Category Archives: faith

“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.”

In the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:

5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

But, typically our friends on the right are all upset that Obama is practicing this, rather than being like the hypocrites or Bush.

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“Moni bambo!” Grace in action.

vasco-pizza-poseIn late 2007, my friend and Chicago Sun-Times religion columnist, Cathleen Falsani, and her husband met an African AIDS orphan, Vasco, who needed medical care for a hole in his heart.  Through her efforts and the donations of many he has arrived in Chicago for treatment.  Read all about it here (and on the blog, Vasco’s Heart).

And watch this great video of his arrival in Chicago earlier this week.

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Question of the day: Do I trust God’s work in me?

I’ve been busy with my German friends’ visit (they left yesteday), my Monday BH homeless meal volunteering and a new project for Get on the Bus which took me away most of the day, so I’ve had little time to think about anything serious. But, I did get this daily meditation from Fr. Richard Rohr (subscribe here) which I just loved and share with you.

If you accept that there was a Resurrection that will not necessarily lead to any active or transformative faith. (Of course God could raise up Jesus if he wanted to. Mere belief in miracles does not transform us.) But if you can trust that God would do the same for you, then you also will be changed, and you can begin to change the world. The Resurrection was not a miracle to prove that Jesus was in union with God, although it does have that effect. It is the revelation of how God does things in all of time!

Just saying “Wow!” about Jesus being raised from the dead, does nothing for God, for the world, or for you. It is the same excitement as a magic show. But if you can say “Wow!” about what can and is happening now, then the Mystery of Resurrection has moved into our space and our time—and all time. Resurrection is God’s job description, not a one time magic show.

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A counterpoint to yesterday’s teabagging.

From Valerie Elverton Dixon in the Washington Post.  I’ve excerpted most of it but you can read it all, here.

However, tax time is also a time to think about what we as a nation value. Religious wisdom teaches that where your treasure lies is where your heart is. I do not understand people who claim to love the country but do not want to pay taxes, or people of faith who resist the tax collector.

[…..]

Millions of people without health care is also a national disgrace. Many professional pundits criticize President Obama for his commitment to health care in the midst of an economic crisis, but my bet is they all have health insurance. They say that we are all at fault for the economic crisis without taking stock of the fact of stagnant wages for the past few years and the necessity for many people to pay for groceries, gas and auto repairs with credit. If the country is going to go deeper into debt, let us provide health care and free up credit to people.

I do not mind paying taxes for a state of the art infrastructure, to pay teachers a wage that reflects their worth to society, for excellent schools, safe streets, and a government that helps people solve their problems and that provides a safety net for the least among us. I do mind paying taxes to make sure people who make bad business decisions do not have to pay the consequences for their decisions. I do mind my money going to Blackwater and its soldiers for hire.

Our faith traditions inform and shape our values. Those values tell us where to put our treasure and our love. The teachings of Jesus give the criteria for judgment of the nations. Did we feed the hungry? Did we give drink to the thirsty? Did we welcome the stranger? Did we clothe the naked? Did we care for the sick? Did we visit prisoners?
For me this translates into a national imperative to care for the poor; to provide food and clean water, not only to citizens of the United States, but for citizens of the world. This means a humane and inviting immigration policy. This means providing basic clothes and shelter. This means health care. This means prison reform. This means ending a retributive justice system where law enforcement is entangled with economics in a prison-industrial complex not unlike the military-industrial complex against which President Eisenhower warned. This means establishing restorative justice.

My personal commitment to these values grows from my personal commitment to try to live according to the teachings of Jesus. The man Jesus, Son of Humanity, Jewish rabbi and Muslim prophet, identified with the least and so should I. As a nation, the judgment we ought to think about is the judgment of history. A thousand years from now when generations not yet born look back upon our record for values to emulate and mistakes to avoid, what will they see?

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Fr. Richard Rohr on emergence Christianity.

As we enter Holy Week, here are some thoughts from Fr. Richard Rohr on what Christianity can/should be.

Rohr’s four categories/aspects/characteristics of the new Christian reformation are:

  • “an honest, broad, ecumenical Jesus scholarship”
  • “a contemplative mind”
  • “a conclusion that many of the major concerns of Jesus are at major variance with what most of our churches have emphasized”
  • “new structures … new community mechanisms that can make this [new reformation] possible, because we don’t want to form a new denomination”

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A Lenten Prayer.

Because temptation is woven into the fabric of our lives,

and we know the weariness of forty days in the desert,

and the beckoning power of sweet fruit,

and the vain promise of the world,

We need you, God.

Because we see the broken before the whole,

and the half empty cup, and the unfinished task,

and the thirst in freedom’s quest,

We need you, God.

Because we trust in what we can see,

and we are blinded by our prejudices,

and we do not know what we do not know,

We need you, God.

Because our need for correctness exceeds our need for truth,

and our excuses preempt the cry of the wounded,

and our celebration of blessing is mindless of those displaced,

We need you, God.

Because you came among us,

and breathed into our sinewy soul,

and healed our pain and let us wound you,

and loved us to the end,

and triumphed over all our hatred,

We need you, God.

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Remembering Dominique Green–“A Saint on Death Row.”

picture-1Even though I’ve been staying away from blogging during Lent, I haven’t stayed away from reading and have read a wonderful book that I highly recommend.  Thomas Cahill’s, “A Saint on Death Row:The Story of Dominique Green” is a moving and sensitive story of a young man who is hard to forget. As Desmond Tuto says on the jacket: “Read it and discover how even the obscenity of capital punishment can be transformed into an occasion of light and peace.”

If you have  read any of Thomas Cahill’s books like “How the Irish Save Civilization,” “The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels,” or “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter,” you may be surprised by the personal nature of Cahill’s plea against picture-11injustice, racism, poverty and the death penalty.

If you believe in forgiveness, you will be amazed at Dominque Green, who, while sentenced to death, becomes instrumental in leading most of his fellow inmates, on Death Row in the State of Texas, to forgive everyone who has ever harmed them and to ask forgiveness from those they have harmed.  This image of Dominique is from a fellow Death Row inmate:

“Even when his world was crashing, he always remained cool. And really, I don’t think he was trying to be cool.  He was just at peace.”

Then there is the moving encounter between Desmond Tutu and Dominique Green. I read it as tears poured down my cheeks.  Archbishop Tutu’s words summarize it,

“I was humbled to be in his (Dominque Green’s) presence because I felt I was in the presence of God.  This is not the monster that many would expect or think, but a human being, a human being who has grown.  He’s like a flower opening and you see the petals come up, particularly when you see him speaking about his concern for others.”

The story would, obviously, not be complete without it’s moments of despair; Dominque Green was awaiting his death.  As the date of his execution was sealed (October 26, 2004), Dominque watches as fellow inmates and close friends are executed, he struggles to maintain his cool and the weight of the reality presses in. But even on his last day, as he makes his way to the Hunstville Death House, as the name of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is called as a witness to his execution (even though Dominique knew he would not be there), the joy and love shows through in this young man, “A Saint on Death Row.”

Do yourself a favor, regardless of your viewpoint on the issue of the death penalty, read this book, read it twice (as I did within the past week) and you will never forget this man’s last days. But also watch this video to get a sense of both men, Dominque Green and the author Thomas Cahill.

The words on Dominique Green’s memorial stone, in the Bascilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Italy, read:

DOMINIQUE J. GREEN

HOUSTON 13 V 1974 – HUNTSVILLE X 2004

BROTHER AND FRIEND

It is the Lord who set out the steps of a man

and takes pleasure in his journey.

Though he fall, he will not be sent sprawling–

For the Lord is holding him by the hand.

Psalm 37

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