take action.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on June 20, 2017 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The Living Bread

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ by Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our June 12 newsletter

share food“The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Old Testament reading this week reminds us that in the relationship we have with God, we have been tested to see if our intentions and hearts are with the Lord. We also are reminded that the Lord our God feeds us with manna in the desert.

In Corinthians, we hear ” …the loaf of bread is one; we, though many, are one body, for we partake of the one loaf.” But in this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that unless we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,” we do not have life within us. There is a lot of wisdom here, for whenever we gather together as a family or with friends we usually do it around the sharing of food. Something in this sharing breaks down walls and brings us together, despite differences.

Food has always been a sign and a reminder of God’s covenant to His people, to care for them and to always be with them in the “breaking of the bread.” To remain in Jesus is to accept His challenge: not just to receive Him, but also to see the world through His eyes, to engage the world with His passion, and to feed the world with His generosity, literally and spiritually.

So, next time a hand reaches out to you in need, don’t walk by. As this administration puts together its budget for the American people, work to ensure that it reflects the moral fiber of our nation, which has long been defined by altruism and equality. Be the bread that God gave to the world.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Published in: on June 13, 2017 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Faith Rests on Mystery

Reflection for Most Holy Trinity Sunday by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 5 newsletter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho would have thought that the most profound tenet of our Christian faith would become the topic of a contemporary novel made into a film?! However, “The Shack” is only the most recent expression of what seems to be a human need to visualize the mystery of The Most Holy Trinity. We have used a triangle, a picture of two men and a bird, a shamrock; why not a movie? However, all these efforts fall far short of definition and explanation of the profound mystery on which our faith rests.

Christianity is not for those who insist, theologically and spiritually, that seeing is believing, or that everything believable must have a rational explanation. God becoming fully human while remaining fully divine is not rational. Bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ cannot be proven by scientific inquiry. The institutional Church has many rules, rubrics, and requirements, but the core beliefs that must be held are few, and call for faith in mystery. The Holy Trinity is our most fundamental belief: three distinct but equal Persons in one God, a God whose very nature is community, relationship.

When the worshipping community prays the Creed each Sunday, we say “I believe.” Even in moments of doubt, we proclaim “I believe.” This belief without scientific proof is not lazy or naïve; rather, it acknowledges our humanness and our trust in God “who so loved the world.” St. Francis cried, ”Who are you, O God, and who am I?” Like Francis, we accept our flawed but loved humanity with humility and gratitude when we proclaim “I believe.”

If the very nature of God is love expressed in relationship, then our faith and love must be three dimensional: love God, love others, love myself. So simple, yet so challenging. In today’s Second Reading, Paul insists that the brothers and sisters “encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace…Greet one another with a holy kiss, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Living a life of relationship may be harder than faith in mystery.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)