Advent: To receive the child Jesus

Praying With Pope Francis: Intentions for December 2016
for the Challenges that confront humanity (Universal)
and the mission of the Church (Evangelization)

Universal intention: End to child-soldiers
That the scandal of child‐soldiers may be eliminated the world over.

Evangelization intention: Europe
That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness,
and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

Quote of the Day

The Child of Bethlehem is frail, like all newborn children. He cannot speak and yet he is the Word made flesh who came to transform the hearts and lives of all men and women. This Child, like every other child, is vulnerable; he needs to be accepted and protected. Today too, children need to be welcomed and defended, from the moment of their conception. — Pope Francis, homily, May 25, 2014

Questions of the Day

And we have to ask ourselves: Who are we, as we stand before the Child Jesus? Who are we, standing as we stand before today’s children? Are we like Mary and Joseph, who welcomed Jesus and care for him with the love of a father and a mother? Or are we like Herod, who wanted to eliminate him? Are we like the shepherds, who went in haste to kneel before him in worship and offer him their humble gifts? Or are we indifferent? Are we perhaps people who use fine and pious words, yet exploit pictures of poor children in order to make money? Are we ready to be there for children, to “waste time” with them? Are we ready to listen to them, to care for them, to pray for them and with them? Or do we ignore them because we are too caught up in our own affairs? — Pope Francis, homily, May 25, 2014

 

May America progress in virtue

USCCB President Archbishop Kurtz selected today, the Feast Day of Saint Peter Claver, as a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities.

Prayer of the Day

Let us pray . . .
O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness,
no thought of ours is left unnoticed,
no desire or concern ignored.
You have proven that blessings abound
when we fall on our knees in prayer,
and so we turn to you in our hour of need.
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice,
we hear your voice telling us what is required . . .
“Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn,
may be merciful to others.
Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism
so that we may seek peace and justice
in our communities.
Strengthen our hearts so that they beat
only to the rhythm of your holy will.
Flood our path with your light
as we walk humbly toward a future
filled with encounter and unity.
Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts,
for only by the prompting of your grace
can we progress toward virtue.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[source: USCCB prayer card]

USCCB Intercessions

Let us pray to the Lord:

  • For an end to the violence perpetrated by harsh words, deadly weapons, or cold indifference. May our homes, our nation, and countries around the world become havens of peace,
  • For the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of race, language or culture,
  • For the wisdom to receive the stories and experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect,
  • For the strength to teach our children how to resolve differences non-violently and respectfully, and the courage to model it in our own behavior,
  • For our faith community, that we may celebrate and welcome the diverse faces of Christ in our worship, our ministries, and our leaders,
  • For our faith community, that we may respond boldly to the Holy Spirit’s call to act together to end violence and racism,
  • For healing and justice for all those who have experienced violence and racism,
  • For the protection of all police and first responders who risk their lives daily to ensure our safety; for fair and just policing that will promote peace and wellbeing in all our neighborhoods,
  • For our public officials, that they will strive to work for fair education, adequate housing, and equal opportunities for employment for all,
  • For our parish, that we may cultivate welcome, extend hospitality, and encourage the participation of people of all cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds,
  • For the courage to have difficult conversations about racism, and for a better appreciation of how our words and actions – or even our silence – can impact our communities,
  • For solidarity in our global human family, that we may work together to protect those who are most vulnerable and most in need,

Lord, hear our prayer.

Quotes of the Day

We are most Catholic when we reflect our oneness of faith, worship, that is achieved in response to our rich mixture of human variety through the grace of the Holy Spirit. — Archbishop Wilton Gregory (Atlanta)

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. — Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Take a Step Toward Peace and Reconciliation
Pray, Listen, Learn, Think, and Act

Following are five steps Archbishop Kurtz recommends that Catholics take to promote peace, justice, and respect for all people:

  1. Pray for peace and healing among all people.
  2. Study the Word of God and the social teaching of the Church in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the dignity of all persons.
  3. Make a sincere effort to encounter more fully people of different racial backgrounds with whom we live, work, and minister.
  4. Pursue ways in which Catholic parishes and neighborhoods can be truly welcoming of families of different racial and religious backgrounds.
  5. Get to know our local law enforcement officers. Let them know of our support and gratitude. And encourage young people to respect all legitimate authority.
[source: Statement on race relations at USCCB General Assembly, June 10, 2015]

Question of the Day

“How is your heart, today? Is it at peace? If it is not at peace, before speaking of peace, make sure your own heart is at peace. How is your family, today? Is it at peace? If you are not able to bring peace to your family, your rectory, your congregation, bringing it more peace, then words of peace for the world are not enough. This is the question that I would like to ask today: How is the heart of each one of us? Is it at peace? How is the family of each one of us? Is it at peace? That’s how it is, isn’t it? To achieve peace in the world.”
Pope Francis homily, September 8

Resources

Speak up for privacy and safety rights

Bathroom Privacy and Safety for Everyone

The United We Stand… for safety, security, and privacy campaign was created by one mom as a way to rally the many voices opposed to the Obama administration’s bathroom policy, which creates a new “right” for a select group of people to choose which bathroom to use based on a personal, self-constructed gender identity. People who do not agree with President Obama’s bathroom policy were asked to call the White House Comment line and respectfully disagree.

The campaign was held July 12, but it’s not too late to participate.

I disagree with Obama’s bathroom policy, which is driven not by justice but rather by gender-identity ideology/theory. The Obama administration has created confusion around an issue that has always been clear: biological males use the men’s room, and biological females use the women’s room. Sexual orientation is irrelevant. The clothes you choose to wear and how you want to externally present yourself are irrelevant. The result of this confusion is decreased safety for women and children and a lot of (expensive and unnecessary) litigation.

Title IX’s implementing regulations permit a school to provide sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, and athletic teams, as well as single-sex classes under certain circumstances. When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity. — DOJ/DOE Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students

Following the lead of the Obama administration, local governments have started to change laws around the use of public restrooms and locker rooms. If the Charlotte City Council had not passed an ordinance to eliminate separate bathrooms for men and women in public spaces, the state of North Carolina would not have needed to pass House Bill 2, which simply put in writing what we have taken for granted and understood all these years (biological males use the men’s room and biological females use the women’s room). And now nearly half of the United States are suing the Obama administration over the bathroom free-for-all, which is what happens when we abandon common sense and reality.

That someone’s self-perception or conscious identity is at odds with their biological reality does not give them the right to choose which bathroom to use. Yes, we all need to be sensitive to the difficulties and challenges that transgender people face. Allowing people to choose whichever bathroom they want based on “gender identity” or “gender expression,” however, will not make using the bathroom safer for anyone. It will make using restrooms and locker rooms less safe for women and girls. Not because transgendered people are perverts or to be feared, but rather, through ambiguity around who may use which restroom or locker room — ambiguity that predators will exploit.

Our culture has this notion that all discrimination is inherently unjust, which is not true. Discrimination can be just or unjust. To discriminate is a function of our intelligence, and we do it all day long. We have to differentiate between what is good and bad for us. (Do you have a vegan in your family who loves to meat-shame you? Have we banned smokers from restaurants and offices? These are behaviors, and we have to determine, which behavior promotes my health and well-being and the common good of my family, community, and society.)

Question of the Day: When is discrimination just? When is discrimination unjust?

Men and women are fundamentally different (by design and on purpose). Bathrooms and locker rooms are and have always been segregated by gender precisely because of our differences in biology (not the clothes we choose to wear or our self-perceptions and expressions of masculinity and femininity). To designate separate bathrooms for men and women is just discrimination; it promotes the common good, as well as privacy and safety of individuals. This type of sex segregation has been protected by law, which is why the Charlotte City Council had to rewrite its city code.

charlotte_NDord

What is unjust is to interfere with and risk the privacy of persons of the opposite sex who deserve a safe space to take care of bodily needs, such as going to the bathroom, taking a shower, or changing clothes. While efforts need to be made to create a safe place for transgender people, we must be mindful of unintended consequences that result in making all women and children less safe.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime (compared to 1 in 71 men) and that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. We also know that rape and sexual assault are underreported crimes. The last thing women and girls need are vague, broad, and ambiguous policies and laws that allow biological men to use their restrooms and locker rooms.

There was already too much of this:

All citizens should oppose unjust discrimination, but sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws are not the way to achieve that goal. SOGI laws are neither necessary nor cost-free. They threaten fundamental First Amendment rights. They create new, subjective protected classes that will expose citizens to unwarranted liability. Furthermore, SOGI laws would increase government interference in labor, housing, and commercial markets in ways that could harm the economy. Yet SOGI’s damage is not only economic: It would further weaken the marriage culture and the freedom of citizens and their associations to affirm their religious or moral convictions, such as that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human. SOGI laws would treat expressing these widely held beliefs in certain contexts as unlawful discrimination.

— Ryan Anderson, SOGI Laws Threaten Freedom

Consider/Discuss the Issue (skip the ad hominem attack)

From Policy to Real Life

creo en el amor

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for January 2016

For the first time Pope Francis shared his monthly prayer intention via video. The Holy Father’s prayer intention for January is “that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice.”

 

Quote of the Day

The fruit of silence is prayer;
the fruit of prayer is faith;
the fruit of faith is love;
the fruit of love is service;
the fruit of service is peace.
— Blessed Mother Theresa

Rejoice! A Year of Favor From the Lord

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 61

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners,

To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn

to place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of justice,
the planting of the LORD to show his glory.

They shall rebuild the ancient ruins,
the former wastes they shall raise up
And restore the desolate cities,
devastations of generation upon generation.

Strangers shall stand ready to pasture your flocks,
foreigners shall be your farmers and vinedressers.

You yourselves shall be called “Priests of the LORD,”
“Ministers of our God” you shall be called.
You shall eat the wealth of the nations
and in their riches you will boast.

Because their shame was twofold
and disgrace was proclaimed their portion,
They will possess twofold in their own land;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.

For I, the LORD, love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
an everlasting covenant I will make with them.

Their offspring shall be renowned among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
All who see them shall acknowledge them:
“They are offspring the LOR has blessed.”

I will rejoice heartily in the LORD,
my being exults in my God;
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation,
and wrapped me in a robe of justice,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

As the earth brings forth its shoots,
and a garden makes its seeds spring up,
So will the Lord GOD make justice spring up,
and praise before all the nations.