Christ, King of Hearts

Reflection for the feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our November 19th newsletter


The feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, “in splendor robed,” closes Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar before the Season of Advent turns our attention to the vulnerable Child born in a stable. In the United States, we do not take kindly to kingship and kingdom given our history of separation from being ruled by a king. In the magnificent Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, over the main altar is a very large mosaic of a muscular, white, blond, scowling King Jesus (pictured) for which I feel antipathy. For me, it is no more authentic than the sweet, docile Jesus on many holy cards.

In this week’s gospel, Jesus acknowledges kingship when he is on trial before Pilate. He clearly states, however, “My kingdom does not belong to this world,” before he is led to be tortured and crucified. His is a spiritual kingdom embracing everyone. I recall an incident shared by a priest who was praying in a small chapel in a country in Africa (I forget which one) and noticed something different about the crucifix. A closer look revealed that there were no nails holding Jesus to the cross. Why? Because it was love that held Jesus, our crucified king, to an instrument of agony and death.

As the Church transitions from Ordinary Time to Advent preparations for the birth of the Incarnate God as a small baby, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is both the “Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8) and the King of Love. Today, we honor Christ, King of the Universe, and Christ, King of Hearts.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

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Published in: on November 20, 2018 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Living in the Present Moment

Reflection for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our November 12th newsletter


As we come to the end of the Church year we are called to be mindful that something new is coming – like the fig tree “When its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that God is near, at the gates.” But the mystery is that we do now know when that time arrives. The key is to remain faithful and live in hope. The end of the year readings prompt us to live for the present moment.

Pondering the end of life reminded me of the last judgment as recorded in Matthew 25:31-35 when we are told exactly what we need to do to get to heaven:

FEED THE HUNGRY
GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY
WELCOME THE STRANGER
COMFORT THE ILL
VISIT THOSE IN PRISON

What is happening in the present moment? The caravan of those fleeing persecution in their own countries and looking for a place of rescue. Is this the present moment when God is calling us to live these works of mercy? Is it the present moment when God is asking us to remember that all were made to God’s image and likeness so we are all brothers and sisters? Is this the present moment when we are called to bring hope to those who struggle with hope for a better life? In answering these questions we will prepare ourselves for our judgment at the end of the world.

Sr. Marge Wissman
FAN Board Member

Published in: on November 13, 2018 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

What “Mite” I Give?

Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our November 5th newsletter


Mite I giveThe readings for the 32nd week of ordinary time call us to consider the question; What might I give? In each of the readings, and the psalm, the scriptures are challenging us to give. To give not only from our surplus, but to give in total; to make a total gift.

The story of Elijah and widow in 1 Kings is a favorite of mine. Elijah asks the widow for a gift of all that she had remaining in the world, her last bit of flour and oil during a severe famine. This widow made a total gift of what she had to Elijah, trusting in the providence of God. Result? God provided for her and sustained her through the rest of the famine, her jar did not go empty.

The Gospel reading from Mark is another story of a widow making a total gift of all she has. “The Widow’s Mite” is how many recall this story. The rich man gave of his surplus and made sure everyone knew of his generosity earned his reward on earth, while the widow gained an eternal reward.

What strikes me about these two stories is the most generous givers turned out to be those the Mosaic law called on the Jewish nation to support. The book of Deuteronomy, the book of the law, commands no less than 12 times that Israel must take care of and support the widow, the orphan, and the alien among them, the most vulnerable of society. Jesus often spoke out against those who tithe on mint leaves yet neglected to care for the poor.

Now for the real meat of the readings, Psalm 146. I do not have the space here to quote in total but in summary, the Psalm praises the Lord who cares for the oppressed, hungry, prisoners, blind, those who are bowed down, strangers, widows, and orphans.

St. Paul reminds us that “we” are the body of Christ. As the body, we are the Lord who cares for the oppressed, hungry, prisoners, blind, those who are bowed down, strangers, widows, and orphans. As the body, we are called to total giving as Jesus gave himself totally for all persons.

Sisters and brothers, this is our call to action! We must be the Lord’s two feet of love. We are called, with one foot, to take care of the immediate needs of those in need, regardless of race, creed, nationality or gender and create for them lives worthy of people redeemed by Christ. With the other foot we are called to engage in the field of public life to advocate for laws and policies that will create a just society that alleviates conditions which keep those on the fringe of society from coming into a more secure and sustainable quality of life.

What “Mite” I give? Support FAN financially so it may continue the work of engaging the leadership of our nation to create just laws and policies We must take care of the immediate needs of those on the fringe, but it is also important to create a society where those immediate needs become less frequent. Visit the FAN website and donate. Consider the 10 for 10 campaign and pledge your monthly gift of $10. Consider sponsoring a ticket to the FAN 10th Anniversary Award Benefit this month so a deserving immigrant or religious brother or sister can attend. If you have deeper pockets, consider sponsoring a table and purchasing an ad in the benefit E-Ad booklet. We must support both feet of love. Without both feet we are not able to stand in support of our brothers and sisters in need.

David Seitz, OFS
FAN Board Member

Published in: on November 6, 2018 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Testimony of Father Patrick A. Smith to keep Providence Hospital open

The following testimony was given to the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Health Public Oversight Hearing by Father Patrick A. Smith, Pastor of St. Augustine Catholic Church on November 2nd, 2018


Prov.Hospital

Thank you, Chairman Gray and members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify in support of keeping Providence Hospital open.

My name is Fr. Patrick Smith. I am the Pastor of St. Augustine Catholic Church at 14th & V in Ward 1. I am here today not as an official or unofficial representative of the Catholic Archdiocese Washington but as third generation native Washingtonian from Ward 8 where I grew up. I have been a priest in this Archdiocese for more than 28 years. My ministry has almost exclusively been in the African American community.

I am here today because I am deeply concerned that children and families in our community that I have dedicated my life to serve will be put at risk if Providence Hospital closes. I am here because I know and you know that here in the District of Columbia, that all too often people of limited means, those living on the margins of the nation’s capital, cannot get the health care they need. I am hear because I believe that the closure of Providence Hospital will only make the health care needs of the most vulnerable population in our city LESS accessible to them. As was the case when the labor and delivery unit at Providence Hospital was shut down a year ago – a unit serving a population with a shockingly high infant mortality rate – especially among African American women (14.6 deaths per 1000 live births in Ward 8) – closed a year ago just two months before the highly promoted and largely Catholic sponsored Annual March and Rally for Life was held in this city. I am here because I am afraid that people may get the impression that when we Catholics say “Pro-Life” that we are NOT including black and brown babies and mothers or lower income families in our definition of life worth defending, protecting, serving and saving. I am here because I am afraid that when Ascension Health Care promotes and prides itself in being called Catholic plans to close the Emergency Care Center they named after Pope Francis; that the gesture will be perceived as a meaningless PR stunt that has no real affinity to the actual Pope who said “Health care is not a consumer good, but a human right, and access to health care cannot be a privilege.” I am afraid that when WE as Catholics repeat the truth that “The Lord hears the cry or the poor” (Psalm 34) that that truth may fall on deaf ears if we close one of the only two hospitals on the east side of the District knowing that all but one of the seven other hospitals are concentrated in the wealthiest neighborhoods of the city.

I am here today because Jesus said that what we do to the least among us, we do to him; because he said I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you offered me no welcome…I was poor and you gave me no assistance; I as sick you offered me no healthcare; I was in need of medical attention and you closed down the hospital that provided the best opportunity for me to be cared for. I am here because Jesus said that I, we, Ascension Health, ALL of us, will all be judged by how we treated – and whether we provided treatment – to the least of our brothers and sisters among us.

I am here because Providence Hospital is vital to the health of residents of the eastern half of this city. Finally, in the words of Edmund Burke: “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

I want to thank Chairman Gray and the Members of this Council for refusing to be counted among those who “did nothing” by voting unanimously last month to take an important step to keep Providence Hospital open as a fully functioning hospital with acute-care services. Thank you for standing up for our shared values and working to ensure health care for all residents of the District. I want to call on the Department of Health and our Mayor to do so as well.

Let us continue to work together to ensure that Ascension Health upholds its stated mission of service and compassion for those most in need by keeping Providence Hospital open and providing acute-care services.

Our children and families deserve no less.
Thank you.

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

FAN Friend Supports Guatemalan Community’s fight for Clean Water

FAN Friend, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM works for Catholic Charities and recently made a trip to support several communities in Guatemala in their struggle against a mining operation threatening their water supply. Here, with permission, is his story.


By Jacek Orzechoski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Yesterday [October 29,2018], I and a few members of the Central American Franciscan family visited a community of resistance against the gold mining operation in La Puya. It is located about one hour outside of Guatemala City. For the past six years, the impoverished Guatemalan communities of San Jose de Golfe have been engaged in a David and Goliath struggle against the US-based company, Kappes, Cassidy, and Associate. The communities insist that their right to clean water – and therefore their right to life – takes precedence over the mining company’s insatiable desire for gold and profit. Recently, the people have scored the major victory yet, their peaceful, non-violent fight is far from over. http://www.yestolifenotomining.org/guatemala-communities-s…/

The US-Canadian mining company is still looking for ways to get gold from La Puya. On one hand, there is a prospect of huge profits for the rich foreign elites; and on the other hand, there is a specter of arsenic-poisoned water and unusable land for tens of thousands of local people. In that moral contest, if the greed wins then, the people that live in the area would have only two options: stay there and consume poison; or take your family and migrate north. In Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras – among other countries – the gold mines, the hydroelectric projects, and extensive monoculture plantations have been displacing a huge number of people from their land. They have also contributed to the culture of corruption, violence, impunity, and kleptocracy. Under the guise of bringing development and progress, one can see a neo-colonial theft and robbery. It’s appropriate here to quote St. Basil the Great who in the 4th century called an unfettered pursuit of money rules, “the dung of the devil”.

JAcek blog

President Trump and his enablers continue to spawn racism, hatred, and division. Together, they demonize migrants and refugees and label them as dangerous criminals when in fact they are fleeting violence, extreme poverty, and deadly repression in their countries of origin. Yet, too many Americans fail to see that, all too often, it is the U.S. economic policies imposed on many Latin American countries that generate an enormous structural violence. Pope Francis has spoken against the tyranny of “the economy that excludes and kills”.

Rather than talking about building the wall, we as Americans must open our eyes and join in solidarity the progressive democratic movements in Central America that offer an alternative to the US-promoted, insane model of development that frequently, in the process, crushes the poor, poisons the land, stamps out the authentic, participatory democracy, and replace it with corruption and violence.

Confronting these challenges is a daunting task. Yet, the courageous witness of the Guatemalan communities in peaceful resistance at La Puya can inspire all of us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN2M4oiDpoo The Franciscan family is getting more involved in promoting the culture of peace and moves towards a prophetic witness in solidarity with the oppressed. Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about what you can do. Peace and all good.

Published in: on October 31, 2018 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

You are not far from the Kingdom of God

Reflection for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our October 29th newsletter


heart.bookThis Sunday, in the Gospel of Mark, we see that one of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Was this a test, or was it asked to help the scribe and perhaps all of us to become more focused on what is most important?

Not sure, but Jesus’s answer put together two commandments. “The Lord our God is Lord alone! You should love your God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Or, as St. Augustine called it, “The rule of love.”

Too many of us believe that our Practice of Religion is a personal and a private matter and that is true to the extent that we realize that God speaks to a people, and that God calls us to be His hands, and feet and voice on this earth.

What we do speaks so much louder than what we say. How we treat others, how we extend our lives to embrace others is very important to how others discover God’s love and concern for them.

Realizing God’s love for us brings us to share this good news with our neighbors.

As we prepare to vote this Tuesday and continue to prepare for Thanksgiving, let us also share God’s love and gifts with others.

Moses said it so well in this week’s first reading, “Therefore you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Member

Published in: on October 30, 2018 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  

“Have Pity on Me”

Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our October 22nd newsletter


Bible.prayerI always liked the passage from this week’s Gospel of Mark. At different times in my life I felt like the blind man at the side of the road shouting, “Jesus, have pity on me!” What I like about it is the persistence of the blind man that does not allow himself to be intimidated by the rebuke of the apostles, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, annoying everybody, I am sure. But Bartimaeus was desperate. He wanted so much to see and he considered Jesus passing as his chance to finally be heard and healed. I wonder how long he had been sitting by the roadside begging? He was certainly not going to let the passing of Jesus go in vain and miss his chance for a better life.

Do we have the determination of Bartimaeus in our asking, in our begging to Jesus to have pity on us?

Jesus, Son of David have pity on us when we are so blind not to see that putting children and families in cages is not the human thing to do.
Jesus, have pity on us, when we are so blind to believe we are safer and stronger if we demean the other, the one who seeks help and refuge from unspeakable situations of violence.
Jesus have pity on us, when we are so blind not to see that our own policies create situations of unrest and fear.

On a personal note, do I allow myself to be distracted or discouraged, telling myself that nothing will change anyway, that God will not pay attention to me?

Today in our world and particularly our nation it is so easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged by what is surrounding us. It seems that the rich and powerful have more and more their fill while the people who are poor and dispossessed loose on all sides. Earth is used and abused and we seem not to care what kind of world we are handing down to our children. Is this really the way it has to be?

The Gospel tells us that Jesus heard and stopped and directed the blind man, “Courage, getup, Jesus is calling you.” I challenge myself and all of us to hear these words addressed to each one of us, knowing that our faith tells us that Jesus does hear us. Maybe what has been asked of me is to fine tune the hearing in my heart. Do I do my part? Do I cry out loud enough? Do I speak out with courage and even desperation against injustice, against what I deem harmful and immoral? Do I do my civic duty and go to vote or do I just sit quietly by the roadside?

If I do speak out then the reading of Jeremiah confirms my conviction that God will hear. The Lord heard the cry of the Israelites in exile and “The Lord has delivered his people,…I will bring them back…I will gather them…they shall return…they departed in tears but I will lead them to brooks of water… for I am a father to Israel”. Like our ancestors, we too need not to be afraid but do our best in encouraging one another to trust because “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

And God will not let us down NOW.

Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on October 23, 2018 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Voting for compassionate candidates is a moral imperative in a hurting world

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano

The United States and the world are in trouble! We need to take it seriously. And we need to elect candidates who will take it seriously.

Continuing to largely ignore the numerous grave problems facing humanity and the planet we all live on, is both perilous and immoral.

The earth is continuing to dangerously heat up. Tons upon tons of global warming greenhouse gases being irresponsibly poured into the atmosphere – mainly by burning fossil fuels of gas, coal and oil – is causing in various regions of the world accelerated flooding, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, increased threats of animal and plant extinctions and more intense hurricanes.

And according to a report just issued by the United Nations, unless drastic changes are made within the next 12 years a climate catastrophe will unfold (see: https://bit.ly/2E7MhED). It is foolish and immoral for the U.S. to continue to opt out of the international Paris Climate agreement. We must reverse course.

Human life begins at conception. This is a scientific fact (see: https://bit.ly/2Rw9Ae1). And it is also a scientific fact that every abortion kills a human being. Throughout the world approximately 56 million abortions are perform every year. And annually in the U.S. about 900,000 unborn babies die from this heinous legal practice.

There are over 700 million people on earth who suffer in extreme poverty (see: https://bit.ly/1z8JJNC). Over 800 million fellow human beings suffer debilitating hunger. Approximately 8,000 children under age five die every single day from hunger and hunger related diseases (see: https://bit.ly/2I4c2DT). And in the U.S. about 12 million children may not know where they will get their next meal (see: https://bit.ly/2kj8PIF).
In the U.S. there are at least 550,000 homeless people. And the number may be as high as 3.5 million (see: https://bit.ly/17pKIwB).

An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from their homes – 24 million are refugees, over half of whom are under 18-years-old. And 85 percent of the world’s displaced people are being hosted in developing countries (see: https://bit.ly/2cmTBiF). This should shame rich nations like the U.S. which did not even come close to meeting its historic low of accepting 45,000 refugees for fiscal year 2018.
And for many refugees who painstakingly make it to the U.S. to seek asylum from persecution like gang violence, instead of a warm helpful welcome, they are placed in detention in one of the 200 immigration prisons. On any given day approximately 30,000 asylum seekers are locked up (see: https://bit.ly/29BYWeL).

And then there are the wars. More than 40 armed conflicts throughout the world are causing untold death, injury and destruction (see: https://bit.ly/2QB8sV9); many of which are being fueled with weapons from highly lucrative U.S., Russian, French, German, Chinese, British, and Israeli corporations.

And the list of troubles in our suffering world goes on and on.

As the U.S. midterm elections quickly approach, it is very important that Catholics vote, and vote for candidates who have a heart! For far too many appear heartless.

Very often voters choose candidates who promise to look out for their interests. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ (see: Matt. 25:31-46) and Catholic social teaching (see: https://bit.ly/1lti9gt) calls us first and foremost to look out for the poor and vulnerable, to be peacemakers and to take care of God’s creation.

Find candidates who most closely reflect God’s platform, and vote for them!


Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Published in: on October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  

Confidence vs Arrogance

Reflection for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our October 15th newsletter


serviceI sometimes listen to the radio program “From the Top,” which offers a public platform for talented young musicians. In addition to enjoying their performances, I admire the confidence of these teenagers. Where does it come from? They work hard, love what they do (even though it demands sacrifice), and they thank the encouragement of others, especially their teachers and parents. Even though I am not young or highly gifted, can I still be a confident person?

In this week’s Gospel, James and John approach Jesus not with genuine confidence, but with a foolish, self-serving request which raises the ire of the other apostles. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach a lesson about arrogance. First, he chides the brothers for asking the wrong question, and then admonishes the apostles not to be like rulers who lord their authority over the people. If YOU wish to be great, you must serve others, teaches Jesus. Today, we have many examples of arrogance of “rulers” in our political and church worlds.

So, how am I to be humbly confident, but not arrogant, not lording my position, or education, or talents over others? The Gospel guides us. First, ask the right questions, not shallow, self-serving ones. Then learn that true greatness is serving, not my own ego or comfort, but the needs of others. Jesus reminds us that he “did not come to be served, but to serve.” When we put this lesson into practice, we can follow Paul’s advice to the Hebrews; i.e, to “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy.” This is the spiritual confidence of one who has learned that true greatness lies in self-giving service to others.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on October 16, 2018 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  

On the Canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero

Reflection on the Canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero by former FAN board member, Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, who is working at Catholic Charities as well as helping with formation of the postulants for the OFM provinces.


October 14, 2018

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM

This Sunday, October 14, Archbishop Oscar Romero is being officially recognized in Rome as a saint. There will be a lot of jubilation, especially among the Salvadorans and many thousands of people who have been inspired by the prophetic words and deeds of this contemporary saint. I count myself as one among them. At the same time, I cannot shake off a lingering, somber question: what would Oscar Romero do and say to us in the United States if he were alive today?

This is not just a pointless speculation. Forty years ago, Oscar Romero vigorously denounced the state-sponsored violence and terror that were being inflicted upon people defending their human dignity and seeking justice. Our Salvadoran saint was radical in a sense that he… READ MORE

 

Published in: on October 15, 2018 at 12:09 pm  Comments (1)