Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We Were Wrong...Looking forward to the Feast of Our Lady of Grace, June1

The Augustinian Feast of Our Lady of Grace is Friday, June 1. This Lady of Grace day is a day when our postulants and novices make their petitions to advance in formation with the Order, praying with Our Mother of Grace for the gift of the Holy Spirit to trust God and say yes to God's will in their lives.

This feast day I will also pray for a special grace for our country. The theme of forgiveness and the asking to be forgiven one's wrongs is central to an Augustinian spirituality of religious life. (Rule, Ch. 6) Our country needs to be able to say that we were wrong and ask forgiveness.

We were wrong about Sadam as a real and immediate threat to our security. We were wrong about WMDs. We were wrong about terrorist connections. We were wrong in thinking we could provide a better way of life. We were wrong to have replaced Sadam's torture camps with our own.

Perhaps why part of the outcry against the war is lacking luster is because it is hard for Americans to admit that we can be wrong. Our men and women in uniform have, for the very most part, served with courage and honor, but we were wrong in asking them to fight this war. There is no lack of support for the troops in wanting them home now!

Vietnam taught us that America will not always win, and Iraq might be teaching us that America will not always be right. We were wrong. We need to ask forgiveness, try to make amends to the Iraqi people and our own military, and learn from our failure, forgive ourselves, and move on.

Our Lady of Grace, help us see the value of true contrition and use the gifts of the Spirit of Wisdom and Right Judgement. Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

St. Rita of Cascia: Patience in Trial-A Mark of Love

Today is the Augustinian feast of St. Rita of Cascia. My last entry was a little about her life. I have spent the last nine days offering a novena of masses in honor of St. Rita to the Glory of God. And, I had a number of intentions both personally and for the Order and Church, but whether or not these are answered, more importantly, I learned something.

One of the hardest things for me is to be patient, to wait, to gather more information, and to see a hopeful solution in the midst of trial. I am a rather strong "J" on the Myers-Briggs. That is both a gift and a curse-to be a Judger. Circumstances in my life the past few years have really challenged me to grow beyond that gift to learn patience, to see the journey as being even more important that the destination.

St. Rita wanted to be a nun, but her life took a different direction. She was a wife and mother first. She fulfilled an important role as wife and mother to help bring about peace to her village. She waited over thrity years and many challenges before realizing her dream to be a nun at the Augustinian convent in Cascia.

Our AIHM Order is about to turn 14 years old. This August, God willing, we will have our first profession of vows apart from any of the founding memebers. Fourteen years! Everything is possible only by the journey that led to hear and now, the trials, the pain.

The tradition holds that Rita will send the rose but also the thorn regarding a petition and answer to prayer. That notion always scared me. I have enough thorns in my life. LOL But, I remember a poem I wrote in high school: In order to admire and apprciate the beaty of the rose, you must risk, even endure the thorns.

Thank you St. Rita for your example and prayers. Glory be to you God in your angels and saints!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell and St. Rita?

Yesterday was the first day of the Novena to our Augustinian sister, St. Rita of Cascia. She was a wife, mother, widow, and nun. Her husband was killed in a local feud and she worked tirelessly to bring peace to the two families after his death, rather than seek revenge.

Yesterday alos marked the death of Jerrry Falwell. His preaching and political activism was divisive and hurtful to many people, especially in the LGBT community. My first thought was, "thank God he's dead, but was about 20 years too late." I knew that judgemental thought did not deserve to amke it to vocal speech, but I did think it.

God gave me an answer and challenge durring my celebration of Mass for the opening of the Novena to St. Rita. From the preface of the Eucharist for the propers of the Mass of St. Rita:

"...ever living God...In the person of St. Rita you show us a wonderful example. She teaches us how to love you, Father and...all your children."

From the readings, first Paul says:

"Never repay injury with not avenge yourselves; leave that to God...conquer evil with good."

So my prayer at Mass was for God's mercy and forgiveness upon Rev Falwell. The love and mercy and forgiveness that I myself will need at my hour of death.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Christians and Hate Crimes?

Once again, Congress has taken up legislation to expand Hate Crimes to include matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. The matter this week passed the House of Representatives, but not without a significant effort and only by about 60 % of the affirmative.

It is the religious right, once again, mostly fundamentalist and pentecostal American Christians pressing against this legislation, and President Bush, that self proclaimed Godly Christian, has threatened to veto it. They site concerns over first amendment free speech issues. And, perhaps they should be concerned, concerned not about their free speech, but about the morality of their speech. These Christians use scripture, not just to proclaim a moral stance, but to truly incite hate. When you declare that you know someone is going to hell, you stand in ultimate judgement. If someone is going to hell, then certainly they have no rights left here on earth? Or so it is easy to make that leap of thought. And from that easy leap of thought to a leap of hateful action.

Augustine, in one of his sermons commenting on the understanding of scripture said:

"When you understand anything in the scriptures, it is love that is manifesting itself to you; when you fail to understand, it is love that is hiding itself from you." (Sermon 350)

If a Christian's understanding of scripture leads them to condemn another, or leads others to consider acts of violence, then they are not really understanding the scriptures.

Free speech is a fundamental and sacred right, but the speech of religious leaders is not political speech, not the speech that is protected in the constitution. The speech of religious pastors commenting on scripture is not political, but ultimate religious teaching that is used to justify actions on moral grounds. This type of speech goes beyond protection; it goes to responsible usage and discretion.

Pastors, preachers, listen to Augustine's warning on the fruit of your scriptural understanding. Jesus himself said, you will know them by the fruit they bear.