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Dear Friends,

 

Learning to get ourselves out of the way is no easy task.

 

As sincere as we may be, our professional Catholicism doesn’t really challenge us, our lives are fairly easy, we have leisure and convenience, it is relatively uncomplicated to “believe” because there are really few obstacles to our belief, no real demands on us.

 

The Catholicism that people of my age were raised in focused on personal moral issues and didn’t teach us much about the teaching of Jesus in reference to the Kingdom of God and the consequences of loving our neighbor as ourselves.

 

The Church in the guise of the local parish was enough of a kingdom for us and if things were well in the parish, things were well in the kingdom.

 

There is an element of Catholicism that prides itself on moral superiority and exceptionalism, an elect group that is apart and above ordinary folks and looks with condescension on folks on the margins who are on the margins because of their own moral failures.

 

When Catholics were immigrants their egos were routinely dismissed by the larger, sometimes hostile, population.

 

Catholics were given all kinds of derogatory nicknames and suspected of harboring all kinds of defective genes and they had disgusting eating habits and they smelled.

 

As Catholics became ascendant with more education and employment opportunities, their egos became stronger but less flexible and more self-reliant.

 

Our egos are important but not supreme, inclined as we are to act as if they were infallible.

 

The teaching in this week’s Gospel story is conventionally interpreted as a kind of marketing plan or a development strategy for creating what we call the “Church.”

 

But, I don’t think so.

 

It seems to me that Jesus is trying to destabilize the egos of his original followers and, by implication his followers at any time, as an ongoing aspect of his teaching.

 

For one thing, he challenges them to not think that they have to be right, as in they have the “true” religion. He cautions, don’t get into arguments, arguments can lead to belittlement, and belittlement leads to violence very quickly.

 

I don’t think he meant just when we talk religion but when we talk anything.

 

It is very hard these days not to demonize and denigrate others who “talk” different from us.

 

One of the hallmarks of ascendant Catholicism is that we are “right,” and we have the truth. Ascendant Catholics tend to think that our interpretation of reality is the truth and we are not particularly tolerant of or curious about the experiences of others.

 

Abortion is but one issue, not the only issue. Abortion is an easy issue for morally superior Catholics because they are not likely to have to make that choice nor will their children.

 

A militant anti-abortion stance unaccompanied by respect and a genuine willingness to learn from those who challenge our beliefs by the details of their lives is not at all what Jesus implies in this week’s teaching.

 

If abortion is a moral issue, immigration is a moral issue.

 

If abortion is a moral issue, gun violence is a moral issue.

 

If abortion is a moral issue, access to healthcare is a moral issue.

 

If abortion is a moral issue, care for the environment is a moral issue.

 

If abortion is a moral issue, adequate nutrition is a moral issue.

 

If the fetus has a right to life, the child, the immigrant, the gay lesbian transgender child, the hungry, sick, homeless child has a right to life.

 

We have not really been taught to seek, much less find, the Holy One outside of “our” church or “our” parish or in the people like us.

 

We have a blind spot acknowledging the interdependence of Catholic identity, interdependence being a hallmark of the Kingdom of God.

 

Rugged and aggressive individualism is the work of an ego reaching for grandiosity not the characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

 

A walking stick and sandals are not very appealing things to me, but the directive is just that simple because, maybe, that is all that we actually need.

 

I try to remember and practice what I preach, but I don’t always do that.  I demonize and denigrate and I regret that and work at trying to be more tolerant.

 

I try to look to the details of my life to discern what God is giving me to make my life’s meaning and be my work in the building up of God’s Kingdom.

 

When I take the time to think and contemplate, I find extraordinary gifts of abundant love and meaning that have walked into my life, at first unnoticed, quietly, without lights and sirens, gifts that I did not earn or merit.

 

Taming my ego is not an easy project, it is harder for men than women, I think, it is not accomplished in finding moral superiority, and it isn’t ever totally accomplished, it requires solitude, stillness, and serenity.

 

You can only find an ego at the service of the Kingdom of God as a gift hidden in the details.

 

Peace,

Father Niblick

 

 

Director of our Christian Formation Program

 

I am happy to tell you that Kathleen Hansen has been asked to be our new Director of Religious Education and she has accepted.

 

Mrs. Hansen has been a member of our parish since it was founded. She has been actively involved in virtually all aspects of parish life through the years. Currently, she serves as a Eucharistic Minister at the 8:30 Mass as she has for years.

 

She has been a catechist in the SMG program and the CCD program at Saint Joseph Parish. She was an original catechist in the children’s dismissal during the 10:30 Mass.

 

Kathleen retired earlier this summer from her most recent position in public education as an elementary school principal having been professionally involved in public education for over 45 years.

 

She served for a number of years as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Dyer.

 

She was interviewed by a number of parents and catechists and all of them agreed that she was the right person at this time to help us continue to evolve our religious education and faith formation efforts with our children and their families. CWN