Saturday, June 21, 2008

From the Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn Pg. 156

From the moment you walk into church, you place yourself under oath. By dipping your fingers into holy water you renew the covenant begun with your baptism. Perhaps you were baptized as an infant; your parents made the decision for you. But now, with this simple motion, you make the decision for yourself. You touch the water to your forehead, your heart , and your shoulders and you sign yourself by "the name" in which you were baptized/Wrapped up in this motion is your acceptance of the creed, which your parents accepted in your name at your baptism. Wrapped up in this motion is your rejection of Satan, and all his pomps and all his works.

Doing this you testify, you make testimony, as you would in court. In court a witness puts himself, his reputation and his future on the line. If he fails to tel the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, he knows he will face severe consequences.

You, too, are under oath. When you make the sign the sign of the corss you renew the sacrament of baptism, thus renewing your obligation to live up to the rights and duties of the New Covenant. You will lvove God with all your heart and mind and sould and strength, you will love your neighbor as yours"Amen" The Aramaic word that conveys assent and agreement
Yes! ! "Amen" is more than a response it is a personal commitment when you say "Amen" you commit your life.

Thus in the Mass, you are not merely a spectator, your are a participant. Yours is the covenant that you will renew. Yours is the covenant that Jesus Himself will renew here and now.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

Today's readings are so interconnected that this is a rare Sunday where I can very briefly speak to all three. In the first reading from Exodus God reminds the people of Israel and us that we are precious in His eyes... He reminds us that we are "A kingdom of Priests a Holy Nation". We have a special relationship with God and therfore we have a special relationship with each other.

The second reading goes even farther. To make his point St. Paul says " It is rare that a person should die for a good man, but God died for us while we are sinners" broken, unrepentant... that's how much we all of us are loved.

In the gospel Jesus moved by his love, "moved by pity" for the crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd sent forth the apostles.. That's what the word apostle means one who is sent. He sent them out the heal, to instruct and to give hope. and he reminds them to give freely, give without cost, because we have all received without cost. God's love has been free.

You know, our thoughts, our feelings our perspective, all flow from our experience, In the past few weeks my thoughts my feelings and even my perspective have been really influenced by my visit to Tanzania. It has caused me to pause and to think and to reflect on my life and my our experience here. The experience itself was a gift and certainly a challenge from God.

I have come to see that God loves all of us but not all of us are blessed in the same way. All of us do not share the same gifts. There are those who are blessed with a comfortable life. There are those who must struggle all of their lives. In Tanzania the life expectancy is only 50 years old. The women carry water on their heads and people walk for miles to bring their simply products to a market. From any perspective Their's is definitely a much harder life than ours

From those blessed with material possessions God expects that we keep our abundance in perspective that it does not assume such an important place in our life that it distracts us from Him and our brothers and sisters. All that we have been given is meant to be shared is meant to be used to bring people home to God. "From those who have been given much much is expected.

Those who have been given so little their lives are meant to challenge us to generosity. Their hardship and their need should move us to pity should challenge us to love like Jesus was moved to send out the apostles.

As I reflected on these reading I kept coming back to central question, how do we who are precious in God's eyes view the poor who are also precious in God's eyes, what place do those blessed with less, have in our lives?

How do we view the sheep without a shepherd that we see over and over again on our streets? Do we see them as a bother, and inconvenience? Do we see them as somehow at fault for their circumstances. Do we look down on them or are we moved by pity or love to be a positive influence in our lives. We must never forget that all of us here at this Mass are God's apostles, all of us have been sent by God to those in needs....

Remember the Gospel calls all of us to give without counting the cost because that is how we received all of our blessings...

Does that make you nervous ? it makes me nervous.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Sex and the Soul

Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America's College Campuses

by Donna Freitas

Interesting as the title implies....

A friend passed this book on to me last week and as you might expect from a Campus Minister, I looked at it with interest. On page 56 the author seemed to imply that some of what she had to say about Catholic colleges and universities might not apply to CUA because we are on the conservative end of the spectrum of Catholic Education. Interesting...

What stuck with me...

The author spoke about the way some students she interviewed viewed themselves as spiritual but not religious. I have to say that in my time as a Campus Minister I have met many young people and adults for that matter who expressed similar thoughts. They consider themselves spiritual because they were open to or believed in a "higher power." They do not consider themsleves religious because while they might believe in a higher power, someone, something greater than us, they weren't really sure what that meant for them. they express thought like "If there is a God what does that mean?" I usually banter back if there is a God and this God created us then what God says should matter in our lives. This is something that all of us need to gently but consistently reinforce, if there is a God shouldn't what God reveals to us matter ? Patience, and a witnessed life are essential when we try to bring someone to faith.

I am well aware that some college campuses have to varying degrees developed the "hook up" culture which the author spends a lot of time with. Why should this surprise anyone. The world has developed the "hook up" culture and universities are in the world. This type of culture is also present in the lives of some of our students. I also agree wholeheartedly that almost everyone involved in these types of choices find this type of culture demeaning and unfulfilling, shallow if you will. In a nut shell the "hook up culture" involves some type of physical beginning to a relationship or even worse physical "hooking up" when one or both participants try to pretend that it just doesn't mean anything, being physical for the sake of being physical. Sad

I have found that here at CUA there is a significant segment of our campus that wants more for themselves and their friends and tries to avoid this type of behavior. There are those who kind of pass through it especially in their Freshman Year and look back on it with sadness. There are a some just seem to get stuck there. I believe that it is important to treat everyone who crosses our doorway with respect and compassion, calling them to live better, holier and more fulfilling lives.

We try to help them work through their past failures doing everything we can to help them experience the merciful love God is so eager to share. The author makes a very good point when she states that for many women "hooking up" is really about seeking a relationship and yearning for a little romance. Sad to say experience has shown that hooking up with someone rarely leads to a lasting relationship and if a person hooks up too much then they get a reputation as a player or damaged goods and it makes it even harder for them to obtain what they so ardently desire.

One young woman said to me...."You know guys want a certain type of woman for a relationship and marriage. They have this ideal woman in their mind but they do their best to make sure there are very few of these women around. In other words many men are anxious to hook up but when a woman joins in she lessens her chances for a long term relationship. iIt goes without saying that hooking up also hurts men. It makes it so difficult for them to relate to women in a healthy way and when they are known as a "player" women who have developed a healthy self confidence want nothing to do with them. These are difficult lessons to learn for many and sadly these missteps almost always involve broken hearts.

Because of our rich Catholic heritage.... because of our Catholic mission... we are able to address this foray into loneliness head on with the values of the gospel.

I have found that almost everyone deep in their heart understands what is right and wrong. It is just so hard to be good sometimes not only for 18 year olds in Spellman Hall but for all of us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sitting in my chair....

The last few days have been very relaxed but I'm still a little tired... with the end of the mission trip I finally consider my school year to be over. Campus is pretty calm and a lot of people have begun vacations. I hope to have more time to blog toward the end of the year it was just plain hard to fit it in. Yet there is something therapeutic about sitting in this chair and sharing my life with whoever chooses to read this.

I was really sad to my by Bishop Turner High School 30 year reunion. I would have enjoyed getting back in touch with everyone. I have a few new contacts and when I get back in Buffalo this summer I will be sure to look them up.

What do I hope to do this summer ?

I want to read... any suggestions? I'm reading a book now called "Sex and the Soul" it is one author's study of sexuality and spirituality on college campuses... it is interesting but doesn't quite gel with my experience here at Catholic. I'm going to write about when I finish reading it.

I also want to recharge and exercise and get ready for another year. I have lots of little projects to do in the office and I have we are in the process of hiring for two positions in Campus Ministry. To my surprise we have a number of very good candidates for both. I am really grateful and excited about that... please keep those hires in your prayers...

I have the pictures of our Tanzanian Trip on Google... here is the link should you wish to look at them.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kigoma continued....

Proud, humble, skilled, confused, trying hard, given up, generous, harsh, prayerful, searching, muddy dirt streets with lots of dust, beautifully ironed clothes, many or most children don't wear shoes. Everyone eats but the choices are few. There is almost a wild west feeling as you walk the streets of Kigoma. The endless haggling and muzungo prices (they always up the prices for white people) gets old after a while. "Tell me what it costs and I'll pay, but don't charge me 5 times the cost because I'm a muzungo" (white). Sometimes we are greeted in a warm friendly manner " Jambo" they they say or "Karibou "(Welcome) Other times I was screamed at "hey muzungo give me some Coca Cola." Bravado from young men who are day labors. They earn just $5.00 a day for back breaking work I would be frustrated too. Sadly they probably see no way out of their situation nor do I.

The life expectancy is for someone in Kigoma is just 51 years. That just doesn't seem fair. I am inspired, and saddened, I feel guilty for my (our) excess, but I struggle to put up with their minimum. There are moments when it all seems to make sense to me, what a folly indeed.

I often find myself asking what can I do ? I have come here to see to learn now what ? Often, very often people, especially the young in Kigoma ask us questions about our life and experience in the US. They seem to think that our streets though paved with gold. Are they ? As I reflect more, I come to the conclusion that while we have more, our life is not really that different from theirs. Our property does not make us holier or happier, ours is possibly, "possibly" an easier life with more distractions but is it a better life ? I am not sure, it just it depends on how we look at our lives at all.

Children of Kigoma.... build your dreams in Kigoma. Build them for your Church, your country your people. Our dreams are not what they appear our life may be easier but not better.... Still jet lagged..... Does the song on the video come from the Lion King ? I hope not...