Greenwood Franciscans celebrate their order’s 150th anniversary

By Maureen Smith
GREENWOOD – The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are celebrating 150 years as a religious community. The community is based out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, but different sisters have served in Greenwood at St. Francis of Assisi Parish and School for 21 years.

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Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity collaborate with the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption of the BVM Province serving as teachers at St. Francis of Assisi School, as well as catechists, spiritual advisor to Secular Franciscans, organist, choir director, visitor to the elderly, and in other supportive parish leadership roles.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, the sisters currently serving in Mississippi – Sister Judith Norwick, Sister Annette Kurey, Sister Kathleen Murphy and Sister Maria Goretti Scandaliato – helped their students serve at Mass to kick off Catholic Schools Week. At the end of Mass, Father Camillus Janas invited the congregation to bless the sisters in prayer. Then they invited the congregation to the convent for an open house.
People were able to pray a house blessing in the sisters’ chapel as well as add a prayer intention to their prayer book. The sisters had historical photos on display of the mother house as well as photo books from the order’s service in Greenwood. Many attendees found themselves and their children in the photos. The parish has been publishing articles about their service in the community in the bulletin.

Super Bowl Blues: When Atlanta rhymes with Mylanta

By Peter Finney Jr.
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – I get it when people tell us to just get over it.
That’s normally a therapeutic suggestion. Holding onto anger – like tightly clenching shards of glass in a balled fist – can become much more than a flesh wound to the soul.
Just open your hand and let the shards fall to the floor!
And yet …
There is something about what happened – or did not happen – in the NFC Championship Game Jan. 20 that has left citizens of the Who Dat Nation in shock, anger and denial, prompting spiritual leaders to pick up the pieces.
Father Joe Palermo, who spent many years as a spiritual adviser to young men studying for the priesthood at Notre Dame Seminary, became pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Metairie last July. Because he was free on weekends to celebrate Masses across the Archdiocese of New Orleans, he frequently received calls from pastors looking for a “supply priest” for the evening Mass on the first Sunday of February.
“The priest who needed the substitute never would call me personally – it was the poor, unsuspecting secretary who would have no clue and call in October or November,” Father Palermo said, laughing. “I would say, ‘Oh, he’s got a Super Bowl party to go to.’ And she would say, ‘Huh?’ I would tell her, ‘I’ll take the Mass.'”
In all of his years doing the Super Bowl evening Mass – kickoff for the game is 5:25 p.m. – Father Palermo barely was able to fulfill Jesus’ command: “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
“Fifty is the most I’ve ever seen at a Super Bowl Mass,” Father Palermo said.
So when Father Palermo became a new pastor, he started thinking about his lonely, echo-inducing Super Bowl Sunday liturgy experience.
“There’s usually only a handful of people in the church, and you want to have a vibrant liturgy,” Father Palermo said. “The more I thought about it, I thought we might not have a Mass during the time of the Super Bowl. But, if the Saints were in the Super Bowl, we were absolutely not going to have it. We would have nobody in the church, and I would be missing the game.”
Father Palermo posted the cancellation notice in his Jan. 27 bulletin, which went to press a couple of days before the Jan. 20 NFC Championship Game between the Saints and the Rams.
Then, all larceny broke out in the Superdome.
The non-call heard round the world robbed the Saints of a near-certain berth in Super Bowl LIII – which, someone noted the other day, might forever be remembered as Super Bowl “LIIIE.”
“That was a game-changer,” said Father Palermo, who was at the game and saw the officials’ sin of omission face-to-face on the HD Jumbotron, not as a shadowy crime through a confessional screen.

Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome Jan. 20, 2019. (CNS photo/Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters) See NFC-SAINTS-PIECES Feb. 1, 2019.

The next day, at morning Mass, Father Palermo encountered black-and-gold parishioners who were red-eyed and blue, hurting just as much as he was.
“It was clear that people had been hurt and that they were emotionally down,” Father Palermo said. “It’s funny, because even people who are not big Saints’ fans were telling me, ‘Father, this just doesn’t seem fair and just.’ So, I thought, rather than not have Mass on Super Bowl Sunday evening, we needed to have Mass to celebrate our unity as a community and celebrate all the good things that the Saints have done for us and brought to us – and pray for healing. All those things seemed very well-suited to a celebration.”
As Father Palermo reflected on what he would write for his “Pastor’s Corner” column for the Feb. 3 bulletin, he decided first that the parish would, in fact, offer a Super Bowl Sunday Mass at 5:30 p.m., and he invited everyone attending all five weekend Masses to wear black and gold and stay after Mass for Saints-themed hospitality.
But then, the muse in him could not sit still. In just a few minutes, he penned a new blues’ tune, which he titled, “Super Bowl Blues!”
At the end of Mass on Jan. 27 – during the announcements – he debuted his Casey Kasem Top 40 hit:
“I had my heart set on Atlanta/I’ve got the Super Bowl Blues/The ref’s blown call made me a ranter/I’ve got the Super Bowl Blues/Now I’m drinking straight Mylanta/To shake the Super Bowl Blues!
“I didn’t think anything could rhyme with Mylanta,” Father Palermo said. “That came from out of left field.”
The response? “Applause,” Father Palermo said.
In addition to the post-Mass pastries and coffee Feb. 3, Father Palermo also offered the blessing of the throats, courtesy of the feast of St. Blaise. Many throats were still raw from overuse injuries two weeks earlier.
In his Feb. 3 bulletin, Father Palermo recognized the unique bond between the Saints and the city, especially the team’s role in lifting spirits after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then winning Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
“Thanks be to God we have the Saints,” he wrote. “May we stand with them in this time of suffering, remembering that God didn’t promise justice in this life but victory for the Saints in the life to come. O Lord, bring healing to our grieving team and city, and, next year, help us to win a second Lombardi Trophy – with a heaping helping of Ram gumbo!”
Until then, I’m opening my clenched fist just enough to pick up a baby blue bottle – and swigging straight Mylanta.
A priest told me it would be good for the hole in my soul.

(Finney is executive editor and general manager of Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.)

“When I was in prison did you visit me?” (Mt.25: 37)

Father Jeremy Tobin

Millennial reflections
By Father Jeremy Tobin, O. Praem
Mark your calendars. Catholic Day at the Capitol will be Wednesday, February 27. This will be a time to further develop Catholic Social Teaching in the broad area of Criminal Justice, in several areas: prison reform, re-entry, ending the death penalty, and how to practice restorative justice in families, parishes, and communities. Sue Allen, coordinator for the office of parish social ministries, wrote a piece that already appeared in Mississippi Catholic, and pointed out that restorative justice “follows the model presented in the Gospels.”
Restorative justice is not new. It has been around for some time. On November of 2000, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued “Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration, A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice.” The idea goes back further. “Defining it can be elusive because it is a philosophical way of thinking about crime and conflict, rather than a distinct model or system of law.”
This view holds that “criminal behavior is primarily a violation of one individual to another. When a crime is committed it is the victim who is harmed, not the state. Instead of the offender owing a ‘debt to society’ which must be expunged by experiencing some form of state-imposed punishment, the offender owes a specific debt to the victim which can only be repaid by making good the damage caused.” (Zehr 1990)
The focus is on the victim, the community and all impacted by the offense. In places where this is used, in conjunction with ordinary methods, a sharp decrease in recidivism has occurred. Further evidence of substantial healing among all parties has been recorded.
Last year the day concentrated on mental health. Angela Ladner, Executive Director of the Mississippi Psychiatric Association and Joy Hogge, Executive Director of Mississippi Families as Allies presented the situation of the state’s mental health plan and its shortcomings. The state still struggles with this. They made a good case that mental health is at the bottom of many other social ills, not the least among those is the criminal justice system.
I worked I in that system and still do, providing church services to inmates at the Federal Corrections Complex in Yazoo City, two other priests of our community serve inmates in the Federal Prison near Natchez, a privately-run prison.
Money impacts all of these systems in turn – the state mental health system, state prisons, the whole criminal justice system. Already I have been to joint senate and house judicial A and B committees over the budget for the state’s system. The meeting was well attended by advocates and others. Advocacy groups such as the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and others offered strong presentations on budget priorities. Budgeting is always an issue, but more so when those behind bars are so stigmatized.
As church we fight to abolish the death penalty. Undergirding our views around criminal justice, mental health, and related issues is the Gospel principle of healing and restoring people’s lives.
The climate in the country is so harsh and punitive, split along every line. I wrote here before about the racial impact on criminal justice commenting on Michelle Alexander’s seminal word on mass incarceration.
All of this advocacy is part of Church. As Church we are to be the healing hand of Jesus. We are to be peacemakers not war-makers.
So talking about restorative justice is about healing of victims, of communities of families and, yes, perpetrators. Why? All are human beings.
We have some terrific people this year who will open your minds and even your hearts. We have John Koufos, National Director of Reentry Initiatives for Right on Crime, and Haley M Brown, Oktibbeha Country prosecutor and law professor at Mississippi State University in Starkville. Read more about their presentations on page 1 of this issue of Mississippi Catholic.
I hope to see many of you there.

(Father Jeremy Tobin, O.Praem, lives at the Priory of St. Moses the Black, Jackson.)

I heard Jesus saying to me …

Sister Constance Veit

Guest Column
By Sister Constance Veit, LSP
Have you ever received an unexpected message from a friend, maybe a text message or a voice mail that made your day, or even led you to change your outlook on life? This happened to me last month, in the middle of SEEK 2019, the annual conference of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).
In his homily at Mass that day, Archbishop Samuel Aquila spoke about bringing the light of Christ into the world’s darkness. He encouraged us to recapture the “sense of eternity,” which, he said, society has lost.
These words echoed in my heart – “sense of eternity” – and then just as I was about to receive Communion, I heard Jesus saying to me, “The elderly … let them teach you.”
As I made my thanksgiving after Communion, I was overcome with joy and gratitude for my vocation, which puts me in daily contact with the elderly. But at the same time I realized how often I take them for granted.
I returned home more aware of all the wisdom and experience our Residents have to share, and more intent on learning from them.
I began to ask our Residents questions – “What does heaven mean to you?” … “What’s the secret to a good life?” … “How have you faced life’s inevitable difficulties?” Their answers left me in admiration.
Mary told me that for her, heaven is everything – her true home and her reason to go on living. “If I didn’t believe in heaven,” she said, “I would be tempted to end my life because there would be no reason to go on living in my condition if it weren’t for the hope of seeing God and my family in heaven.”
Maude, a retired social worker, told me “Heaven is God’s work in us.” When I asked her what that looks like, she smiled and responded, “I just told you! It looks like us!”
Carl, who has dealt with a physical disability his whole life, gave me a pep talk about perseverance and told me that the secret to a good life is to be resolutely joyful, no matter what happens, because “God is always with us!”
It seems to me that these seniors live what Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., the Pope’s own preacher, teaches about the sense of eternity.
“For the believer, eternity is not only a hope, it is also a presence. We have this experience every time that we make a real act of faith in Christ, because ‘you have eternal life, you believe in the name of the Son of God;’ every time we receive Communion, in which ‘we are given the pledge of future glory;’ every time we hear the words of the Gospel which are ‘words of eternal life.’ … Between the life of faith in time and eternal life there is a relationship similar to that which exists between the life of an embryo in the maternal womb and that of the baby, once he has come to the light.”
The elderly in our homes have battled through dark times – both personal and historical – and they have persevered. They really do live on the Bread and the Word of Life as their pledge of future glory.
But they don’t only hope for eternity as a future reality; I believe they experience it as a presence brightening their days and lightening the burdens of old age in a mysterious, but very real way.
They personify the words of St. Paul, “We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
In the midst of our frenetic, polarized and materialistic world the elderly remind me of eternal values which are often unseen, but which alone give life beauty and true meaning.
This month in the liturgy we encounter the elderly prophets Simeon and Anna, who greet Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Temple and confirm Jesus’ identity as the long – awaited Messiah.
As we celebrate the Presentation in the Temple, perhaps we could all make an effort to reach out to the seniors we know so that they will feel like a living part of the community – and so that we may be enriched by their unique gifts and their “sense of eternity!”

(Sister Constance Veit is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.)

Abuse prevention expert offers training

By Maureen Smith
MADISON – Dr. Monica Applewhite, an internationally recognized expert in abuse prevention, offered a day-long training to teachers, principals and diocesan employees on Monday, Jan 4 at St. Joseph High School. The following two days she was set to offer workshops to the priests and lay ministers.
Applewhite has spent 25 years studying how organizations can prevent child abuse and train their employees to create safer environments for young people and vulnerable populations.

MADISON – Monica Applewhite answers questions from local broadcast media during a break in her presentation.

During Monday’s workshops she told the history of child abuse prevention law and cultural attitude. She also spoke about the different kinds of abusers in society. The afternoon focused on peer-to-peer abuse.
The training was too close to deadline for full coverage, but look for an expanded story on Appewhite in an April edition of Mississippi Catholic dedicated to Child Abuse Prevention Month.

MADISON – Almost 500 teachers, administrators and support staff from schools across the Diocese of Jackson joined diocesan staff and employees Monday, Feb. 4, at St. Joseph School for a da-long workshop on child abuse prevention. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

 

Youth convention builds faith, hope, love

VICKSBURG – High School youth from dozens of parishes gatherd at the Vicksburg Conventon Center for the Diocecan Catholic Youth Convention 2019 on Feb. 1-3. The theme was faith, hope, love. Look for coverage in the next issuse of Mississippi Catholic. (Photos by Maureen Smith)

Youth convention, Vicksburg

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Briefs nation and world

NATION
Catholic Charities USA leaders outline immediate, long-term goals
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Two top Catholic Charities USA leaders outlined some of the short-term and long-term goals for the organization and its affiliates throughout the country Feb. 3 during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington. Catholic Charities is in the midst of a five-year strategic plan to more sharply identify areas where it believes it can make a difference, said Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services. One of those areas is refugee resettlement and immigration policy. Corbin said it has worked with Migration and Refugees Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to place 16,000 refugees across the country in collaboration with local Catholic Charities affiliates that have located sponsor families to help resettle those refugees. It also has partnered with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Corbin said, on issues surrounding the continued migration of Latin Americans to the United States. Affordable housing is another of Catholic Charities USA’s strategic priorities. “In your own town, you probably know there are housing issues,” Corbin said. “Catholic Charities as an institution is the largest nonpublic provider of housing after the government. We are there. We will continue to be there,” he said to applause. Catholic Charities’ commitment extends to shelters, domestic-violence shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing, he said.

House members introduce bipartisan measure to ban abortions at 20 weeks
WASHINGTON (CNS) – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, was joined by more than 100 other members of the House Jan. 24 in introducing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2019, a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Smith, a Catholic, who is co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, is the lead sponsor of the bill, which cites research showing that unborn babies “can feel agonizing pain” at 20 weeks of development. “The majority of Americans — some 59 percent according to a recent poll — support legal protection for pain-capable unborn children,” Smith said in introducing the bill. He was referring to results of an annual poll of Americans’ views on abortion conducted by the Marist Poll at Marist College and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The poll also showed that 75 percent of respondents want “substantial” restrictions on abortion access even as more than half of respondents describe themselves as “pro-choice.” The poll was conducted Jan. 8-10 and the results were released ahead of the Jan. 18 March for Life. “Today we know that unborn babies not only die but suffer excruciating pain during dismemberment abortion — a cruelty that rips arms and legs off a helpless child,” Smith said. “This tragic human rights abuse must end.”

Priest who was former national Renew leader and beloved pastor dies
TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) – Msgr. Robert D. Fuller, an Arizona priest who was a national leader of the Renew movement in the early 1980s and a beloved pastor in the Tucson Diocese, died Jan. 23. He was 88. “We are privileged from time to time to meet a living giant,” said retired Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who worked with Msgr. Fuller for most of the last two decades. “I experienced that when I met Msgr. Fuller. He was an outstanding priest, a great preacher and a person of deep faith. He now enjoys the fulfillment of what he preached.” Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger will be the main concelebrant of a funeral Mass Feb. 1 for Msgr. Fuller at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, followed by interment at Holy Hope Cemetery. Ordained a priest for the Tucson Diocese April 25, 1956, his assignments included serving as director of the Bureau of Information, which later became the diocesan Communications Office. He was appointed editor and business manager of the Arizona Register, as the diocesan newspaper was called, on June 7, 1963, after serving as assistant editor in 1961-63. Msgr. Fuller left Tucson for five years, from 1981 to 1986, to work for Renew, which is based in Newark, New Jersey. Renew fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition at the parish level by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life.

Bishop tells Covington Catholic High School community he stands with them
COVINGTON, Ky. (CNS) – You could literally hear a pin drop as the faculty, staff and student body of Covington Catholic High School waited in the gym Jan. 23 for the arrival of Covington Bishop Roger J. Foys. The bishop was there to address the students about the events that took place Jan. 18, after the March for Life in Washington, where a student standing face-to-face with a Native American elder was captured on video and ignited a firestorm on social media — making headlines around the world. Bob Rowe, principal, opened with a prayer and introduced Bishop Foys, who said: “These last four days have been a living hell for many of you, for your parents, for your relatives, for your friends and it certainly has been for me.” He told the assembly they are “under all kinds of pressure from a lot of different people, for a lot of different reasons.” The bishop also told the assembly that the contingent of students who went to the March for Life represented the best of the church and the diocese by standing up for life. Bishop Foys said an independent third party is investigating the Jan. 18 events that followed the march and he asked everyone to stay off of social media with regard to those events until the matter is resolved. “Regardless of what you heard or what you’ve read or what you think, I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light,” he said.

VATICAN
Vatican underlines support of universal health care coverage
GENEVA (CNS) – The Vatican supports efforts to build stronger and sustainable essential health care services on the way toward achieving universal health coverage, a Vatican official said. The Catholic Church is part of this effort in providing primary care to people in need and always “with due recognition to the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva. Speaking to the executive board of the World Health Organization Jan. 28, the archbishop noted the organization’s call for a renewal of primary health care and the Sustainable Development Goals’ target of universal health coverage to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The Holy See affirms the call to mobilize all stakeholders to take joint action to build stronger and sustainable primary health care toward achieving universal health coverage,” he said in a brief address. In fact, over the course of 2018, “Catholic-inspired organizations provided health care at 5,287 hospitals and 15,397 dispensaries, 15,722 residential programs for the elderly and for persons living with debilitating chronic illnesses and other disabilities in all parts of the world,” he said.

Pope arrives in Abu Dhabi, praying for nearby Yemen
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The sun had set long before Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi Feb. 3, but Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince, and Egyptian Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, still went to the airport to welcome him. It had been a rare rainy day on the southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula, which, the pope told reporters traveling with him, was seen as a sign of blessing by the people of the United Arab Emirates. Since the pope arrived at almost 10 p.m. local time, the official welcoming ceremony was scheduled for the next day. But there was a brief greeting inside the President’s Airport. The pope then went to Al Mushrif Palace, the government’s guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Global encounter of WYD challenges nationalism, walls

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The joyous harmony of people coming together from so many different nations for World Youth Day stands in sharp contrast to today’s “sad” situation of confrontational nationalist feelings, Pope Francis said.
“It is a sign that young Christians are the leaven for peace in the world,” he said at his general audience Jan. 30 in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.
The pope dedicated his weekly reflection to his trip to Panama Jan. 23-27 to celebrate World Youth Day.
The hundreds of thousands of young people from five continents who attended the events “formed a great symphony of faces and languages,” he said.
“To see all the flags flying together, fluttering in the hands of young people, happy to encounter each other is a prophetic sign, a sign (that goes) against the tide of today’s sad tendency toward confrontational nationalist sentiments that erect walls, that close themselves off from universality, from the encounter among peoples,” he said.
He praised the enthusiasm and prayerful reverence young people showed at the many events and recalled the dedication he saw on the faces of many who declared themselves open to God’s will and ready serve the Lord.
“As long as there are new generations able to say, ‘Here I am’ to God, the world will have a future,” he said.
Another image that struck him during the trip, he said, was seeing so many mothers and fathers proudly holding up their children as he passed by in the popemobile.
They showed off their children “as if to say, ‘Here is my pride, here is my future,’” he said.
“How much dignity is in this gesture and how eloquent (given) the demographic winter we are living in Europe,” the pope said. “The pride of those families is the children; children are security for the future. A demographic winter without children is hard.”
Young people are called to live the Gospel today “because young people are not ‘the tomorrow,’ not ‘in the meantime,’ but they are the ‘today’ of the church and the world,” he said.
Pope Francis also urged people to pray the Way of the Cross, saying it is “the school of Christian life” where one learns about a love that is “patient, silent, concrete.”
He then said he wanted to share a secret with everyone and pulled out a small box, showing it to the crowd, explaining it was a pocket-sized kit for praying the Way of the Cross.
He said he loved following the Via Crucis “because it is following Jesus with Mary on the way of the cross where he gave his life for us, for our redemption.”
“When I have time,” he said, he takes the prayer kit out and prays, and he urged others to do the same.

Snake-bitten …

Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI

IN EXILE
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Everything is of one piece. Whenever we don’t take that seriously, we pay a price.
The renowned theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar gives an example of this. Beauty, he submits, is not some little “extra” that we can value or denigrate according to personal taste and temperament, like some luxury that we say we cannot afford. Like truth and goodness, it’s one of the properties of God and thus demands to be taken seriously as goodness and truth. If we neglect or denigrate beauty, he says, we will soon enough begin to neglect other areas of our lives. Here are his words:
“Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking then along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name, as if she were an ornament of a bourgeois past, whether he admits it or not, can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”
Here’s a simpler expression of that. There’s a delightful little African tale that highlights the interconnectedness of everything and illustrates how, if we separate a thing from its sisters, we soon pay a price. The tale goes this way:
Once upon a time, when animals still talked, the mice on a farm called a summit of all the other animals. They were worried, they lamented, because they had seen the mistress of the house buy a mousetrap. They were now in danger. But the other animals scoffed at their anxiety. The cow said that she had nothing to worry about. A tiny little contraption couldn’t harm her. She could crush it with her foot. The pig reacted in a similar way. What did he have to worry about in the face of a tiny trap? The chicken also announced that it had no fear of this gadget. “It’s your concern. No worry for me!” it told the mice.
But all things are interconnected and that soon became evident. The mistress set the mousetrap and, on the very first night, heard it snap. Getting out of her bed to look what it had caught and she saw that it had trapped a snake by its tail. In trying to free the snake she was bitten and the poison soon had her feeling sick and running a fever. She went to the doctor who gave her medicines to combat the poison and advised her: “What you need now to get better is chicken broth.” (You can guess where the rest of this is going.) They slaughtered the chicken, but her fever lingered. Relatives and neighbors came to visit. More food was needed. They slaughtered the pig. Eventually the poison killed her. A huge funeral ensued. A lot of food was needed. The slaughtered the cow.
The moral of the story is clear. Everything is interconnected and our failure to see that leaves us in peril. Blindness to our interdependence, willful or not, is dangerous. We are inextricably tied to each other and to everything in the world. We can protest to the contrary but reality will hold its ground. And so, we cannot truly value one thing while we disdain something else. We cannot really love one person while we hate someone else. And we cannot give ourselves an exemption in one moral area and hope to be morally healthy as a whole. Everything is of one piece. There are no exceptions. When we ignore that truth we are eventually be snake-bitten by it.
I emphasize this because today, virtually everywhere, a dangerous tribalism is setting in. Everywhere, not unlike the animals in that African tale, we see families, communities, churches and whole countries focusing more or less exclusively on their own needs without concern for other families, communities, churches and countries. Other people’s problems, we believe, are not our concern. From the narrowness in our churches, to identity politics, to whole nations setting their own needs first, we hear echoes of the cow, pig and chicken saying: “Not my concern! I’ll take care of myself. You take care of yourself!” This will come back to snake-bite us.
We will eventually pay the price for our blindness and non-concern and we will pay that price politically, socially and economically. But we will even pay a higher price personally. What that snake-bite will do is captured in Von Balthasar’s warning: Whoever ignores or denigrates beauty will, he asserts, eventually be unable to pray or to love. That’s true too in all cases when we ignore our interconnectedness with others. By ignoring the needs of others we eventually corrupt our own wholeness so that we are no longer be able to treat ourselves with respect and empathy and, when that happens, we lose respect and empathy for life itself – and for God – because whenever reality isn’t respected it bites back with a mysterious vengeance.

(Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher and award-winning author, is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX.)

Quinto Aniversario

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
El 6 de febrero, a principios de esta semana, recapitulé silenciosamente el quinto aniversario de mi ordenación e instalación como el onceavo Obispo de la Diócesis de Jackson.
Como sabemos, algunos días no tienen fin, pero una década puede pasar en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, (1Cor 15). Para mí, los últimos cinco años son oficialmente historia, por haberse movido a la velocidad de una lanzadera de telar, (Job 7,6). Muchos eventos y memorias se destacan vívidamente; algunos deben recuperarse revisando el calendario de un i-Phone; otros resurgen cuando vuelvo a visitar escuelas y parroquias, y otros cuando alguien, en una conversación, me recuerda un evento o encuentro.
Digo todo esto para indicar que el Señor me ha bendecido abundantemente a través del ministerio episcopal que tan generosamente me fue otorgado hace cinco años.
Incluso, los problemas actuales no suprimen la belleza, la verdad y la bondad que han surgido de nuestra renovadas Misión y Visión. Cada día tenemos la oportunidad de proclamar el Evangelio por la forma en que vivimos nuestras vidas para que todos puedan experimentar al Señor crucificado y resucitado.
El atractivo diseño de nuestra Visión diocesana me recuerda, dondequiera que esté en la diócesis, acerca de nuestras prioridades de inspirar a los discípulos, servir a los demás y abrazar la diversidad, así como se mostró en nuestra recién Conferencia Diocesana para Jóvenes. La Visión se ha adoptado y aplicado de manera creativa en toda la diócesis a través de la aplicación de nuestras prioridades pastorales, especialmente para invitar y reconciliar a las comunidades y para enseñar nuestra fe católica, de muchas y variadas formas, al ser buenos escribas en el Reino de los Cielos.
Recordamos las palabras de Jesús en el Evangelio de Mateo: “Cuando un maestro de la ley se instruye acerca del reino de los cielos, se parece al dueño de una casa, que de lo que tiene guardado sabe sacar cosas nuevas y cosas viejas”. (Mt 13,52) Podemos pensar en todos los canales de comunicación y evangelización al alcance de la mano, lo que es nuevo, así como las ya probadas formas de testificar, encontrar y acompañar.
Nuestra primera prioridad pastoral de invitar y reconciliar a las comunidades reconoce el llamado fundamental del Señor a arrepentirse y reconstruir la vida y la Iglesia acorde a las demandas del Evangelio. Esta llamada es siempre antigua y siempre nueva, y debe aplicarse vigorosamente al sufrimiento por la crisis de abuso sexual y al definido trastorno financiero en nuestra diócesis.
Crucificados con el Señor podemos resucitar con Él a una nueva vida.
El 6 de febrero, mi aniversario (que por cierto también es el cumpleaños de mi padre), tomé el largo vuelo a la India para mi primera visita pastoral a la tierra que nos está bendiciendo con sacerdotes dedicados y discípulos misioneros.
Ir cada año a Saltillo, México a nuestra misión de 50 años puede ser un reto, pero el subcontinente de la India será para mí navegar aguas desconocidas. Voy con mi guía de confianza, el Padre Albeen Vatti, pastor de San Francisco en Madison, de la Diócesis de Warangal, donde pasaremos un tiempo con el Obispo Bala, visitando entornos pastorales, así como con algunas familias de los sacerdotes que están sirviendo actualmente en la Diócesis de Jackson.
Desde allí, viajaremos a otros estados de la India para cumplir con visitas pastorales y a lo largo del camino, ver innumerables puntos de interés. La cultura y el modo de vida de esta nación densamente poblada me ofrecerán una experiencia cercana y personal en cada curva del camino. Espero con interés esta oportunidad para visitar la tierra donde el Apóstol Santo Tomás plantó las semillas del Evangelio.
Al hacer una breve pausa para reflexionar sobre este hito de 5 años en mi vida, aunque habrán 18 horas de vuelo a la India para hacer una reflexión considerable, estoy profundamente agradecido a tantos colegas de trabajo en la viña del Señor que sirven en toda la Diócesis, incluyendo ordenados, religiosos y religiosas y laicos, hombres y mujeres, que han respondido como discípulos a las demandas del Evangelio.
Por ejemplo, más de 500 personas asistieron al Día de Desarrollo Diocesano para Profesionales el pasado lunes, dirigido por Monica Applewhite, una líder en el campo de la prevención del abuso.
La cantidad suena como un número bíblico de discípulos a quienes el Señor ha parecido reunir en un solo lugar. (1Cor 15,6). Este evento es simplemente una muestra de los innumerables compañeros de trabajo que en nuestra diócesis están ocupados con los diseños del Señor y la mera mención de todos ellos superaría con creces el espacio disponible en esta edición del periódico Mississippi Catholic.
La belleza de la oración es que se extiende desde un extremo de la tierra hasta el otro y perfora los cielos.
Durante las dos semanas que estaré en la India recordaré, cada día en el altar, a todos ustedes y especialmente a las necesidades de nuestra Diócesis.
Sé que su oración también se extenderá a lo largo de kilómetros pidiendo las bendiciones del Señor en esta extraordinaria visita pastoral mientras los represento ante el pueblo de la India.