Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Great Danger in Today's World

The 60 Minutes episode on Pope Francis motivated me to look up the pope's writings about the Church's mission to the poor.   The first result from the internet search was his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudiu.  Its opening paragraphs bring to mind John Wesley's doctrinal sermon on the role that money should pay in the life of a Christian.  See part two of the sermon and then compare it to paragraph two of "The Joy of the Gospel"--
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.  Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.  God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.  This is a very real danger for believers too.  Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless.  That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
New Year's Eve is an appropriate time to engage in self-reflection, and these words from the pontiff are a fitting cultural observation to guide our inner assessment.  Here's some searching questions you might pose to yourself as you enter 2015:

  1. How influenced am I by the culture described by the pope?
  2. What do I desire more than anything else?
  3. What do I spend my time feverishly pursuing?
  4. What am I caught up in?
  5. Is there a place for the poor in my life?
  6. Can I hear God's voice?
  7. Do I feel Christ's quiet joy?
  8. Is my desire to do good fading?
  9. What makes me resentful, angry and listless?
  10. Am I living a dignified and fulfilled life?
  11. Am I living God's will for me?
  12. Do my actions and attitudes reflect the life of the Spirit, the heart of the risen Christ, and the joy of the Gospel?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sam Baker interview

Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross recently rebroadcast an interview with Sam Baker.  His description of his near death experience is worth a listen as is his song "Go in peace."  If you are planning an evening worship service, "Go in peace" would make a lovely benediction.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The International Military Pilgrimage

This is finals week at UNO.  Studying for three comprehensive exams has left little time for anything else.  Only one thing managed to cut through the fog of finals, an episode from the PBS series Sacred Journeys.  

In the initial installment of the series, host Bruce Feiler followed a group of veterans to Lourdes for the International Military Pilgrimage.  The link above goes to the full first episode.  The video below is Juan Roldan's account of his first visit to the shrine at Lourdes. 

In this clip, he describes the sense of relief that came over him when the waters of Lourdes were placed over his head.  His raw emotions, as well as those of the other veterans interviewed, got me out of analytic-thinking mode and into compassionate-feeling mode. 

I recommend the entire Lourdes episode.  Its message is worth meditating upon in preparation for the end of the Christmas season on January 11, Baptism of the Lord Sunday.