Come Out, Arise!

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent by FAN board President, Sr. Margaret Magee

This reflection was originally posted in our March 27th newsletter


AriseOur readings on this Fifth Sunday of Lent are clearly calling us to arise from darkness, death, and all that is dead and deadening in our minds, in our hearts and in our lives. To do this we must slow down, live reflective and deeply contemplative lives open to forgiveness, mercy and healing.

Living reflectively and contemplatively, especially for Franciscans, is not a turning away from the world. Rather, our life and our spirituality draws us to live in right-relationship in the world and for the world. We are called to see, act and move in Christ, as St. Paul reminded the Romans, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through the Spirit dwelling in you.”

Interestingly in light of our readings, a quote of Karl Rahner, Jesuit priest and theologian, came to mind. Rahner wrote, “The theological problem today is to find the art of drawing religion out of people, not pumping it into them. The art is to help people become what they are.” For me Rahner is saying we must live the Crucified Redemptive Love that has already been gifted and given to us in baptism. We must be attentive to God’s Divine Presence, the Holy Spirit, continually dwelling in our humanity and in all of creation.

I believe, as Rahner stated, when we keep ‘pumping religion in’ our focus is simply on the rules, laws, and doctrines. The light and the life of Christ, given in baptism, remains buried deep within us. The Light of Christ is not meant to be entombed and hidden, it must be expressed through our engagement in compassion, mercy and justice making the Kingdom of God visible today.

So questions arise – are we Lazarus, bound and sitting within darkened tombs of our own creation? Are these tombs of fear or indifference? Do we allow indifference to deaden and deafen us from the needs and the cries of others? Does fear drive us to possess more than we really need? Does indifference silence us from questioning and challenging those in positions of power within our church and our government?

Even if we are like Lazarus, lifeless, bound and sitting in the darkness within a tomb, the gospel impels us to believe that Christ is outside calling us into the light of freedom, compassion and new life. It is Christ who will draw us out. We cannot do this by ourselves. Are we willing to listen for the voice of the Crucified Christ who weeps for the suffering and the many deaths that we have brought upon our own humanity and creation itself?

God calls to us, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them…” Let us believe in our hearts and through our Christic actions proclaim God’s freeing and life-giving love!

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  

“I have come into the world so that the blind will see.”

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent by Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our March 20th newsletter


BlindThe ongoing call of Lent is an urgent call to repent and to make a conscious and free choice to turn away from sin, which leads to death, and to embrace the Gospel, which leads to Life. This week’s Gospel passage is about the man born blind. This passage forms together with those of the third and fifth Sundays of Lent, to form a triduum that points to the baptismal themes of water (the women at the well), light (the healing of the man born blind), and life (the raising of Lazarus).

These powerful readings remind us all what Life as a believer is all about.

We see here the drama of a decision to accept or reject the call of Christ. The man born blind receives his physical sight early in the story; the rest of the passage traces the birth of his spiritual sight. Just like how his vision healed, he first calls Jesus a man, than a prophet, then the one who is “from God” and finally, as “Lord.” He comes to see who Jesus is because he is willing to believe.

This attitude of willingness stands in stark contrast to the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees. Even as witnesses of the same physical healing, they try to explain away the evidence as they question the man and his family. They portrayed Jesus as a sinner, and finally they ejected the healed man from their midst.

This drama and confrontation is repeated too often in our “advanced” society which struggles with belief over ideology, with labeling over accepting, with welcoming over fearing.

Years ago P.T. Barnum heard about a person who was going to cross over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. So he traveled there to see for himself. There was a huge crowd watching and the aerial artist, holding a lone pole to help him balance, walked across the falls to the cheers of the crowd. P.T. Barnum ran over to talk to the artist. In the midst of the conversation, P.T. raved about the artist and how he had to have him perform for his traveling show. The artist said to him “Do you believe that I can do this again?” P.T. said, “Of course I believe, otherwise why would I want to hire you?” The artist said, “Great, then get on my back and we’ll go across.”

That is the difference between belief and Faith. We are challenged this Lent to stop saying we believe and just climb on with our Faith. We need to remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees at the end of today’s Gospel: “If you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you are saying, ‘We see’, so your sins remains.”

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

Published in: on March 21, 2017 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Trump’s Second Travel Ban Still Violates American Principles

By George Cassidy Payne

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President Trump and his advisers either purposely or accidentally fail to realize that this country is bound together by the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These principles apply to all people. To be American means that a person is shaped, guided, represented and protected by certain inalienable laws. It has nothing to do with geography, language, race, or religious beliefs.

For more than two centuries the hope has been that America can live up to its promise and be a land of openness, trust, and love of diversity. Regardless of age, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and political ideology, the promise has been that we can be one nation because we are one species. In fact, whenever we have tried to realize this promise our IMG_20140924_143514326[1]nation has paved the way for groundbreaking achievements in the arts and sciences. (The names of Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein come readily to mind.)

It is the immigrant and refugee who has been our greatest legacy. If for no other justifiable reason, the world admires us because we are a nation of immigrants and refugees. From the first people to trek across the Bering Strait to the next migrant who crosses the Mexican-Texas border, America is America because they are here.

On this subject, I really appreciate the way James Madison spoke when he said: “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.”

IMG_3381[1]Even more profound for me are the words of Cesar Chavez. The Catholic social justice activist said: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

With the words of these two remarkable Americans in mind, President Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban against Muslims is just as cynical and unconstitutional as the failed version a month ago. Not only does it betray the economic and political interests of the United States as an international power, it dishonors the rich legacy of immigrants and refugees who have given their blood, sweat and tears to make this country what it is today. If I may speak on behalf of the dead, the statesman Madison and the activist Chavez would have been appalled by Trump’s irrational and illegal ban.

George Cassidy Payne
Humanities Instructor at SUNY FLCC
Founder, Gandhi Earth Keepers International

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Published in: on March 15, 2017 at 9:45 am  Comments (2)  

Shorter is Not Always Better

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent, by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey

This reflection was originally posted in our March 13th newsletter


Water Jug
In a long Sunday Gospel, segments within brackets can often be omitted. Why is this?  Because they are less important? Because of an assumed short attention span of the congregation? For whatever reason, the longer narrative of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in this week’s Gospel is seen as the richer conversation. The primary lesson of the passage is that Jesus provides living water, “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Because of his teaching, the Samaritans of the town say, “We know that this is truly the savior of the world.” And we are invited to drink deep of this living water.

There is, however, a compelling sub-story that is missed in the shorter version. First, when the disciples returned from their food shopping in town, they “were amazed that he was talking with a woman.” Jesus breaks two taboos: not only conversing with a woman he did not know, but conversing with a Samaritan, and Jews and Samaritans did not mix company. Second, the woman was so excited by her conversation with Jesus she “left her water jar” to rush into town to share her news; not an insignificant detail because the water jar was a needed possession which was left out of the shorter version, and became unimportant. Jesus, in turn, is energized by this dialogue. Both the Samaritan woman and Jesus stepped out of their comfort zones and took a risk for mutual engagement.

Finally, why omit the short phrase that many of the townspeople began to believe in Jesus “because of the word of the woman…?” The word of women is still marginalized today, not only in government and workplaces, but also in our Church. The work of women is essential and valued, but our voices are not. Women are not even permitted to read the Gospel during Mass or preach from the pulpit.

This Lent, may we be attuned to marginalized voices: immigrants facing deportation, refugees refused entry, citizens experiencing poverty, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, LGBT discrimination – and, especially in our Church, women.

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on March 14, 2017 at 9:54 am  Comments (2)  

FAN Celebrates National Catholic Sisters Week

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FAN would like to recognize the wonderful work of all Catholic sisters. We are especially grateful for Sr. Marie Lucey (left) and Sr. Maria Orlandini (right), both Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia who are on our staff.


From March 8th-14th, we celebrate the fourth annual National Catholic Sisters Week here in Washington D.C. and across the country. The week is a means of recognizing and honoring the far-ranging contributions that women religious have made to their communities. We are so thankful for their spiritual and physical presence.

National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) was celebrated for the first time in 2014 and continues to exist as part of National Women’s History Month. NCSW is headquartered at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. Worldwide, there are nearly 800,000 Catholic sisters serving God through a diversity of ministries, with almost 50,000 based in this country. Many serve on the front lines with the most vulnerable; others choose to deepen their spirituality through lives of contemplative, prayerful enclosure. Regardless of how these sisters choose to live out their vocation, they are undoubtedly cornerstones of their communities, both spiritual and secular.

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network, has only praise for the sisters in his life and work. “In my current position at the Franciscan Action Network (FAN), I have the opportunity to work with hundreds upon hundreds of amazing sisters. I am still learning and being mentored by them. These sisters are very clearly following in the footsteps of Jesus. I am humbled and in awe of their dedication and their example of living the Gospel every single day of their lives.”

This year’s celebration boasts a record number of events across the country, from panels to pilgrimages. One such spotlight event is a video documentary of an exhibit entitled “(un)veiled: deconstructing the Habit. Featuring interviews with Briana Turnbull, Molly Hazelton, Sister Beth Lynn, OSC, and Gina Giambruno; the film provides an in depth look at one of the events developed for last year’s National Catholic Sisters Week. Along with habits from other communities, the film describes habits and details from several Franciscan communities, including the Srs. of St. Francis, Rochester, the Poor Clares and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The film’s online premiere on is scheduled for March 14th, 2017 on SisterStory.

These are the sorts of critical global issues that Catholic sisters feel compelled to tackle head on, always with compassion and humility. In our own Franciscan Action Network community, we are blessed by our two sisters on staff, who inspire us daily with their commitment to social justice and to their vocation. Sister Marie Lucey and Sister Maria Orlandini, both Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia, work tirelessly in the fight for human dignity through advocating for issues such as human trafficking and immigration reform, their hearts boldly open to the plight of refugees and the undocumented. In addition, we are fortunate enough to have a number of wonderful sisters on our board, including Board President Margaret Magee of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, New York and Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF of the Felician Sisters of North America and Sr. Marge Wissman of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN. We would be lacking so much without their vision, ideals, and hard work, and so we take this week as a special opportunity to acknowledge all they have done and continue to do in the spirit of their calling, along with all of their fellow Catholic sisters!

Thank you, sisters!

References:
http://www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org/about.php

http://www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org/_resources/NCSW17-News-Release.pdf

https://www.sisterstory.org/blog/love-earth-and-neighbor-compels-sister-amy

Published in: on March 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bring our Christian Voice to the Many

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our March 6 newsletter


Praying
God invites each of us, as God invited Abraham in this week’s first reading, “to be a blessing” to all we encounter. Catholic Social Tradition gifts us with a model of how to bless others and to live “according to his own design” as St. Timothy poses in our second reading. The tenets of Catholic Social Teaching impel us to protect the rights and dignity of all God’s creatures, especially those who are the most vulnerable in our society. These tenets guide our perceptions so that “the other” ceases to exist and we are aware of each child, woman and man as made in the image and likeness of God. In its description of Catholic Social Teaching, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) states “Our culture is tempted to turn inward, becoming indifferent and sometimes isolationist in the face of international responsibilities. Catholic Social Teaching proclaims that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means learning that “loving our neighbor” has global dimensions in an interdependent world.” Catholic Social Teaching asserts that there cannot be a disconnect between how we worship and how we live our lives.

When we look at the policies and actions of our new administration through the eyes of Catholic Social Teaching, in which direction is our nation going? Are we a people going in the direction of inclusiveness, recognizing that “‘loving our neighbor’ has global dimensions in an interdependent world?” Or, in our globalized, interconnected and interdependent world, are we turning more exclusive and inward, deeming a particular race, skin color, nationality, gender or way to worship God better than all others?

The direction our nation takes is up to us. Those who penned our Constitution emphasized this point in the Preamble with the words “we the people.” Pope Francis, referring to St. Francis of Assisi as an example, states “No one can demand that religion be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life…” The Pope exhorts us, “Continue to overcome apathy, offering a Christian response to the social and political anxieties…I ask you to be builders of the world, to work for a better world. Don’t be observers of life, but get involved. Jesus did not remain an observer, but he immersed himself. Don’t be observers, but immerse yourself in the reality of life, as Jesus did.” Let us pray, that as with the apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration we experience the touch of the Lord and that we “be a blessing,” bringing our Christian voice to the many “social and political anxieties” of our nation and of our world.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on March 7, 2017 at 9:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Ambassadors for Christ

Reflection for Ash Wednesday 2017 by FAN Intern, Connor Bannon


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As someone who has never left the United States and has lived most of his life in either the suburbs of Connecticut or the suburbs of Oklahoma, the city of Washington has always mystified me. From the massive monuments to the secret societies, it is a place of intrigue. For me, arriving in Washington for the first time was like arriving in a foreign land where most of the people just happen to speak American English. This sense of being in a foreign land was surely heightened by the fact that much of Washington is, for all intents and purposes, foreign land. Washington is a hub of embassies and consulates. It is one of the few cities in the world where, technically speaking, most every country is within walking distance. It is a land of diplomats and aspiring diplomats, ambassadors and aspiring ambassadors. Yet, for all the excitement of worldly embassies and ambassadors, diplomats and diplomatic license plates, the most important lesson I have learned during my short time in Washington is that I am called to be an ambassador. This, of course, is not a lesson that I had to come to Washington learn. In fact, it is a lesson that I could have mastered simply by paying more attention to the Ash Wednesday readings.

Writing in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul proclaims “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” This passage is particularly interesting when considered in conjunction with Christ’s teaching that “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” No man, or woman, can serve two kingdoms. In the same way that you cannot be an ambassador for the United States and an ambassador for United Kingdom, you cannot be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God and an ambassador for the kingdom of this world. You cannot be an ambassador for Christ, who is President of Peace, and an ambassador for Trump, who is a president of war, mass deportation, environmental degradation.

During this Lenten Season, let us repent for all of those times we have failed, in what we have done or in what we have left undone, to be ambassadors for Christ. With fasting, weeping, and mourning, let us rend our hearts and return to the LORD, who is President yesterday, today, and forever.

Connor Bannon
FAN Intern 2017

 

Published in: on March 1, 2017 at 11:38 am  Comments (1)  

The Invitation of Lent

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent by FAN Board Member, Ms. Carolyn Townes

This reflection was originally posted in our February 27th newsletter


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So, it’s Lent! What are you going to give up?

When I came into the Church twenty years ago this Easter, that is what I heard. You must give up something for Lent. Of course, I thought about the scrumptious things I loved and decided that I must give one of them up for 40 days. So, I gave up bacon! Well, aside from the fact that it nearly killed me, it also confounded me. How could giving up bacon for 40 days deepen my relationship with the Lord? I soon discovered that Lent is so much more than giving up delicious food. It is an invitation to look deeply within myself and give up those things that separated me from God and neighbor.

This First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recounts Jesus being tempted in the desert. Elsewhere in Scripture we are told that Jesus was fully human, even to the point of being tempted, but he did not sin. As the Church begins this 40-day journey into the wilderness, we are reminded of our own temptations. Our temptations to things like violence, racism, gossip, and fear. Instead of focusing on the things we have to give up, let us look at what Lent invites us to. Lent is an invitation to kindness, to mercy, to justice, to peace and to live out the Beatitudes. Lent is an invitation to blessedness and wholeness after 40 days in the dry, desolate wilderness.

Saint Francis of Assisi called all Franciscans to yearlong Lent, not just the 40 days. We are to gaze and reflect every day on the places within ourselves that do not show the grace and charity of the Lord. We must constantly ask ourselves what keeps us from being the face of Christ to our neighbors? Is it fear? What am I afraid of? Perfect love casts out fear. Am I loving unconditionally? Or do I impose conditions on those I am in close contact with? Have I heard your story before I judge you? Do I seek to understand you before I demand that you understand me?

This Lenten season, I invite you to take this journey a little differently. Meditate on your prayer, your fasting and your almsgiving with new spiritual eyes. Instead of giving up the bread and chocolate, how about giving up using words that harm and divide and feast on using your words to create connection and peace.

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order
FAN Board Member

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  

Quid est Veritas?

Reflection by Bob Tocha, who is FAN member and parishioner of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, MD


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Photo courtesy of Simple Reminders.com

Quid est Veritas?

(What is Truth?)

In His trial before Pilate, Jesus claimed, “…for this I came into this world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice…” to which Pilate asked, “What is Truth?” (Jn 18:38).

Not only was “truth” a question in the mind of Pontius Pilate in First Century Palestine, but it remains an issue to this day. Concern with truth has recently taken center stage because of the cascade of untruthful statements made by President Donald Trump. His barrage of lies has caused many to question his fitness for office while even his supporters are troubled and uneasy because of his disregard for facts and his seeming willingness to make sweeping claims without foundation.

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Telling the truth is so central to us as human beings, that it is difficult to overstate its importance.  Scripture tells us that “the Truth will set you Free” (Jn. 8:32), something that we readily grasp. No less obvious is the fact that lies will ensnare and enslave us. They will entrap us. Here the image of the spider web comes to mind. The liar is caught in a web of lies with each lie the occasion for yet another untruth. The centrality of telling the truth can be seen in the challenge that all parents face in raising their children. They seek, almost instinctively, to instill in their children patterns of behavior and moral standards that will help the children live upright and fulfilling lives.

For centuries, parents and priests, preachers and teachers have employed parables and myths, fables and fairy tales to drive home to children, and adults alike, critical religious and moral messages. All of these narrative forms have a primordial character that transports the listener to a time and place where ethical choices lack ambiguity. Stories capture the imagination while presenting a message in broad-brush strokes and bold colors. The values they teach come without “exceptions.” Not surprisingly, many of these stories stress the importance of telling the truth; they celebrate truthfulness and condemn lying. Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” makes its point in compelling detail. That lying carries consequences is driven home by Carlo Collachi’s character Pinocchio whose nose grows when he strays from the truth. As Americans, we have our own lore that celebrates integrity and truthfulness.  We remember “Honest” Abe and draw inspiration from the mythical words of Washington who admits felling a cherry tree. “I cannot tell a lie.” While a figment of Washington’s biographer Mason Locke Weems’ imagination, the sentiment is no less defining or instructive.

We live in an image-conscious society, where politicians, celebrities and corporations seek to project self-serving image for public consumption. They are eager to appear as they are not, as long as it enhances their brand and wins them positive press. Early in the presidential campaign, Donald Trump was asked his favorite Scriptural verse. Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, he hemmed and hawed, reminiscent of Sarah Palin when asked what newspapers she read, “All of them” she stammered after a damning silence. Trump was no more forthcoming or convincing. The issue was simple: how committed are you as a Christian? While no one can read the heart of another, and no one should, it is possible to gain insights by examining what a person does – the message communicated in public acts.  People often say one thing and do another. They talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.  They speak a “truth” but live a lie. Christianity is not a religion restricted to “internal” belief but a faith that one manifests in concrete action.  Jesus spoke of many things, but none more than caring for the poor, the marginalized and the outcast. Many wealthy people are extremely generous in their charitable works; Donald Trump does not number among them. If one examines the Sermon on the Mount and uses it as a measure of one’s Christianity, Donald Trump would be found sorely lacking.  After carefully examining, speak-no-evilDonald Trump’s Faith-motivated actions, a religious leader concluded, “I do not know whose Gospel Mr. Trump is following, but it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It is, of course, politically advantageous to pass oneself off as a practicing Christian, but failing to act as one, reveals one as a liar.

Drawing on the Hebrew Scriptures, Judaism and Christianity explicitly condemn bearing false witness and by extension the practice of lying. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16) and “Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor” (Deut 5:20. Islam condemns lying but acknowledges some exceptions. The importance of Truth in the New Testament can be seen in the fact that Jesus identifies himself with “the Truth.” “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (Jn 14: 6). In addition to a religious prohibition to lying, there are philosophical arguments that condemn lying as a perversion of the faculty of speech, reasoning that the purpose of speech is to communicate the truth. Were we only to speak lies, there would be no reason to speak. Codes of honor and military codes of conduct place a premium on the fact that a man’s word is his “sacred bond.” Together these arguments underscore the foundational value society places on telling the truth and the harsh rejection it levels against lying.

Kelly Anne Conway, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and current White House Counselor recently coined the telling phrase “alternate facts” employing it to counter a news item that she sought to deflect. When Church Todd challenged her, she persisted in her effort to use a falsehood to question the reported fact. When asked a question, Ms. Conway rarely answers the question posed and more often than not, says something untrue, all in an effort to turn attention from the question. Prevaricate, equivocate and denigrate seems to be the modus operandi of political spokespersons or company representatives when asked embarrassing questions. That such behavior jettisons the truth seems of little or no concern. Never admit wrongdoing; never acknowledge moral lapses; never answer the question.

While a society’s institutions seem permanent, they are not. It remains for each generation to reaffirm the values and practices that undergird society. In democracies, even long established institutions depend on each generation’s “buying into” defining and motivating values. Western culture has long espoused the value of Truth and spurned its corruption. Yet, in today’s culture, where advertisers and politicians employ words to communicate half-truths to sell toothpaste or advance a political agenda, truth seems to have become the primary casualty. All too often words are used to generate fear, to create a sense of false need or to evoke hatred. Truth finds itself endangered. Modern marketing tells politicians and advertisers that a lie repeated often enough will be mistaken for true. Some have even suggested that we are living in a post-truth era, while charges of false news abound.

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In describing Donald Trump, negative descriptors abound: ignorant, dishonest, vengeful, boastful, ruthless, undisciplined, thin-skinned, arrogant and narcissistic, to mention only the most obvious.  He has been described as a bully and an abuser of women. But, above all else he is a consummate liar, our own Liar-in-Chief.  As such he has scant regard for the truth and is not restrained from lying by personal values or moral tenet. In many ways, he is the modern incarnation to a Greek tragic figure. He is a deeply flawed individual, which all can see. It is only a matter of time before these flaws consume him. As bystanders, we watch as things unravel and the flaws bring down the protagonist. In this Trump should be pitied, not hated. He is a pathetic figure, trapped by his hubris, his arrogance and his ignorance.

In closing, we return to Pilate’s musing, Quid est Veritas?  to which we must answer: Truth is the moral glue that binds society and only with which genuine human relationships, discourse, and democracy are possible.

“And then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jn. 8:32

Published in: on February 22, 2017 at 12:25 pm  Comments (1)  

“No one can serve two masters.”

Reflection for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee

This reflection was originally posted in our February 20th newsletter


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Our readings this Sunday call us to take stock and examine the quality of our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, though, we often confuse quality of life with quantity in life.

We have become  caught up in a misguided consumerism that leads us to acquire more and more material goods, to ensure our security, and to bolster our self-esteem. Yet, in the midst of material abundance, many people express feelings that are deeply affected by emptiness, unfulfillment, and loneliness. Ours is a culture of distraction, restlessness, and self-preoccupation. Consider how we are bombarded and distracted by noise and the constant presence of media in restaurants, airports, doctor’s offices, in our homes, and in our own hand-held devices demanding our immediate attention to Twitter and instant messaging.

The prophet Isaiah reassures us that God will never forsake or forget us. Unfortunately, our restless, preoccupied, and distracted living often leads us to forsake and forget the God who is in our midst. St. Augustine saw this in the people of his time and wisely taught, “God is within us, but we are outside of ourselves.”

Paul reminded the people of Corinth of the quality of the Christian life, “Brothers and sisters; thus should one regard us: servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”

Attentive to Paul’s teaching, especially in the midst of our current social climate, let us recognize that we are brothers and sisters, servants of Christ. We must know and live the Christ who dwells within us. This is the Christ who emptied himself to become a servant, washing the feet of his disciples as an example of God’s humble service, love and care for all people. How are we living as brothers, sisters, and servants of Christ? Do others find in us trustworthy servants, images of the servant Christ?

Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Often the word ‘mammon’ is simply understood as money, however mammon can be seen as any wealth, prestige, or status that leads to idolatry. Imagine and ponder how Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi heard today’s gospel proclaimed. How they must have rejoiced hearing, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…look at the birds of the sky…are not you more important than they? Learn the way the wild flowers grow…Your heavenly Father knows what you need.”

The commitment to God and the undivided hearts of Clare and Francis was clearly evident in their lives. For Francis and Clare, poverty was not simply a virtue to be attained or a vow to be professed, poverty or rather Lady Poverty, was their true center and personified the humble, poor, and crucified Christ whom they embraced and embodied in their own lives.

With undivided hearts, let us humbly seek and live from our true center, Jesus Christ. Let us proclaim God’s Kingdom of peace, justice, and mercy in and for our world today.

Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Published in: on February 21, 2017 at 11:08 am  Comments (1)