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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Into the Silence

If there is nothing else that our society is good at, it is being noisy. As I sit in my office noise filters from other offices. Horns, sirens, voices, construction, even the barks of dogs find their way through the closed window of my office. Though my phone is on mute, it draws my attention with flash notifications and the worry that I have missed something important. Then there is my email inbox, my mental to do list, and the many other noises that clutter my daily life. Life today is noisy. 

In 1 Kings 19, we have the prophet Elijah looking to encounter the Lord. Elijah hears heavy winds (those of us in Chicago know about these), crushing rocks, falling mountains, earthquakes, and fire. Yet God is not in any of that cacophony. Rather, God is found in the tiniest of whispering sounds.

While God can cut through even the most chaotic, noisiest moment, it helps to draw away from the business and busy-ness of life so we are able to hear that whisper.

I invite you into the silence, into a space and time where you are able to be at rest and be open to the whisper of God.

Take time at the beginning and end of your day to sit in silence with God. 

Consider signing up for a retreat. Women of Holy Name Cathedral and the community are invited to the fall Women's Retreat October 14-16. This weekend retreat will offer time to encounter God through silence, reflection, fellowship, and Mass. For full details or to register please see this website. You can also contact Jennifer Delvaux, Director of Faith Formation at Holy Name Cathedral.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pew to Pilgrim - Care for our Common Home

"As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a “grateful contemplation of God’s world” (Laudato Si’, 214) which “allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us” (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (ibid., 230-31)."

One remarkable aspect of Care for Our Common Home is Pope Francis's intensity on the gravity and urgency of this new work of mercy combined with inspiration and encouragement that each one of us can make a difference.

There are many ways to perform this new work of mercy through daily gestures and new ways of living that will help create a better world, now and for the future.

Embracing Pope Francis's guidance on how to practice this new work of mercy calls for to practice both a Spiritual (contemplate) and Corporal (perform) approach. Keep in mind that these are acts of mercy, a way to express your love and caring for all around you.


                                   Spiritual Pew to Pilgrim: This is about Giving, not just Giving Up

The spiritual approach is characterized by an open and inquiring mind, seeking better understanding and prayerful discernment of how you can adopt a new way of caring for our natural resources. What do you know about what is happening to our air & land, to animals & plants, to our water supply? Why is it important - to your own community? to our world? What are ways you can shift from a lifestyle of consumption to a stronger focus of giving and returning? 
Corporal Pew to Pilgrim ideas: This is about Change and Action:

The corporal approach means moving into action. Think about being a critical component in the ecosystem God has give us. What are immediate steps you could take in your daily habits? What ways can you help repair and rejuvenate our natural resources? Think of your responsibility to care every day for the air, water, as a "public trust" and not an entitlement.

This is a daily step-by-step and lifetime journey, starting with an understanding of the harm we have already done to our planet and why it really matters. But individual efforts can and will make a difference, especially when the efforts of one become the cumulative effects of many, all based on a new spiritual focus,

Find ways to change your lifestyle for the future of our planet

Another way to think about this is as a series of levels: Novice, Intermediate and Experienced. This reflects our readiness to act, our initial efforts in changing our habits and shifting destructions and move into a mode of renewal.

Novice - How to Start

The first step in this process is to humbly acknowledge the harm we are doing to the earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the destruction of climate change—which seems nearer and more dangerous with each passing year. And to realize that when we hurt the earth, we also hurt the poor, whom God loves without limit” Pope Francis

Intermediate - Move into Action
Experienced - Expand your Impact
Lori Doyle and Gabi Schultz have served as members of the Parish Pastoral Council, active with a variety of Liturgical Ministries as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers, Cathedral Altar Servers and Ministers of Care at Prentice Hospital/NW Hospital. Both parishioners for about 6 years, Lori loves to travel and cook and is a proud mother of her son John, a UM Wolverine. Gabi enjoys trying new restaurants, running, cooking lessons and spending time with friends and family.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

#TBT - A Gift

You might be surprised to find a #TBT quoting Pope Benedict XVI on care for creation. It isn't something usually associated with him. However, in his beautiful encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, he has a whole section speaking to the importance of caring for creation and caring for all our brothers and sisters around the globe.

Take some time today to read sections 48-51 found here

Care for creation is a moral imperative. It is our duty and our obligation as stewards of God and our call to love one another and the common good.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Passages & Prayers - It was very good

Take some time to read through the passage, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, then return to this reflection. 
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The first story of creation in Genesis 1 reminds us, each step of the way that God looked at all he had created and it was good.

The second story of creation in Genesis 2 reminds us of our core identity and our role as stewards of creation.

Genesis 2 usually doesn't get quite as much attention as the first story. It is a little less dramatic, little less inspiring for artists and storytellers. Yet, we get the core message that we are stewards of God's good work. It is not ours, we did not create it, and we do not have the right to abuse it. God placed it under our care, through our ancestor Adam. 

Stewardship is not something we are too familiar with today. We own things. We rent things. We borrow things. Yet stewardship is none of these. Stewardship is a role that involves caring for the well-being and prosperity of that which belongs to another. It is a sense of responsibility yes, but also passion and devotion. It is a service yet done with honor and dedication.

In this chapter we also have the creation of Eve. God creates Eve from Adam. The two are of one flesh and both are made in the image and likeness of God. Though different, their identity and value are the same - they are beloved children of God. 

Care for our common home means we care for the home of one another. We do so, mindful that all of God's children have a home on this earth. The choices we make affect our brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe. The way we pollute or waste energy has repercussions globally and particularly affects those least able to respond to droughts, floods, heat, cold.

How can you be a more thoughtful, effective steward of creation?

How can you be more mindful in your consumption and its effects?

Jennifer Delvaux
Director of Faith Formation

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Profiles in Mercy - Care for our Common Home

"We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Benedict XVI calls 'the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.'" Pope Francis shared this comment as a precursor to his May 2015 papal encyclical, Laudato si' (literally “Praise be to you”) defining his profound concern about the ever-growing harm that humanity is doing to our planet.

Just a few days ago, Pope Francis made the extraordinary announcement of a new Work of Mercy, Care for our Common Home. "A moral and spiritual crisis," Pope Francis calls on every person to contemplate and act to reverse the damage to our environment. This new work of mercy is truly a game changer on multiple levels.

Introduced in Laudato si’, Pope Francis encourages every single person to take responsibility for this beautiful planet that God provided us to live in along with caring for all of its inhabitants. This goes well beyond our Christian duty to care for people. Pope Francis directs us to consider all aspects of Mother Earth including animals, plants, the water, air and the land. 

It is easy to focus solely on the service side when considering how to practice a work of mercy - the proverbial bandage to fix the wound in the present moment. However, it is also necessary to look at the work that needs to happen in the infrastructure so that the bandages are no longer needed, otherwise, the problem could soon outgrow the resources.

Complementary to both the existing seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy, this new work of mercy directs us to both gain a deep knowledge of the problem and take both short- and long-term action. Care for our Common Home calls us to not only respond in service, answering the immediate needs of the earth and our neighbors, but also to look with resolve and dedication to the necessary systemic changes.

As a new work of mercy, we don't have our normal spectrum of people or organizations to look to for existing examples of how to practice this work of mercy. Since this is a radically new way of thinking, we need to look to those who are paving the way to both educate and encourage the rest of us on ways we can begin practicing what Pope Francis has called us to do. 

Explicitly mentioned in Pope Francis's September 1 announcement of this new work of mercy was the Archbishop and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. Truly a leader of groundbreaking work and a representative of new interfaith viewpoints, Bartholomew I has been advancing his ideas on how we must look at our ecological challenges through a spiritual and cultural as well as an economic lens.

The New York Times has nicknamed Patriarch Bartholomew "The Green Patriarch" for his sermons and publications on his views that caring for the environment is a religious imperative. He is well known for bringing together secular experts from the scientific and business communities along with religious experts to explore a common approach to better protect all aspects of our environment. A good example is a recent conference he sponsored featuring of a debate featuring Jane Goodall and other scientists along with theologians on the "urgent need to protect God’s creation from the damage we humans inflict on it with our behavior towards nature."

"Poverty is not caused by the lack of material resources. It is the immediate result of our exploitation and waste. There is a close link between the economy of the poor and the warming of our planet. Conservation and compassion are intimately connected. The web of life is a sacred gift of God — ever so precious, yet ever so delicate. Each of us dwells within the wider ecosystem; each of us is a part of a larger, global environment. We must serve our neighbor and preserve our world with both humility and generosity, in a perspective of frugality and solidarity."

Patriarch Bartholomew is one of few voices counterbalancing the more dominant consumption-oriented messages we all hear from our political and business leaders. He encourages us to separate and distinguish “between what we want and what we need.” His cautionary messages go even further, insisting that in order to live a moral life, we must not sin against other people but also not to harm all parts of our planet. As with any spiritual trailblazer, especially in a highly secularized world, Patriarch Bartholomew's words still have many miles to go to be broadly shared and adopted, let alone become a regular practice of his own followers. Pope Francis's encyclical and new work of mercy have now elevated this conversation to a worldwide effort.

Care for our Common Home also reveals how caring for our planet is especially urgent when we look at how it impacts the most needy. The Catholic Climate Covenant works through education and advocacy to help us form as Catholics to respond to the institutional challenges of caring for our common home. Take some time to look through their site. See what you may not already know. Look particularly at the advocacy components and what you can do to effect institutional change. Spend some time in prayer.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Media & Mercy: Lessons from a Robot on Compassion

With the surprise announcement of this week's new work of mercy, I started thinking through all the lofty works of literature and film I could pull to reflect on regarding the theme of care for our common home. I went through classics, modern novels, beautiful films, and was inspired by none of them. The holiday weekend is probably to blame. Then, someone mentioned one of my favorite films, Wall-E. Yes, this is not only obvious, but a children's film. Often, it takes the obvious to remind us of something obvious. It takes the truth that children desire to break through the excuses adults build.

I find Wall-E one of the most humane and compassionate characters in the Disney & Pixar universe. With no spoken lines beyond the charming, "Eeeevvvvvaaaaa," Wall-E demonstrates all the best that we humans could hope to aspire to be.

The message of the dangers of rampant consumerism and the dangers of disregard for the environment form the overt message.

The more subtle message develops in how Wall-E forms community. He begins with one little friend, truly the least of all the creatures - a cockroach. He then reaches out to the first humans he encounters on the spacecraft, not only interacting with them, but forming connections between others so they form community.

Wall-E cares for all around him, with devotion and utter lack of selfishness. The juxtaposition of Wall-E's compassion and dedication to the well-being of others is all the more striking in a character that is a robot. 

To truly care for our common home, we must begin from a place of compassion for our neighbor and selflessness. Care for our common home, as Wall-E embodies is the call to live lives in community, in constant work towards the common good, and recognizing that all we have and all we do is as stewards of God's creation.

Jennifer Delvaux
Director of Faith Formaiton

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A New Work of Mercy - Care for Creation

We thought we were done. After fourteen weeks of research, reflection, writing, and posting, we thought we had Season of Mercy wrapped. Then, on September 1, Pope Francis reminded us that the work of a disciple is never finished. Pope Francis announced a new work of Mercy.
“Nothing unites us to God more than an act of mercy, for it is by mercy that the Lord forgives our sins and gives us the grace to practise acts of mercy in his name.”
To paraphrase Saint James, “we can say that mercy without works is dead … In our rapidly changing and increasingly globalized world, many new forms of poverty are appearing. In response to them, we need to be creative in developing new and practical forms of charitable outreach as concrete expressions of the way of mercy.”
The Christian life involves the practice of the traditional seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. “We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness… But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.”
Obviously “human life itself and everything it embraces” includes care for our common home. So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy also include care for our common home.
As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a “grateful contemplation of God’s world” (Laudato Si, 214) which “allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us” (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world”.
So here we are, on the cusp of a new season. With the changing of the leaves, may we remember that we must continue to live all the works of mercy, including this new one: care for our common home. 

One Word at a Time - Seek

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pew to Pilgrim - Bear Wrongs Patiently

“She was filled with nobility and goodness; told me once that happiness isn’t on the road to anything. That happiness is the road. Had also instructed me to be kind because everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.”

You likely don't know Flora Sara Stone who is being described above. I didn't either but recently came across two separate references about her. However, you definitely know her grandson, Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan. He shared this great example of “values are caught, not taught” in his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One.

I had a particularly “challenging” day yesterday, frequently calling upon God (and Flora's advice) for patience as I navigated the inefficiencies of our U.S. Post Office, watched every line at Costco move faster than mine as a customer in front of me argued with the cashier and avoided hitting two bike riders who ran a red light and then cursed me and another driver out even though we were the ones following the green signal.

Nothing remarkable, just the normal day-to-day challenges we all have in our many interactions with other people. I repeatedly said silently to myself, “A Bob Dylan Grandmother moment…you don’t know what battle they are fighting.” Phillipians 2:2-3 reminds us to take the perspective of the other: "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others."
This final spiritual Act of Mercy is perhaps one of our favorites, not because we are particularly good at practicing it but because it is so relatable. Everyone has had someone do ill upon them and have had difficulty with forgiveness or patience. "Bear Wrongs Patiently" causes us to pause multiple times each day and pray to God for the better person that we can become. 

The seven corporal (fyi, now eight - more on this in tomorrow's September 4 post) Acts of Mercy inspire many gestures of charity to meet the physical needs of others. The seven spiritual Acts of Mercy affect the human spirit or soul requiring a divine inspiration of grace. To "bear patiently" is to see others in the eyes of Jesus even when it is hard to do, especially when you have been hurt.

One of the best ways to see past someone's weaknesses and faults is through empathy. Imagine being in the other person's shoes. Are they going through a tough time? Are they used to handling things differently than you? Do they realize they hurt your feelings? Aligning yourself with another person's perspective really helps to understand where they are coming from and is helpful in the forgiveness process.

Also think about your own actions and words. Is there anyone that you may have done ill towards? You might not even be aware of it. Next time you find yourself getting angry at another driver or annoyed with the service at a restaurant or store, remember the bumper sticker "Be patient. God is not finished with me yet." Looking at ourselves and identifying ways we can behave more like Christ will often yield immediate results in our relationships and interactions.

There are many ways to practically perform this Act of Mercy. Every single person we interact with could use our patience and mercy, no matter who is right and who is wrong. 

  • Make a list of what you have forgiven and times over the last week where you have successfully performed "bear wrongs patiently." - reflect on the process 
  • Now make a list of things you have NOT forgiven or when you were not able to "be patient" or
    fell into "who is right and who is wrong" mode; reflect on the length of this list. You may find this list to be much longer - reflect on why this is and pray to God for greater patience. 
  • Consider all of the benefits to your relationships if you were able to be more patient - how could you contribute to another person?
  • Take some time to read about the health benefits of forgiveness and patience - learn about how holding on to stress actually harms your immune system. Patience benefits both giver and receiver.
  • Be kind to yourself - this is considered a "lifelong practice" and you will be called upon by God to continue to work at this every day
  • Read St. Thérèse of Liseux's autobiography The Story of a Soul
  • Pray to St. Francis de Sales who wisely said "Heart speaks to heart; word speak only to ears."
  • Think about your daily routine. Pick one thing that you can do more patiently.
  • Is there someone you avoid because they hurt you? Reach out to them. See what is going on in their life.
  • Attend Holy Name Cathedral's Prayer Service for Peace on Thursday, September 8 at 7p
  • Offer a rosary for someone who hurt you
  • Think about your loved ones. Ask them if they have been hurt by you and think of a way to make up for that ill act.
  • Defend someone who is being gossiped about and work on not gossiping yourself
  • Next time you get frustrated with someone, say an Our Father or Hail Mary.
  • Offer a prayer for someone you think might need it...and remember Flora's advice "be kind because everyone you'll meet is fighting a hard battle."
Lori Doyle and Gabi Schultz are members of the Parish Pastoral Council, active with a variety of Liturgical Ministries as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers, Cathedral Altar Servers and Ministers of Care at Prentice Hospital/NW Hospital. Both parishioners for about 6 years, Lori loves to travel and cook and is a proud mother of her son John, a UM Wolverine. Gabi enjoys trying new restaurants, running, cooking lessons and spending time with friends and family.