Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ibero-American Congress of Theology

Theologians gather at Boston College for Ibero-American Congress of Theology: CHESTNUT HILLs week long Ibero-American Conference of Theology: a public forum on the Theology of Liberation. 

I was introduced to Liberation Theology in a round about way.  In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake.  Somewhere in my readings about Haiti, I came across Dr. Paul Farmer in the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.

From then on, Dr. Farmer kept popping up.  First, because he's local (Boston) and then because of his humanitarian exploits.  Lastly, he lives in Rwanda.  Ever since Immaculee, I've been paying attention to Rwanda.  

One of the last books I read, In the Company of the Poor: conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, plunged me into understanding Liberation Theology.  So when I saw that Boston College was hosting a public forum on Liberation Theology, I signed up.

Ibero-American Theology is a theology that puts a preferential option on the lives of the poor in Central and South America.  This is known as Liberation Theology because the faith of Ibero-Americans struggles in poverty but always hopes their faith will save them.

I was not disappointed in the forum, even though Father Gutierrez was ill and couldn't attend.  The other speakers,  Father Juan Carlos Scannone of Argentina, Olga Consuelo Velez Caro of Colombia, and Father Roberto Tomicha of Bolivia related stories of their beginnings, their involvement, and their struggles.

Their commitment to the people inspired me, also.  May their work continue to touch the lives of their people.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Penal Cross

This image is from Google Images
if it is subject to copyright please
tell me and I will delete it.
I'm sinning as I post this.  I'm coveting penal crosses.  My friend, Marie was showing me her pictures from Belfast, Ireland.  I happened to say that the only souvenir I want is St. Brigid's cross.  She told me that she brought home a penal cross.

"What's that?"

Marie explained that it was a cross made out of wood because that's the only material prisoners had.

My ears perked up at the noun "prisoners." Prisoners made a cross?  You better believe, that once I got home, I googled "Penal Cross."

Marie was wrong.  They are called penal crosses because of the Penal Laws enacted in 1695.  These laws oppressed all religions except the Anglican Church, or as it was known in Ireland--Church of Ireland.

Well, you know what happens when religion is oppressed.

It flourishes all the more.

Catholics just went underground.  They surreptitiously worshiped.  Priests celebrated Masses in safe homes and people hid their devotional objects.  The penal cross was a cross carved out of wood with short arms to allow it to be quickly hid up a sleeve.

Being a Catholic cross, the corpus is carved on top.  Also are symbols, letters, and words depicting the crucifixion.

I still want one.  It represents the history of an era.  I'm humbled by the piety of the Irish people in the seventeenth century.  Imagine practicing your religion when it's forbidden. Would I have the courage to be so devoted?  I shiver at that thought.

Lord, don't ever stop holding my hand!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Super Bowl Lessons for TOPS

As I posted on February 12th, Do Your Job, I'm presenting a program in TOPS on the subject of the lessons learned from Super Bowl LI

5   Lessons I want you to learn for the Super Bowl

First: Always be mindful.  Don’t relax and forget.
The Atlanta Falcons learned this one the hard way — but we can’t forget what we’re trying to do.
The Falcons  were ahead.  At no time did the Patriots lead.  I repeat. The Patriots never were in the lead; they were always losing.  Keep making the right choices.
Second: Never give up.
Everyone fails.  It’s part of being human.  Copy what Tom Brady did. 
First, he got a touchdown with no extra point.  That’s our equivalent of staying the same weight at “weigh in.”  So we didn’t lose.  We’re still OK.
Next the Patriots got a touchdown with a two-point conversion.  That our equivalent of losing a pound.
The following week we lose another pound like another touchdown with another two-pound conversion.
And finally, we’re excited.  We’re on a roll and continue with half a pound to a pound loss the next week.  We’re winning!
Third, don’t blame.
For the first 2 and a half quarters of the game, the Patriots were losing. People who were supposed to catch balls dropped them. People who were supposed to stop the offense let them by. And Tom Brady threw a couple of duds.  It would have been easy to start the blame game. But they didn’t. They patted each other on the back and said, “It’s all right. Move on.”
It shouldn’t matter that it was your birthday, you’re on vacation, etc., you know that.  You have the same birthday, every year!  Vacations are planned ahead.  Plan your days and meals to reflect eating healthy.  No excuses!
Fourth, do it for your mom.
Many thought Tom Brady wanted to win to show up Roger Goodell.  That was sweet.  But the real reason was that he wanted to win for his mother.  His mother is fighting cancer and hadn’t been to any of Tom’s games at all, this year.  This one was for his mother.
If we aren’t trying to lose weight and get healthy for ourselves, then we need to think of our loved ones.  We want to be around for them, so keep making good choices for them.
Fifth, keep your eye on the goal.

You have a weight goal.  Keep at it.  It’s not a race.  Speed doesn’t win.  Perseverance does.  Persevere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ignorance of Catholicism


ˈfāspä(l)m/  noun
  1. 1.
    a gesture in which the palm of one's hand is brought to one's face, as an expression of disbelief, shame, or exasperation.

This was my reaction to this story from a Facebook friend, Michael Liccione:
"My favorite reporter story is from when I was communications director for the Diocese of San Diego. A reporter heard about the (then) new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Her opening salvo was: "What can you tell me about the latest cataclysm of the Catholic Church?" "Which one?" I replied."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rumpelstiltskin for Adults

Twisted by Bonnie M. Hennessy is an adult fairy tale.  Remember Rumpelstiltskin?  Now the little man will dance in your adult dreams.  It’s not your kiddie’s sweet dreams.  It’s a haunting horror.
Twisted is a gothic romance.  And it is twisted.  Aoife is the major character who keeps her family’s farm and her family, for that matter, together.  Her father is a drunk and womanizer, who’s hobby is visiting the local brothel.  Aoife has pulled her father out of there to come home, so often, that she’s best friends with the house’s madam. Her mother is an enabler.  Aoife is a good manager of her family’s farm.  Because of her shrewd business sense the family has just about enough money to get by.  There is a constant concern, however.  Tara, Aoife’s sister has asthma, or something like that.  She is constantly sick and has a hard time breathing.  Doctor’s visits and medicine take a chunk out of the family’s budget.

To recharge herself, Aoife has turned to the forest.  Here she finds refuge from all the cares, burdens and anxieties that weigh on her.  She walks under the cool forest heaven.  She swims in the forest’s refreshing pond. She breathes in the cleansing pine and healing flora and befriends the woodland creatures.

Then the Duke came along.

Here come the twists.  The Duke is the bad guy, at first.  Then he’s the good guy.  Her savior in the forest, her protector from the Duke, her life’s guardian, turns out not to be such a good guy. 

Bad turns into good and good into bad.  Your mind is trying to think back to the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin.  Does this plot follow the fairy tale, parallel it, or morph into its own denouement?  It’s close enough but it has matured.  Or have you matured? 

You can’t have matured, because here you are a grown up reading a fairy tale.  That alone tells you that this is a good book.  You will be enthralled.  It not only holds your interest; it’s a page turner. 
Although I was given the book to review, I was not required to write a favorable review.  This review is my own honest assessment. 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
 November 11, 2016

Amazon buy link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


It's nice to know.  I'm going to the Religious Education Congress sponsored by the Diocese of Los Angeles.  In the instructions that are sent out, I noticed this little note:

If there are protesters at Congress, please do not engage in conversation with them. Ignoring them is the best way of responding. We have developed a plan with Convention Center staff to handle any potential protests.

 I do ignore them mostly because I'm rushing to get to the event.  Besides, there's more of them than little ole me.  They have a bullhorn, too.  But I've encountered them when the pope came to the USA, Eucharistic Congress and last year at the religious congress.  I never thought much about it.  I always thought they were just trying to save my soul, according to their beliefs.

But you think they'd get the idea when their conversion rate                                                                      from these events is "0".

Behaving Like God


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1LV 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

"You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD."
This book is named "Leviticus" because a lot of the book deals with priests, and the priests were from the tribe of Levi.  The book of Leviticus parallels the Ten Commandments but aimed for the Levite priests.  Although these particularly chosen verses are for us people, too.  We are all to strive towards holiness as God is holy. 
We are to revere God, and we should respect each other as God reveres us. My favorite priest, Father Aniello, says, "Thank you, Jesus, for making me your # 1.  Help me to love others as # 1, as You instruct me to."  Loving others like God loves us, will make us holy.  This type of love forbids inner hatred.  Inner hatred breeds grudges and vengeance.  God's love has no room for hate.  
Being holy is behaving like God.  "Love your neighbor as yourself."
I remember when Troy, a catechumenate in RCIA got up and ostentatiously left Mass during the Prayers of the faithful. He didn't come back to the Mass but he did attend the next RCIA class.  I asked him the reason for his rude departure from Mass.  Troy responded something to the effect that Father had asked everyone to pray for terrorists and he'd be damned before he would pray for terrorists.
But "we're not praying for their success; we're praying for their hearts to be converted!"  Troy knew that.  He actually didn't want their conversion.  Troy wanted them to go to hell!
Oh boy!  Lord, what can I do?  Where do I begin?  How do I explain that You want us to love our enemies?  This does not make sense to people like Troy.  How did You convert the Israelites who were obligated to exact revenge by Mosaic law?  I need the Holy Spirit, desperately.
People like Troy did not receive much love in their youth.  Their homes didn't foster forgiveness and love.  I understand that.
Maybe if I began with that premise--parents, homes, and backgrounds. If you grew up in the home of a terrorist family, you'd be a terrorist, yourself.  You would want to kill your enemy.  But we are Christians and are taught differently.  This is RCIA, after all.
Holy Spirit come open the hearts of Troy and others who struggle with the concept of God's love.