A Good Steward is Proactive. A good steward makes the choice as a true disciple of Christ and a light to the world
Faith In the Long Run
“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (Colossians 1:24)
Why would anyone rejoice in suffering? St Paul did so because he believed he had made headway with those living in Colossae, an ancient city in modern Turkey. They were growing in faith. Most of us have suffered...perhaps not to the extent of St Paul, but we might have put our lives on hold, sacrificing for the sake of our children’s or grandchildren’s education or perhaps for the care of aging parents. Those days were difficult for sure, but when we look back, we would not have it any other was. As difficult as it was...it truly was worth it. We had faith in ourselves and faith in the Lord. Faith, in the long run, always triumphs.
"You Can’t Out Do God’s Generosity”
Good News to the Parishioners of Holy Trinity Church
October 17, 2021
“When Words Fail, Music Speaks” or so it says on the t-shirts of Indian Hill HS in Cincinnati, OH. The musical group Power of Music practices every day after school to spread joy to those who need it most...the homebound in the neighborhood.
The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London opened in 1852 and was the first to provide children size beds to care for thousands of sick children. The hospital never accepted any payment until the financial crisis of 1929. An anonymous miracle donation came through from J M Barrie to keep them afloat. Upon his death in 1937, he willed the royalties from Peter Pan to the hospital. UK copyright laws lasted only 50 years until the Prime Minister lobbied Parliament to grant an exemption...in perpetuity...and so today the royalties continue.
4 brothers from Liberty Township, OH graduated together from Yale...big deal...they once were coveted by Harvard, Duke, Georgetown and Stanford. They all chose Yale.
Some of us might recognize Bon Jovi if he walked into Holy Trinity Church. Some might even know some of his music. Most of us...not. But this superstar is known to wash dishes at one of his JBJ Soul Kitchens that feed the homeless. Rather than retreating to fancier “digs” he shows up washing dishes.
Think hard. Did something good happen this week? I’m sure it did. Then cherish that memory. Hold it in your heart/or in your mind; then when, things are challenging...recall that memory.
Remember our gifts from God...continue to take care of one another.
When it comes to Coronavirus...common sense is not so common...choose common sense anyway.
Wear your mask, maintain distance and wash your hands.
Let’s remember the value of what we have when the good times return. Stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands; looking forward to seeing you in our gym at Mass until then.
Weekly Donation for 25 – 26 Sep and 2-3 Oct 2021
Major Maintenance & Repair 2,641
Catholic University 155
Thrift Shop 643
Capuchin Appeal 3,441
Pew Fund 1,000
Ohana in Christ (Diocese Fund) 445
25 – 26 Sep 2-3 Oct
Adults Children Adults Children
Sat 4:30 PM 94 7 95 5
Sun 8:00AM 10 6 120 5
Sun 10:30AM 99 14 110 8
TOTAL 294 27 325 18
Thank you for your generous giving
Encyclical Letter - Fratelli Tutti - On Fraternity and Social Friendship
Of the Holy Father, Pope Francis October 4, 2020
Some Thoughts from Stewardship
At Holy Trinity Church by Bob White
Chapter 1 Dark Clouds
Pope Francis wrote about dreaming together, but today’s world has yet to learn this lesson. He wrote of …”the dream of a United Europe, one capable of sharing roots and diversity...envisioning a future of bridging divisions and fostering peace.” He also wrote about a …”desire for integration of Latin America and the steps…” taken toward that goal.
Today, Pope Francis speaks of the “aggressive nationalism” that is on the uptake. Of the “new forms of selfishness.” The question becomes, why must …”each new generation take up the struggles of past generations?” Why then is it not possible …”to settle for what was achieved in the past...enjoy it?” Why must we …”disregard the fact that many still endure situations that cry out for our attention?”
Pope Francis speaks of the “ignorance of history...to reject the experiences of their elders, to look down on the past toward a future that the individual holds out.” Pope Francis further discusses the “exploitation of the global economy...making us neighbours but not brothers. We are more alone than ever in a world that promotes individual interests. [We celebrate “prime day” and get it anywhere...next day delivery]. Per Francis: “peoples that abandon their tradition and...all others to rob their very soul.”
Pope Francis fears that we are “growing more distant from one another...people no longer seem of paramount value to be cared for and respected. [He no longer sees] healthy debate on long term plans to improve life and advance the common good.” Rather, he speaks of “conditions of slavery...allowing treatment (of people) as objects.
He speaks of war, terrorist attack, religious persecution as” affronts to human dignity.” “We no longer have common horizons uniting us...we have erected walls where outside this wall the world ceases to exist...leaving only “my world” and “them.”
Re the current pandemic, Pope Francis notes that “…we are a global community, all in the same boat...no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. [We learn] that we are part of one another, that we are brothers and sisters of one another. [We have become] prisoners of a virtual reality...the realization of our own limitations brought on by this pandemic...have made it...urgent we rethink...the meaning of our existence.” Pope Francis further advised that when this crisis passes…[that we] take a step forward towards a new style of life...and rediscover our need for one another...that the human family can experience a rebirth.”
Pope Francis commented on communication which has resulted in “...lives under constant surveillance...and the disintegration of respect for others.” [Try as we must] “...we can peer into [others] lives .” This has resulted in a “deaf world...preventing attentive listening [resulting] in interruption and contradiction...we have lost our ability to listen.”
Pope Francis points out that “...many economic approaches [are designed] to prevent an influx of migrants while limiting aid to poor countries. [These approaches forget that] many migrants flee from war, persecution and natural catastrophes...seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. [Unfortunately], Western culture offers unrealistic expectations...traffickers, drug and arms cartels, violence and abuse...along their journey.”
So what’s Stewardship’s role in all this? First of all, let’s be grateful for those who came before. Grateful that they established Holy Trinity Church, grateful they built a new church and grateful for it’s renovation. Grateful to those who raised the monies to “pave” our parking area. Let’s be grateful for the “soul” of Holy Trinity and the clergy who have, are, and will serve.
Should we forgo ordering-on-line? No way...it’s efficient and necessary for many who can’t get out or when shops are shuttered. But let’s show our gratitude to those who provide this service, even if they are “behind the scenes.” A positive ‘yelp’ review might be just the thing needed.
Should we become ‘missionaries’? Not necessarily, but we can pray for and support both religious and lay societies and organizations that foster good work in foreign lands. We can learn from a recent tv public service church announcement explaining mask wearing, distancing and hand washing in languages understood by Pacific Islanders.
Will we unite Europe? Hardly, but we can enjoy what we have...yes even in this pandemic.
Sure we’re in the gym and not the church proper...but we are still a “people of God” gathered for the Eucharist. We have a clean, safe environment. Let’s enjoy what we have and dream. Let’s dream of returning to our more comfortable church, let’s dream of improvements we may need or desire to improve our worship space. Dream of “we.” Let’s unify Holy Trinity.
Chapter 2 The Good Samaritan
Pope Francis relates Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) in response to the question “...and who is my neighbour?” We’ve all heard this story many times before...it’s an …”an age old problem…[beginning when] Cain kills Abel (Gen 4:9) [answering] ...am I my brother’s keeper?”
Pope Francis continues…”earlier Jewish traditions…limited relationships to those of the same nation...but as Judaism developed outside the land of Israel...the command became...do unto others what you would not want them to do to you (Tob 4:15). This, Pope Francis explained, “is the entire Torah.” Continuing, Francis explained that “in the New Testament, do unto others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets (Mt 7:12). Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
Pope Francis reviews each of the main characters in the parable: robber, victim, Priest, Levite, Samaritan and the Innkeeper and poses the question: …” Which of these persons do we identify with? [Witness an assault in our neighborhood], [observe] an accident and [the guilty party] flees the seen...do we hurry off or render aid [or do we at least call 911]? We become caught up in our own needs and the sight of an injured person is disturbing to us...makes us uneasy. These are signs of an unhealthy society. A society that seeks prosperity but turns its back on suffering.”
Pope Francis reminds us that this parable is an “essential...aspect of our common humanity. We are created in love and cannot be indifferent to suffering...we [must be] challenged to emerge from our comfort...to be changed. This is the meaning of dignity. [For] sooner or later, we will encounter...suffering...as there are more and more [people]...[for] all of us are, or have been, like each of the characters in the parable. All of us have something of the [victim], the robber, the passersby and the Good Samaritan. The real question is: will we abandon the injured man and run to take refuge...or will we pursue the thieves?”
So what are we to do? Become [Junior] Police Officers? Take self-defense lessons? Not hardly. Start small, start local. Where we live, work and pray. As Pope Francis says: “...when we assist another, we obtain satisfaction in life and before God, thus a duty...Let us care for the needs of every man and woman, young and old...with the spirit of the Good Samaritan. A warm smile (under your mask) and a welcome “good morning” is something easy to do. Showing appreciation for others needing time and assistance, a “thank you” to the store clerk, the server and those at home or at work. We can support our church and her worldwide work by donations at a variety of special collections during the year, or just select your favorite charity to support. Join a ministry; many are working behind the scenes due to Covid, but there is always something we have a talent to do and do well for The Lord and each other.
Lastly, pray. Just pray for health and an end to this pandemic. Pray that [when this is over] that we will have learned to be “we” vs “them,” that we “become sensitive to the needs of others...to rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep...identifying with others without worrying from where they come.” In this way, our world view extends beyond our individual horizon...start small, but dream big.
Chapter 3 Engendering an Open World
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, cites St Thomas Aquinas (Scriptum super Sententiis) “...love creates bonds and expands existence, for it draws people [from] themselves towards others. Pope Francis continues, “nor can I reduce my life to relationships with small groups, even my own family...relationships, to be healthy and authentic, open us to others who expand and enrich us...Our hearts expand as we step out of ourselves and embrace others…[vs]...expressions of selflessness and self-preservation.”
Historically, Pope Francis reminds us that “...small desert communities welcomed pilgrims as an exercise of sacred duty of hospitality...rising to the challenge of an encounter outside one’s own circle.” Pope Francis continued “...Love is more than a series of benevolent actions... [love] is action whose source is directed towards others…”
The Holy Father continues to discuss our brothers and sisters in need. “...When abandoned or ignored by society...become a foreigner in their own country…[yes] born [here], [and] citizens with full rights [contact] the mutating virus of racism. Pope Francis speaks specifically to the disabled and the elderly “...who need a voice...to become persons of equal dignity.” In the parable of The Good Samaritan, “...the injured man might have been viewed as merely an outcast, a detraction, an interruption, a nobody, [a foreigner in his own country]”.
Pope Francis poses a question: “...What happens when fraternity is not consciously cultivated, when there is a lack of political will to promote [this virtue] through education, dialogue and value recognition?” Pope Francis responds [to his question]: “...Liberty [then] becomes a condition for living as we will, free to choose to whom or what we will belong, to possess or to exploit. [Liberty] has nothing to do with the...richness of love. [This] individualism does not make us more free, more equal, more fraternal...not capable of generating a better world for humanity. [It makes us believe]...we have created safety nets serving the common good.”
Pope Francis continues that “...The world exists for everyone...all born with the same dignity. [yes] Differences of colour, religion, talent, place of birth...that cannot justify the privilege of some over the rights of all.” He quotes St John Paul II: “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone.” No one, therefore, according to Our Holy Father shall be excluded because of place of birth..less privilege...unacceptable that the mere place of one’s birth ...should result in ...fewer opportunities for a dignified life.” Pope Francis calls for a ‘new way of thinking’ based on “...the great principle of inalienable dignity...rising to the challenge of envisaging a new humanity [in] a world that provides land, housing and work for all.”
So what’s stewardship’s role in all this? We are not ‘captains of industry’ nor will we become world leaders capable of societal ‘midcourse corrections’ changing the mores of earthly society. But, we can become more like the desert community that welcomed pilgrims as a sacred duty of hospitality...why? Because as a community, we do quite well when it comes to wearing a mask in church and sanitizing our hands. We’re respectful of the special shopping hours reserved for seniors. We’ve even learned that sitting up front permits the earliest departure. But, ‘when this is over’ and we return to our church proper, could we still be encouraged to sit up front? Or will we revert to a desire to occupy back seating reserved for our elderly or disabled?
We love to see children at our liturgies, but can we be patient for plus or minus an hour when a youngster begins to fuss or cry? We are a welcoming parish, we love to meet visitors, but will we make room for one, or could we befriend the “misguided” who actually ‘took our seat’? Will we try to come early for parking, and if not possible, will we be patient with the volunteer trying to squeeze in just one more car? Let’s thank the HPD officer as we leave...yes, he is paid, but it is a dangerous job. Let’s remember that Jesus did not come to be served. He came to serve. Let’s learn to do for one another...the cornerstone of stewardship.
A Heart Open to the Whole World
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, begins this discussion based on his “...conviction that all human beings are brothers and sisters...forcing us to see things in a new light and develop new responses.” He begins with the Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States (2003) which raised the question [of what happens], “...when our neighbor happens to be an immigrant?” Pope Francis reminds us of our obligation to “...respect the right of individuals to find a place that meets their basic needs...their families...finding personal fulfillment.” He cites examples such “...simplification of granting visas, opening humanitarian corridors...dignified housing, security, basic services, right to retain personal identification documents, access to justice...freedom of movement, employment, education... reunification of families and community integration.” [a description of a culture shift]. While Pope Francis does not specifically mention stewardship, he does state that “...new arrivals to every country, while they are different culturally, they do bring their ‘gift’ [the talents given by God] which is an opportunity to enrich the human development of all [mankind].” Pope Francis continues on “...when we open our hearts to those who are different…[we] have flourished and [this] needs preservation. When we are open to new experiences, “...we discover the gifts of each person...which unites us…[providing] an opportunity to grow in mutual respect.” Pope Francis expounds on “...Latino culture...enriching the United States.” He continues, “In Argentina, the immigration from Italy left a mark on the culture of society, the presence of Jews has a great effect on Buenos Aires…[they have become] a source of enrichment... encouraging a society to grow.” Our Holy Father goes on to discuss this mutual assistance “...a country that moves forward [yet] remaining grounded in original culture is a treasure to humanity. We need to develop this awareness...we are either all saved together or no one is saved.” He asks us to consider “...life without fraternal gratuitousness, becoming a form of frenetic (anxiety driven) commerce...what can I get back in return.” “God, on the other hand, gives freely...His sun rises on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). [And] “...as well He told his disciples: without cost you have received, without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8). Pope Francis concludes: “...only a social and political culture that...gratuitously welcomes others will have a future.” In order to accomplish this, it’s necessary to “...differentiate between globalization and localization. [The former] avoids narrowness…[the latter] keeps your feet on the ground.” Continuing on, “...the experience of being raised in a particular place...sharing this culture...gives insight to others...adding a rich palette of colour; while our global [view] is [more than] a sum total of other cultures…[it is] a communion of that which exists among them.” Pope Francis proposes we start with our own region. “...thanks to regional exchanges poor countries become open to a wider world.” Our Holy Father [envisions a community] marked by gratitude, solidarity and reciprocity...a shared identity. Think [not] of viewing others as competitors, [requiring] we protect ourselves from one another, [but] to see that no one people, culture, or individual can achieve everything on its own...we need others. Man is a limited being who himself is limitless” (Georg Simmel, 1957). We are truly blessed here at Holy Trinity. Why? Because we are so fortunate to have a diversity of cultures in our welcoming parish. We are a true cosmopolitan church. We might have been fortunate enough to have been born here or perhaps we may have come from the Philippines, the Pacific Islands, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, Russia, North or South America, Mexico or any one of the many other nations in this world. We have learned of our wide variety of cultural customs especially when it comes to many of our (pre covid) social gatherings. We do therefore have a head start on the “open heart” vision of which Pope Francis’ writes. So when Pope Francis asks that we start at home, stewardship might ask that we consider continuing our own culture shift...there’s a perfect opportunity soon to become a reality...the beginning of renovations to our worship space (our church proper). It’s been 20 years, servicing us and the Lord well, but time to refresh. Let’s look toward ourselves. We have been proactive in MMR donations each month and now are able to reap the benefits of our sacrifice. We now have an opportunity to share our talents with one another...to learn, not compete. Let’s become the new “elders'' of Holy Trinity Church...the ones the next generation will come to appreciate. Let’s dream of renewing our worship space because ‘...when this is over’ we will begin to realize we might be dreaming of the limitlessness of our part of this world, of Holy Trinity Church and our opportunity to share this vision with one another...near and far. Creating this welcoming environment proclaims our stewardship.
Chapter 5 - A Better Kind of Politics
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, states that “the development of a global community...calls for a better kind of politics, one at the service of the common good. Sadly...today it...hinders progress…[This] lack of concern for the vulnerable [creates] a populism exploit[ing in order to] serve the economic interests of the powerful.” Pope Francis cautions us to make room for everyone.
“Express[ing] a view...categorizing unfairly or praising to the skies…[leading] to a disregard of the meaning of ‘people’ eliminating the notion of democracy as a government by the people.” “Popular leaders do exist...uniting and leading, making room for the pursuit of common good. But, popular leadership can degenerate into populism...exploiting a people’s culture for personal advantage or a grip on power.” Pope Francis discusses employment…’the biggest issue’ but “the best path to a life of dignity. [When] everyone has a chance to contribute his or her own talents and efforts. There is no poverty worse than that which takes away work and the dignity of work.”
“The concept of ‘people’ entails a positive view of community and culture…[perhaps] rejected by individualistic liberalism. True charity, [however], incorporates the element of concern for others...even The Good Samaritan” needed [the innkeeper].”
Everything, according to Pope Francis, calls “…for a change of heart, attitude and lifestyle.” Pope Francis calls for “...education and upbringing, concern for others, a well integrated view of life and spiritual growth...are essential for quality human relationships…the marketplace…[he continues] cannot resolve the problem...it will not resolve the inequality to new forms of violence...[what is needed, he continues,] is a proactive economic policy directed at promoting...diversity and business creativity...for jobs to be created...not cut.
The Holy Father discusses the ‘politics we need’ “...a politics which is far sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of [a] crisis...in other words, a ‘healthy politics’ capable of reforming and coordinating institutions, promoting best practices and overcoming undue pressure and bureaucratic inertia.” Pope Francis explains it in this way: “...true statecraft, manifest, in difficult times, upholding high principles [and concerned] for the long term common good. [We need to] think of those who will come after us...is demanded by authentic justice...the earth is lent to each generation, to be handed on to the generation that follows.”
Pope Francis discusses charity...the spiritual heart of politics, is a love to be shown to those of greatest need. We need to “...combat all that threatens or violates fundamental human rights. Elimination of hunger and speculation on the price of food threaten millions [around the world, while tons of food are thrown away]. Food, Pope Francis explains, is an inalienable right.” Charity, he concludes, is “...expressed in a spirit of openness to everyone. [We need to seek] convergence on issues and listen to other points of view...make room for everyone.”
Pope Francis, in his meeting with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, agreed to “spread the culture of tolerance of living together in peace.” Pope Francis “askes we help at least one person have a better life” and that “we break down walls and fill our hearts with names and faces.”
He questions us:
How much love did I put into my work [today]?
What did I do for our people?
What mark did I leave on the life of society [or our home, workplace or church]?
What bonds did I create?
What good did I achieve in the position entrusted to me?
So how does stewardship …”make room for all?” Well, in our current worship space, our gym, it’s difficult while maintaining social distance during Covid, but Holy Trinity is always open to new ways to “make room for all” without compromising governmental regulations. Have you noticed that at the sign of peace, even with masks on we stretch our necks and turn our heads to offer the sign of peace to as many as we can? At the conclusion of Mass, we file out, front to back, Fr Mike first. We ‘start our engines’ in as orderly a fashion without any parking ministers. We do a good job.
When Jesus selected His 12 Apostles, they were not all fishermen...rather they were from different walks of life...He needed all of them...and He needs all of us here at Holy Trinity. When ‘this is over’ and we return to ministry...let us continue to seek new members to take part with us. Holy Trinity is doing just fine, thanks to all of you, but we have to think of those who will follow...they will come from the ranks...just like we did. We need to make room for them and welcome them. We must listen to and do for others. The question is: will the mark we leave on our work here at Holy Trinity be a good representation of the talent He gave to us? This is the framework of stewardship, This is the vision we leave to the next generation.
Dialogue and Friendship in Society
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, suggests that “...dialogue is the summation of speaking, listening, looking, understanding and finding common ground. He continues, dialogue does not make headlines, but quietly helps the world live better… [We find ‘middle ground’ somewhere] between selfish indifference and violent protest. ‘Dialogue’ [should not] be confused [with an] exchange of opinions, often based on incomplete media information and not always reliable. [These become] monologues, engaging on one...self-serving and contradictory.”
Pope Francis continues “...a lack of dialogue is concerned not for the common good, but for the benefit of power and [perhaps] to impose [one’s] own ideas. Round Tables thus become mere negotiating sessions...seizing advantages rather than cooperation for the common good.”
Pope Francis adds “...authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view...including legitimate convictions and concerns. [When one exercises] a true spirit of genuine dialogue, we grow in our ability to grasp the significance of what others say and do, even if we cannot accept it as our own conviction. In this way, [we] can be frank and open about our beliefs...continuing to discuss, to seek points of contact and work together. Making room for everybody does not manipulate or conceal information. Differences are creative [resulting in] humanity's progress.”
“Today,” Pope Francis continues, “...the media can help us feel closer to one another, creating a sense of unity of the human family, inspiring solidarity and a dignified life for all. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. Therefore, Pope Francis says, we need to constantly ensure that present day forms of communication are in fact guiding us to a generous encounter with others to pursue the whole truth, to service, to closeness to the underprivileged and the promotion of the common good. [Unfortunately], today [we see] a reduction of ethics. Good and evil no longer exist...only a calculus of benefits and burdens resulting in a displacement of moral reasoning. The law no longer is seen as reflecting a fundamental notion of justice, but of notions of [what is] currently in vogue...the law of the strongest prevails.”
“Respect for the dignity of others, Pope Francis continues, is [paramount] because human beings possess an intrinsic worth superior to material objects. [Regardless of one being] an agnostic or a believer, validity is based on ethical principles…[for the believer] created by God. The result is not an ethical rigidity, or an imposition of a [solitary] moral system, [but one that] allows room for dialogue to exist.”
Pope Francis continues to discuss his views on culture as it relates to dialogue. “Culture is something deeply embedded within a people...the most cherished convictions and its way of life. It has to do with their desires, interests and the way they live their lives. ‘Culture of encounter’ means we should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges [or] planning inclusive projects. [The] integration of [cultural] differences is much more difficult and slow...but guarantees a genuine and lasting peace. We need to “...recognize other people’s right to be themselves and to be different…[resulting in] a social covenant. Engaging in social dialogue with a culture shared by the majority of a population [is the aspiration rather than] the exploitation of [this] society as if [they] did not exist, resulting in an eruption into violence when least expected...we need to [continue] the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity to [all peoples]. [In so doing], we remain faithful while allowing others to do so as well. This requires love, to stand in the place of another to [accept] their motivation.”
Pope Francis concludes with his thoughts on kindness. “...consumerist individualism [permits treatment] of other persons as obstacles to our serene existence...becoming annoyances”. [Pope Francis] suggests “...we cultivate kindness. Making people’s lives more bearable...sharing the weight of problems, needs and fears. Speak words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement...not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn.”
The basis of stewardship, especially as it might apply at Holy Trinity Church, might see each of us ‘cultivating a culture of kindness.’ We’re a busy congregation; the pressures of Covid, the staying-at-home, the planning of ‘road trips’ for groceries perhaps put undue pressure and fear in our hearts, especially if we are or care for elderly family members. So we wash our hands and don our masks and brave Mass attendance. Most of us have learned to bless ourselves as we enter our church/worship space (gym), some actually show a ‘twinkle in the eye’ and a warm ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ upon entry. We’re making the best of this bad situation...we’ve taken a step toward cultivation of kindness...so let's continue. We do show respect for all fellow parishioners, we’re transforming our lifestyle. We want to forget 2020. When this is over, let’s keep this year in the back of our minds and the good things we learned from it when we get ‘back to the future.’ Let’s try to build on this first step we have taken, let’s be encouraging to one another, let’s cultivate a culture of kindness.
Paths of Renewed Encounter
In this chapter, Pope Francis discusses “...a need for paths of peace to heal open wounds...a need for peacemakers...creating a process of healing and renewed encounter.” [Simply stated by] Pope Francis, this “...renewed encounter does not mean returning to a time prior to conflict...we change over time. The peace process [he speaks of] requires enduring commitment...a patient effort to seek truth and justice and honour the memory of victims and to open the way to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance. Peace agreements on paper are not enough...people have a right to know what happened.”
“Truth, he states, is a companion to justice and mercy...not to lead to revenge but rather to reconciliation and forgiveness. [This means] confessing what happened to missing relatives, what happened to minors recruited by violent people and recognizing the pain of women...victims of abuse. Every act of violence committed against a human being is a wound in humanity’s flesh. Violence leads to violence, hatred to hatred, death to death. We must break this cycle.”
“This path to peace means pursuing goals that benefit everyone. [We need to create] a society based on service to others rather than domination, a society based on sharing rather than a scramble to wealth, a society [in which we] value being together. Negotiation, Pope Francis continues, is the architecture of peace [in which] society contributes its expertise involving all. We need to place reason above revenge, a harmony between politics and law. Peace, he continues, is not achieved by well-meaning political or economic groups [without] the experience of the overlooked people…[they must] influence the development of a collective memory.”
“Building this social peace is a never ending and open-ended task demanding the commitment of everyone...to build unity. This requires us to put the human person at the center of political and social activity [because he/she] enjoys the highest dignity and respect for common good...free from the temptation of revenge and the satisfaction of short term interests.” “Those who work for tranquil social coexistence should never forget that inequality...make peace impossible...without equal opportunity, aggression and conflict will grow...peace is not merely absence of war, but a tireless commitment to protect and restore dignity.”
“Those who think that conflict...are part of a normal society prefer not to talk of reconciliation. Others think forgiveness means yielding ground...that a balance of power [is necessary]. Still others believe reconciliation is a sign of weakness...they opt for apparent] peace, [by] avoiding problems and ignoring injustice. Jesus, Pope Francis continues, never promoted violence or intolerance…’forgive 70 times 7 (Mt 18:22) and the servant who was forgiven yet unable to forgive others (Mt 18:23-35).”
“Loving an oppressor doesn't mean allowing him to keep oppressing or allowing him to think that what he does is acceptable. It does not allow trampling on the dignity of another or allowing criminals to continue their wrongdoing. Rather we must seek ways to make him cease oppression. However, if a criminal has harmed me or a loved, seeking justice is entirely just...forgiveness demands it. To overcome injustice, hostility...can only be done by overcoming evil with good.”
“...future generations [should not] lose memory of what happened; [rather] memory builds a fraternal future. We must not forget historical events: persecutions, slave trade and ethnic killings...they need be remembered...we must not be accustomed to them. We can never move forward without remembering the past. Remembering atrocities and those who retained their dignity chose solidarity, forgiveness, and fraternity. Remembering goodness is a healthy thing.”
“To forgive is not to forget, [rather] this is choosing not to yield to the destructive force that caused the suffering. Revenge resolves nothing. Justice is not an outlet for personal anger, if properly sought out of love and respect for victims, it is a means of preventing crime and protecting common good. The world today, Francis continues, “..is encountering growing difficulties in the path to peace. War has become ‘justified’ under rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy…[but] the development of nuclear, chemical and biological technologies has granted an uncontrollable destructive power of a greater number of innocent civilians. We no longer think of war as a solution because its risks will be greater than benefits. It is difficult to speak of a ‘just war.’”
The Holy Father continues with a discussion of the death penalty. “Lactantius, [an advisor to Constantine I] held ‘there ought to be no exception at all, that it is always unlawful to put a man to death.’ Pope Nicholas I urged to be made ‘free from the punishment of death…’ and St Augustine ‘we do not object to depriving wicked men of the freedom to commit crime...our desire is justice be satisfied without the taking of their lives.’ Pope Francis states, “...it is impossible to imagine that states have no other means than capital punishment to protect the lives of other people…[rather] all Christians are called to work for abolition of the death penalty...and to work for the improvement of prison conditions…he links life sentencing to a secret death penalty.”
This is a heavy chapter for Stewardship...we started with peacemakers and social justice...through forgive/forget...to war and the death penalty. What we need might be a transformation of our values and establishing a culture of kindness. We are all quite protected...staying home, six feet apart, wearing a mask and washing our hands...but what about the future. Forgive, yes; forget, no. We need to remember 2020 and the year of Covid. We need to remember, not how it was before, but how it will be in the future. We need to learn from our mistakes and misunderstandings. With a vaccine on the horizon, we soon can begin to believe that ‘when this is over’ we become an even better Stewardship Parish...let’s welcome newcomers. Let’s introduce ourselves and offer a seat next to us in church. Let’s thank and pay heed to the Parking Volunteer...and be patient when leaving. Let’s stay for the whole Mass...and come early for better parking. Let’s get involved. Let’s establish a stewardship culture of kindness at Holy Trinity Church. Let’s become peacemakers and offer a path toward forgiveness. Start with our families, our neighbors, our co-workers...soon we will be reaping the benefits of a more peaceful life and perhaps even a more peaceful world,
Pope Francis’ Next Topic: Religions at the Service of Fraternity in our World