When Pope Francis arrived at Joint Base Andrews on September 22, 2015, the families of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden led his greeting party. The Obama family’s presence in the party demonstrated how much the United States had changed since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery 50 years earlier. In 1965, when wide swaths of African Americans were excluded from voting, the idea of an African American president was hardly dreamed of by the average American, black or white.
Think for a moment of something stunningly beautiful that has ever taken you completely out of yourself. Perhaps it was a newborn baby or a thunderstorm, a breaching whale or a magnificent symphony. Try to remember how it made you feel in the moment when you stopped thinking and just let yourself be lifted up and carried away.
Mr. President-elect, tear down these walls. We, the people—red, blue, or other—have had at least two years of accusations, name calling, hate statements, distrust, and suspicion before November’s election. With your inauguration January 20, Donald John Trump, we need to move forward together—without the walls.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; break into song; sing praise” (Ps 98:4). If carrots, peas, and cucumbers were musical notes, then the earth at Canticle Farm in Allegany, New York, would raise the most joyful of songs to the Lord. Canticle Farm, a nonprofit, community-supported agriculture farm, or CSA, is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany (the FSA) as a way to fulfill the sisters’ mission of reverencing, protecting, and honoring the sacredness of God’s creation.
We’ve finished the Christmas season and are into Ordinary Time—or as a friend of mine calls it, “Boring Time.” But it is anything but boring, because, from a human point of view, it is a time to catch our breath and to reflect on what we have just celebrated—and what is to come. It has its own significance, which we humans need.
“In every suffering brother and sister that we embrace,” Pope Francis said in 2013 while visiting Saint Francis of Assisi Hospital in Brazil, “we embrace the suffering body of Christ.” Perhaps such encounters with Christ are the motivation behind the Holy Father’s consistent practice of reaching out to the sick.
We are still joyfully celebrating the Christmas season even as we begin a new year and a new month. And the Christmas season, in all its mystery and joy, is a wonderful time to ponder this most fundamental dimension of our faith—the blessed Eucharist—the “source and summit” of our lives as Christians. It is, after all, the life of Christ that we celebrate and consume in the Blessed Sacrament.
There’s nothing like an election to divide people. I remember a number of political discussions and arguments in my family. We were a divided house when elections approached. Mom worked for the Republicans and Dad was a Democrat. I remember a couple of heated arguments around our house which ended with a terse, “My vote cancels yours.” Still, my family had a sense of the common good.
A loving God offers us friendship, and the result of that gracious act is our holiness. God alone is holy: to be God is to be holy. Not to be God is not to be holy. It is not right or natural for us to live the life of God. But God creates God’s own life in us and makes it right for God to love us. When God finds divine life and love in us, it becomes natural for us to live supernatural or divine lives.
“The cross is steady while the earth is turning.”
Those words really hit me. They are the motto of the Carthusians, a Roman Catholic order of monks founded in 1084 by Saint Bruno in Chartreuse, France. The monks leave family, friends, and jobs to live completely for God in contemplation, silence, and faith. They come together for prayer and a midday meal, but each monk spends most of the time in his own cell. They talk when they take hikes for three or four hours. Twice a year, there is a daylong community recreation, and the monks may receive an annual visit from family members. There are 25 active Carthusian monasteries on three continents. Roughly 350 men and 70 women presently live this lifestyle.