Youth

Students start new year messed, blessed

Solar Eclipse brightens science lessons

Across the diocese, students and adults alike looked to the skies on Monday, August 21, to watch a full solar eclipse. While much of the Diocese of Jackson was not in the so-called path of totality, there was plenty to see. Students and teachers had to use approved glasses or viewing devices to keep everyone safe, but many could not pass up the opportunity for this event. Some schools, such as Southaven Sacred Heart and Madison St. Joseph, hit the road to Tennessee for a better view. The Sacred Heart students watched from the Nashville Zoo where they could also observe the impact of the event on the animals. Father Greg Schill, SCJ, who went on the trip said the giraffes went wild and everyone could hear insects singing as the skies grew dark. (See facing page)
In top left photo, students from Columbus Annunication’s middle stepped outside in the early afternoon to view the final stages of the eclipse. In the photo above, right, Madison St. Anthony Students are in awe of the show in the sky. (Photos by Katie Fenstermacher and Kristian Beatty.)

 

 

 

Calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

BROOKSVILLE Dwelling Place Retreat Center, “Knowing Myself in Christ,” October 8-10, begins with 6:30 p.m. dinner on Sunday evening and goes through Tuesday. Using the backdrop of the story of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well, the retreat will explore the thirst of all of us “to be known without feeling judged.” Presenter: Father. Henry Shelton, pastor of St. Francis Church, Brookhaven. Donation: $200. Details: (662) 738-5348 or dwellpl@gmail.com.
GREENWOOD Locus Benedictus Spirituality Center, Experience the Little Ways of St. Therese, French Discalced Carmelite nun, who is widely venerated in modern times. Presenter: Dr. Nancy Ehret. Saturday September 30, 9 a.m. – 12 noon. Each participant is asked to bring a brown bag lunch and share a meal to celebrate Sister’s life. Details: Magdalene Abraham, (662) 299-1232.

PARISH, SCHOOL AND FAMILY EVENTS

GLUCKSTADT The 31th annual St. Joseph Parish GermanFest, Sunday, September 24, 11:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. Advance meal tickets are $6 and are available from parishioners. Meals the day of the festival will be $7. Admission and parking are free. The family-oriented festival is best known for its delicious German food and authentic German folk music provided this year by the band, Polkameisters from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Homemade German delicacies such as bratwurst slathered in sauerkraut, and authentic German desserts, pies, and other home-made favorites will be served. Details: Pam Minninger, 601-856-2054 or www.stjosephgluckstadt.com.
GRENADA St. Peter Church, Adult Faith Formation Retreat, October 13 – 14, Presenters: Anne, the lay apostle, and Father Darragh Connolly, Registration is $40. Details: Annette Tipton (985) 518-5674 All adults are invited.

JACKSON Holy Family Parish Anniversary, September 29-30 and October 1, celebrating 60 years of worship, praise and joyful events. Banquet on Friday night at 7:00 p.m., a family outing on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sunday Mass with Bishop Joseph Kopacz at 10 a.m. All former parishioners, former priests and sister churches are invited to join. Details: contact Father Xavier at 601-362-1888 or xavieramirtham@gmail.com .
– St. Peter Cathedral, Save the Date, Fall Gala, Saturday, November 11. Details: church office (601) 969-3125.
– St. Richard Special Kids Golf Tournament, Thursday, October 5, Deerfield Golf Club, Canton. Sponsorships, golfer, and donation opportunities are available. Raffle tickets for a Mother’s Day Weekend in Florida are being sold as part of this event. Tickets are available at St. Richard Church and School offices for $5, or five tickets for $20. Details: Shannon Garner at (601) 366-2335, garner@saintrichard.com or visit www.saintrichard.com.
– St. Richard Bereavement Support Group will meet on Thursday, September 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mercy Room. Parishioner Cathy Reynolds, who has lost several loved ones, including her husband, will speak on “The Fear Part of Grief.” Details: Suzie Cranston 601-982-5464, Linda Lalor 601-853-8840, or Nancy McGhee 601-942-2078, or email ncmcghee@bellsouth.net.
– St. Therese, Feast Day and Heritage Celebration, Sunday, October 1, at Camp Garaywa in Clinton. Committees are needed to help plan/set up for the pot luck, plan the liturgy and music, as well and plan activities for all ages. Details: church office (601) 372-4481.
MERIDIAN St. Joseph and St. Patrick, Family Fun Night sponsored by Knights of Columbus, Saturday, September 30 at 6 p.m. after Mass in the Family Life Center. Food, fellowship, music and more. Details: parish office (601) 693-1321.
YAZOO CITY St. Mary, St. Mary and the Saints Course, Saturday, September 23 and continuing each third Saturday of the month, 10 a.m. – noon Details: (662) 746-1680.

YOUTH EVENTS

BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, Cookout at Joe and Linda Moaks’ farm for Young Catholic Group, Sunday, September 24 at 4 p.m. Details: Amy Valentine at (601) 833-1799.
CLEVELAND Delta State University, “Adopt” a DSU student, Catholics come to DSU from other states and countries and sometimes needs a ride to Mass, a home-cooked meal or information about a car repair. Details: Hunter Pugh, campus minister at (662) 902-1669.
MADISON St. Joseph School, save the day, annual Open House, Sunday, November 5, a student-inspired, performance-filled showcase with incredible art, academics, theater, music and athletics. Details: (601) 898-4800.
MERIDIAN St. Joseph and St. Patrick, First Friday Night 5th Quarter for all nine – 12th graders, Friday, September 22, 9:30 – 11:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center for food, fun and fellowship. Details: parish office (601) 693-1321.

Reconstrucción: una obra de fe, esperanza

Construir y reconstruir son tareas tan esenciales para nosotros en nuestra vida diaria y especialmente para nosotros, como cristianos, que trabajamos para promover el reino de Dios en nuestro mundo, un reino de verdad y de amor, un reino de santidad y de gracia, un reino de justicia, amor y paz. Para muchas personas al terminarse el don del tiempo extendido el fin de semana del Día del Trabajo nos encontramos de nuevo en el ritmo de nuestra vida diaria, y listos o no, ansiosos o resistentes, la vida tiene una manera de tirarnos y de empujarnos. Qué creativo es el concepto de que un fin de semana largo a finales del verano, abierto al ocio y a la necesidad de equilibrio en nuestras vidas, nos da una pausa para reflexionar sobre la dignidad del trabajo en todas sus manifestaciones, la obra de nuestras manos, mente, corazón y espíritu. La fundación de la Palabra de Dios es la obra de la creación, (seis días) equilibrado por descanso del sábado (un día).
La interacción entre el trabajo y el descanso en Dios produce mucho fruto al cumplir nuestra dignidad y destino como imago Dei. El salmo 90, v. 17 pide a Dios que bendiga la obra de nuestras manos para que podamos efectivamente preservar el orden correcto de las cosas y, además, la obra de la creación.
El trabajo es bueno, y extractos del siguiente poema “Ser de uso” por Marge Piercy capta la sabiduría de las edades iniciado en Dios.
“La gente que más amo salta al trabajo de cabeza primero sin perder tiempo en la superficialidad….Me encanta la gente que utilizan, un buey a un pesado carro, que tira como el búfalo de agua con enorme paciencia, que se esfuerza en el barro y la porquería para hacer avanzar las cosas, quién hace lo que tiene que hacerse, una y otra vez…quiero estar con la gente que se sumerge en la tarea, que van a los campos para la recolección de la cosecha y trabajan en una fila y pasan las bolsas…El trabajo del mundo es común como el barro, chapuza, mancha las manos, se desmorona en polvo. Pero la cosa que vale la pena hacer bien hecha tiene una forma que satisface, limpia y evidente… El cántaro clama por agua para llevar, y una persona por trabajo que es real.”
Uno puede sentir la energía en este notable poema, y visualizar la decidida actividad de la que habla. Podemos ampliar estas imágenes en cada rincón de nuestras vidas, y fácilmente en la reconstrucción que se está llevando a cabo en Houston y Beaumont y en muchas comunidades en el sureste de Texas después del huracán Harvey. Este trabajo de recuperación continuará durante años y muchos trabajarán, de cerca y de lejos, vecinos y amigos, extranjeros e inmigrantes. Lo que lleva años para construirse puede ser derribado en momentos por el poder destructivo de la naturaleza, o las malas intenciones de la gente.
La noche llegó y la mañana continuó y así reconstruimos porque hay un poder superior, y la fe, la esperanza y el amor prevalecerán. Para comprender esto mientras avanzamos en las interminables tareas que tenemos ante nosotros en nuestros hogares, escuelas y lugares de trabajo, es un regalo que nos motiva, especialmente en esos días que preferiríamos quedarnos en la cama.
Este día, el 20º aniversario de la muerte de la Madre Teresa, nos recuerda la bondad, la belleza y la verdad de su vida, y la perspectiva fundamental de su fiel espíritu, es decir, “hacer de nuestra vida algo hermoso por Dios”. Su perdurable legado encarna la sabiduría que encontramos en el evangelio de Juan “el primer trabajo es tener fe en el que Dios envió, recordándonos como discípulos que el trabajo de la creación encuentra su realización en el plan de salvación de Dios en Jesucristo.
El don de la fe, del tamaño de una semilla de mostaza, puede mover montañas. (Lucas 17,6) Consideren el amanecer de la Madre Teresa, alterado a mediados de su vida de fe dedicada a los indigentes y abandonados. Ella pasó la antorcha al educar a los jóvenes y privilegiado de clase media y alta de la India y caminó hacia el infierno de Calcuta donde muchas personas habían perdido la esperanza y movido montañas.
¡Qué semilla de mostaza! Esta ruta increíble de fe, esperanza y amor no es el derecho de nacimiento de unos pocos elegidos, sino la llamada del Señor en cada una de nuestras vidas. “Porque somos su obra, creados en Cristo Jesús para las buenas obras que Dios ha preparado de antemano, que deberíamos vivir en ellas.” (Efesios 2:10) Qué el Señor suscite en cada uno de nosotros una maravillosa armonía de fe y trabajo, de modo que podamos hacer de nuestras vidas algo hermoso desarrollando nuestros talentos, sirviendo a otros y dando a Dios la gloria.

Rebuilding: a work of faith, hope

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz

Bishop Joseph Kopacz

To build and rebuild are so essential for us as we go about our daily lives, and especially for us as Christians working to further the Kingdom of God in our world, a Kingdom of truth and love, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace. For many people as the extended gift of time of the Labor Day Weekend passed we found ourselves back into the rhythms of our daily lives, and ready or not, eager or resistant, life has a way of pulling and pushing us along. How creative is the concept that a long weekend at summer’s end, open to leisure and needed balance for our lives, gives us pause to reflect upon the dignity of work in all of its manifestations, the work of our hands, minds, hearts and spirit? The foundation of God’s Word is the work of creation, (six days) balanced by Sabbath rest (one day). The interplay of labor and rest in God produces much fruit as we fulfill our dignity and destiny as Imago Dei. Psalm 90, v. 17 asks God to bless the work of our hands so that we might indeed preserve the right order of things and further the work of creation. Work is good, and excerpts from the following poem “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy captures the wisdom of the ages begun in God.
“The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows….I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again…I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along…The work of the world is common as mud, botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident…The pitcher cries for water to carry, and a person for work that is real.”
One can feel the energy in this remarkable poem, and visualize the purposeful activity of which she speaks. We can extend these images to every corner of our lives, and easily to the rebuilding that is underway in Houston and Beaumont and in many communities in southeastern Texas after hurricane Harvey and in Florida and the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma. This work of recovery will continue for years and many will labor, from near and far, neighbors and friends, strangers and immigrants. What takes years to build can be torn down in moments by the destructive power of nature, or the evil intent of people. Night came and morning followed and thus we rebuild, because there is a higher power, and faith, hope and love will prevail. To sense this as we go about the endless tasks before us in our homes, schools and work places is a gift that motivates us, especially on those days when we would rather stay in bed.
On the day I write this, the 20th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, we are reminded of the goodness, beauty and truth of her life, and the fundamental outlook of her faithful spirit i.e., “to make of one’s life something beautiful for God.”
Her enduring legacy embodies the wisdom found in the Gospel of John “the first work is to have faith in the one God sent, reminding us as disciples that the work of creation finds its fulfillment in God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.
The gift of faith, the size of a mustard seed, can indeed move mountains. (Luke 17,6) Consider the dawn of Mother Teresa’s altered mid-life journey of faith dedicated to the destitute and abandoned. She passed on the torch of educating the young and privileged of India’s middle and upper class and walked into Calcutta’s hell where many had lost hope and moved mountains. What a mustard seed!
This path of incredible faith, hope and love is not the birthright of a chosen few, but the Lord’s call in each of our lives. “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians 2,10) May the Lord the Lord bring about in each of us a wonderful harmony of faith and work so that we can make our lives something beautiful by developing our talents, serving others and giving God the glory.

Deacons, Lay Ministers make retreat together

LOUISVILLE – Deacons Ted Schreck and John McGregor; Paula Fulton, Lay Ecclesial Minister for Louisville Sacred Heart, and Deacon Jeff Artigues, take notes at their retreat. (Photo by Pam Minninger.)

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Lay Ecclesial Ministers (LEMs) and deacons from the Diocese of Jackson made a retreat Wednesday, August 23-26 at Lake Tiak O’Kahata. This is the first time the two groups have retreated together, but probably not the last.
The Diocese of Jackson has a committee for continuing formation that helps make spiritual and educational opportunities available to its ministers. This group planned the gathering. Deacons and priests are required to make a retreat annually while LEMs are strongly encouraged to do so. The priests usually make their retreat during the Easter season. The diocese used to offer a retreat for LEMs, but the practice had fallen off in recent years.
Committee members thought gathering the lay ministers and deacons would be good for both groups. Deacon James Keating from the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University led the retreat with the theme interior life and ministry.
“We talked a lot about contemplative prayer,” said Pam Minninger, LEM at Gluckstadt St. Joseph Parish. She said Deacon Keating used the analogy of training a puppy to sit. “When we get to a point in prayer that’s hard, we don’t stay long enough to let God sit, stay and heal. He used heal instead of heel for the image,” she explained. “He told us we need to bring our hurts and needs to God and sit with him long enough to let him reveal to us where they are coming from and let God pour himself into those hurts,” she added.
The retreat itself was structured to let the participants do just that. The group took breaks for contemplation, daily Mass and attended Eucharistic Adoration every night. “Deacon Keating gave us what we needed to dig deeper into ourselves,” Janice Stansell, LEM for Crystal Springs St. John Parish. She said attending adoration with her fellow ministers was especially moving.
“This let us take some time to gather what we need to do the work of Jesus in the church,” said Stansell. She said she truly appreciated that the gathering was entirely for spiritual enrichment. Stansell likes the workshops and meetings she has with fellow ministers, but thinks this kind of gathering is essential. “We don’t see each other all the time, and when we do we are usually in ‘work mode,’” she explained.
Deacon John McGregor agreed. He said it was good for the deacons and lay ministers to hear about one another’s ministries and get to know the “reality of the Catholic Church in Mississippi,” particularly the difference between larger and smaller parishes. “It was good for us to hear about the whole character of the Diocese of Jackson,” said the deacon, who is working with the diocese on putting together a new class of deacon candidates.
He also found the theme of the retreat to be a good reminder for his prayer life. “We do need to sit in prayer, but we are thinking, ‘I need to mow the lawn, I need to call that lady back.’ All those things rob us of our prayer, so one of the things we have to discipline ourselves to do is to stay in prayer,” he said.
“This was probably the best retreat I have been to in a long time,” said Deacon Denzil Lobo, who also the ecclesial minister for Jackson Christ the King Parish. He and five other men were ordained as permanent deacons a little more than a year ago. They had all spent five years in formation for ordination, which included some intense theological studies. “This retreat offered nothing academic. It was purely spiritual development,” he said. “It gave us time to work on our spirituality, to reflect on how to be leaders and how to minister,” he added.
One of the questions he found enlightening was when Deacon Keating asked “how do you help people let Jesus love them?” He also enjoyed being with his fellow deacons and lay ministers. He just began working at Christ the King so he was able to build some relationships with other ecclesial ministers.
Everyone interviewed for the story hopes the retreat becomes an annual tradition for the diocese and all expressed thanks to Bishop Joseph Kopcaz and the other priests who celebrated Masses during the week.

LOUISVILLE – Deacons Ted Schreck and John McGregor; Paula Fulton, Lay Ecclesial Minister for Louisville Sacred Heart, and Deacon Jeff Artigues, take notes at their retreat. (Photo by Pam Minninger.)

Catholic Charities USA gives $2 million for hurricane relief

By Catholic News Service
SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — Catholic Charities USA presented a $2 million check Sept. 4 representing donations received to date for immediate emergency assistance for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic flooding. Parishes in the Diocese of Jackson may take up a special collection for the effort the weekend of Sept. 16-17.
One hundred percent of the funds raised will go directly to immediate and long-term recovery efforts.

Evacuees who were rescued from the floodwaters of Tropical Storm Harvey wait to board school buses bound for Louisiana Aug. 31 in Vidor, Texas. (CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, Reuters)

Making the presentation was Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, accompanied by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of the neighboring Diocese of Victoria, J. Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Catholic Charities USA’s Mobile Response Center vehicle, filled with emergency supplies, left Catholic Charities headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, for Texas and will remain there to assist Catholic Charities agencies with response efforts.
Diocesan Catholic Charities agencies have been hard at work in recovery efforts, trying to address difficulties as they arise.
In Houston, which has received the lion’s share of attention, there have been huge problems finding temporary housing. Apartments are flooded and hotels are not accepting payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. On top of that, the city is getting ready to shut down shelters.
In Victoria, relief efforts are just getting started, as Catholic Charities is trying to find a building to convert into a distribution center. Cleaning supplies are still needed to cope with the aftermath of flooding.
While most volunteers want to go to southeast Texas, which suffered significant damage, five counties in the Diocese of Austin were also hit by Harvey. Catholic Charities personnel have gone door-to-door to hotels in Bryan and College Station trying to find displaced people, then connecting them to United Way, as hotels in the area are full due to the college football season. Some businesses are offering paid time off for their employees to go to impacted areas and do volunteer work.
In Corpus Christi, Catholic Charities USA workers are on the ground with people and resources. The biggest challenges they face include trying to find places to store donated supplies and relocating residents with no affordable housing available.
Trucks are a big issue in Beaumont and San Antonio. In Beaumont, six 18-wheelers arrived fully loaded with donations, and up to 100 volunteers stayed until 2 a.m. on Sept. 5 to unload them.
Beaumont’s water supply has remained sketchy since the storm. Water service has not been restored to all areas and those who do have water must boil it first. With flooding still an issue, supply routes change daily and Catholic Charities faces the challenge of getting donations to the right places. They are also setting up food service for volunteers and survivors and looking for vehicles to deliver donations to outlying areas.
(Editor’s note: at press time, the path of Hurricane Irma was unclear. Look for relief efforts in the next edition.)

Catholic leaders sharply criticize Trump’s decision to end DACA

By Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic church leaders, immigration officials and university presidents were swift and unanimous in their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 decision to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.
“In the past, the president stated that the Dreamer story ‘is about the heart,’ yet (the) decision is nothing short of heartless,” said Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. “The Dreamers are now left in a six-month limbo, during which Congress is supposed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a feat they have been unable to achieve for a decade,” he said in a Sept. 5 statement.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporters demonstrate near the White House in Washington Sept. 5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the DACA program is “being rescinded” by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

The rescission of DACA, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, places an estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom were brought to the United States as young children and have known no other home, under threat of deportation and losing permits that allow them to work. President Trump later tweeted that he was depending on congress to take action in that time and then hinted that he may re-visit DACA if no plan is passed by then. From August through December, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the work permits of more than 200,000 DACA recipients will expire and only 55,258 have submitted requests for permit renewals.
Amelia McGowan, the program director for Catholic Charities of Jackson’s Migrant Resource Center, said her office is still working on DACA cases and renewals. “We remain committed to to supporting our clients with DACA,” said McGowan. She urged calm for those in the program. “We understand there is some uncertainty. We want to remain a resource for everyon in the community with questions. There may be other immigration options for those seeking DACA, so we want to remain a resource for them,” she added.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson echoed his support of the program. “Here in Mississippi, we cannot ignore the contributions immigrants make to our culture and our economy. Our neighbors from other nations have now been here so long, they have set roots in the soil. They are raising families and working to strengthen our state in many ways. It is time to seek a just and reasonable solution to the issue of immigration. Scripture instructs us to ‘welcome the stranger,’ and care for those on the margins. As Catholics, we will stand with immigrants and support their efforts to become citizens,” said the bishop.
The decision to end DACA is “a heartbreaking disappointment,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. She also said her organization rejects and adamantly disagrees with Sessions’ “untested personal opinion that DACA is unconstitutional.”
“Americans have never been a people who punish children for the mistakes of their parents. I am hopeful that we will not begin now,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “I do not believe this decision represents the best of our national spirit or the consensus of the American people. This decision reflects only the polarization of our political moment.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, said in a statement with other USCCB leaders: “The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, called the decision “malicious.”
“One can’t hide behind the term ‘legality’ in rescinding DACA,” his statement added. “That is an abandonment of humanity, and abandonment of talented and hopeful young people who are as American as you and I.”
Mercy Sister Aine O’Connor, who stood in front of the White House as the decision was announced, also took issue with Sessions’ remark: “Nothing is compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.”
“We do not see it as a compassionate act. It is a merciless act,” Sister O’Connor told Catholic News Service, adding that it was “an abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration.”
Future plans for her group include lobbying members of Congress to show “the root cause of immigration, which includes American policies that destroy economic stability in other countries.”
The Washington-based Franciscan Action Network’s statement compared Trump to Pontius Pilate: “Like Pilate, President Trump has tried to wash his hands of responsibility when he could have and should have kept DACA in place. God commands his people to care for immigrants and treat them ‘no differently than the natives born among you.'” (Lv 19:34)
The Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network accused Trump of undermining “the dignity of undocumented individuals,” adding, “As people of faith, we are called to uphold the inherent dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, to stand with those marginalized by a broken immigration system, and to recognize the gifts and talents that these young people bring to our communities.”
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, in a statement on his Facebook page, said he wanted to emphasize Georgetown’s “strongest support for all of our undocumented students. As a nation, we have the capacity and responsibility to work together to provide a permanent legislative solution to ensure the safety and well-being of these young women and men who have – and will – contribute to the future of our country in deeply meaningful ways.”

Pope defends traditional marriage in French book

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – By virtue of its very definition, marriage can only be between a man and a woman, Pope Francis said in a new book-length interview.
“We cannot change it. This is the nature of things,” not just in the church, but in human history, he said in a series of interviews with Dominique Wolton, a 70-year-old French sociologist and expert in media and political communication.
Published in French, the 417-page book, “Politique et Societe” (“Politics and Society”) was to be released Sept. 6. Catholic News Service obtained an advance copy, and excerpts appeared online.
When it comes to the true nature of marriage as well as gender, there is “critical confusion at the moment,” the pope said.
When asked about marriage for same-sex couples, the pope said, “Let’s call this ‘civil unions.’ We do not joke around with truth.”
Teaching children that they can choose their gender, he said, also plays a part in fostering such mistakes about the truth or facts of nature.
The pope said he wondered whether these new ideas about gender and marriage were somehow based on a fear of differences, and he encouraged researchers to study the subject.
Pope Francis also said his decision to give all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion was not mean to trivialize this serious and grave sin.
Abortion continues to be “murder of an innocent person. But if there is sin, forgiveness must be facilitated,” he said. So often a woman who never forgets her aborted child “cries for years without having the courage to go see a priest.”
“Do you have any idea the number of people who can finally breathe?” he asked, adding how important it was these women can find the Lord’s forgiveness and never commit this sin again.
Pope Francis said the biggest threat in the world is money. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus talked about people’s love and loyalty being torn between two things, he didn’t say it was between “your wife or God,” it was choosing between God or money.
“It’s clear. They are two things opposed to each other,” he said.
When asked why people do not listen to this message even though it has been clearly condemned by the church since the time of the Gospels, the pope said it is because some people prefer to speak only about morality.
“There is a great danger for preachers, lecturers, to fall into mediocrity,” which is condemning only those forms of immorality that fall “below the belt,” he said.
“But the other sins that are the most serious: hatred, envy, pride, vanity, killing another, taking away a life … these are really not talked about that much,” he said.
When asked about the church’s “just-war” theory, the pope said the issue should be looked into because “no war is just. The only just thing is peace.”

Stuck in traffic

IN EXILE
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Father Ron Rolheiser

There’s a famous billboard that hangs along a congested highway that reads: You aren’t stuck in traffic. You are traffic! Good wit, good insight! How glibly we distance ourselves from a problem, whether it is our politics, our churches, the ecological problems on our planet or most anything else.
We aren’t, as we want to think, stuck in a bad political climate wherein we can no longer talk to each other and live respectfully with each other. Rather we ourselves have become so rigid, arrogant and sure of ourselves that we can no longer respect those who think differently than we do. We are a bad political climate and not just stuck in one.
Likewise for our churches: We aren’t stuck in churches that are too self-serving and not faithful enough to the teachings of Jesus. Rather we are Christians who too often, ourselves, out of self-interest compromise the teachings of Jesus. We aren’t stuck in our churches, we comprise those churches.
The same is true apposite the ecological challenges we face on this planet: We aren’t stuck on a planet that’s becoming oxygen-starved and a junkyard for human wastage. Rather it’s we, not just others, who are too careless in how we are using up the earth’s resources and how we are leaving behind our waste.
Admittedly, this isn’t always true. Sometimes we are stuck in negative situations for which we bear no responsibility and within which, through no fault of our own, we are simply the unfortunate victim of circumstance and someone else’s carelessness, illness, dysfunction or sin. We can, for instance, be born into a dysfunctional situation which leaves us stuck in a family and an environment that don’t make for easy freedom. Or, sometimes simple circumstance can burden us with duties that take away our freedom. So, metaphorically speaking, we can be stuck in traffic and not ourselves be part of that traffic, though generally we are, at least partially, part of the traffic we’re stuck in.
Henri Nouwen often highlighted this in his writings. We are not, he tells us, separate from the events that make up the world news each day. Rather, what we see written large in the world news each night simply reflects what’s going on inside of us. When we see instances of injustice, bigotry, racism, greed, violence, murder and war on our newscasts we rightly feel a certain moral indignation. It’s healthy to feel that way, but it’s not healthy to naively think that it’s others, not us, who are the problem.
When we’re honest we have to admit that we’re complicit in all these things, perhaps not in their crasser forms, but in subtler, though very real, ways: The fear and paranoia that are at the root of so much conflict in our world are not foreign to us. We too, find it hard to accept those who are different from us. We too, cling to privilege and do most everything we can to secure and protect our comfort. We too, use up an unfair amount of the world’s resources in our hunger for comfort and experience.
As well, our negative judgments, jealousies, gossip and bitter words are, at the end of the day, genuine acts of violence since, as Henri Nouwen puts it: Nobody is shot by a gun that isn’t first shot by a word. And nobody is shot by a word before he or she is first shot by a murderous thought: Who does she thinks she is! The evening news just shows large what’s inside our hearts. What’s in the macrocosm is also in the microcosm.
And so we aren’t just viewers of the evening news, we’re complicit in it. The old catechisms were right when they told us that there’s no such a thing as a truly private act, that even our most private actions affect everyone else. The private is political. Everything affects everything.
The first take-away from this is obvious: When we find ourselves stuck in traffic, metaphorically and otherwise, we need to admit our own complicity and resist the temptation to simply blame others.
But there’s another important lesson here too: We are never healthier than when we are confessing our sins; in this case, confessing that we are traffic and not just stuck in traffic. After recognizing that we are complicit, hopefully we can forgive ourselves for the fact that, partially at least, we are helpless to not be complicit. No one can walk through life without leaving a footprint. To pretend otherwise is dishonest and to try to not leave a footprint is futile. The starting point to make things better is for us to admit and confess our complicity.
So the next time you’re stuck in traffic, irritated and impatient, muttering angrily about why there are so many people on the road, you might want to glance at yourself in rearview mirror, ask yourself why you are on the road at that time and then give yourself a forgiving wink as you utter the French word, touché.
(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)