Blessedness

Blessedness

Greetings on this the Solemnity of All Saints

Readings: RV 7:2-4, 9-14; PS 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6; 1 JN 3:1-3; MT 5:1-12A

Sweetwater and Taintwater in a Certain City – hey that is the best drawing I can do!

Note: This is a Solemnity.

We celebrate all those who have gone to Heaven. We (the Militant Church) praise the Lord together with the Triumphant Church (Saints in Heaven).

We intercede together for those who suffer on this Earth or in Purgatory.

The 31st Sunday readings are replaced by this special day. The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary time continues next week.

One more note: In this piece I am writing with the male ‘he’ only. Please for the sake of my limited literary skills wherever I typed he will you please read He and She.

A Town

There was a certain town that had two neighborhoods named Taintwater and Sweetwater. These names came about because of the quality of water each neighborhood received. Sweetwater has a reservoir that pumped water from a sweet well. The water was clean, safe and crisp and a delight to drink. On the other hand, Taintwater had a reservoir that had tainted water from a tainted well. It too was clean and crisp and a delight to drink but it seemed there was an element in the water that was deadly! It wasn’t always deadly but sometimes deadly especially for the very young. It was fairly unpredictable when the deadly elements would be present in the water. Usually everything was OK. But sometimes, sometimes, it was very deadly.

Town Meeting

So the Town had a meeting. People from the Sweetwater neighborhood came to the meeting. People from the Taintwater neighborhood came to the meeting.

There is a problem that needs to be solved. Taintwater has a reservoir that pumps from a tainted well. People, especially little children, are dying.

Some immediately cried out, ‘Shut the water off!’ Well, that would be devastating effects as there is only one piping system to Taintwater so then there would be no water at all.

Some cried out, ‘Connect the two systems!’ Well, the tainted water should not be commingled with the sweet water as the deadly elements would remain.

Some asked, ‘Why don’t we filter the water?’ The deadly elements are too small for any type of filtering system.

Others said, ‘Let us build a piping from the Sweetwater reservoir to the homes in the Taintwater side of town?’ Immediately people cried out that this would be way too expensive. We can’t spare our reservoir water there are too many of them.

Still Others said, ‘Let us build another reservoir and tap a new sweet water well and then cut over to this new source of water!’ The protests got even louder since that would be expensive and besides there is a limited amount of sweet water they claimed. We can’t share the source of sweet water because there isn’t enough to fill two reservoirs!

The cries got louder and louder, ‘Shut the water off! Shut the water off!’

The people of Taintwater knew if they shut the water off, that the risk of some dying would become instead a case of many more dying.

So the Taintwater people kept the tainted water flowing.

And the Sweetwater people hurled abuse at the people in Taintwater and said, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to save them.’

And the people continued to drink the tainted water in the Taintwater neighborhood.

And the little children continued to die.

Thankfully there were the Blessed who lived in Sweetwater and who lived in Taintwater.

Blessed Poor in Spirit

In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Poor in Spirit. He was happy because despite the difficulties the people experienced they are subject to Divine love. God has special care for them and especially those who drink from a tainted well and while we are in a sorry condition the presence of God is known to him so he continues on hoping for better days and better ways.

In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Poor in Spirit. He was happy not because he is morally better than anyone else but because of God’s special care for them. In that special care, not by merit, but by the benevolent love of God. He wants others to feel such love as well but not because of moral change but recognition of from whom blessings come and the blessings need to come!  Sweetwater Blessed Poor in Spirit prefers divine service to financial advantage. He lives with humility and detachment from wealth. He exercises voluntary poverty.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

In Taintwater there was a man who was Blessed Mourning. He mourned the dead even those of his own family. He mourned the pain of burying the young, so young. Sometimes they buried them in secret as to not offend those around them. So much shame. So much judgment to bear because they drank from tainted water. Like Rachel, He cried because he had so desired children that he considered himself dead without them.

In Sweetwater there was a man who was Blessed Mourning. He mourned to see evil reign on Earth. He mourned those who died, of course, but by degree distant, still it was a pain of mourning. He could see the reign of evil not in the water itself but in the souls of those who have no compassion to provide sweet water.

Blessed Are the Meek

In Taintwater there were men and women who were meek. They have limited resources and constraints of every kind. But they rely upon the Lord to see the true plight. They rely upon the Lord that He will see what others refuse to see which is the broken-hearted that think there is no option but to drink tainted water.

In Sweetwater there were men and women who were meek.  They understood that the priority is to care for the poor and the poor should come first in preferential allocation of resources. Even in the judgment of the residents of Taintwater being gentle with them in a certain form of charity of heart.

Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness

In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness. He could see the need for change. The people of Taintwater are hungry and thirsty in the body and in the soul. They have needs sometimes too subtle for our limited capacity to understand. They are focused on the body alone and shelter their soul because it is too difficult to bear. The people of Taintwater can’t bear the cries of the soul.

In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Hunger and Thirst Righteousness. He could see the need for change. The difficulty and the work isn’t in the obvious but in the subtle needs that cry even louder than thirst or hunger of the body alone. The people of Sweetwater cannot hear the cries of the soul.

Blessed Merciful

In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Merciful. He could see the destructive effects of tainted water. But he was determined to pardon his neighbors of their mistakes. These were his friends and family. They drink because they think there are no other sources of water because, well, that is the case in a very real way.

In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Merciful. He saw those who insisted in providing and drinking from the tainted water as his enemy. But even still, he knew the only answer was to love them and forgive them and look beyond the immediate to a future hope of sweet water for everyone.

Blessed Clean of Heart (in Spirit)

In Taintwater there was a man Blessed Clean of Heart. He saw the injustice and the hardships. He too suffered and witnessed the suffering of others. Yet he was not vengeful. He counselled his neighbors in Taintwater to be patient and understanding. ‘It is a lot to ask for help’, he would say, ‘Be patient, be patient of their distain’.

In Sweetwater there was a man Blessed Clean of Heart. He was loyal to God and His commandments. He would counsel Sweetwater that Love of Neighbor is greater than all the Laws and Prophets.

Blessed Peacemakers

In Taintwater there was a man who was Blessed Peacemaker. He understood that peace is a many-sided concept involving total well-being. Peace cannot be with only Taintwater as a source but to shut off the tainted water is to seem as though the people of Taintwater are valueless.

In Sweetwater there was a man who was Blessed Peacemaker. He understood that peace is a many-sided concept involving total well-being. Peace cannot be with only shutting off tainted water as a source but a new source must be provided.

Resolution

The Blessed of Sweetwater and Taintwater had better get together and work this out.

For My Evangelical Brothers – Beatitudes Echoed in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans 12:13-21

From the Prayers of the Church

Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.

If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”

Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

Benediction

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Voting Jesus

Civil unrest occurs when people no longer feel valued

Hi NAME REDACTED, I am happy to discuss these things. Yes, we are looking at the data differently. For me I trust your opinion (and NAME REDACTED and NAME REDACTED) because it is not ethereal drivel but one tempered with real life Christian work. You are very free to comment so please also allow me.

  • FoxNews, Hannity and Tucker – at home we listen to all of them. Actually what we do is flip between all the news channels to see how and what they are reporting on a particular story. It’s very interesting to see the varying perspectives each with a modicum of truth but never fully truthful.
  • I suggest you pick one liberal news outlet to follow to get a little balance. MSNBC Nicole Wallace may fit your tastes best but try them all and pick one. Your emails are literally scripted by the news feeds you follow. It would improve the dialog if you at least imagined an alternate way of seeing the same facts.
  • The problem with quoting others, Father Altman was disgraceful (meaning it lacked the voice of Grace which is Christ). It literally is a Repbulican Party platform.Here is Crux’s take: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2020/09/catholic-community-in-wisconsin-divided-by-priests-video/
  • I do look for a wide set of expressions with faith too. I subscribe to two very different news outlets (besides usccb and the vatican). When I contribute to the discussion threads I find the far right Catholic community to act as rabid infected animals just as badly as the far left. No virtue there. It seems that the thought process is being reduced to the minimal allowed list of topics and solutions.What good can come of that?
  • The Remnant News https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php also discus.com which is a discussion forum. The vicious attacks come from the right. Since you believe ad hominem attacks are only on the left, then you must go to discus.com and find a fellow named pamino. My ID is Deacon Gerry Palermo. I can assure you the evil of exaggerated opinions are in fact everywhere.
  • The Atlantic theatlantic.com
  • You are not reading the Church documents so clearly not keeping up on her teachings. CCC was changed years ago and reaffirmed again by the Pope recently. There is no permitted capital punishment, period. There is a difference between the act of the State and the act of an Individual and the contours of the question are vastly different between abortion and capital punishment.

Some personal points: I was a Republican but switched to Independent when Trump began his assault on democratic principles, DACA, tax law, etc. I know FoxNews doesn’t cover his crimes but they are freely available if you want to see them. Trump has been a criminal since I dealt with him in NYC. Sorry. Funny though, everyone said if Trump is as bad as they say, we’ll Impeach/convict him. Hmmm. Funny everyone said, once we get our Supreme Court, we’ll vote against him. Hmmmm. In the end, aligning with Trump isn’t about his positive actions and his appointments. It’s about ‘it belongs to me and nobody can have any of it’.

Some replies below:
Democratic party is challenged. It definitely does not subscribe to mainstream Catholic teachings. It subscribes to some sort of evolving perspective which contains some Christian dogma but not all and not enough. Some good, some awful. However, you cannot lump everything into their mainstream camp as evil. This is a critical moral error. Statues are statues and the question of banning public display of Confederate Generals, Dixie Flags, Saints etc are worthy public discourse but not an occasion to paint the other evil. More examples in your thread: (you say, I reply style)…

  • They will simply leave it up to the individual states as the Constitution requires – not a moral question per se. Plenty of moral people disagree with you with good cause either way! Besides we have no idea how they will rule.
  • You might have a point in third world countries but in the US that is pretty rare – science is science globally. Viability remains an uncontested point except is it 24 weeks versus 28 weeks when a baby can be sustained in life outside the womb. One is one. Medical-clinical reality.
  • Freedom to Religion is a core belief, for all Americans. When the cross current between them occurs it is very difficult to navigate. Please print and read the Roe v Wade 1973 decision (the original). They placed a heavy emphasis on the balance between many rights and responsibilities. It is very difficult for an American to presuppose that the Catholic vision of things is the only vision in this democracy. Even there, within the Catholic faith, differences. If you insist that morals can only be decided by the Church then why have a vote? Blended families, civil unions, etc, are not necessarily our ways but we do have to live with people who ascribe to them.
  • Contempt for the biological nuclear family  – again not a moral dimension and certainly hyper judgmental because their contempt is a product of the exclusion of other living arrangements not of biological nuclear families – you mis-categorize their position.
  • Governance by elite judges – again not a moral dimension.
  • Do I need to continue or are you willing to concede that you have wrapped a lot of debatable points into the pro life camp that simply don’t belong?

Pro-Life – NO ONE involved in the political pro-life movement talking about laws without Mercy. I have nearly ZERO confidence that the people you align with in the Republican Party will do anything in supporting women in crisis. Gov Jeb Bush was the last to do so and he no longer fits in that Republican party tent. The accompanying platform items are clearly not interested. Leave it to the States? Voter suppression is a hallmark of Jim Crow and continues with the stripping out of the Civil Rights Act all controls. You ask me to believe something not remotely possible. Your comment “Inordinate dependency on welfare has been an unmitigated disaster for black families” can certainly chill any hope that the GOP sees women in crisis are anything more than an inconvenient truth. It gets wrapped conveniently in the lazy black people theology. Likewise this: What confuses me is why you would side with a group that is intent on increasing the number of abortions – not decreasing the number. Nobody wants to increase the number of abortions. Can I turn the inflammatory comment around? What confuses me is why you would side with a group that is intent on increasing the number of deaths due to: poverty, disenfranchisement, racism, etc, etc. How does it feel?

Moral Dilemmas:

  • 1 out of a 1000 abortions, if not performed, would imperil the life of the mother in the US – I am sure you see the difficulty here using the 60M vesrses the 1,000 arguement. So they exceptions lists of the States (incest, rape, etc) do these find favor with you?  Here is the moral question: Do you want a 100% option of never? You certainly want my opinion, what is yours? Do you see any case of allowable based on some sort of reasonable medical opinion of viability and balance of life issue?
  • Demonic forces – by what measure do you make such statements? Jesus was often described as demonic because they didn’t want to listen. Food for thought.
  • Although Jesus doesn’t condemn them he sure would like if we did EVERYTHING in our power to lead them AWAY from that option. So you don’t listen to my homilies then 🙂 Jesus used the ‘Fence around the Torah’ approach. He outlined a series of behaviors in concentric circles around the law –  that go from acceptable, to tolerated, to rejected, to tragic. (See Matthew 5:27-28 and Mark 7:14-23 for two of many examples).
  • Abortion is a form of suicide. Please reflect on that.

So we both commingle many items together to get to the point of I vote _____ (fill in the blank). I try hard not to over step my opinions.


Hopefully I never said how I voted because it is not proper for me to say exactly who I voted for. My counter arguments are firm and my disgust with the person of Donald Trump cannot be dismissed as politics. For me his handling of the Russia Thing and the COVID-19 thing are worthy reasons to vote him out without a doubt. You of course can disagree but please do not frame evil versus evil. I believe the tragedy of his presidency is the eventual loss of a united nation. No matter who wins this election.


As to the USCCB voter guidance being mealy mouth. Yikes! You are one step away from The Remnant saying Pope Francis is an antipope.


When you think back on the disintegration of the political system we will find the lack of acceptance as being the core problem.


We Catholics have the right to profess and push for our moral visions. We cannot assume that this is the only vision possible unless we are prepared to return to the days where only the Catholic voice is valid. And of course that never caused any problems.


Here are the things we did not discuss:

  • There is a sizable numner of young people who have organically rejected abortion as an option not by any action of the GOP but by inspiriation of the Holy Spirit.
  • There is a sizable number of young people who have decided that early chemical abortion is the way and using this as the proxy for abortion rights – numbers that we cannot count but analogically I have heard of many, many cases.
  • We Catholics have closed off: Sex Education, Birth Control (except one method), validation of alternate families as reality.
  • Defunding is a GOP passtime for many supportive services.
  • We associate abortion with all evils (individual and social) when the woman who does so sees none of that.
  • We see no exceptions and the logic of Roe v Wade 1972 is fatally flawed.
  • We have LOST our ability to place fences around the torah.
  • We no longer see Acceptable, Tolerable, Not Acceptable and Not Allowed continuum to be considered. Only My Way.
  • We no longer see any difference between the Brotherhood of Adam and the Brotherhood of the Baptised. A critical intolerant approach.

So except for trusting Jesus this is the first time I have seen the Church unable to imagine that one could vote one way or the other. You are in agreement with Father Altman that you cannot be Catholic and a Democrat and all Democrats are evil. This is quite the statement. You have me in alliance with evil. Yet claim we should be friends?

I just want to point out that this is a very confused position and that is the whole point. I know my position is complicated and contains the messiness of life. I don’t think you realize you are just as conflicted despite your declaratives. It is irrational to say we can disagree and be friends but you are evil.


Here is a point to consider. If there was no law allowing abortion we would be arguing just as strongly for women with child outside of wedlock? And what would the arguments contain. I can tell you what they are but not sure you want to hear it. Please recognize we are trapped in the times we live in and our expressions are products of the environment.

  • Ideal – in the perfect moral answer – no abortions, period. Women with severe circumstances will rely upon faith ahd the good will of others to help them. This is a spiritual illusion. This condition will never occur because ‘the poor you will have with you always’.
  • Acceptable – anything here?
  • Tolerable – anything here?
  • Intolerable – seems full.
  • Prohibited – seems full.

So here is the problem. We can’t even attempt to figure out that scale anymore. That will be our undoing.

I have an advantage. I see these statements as a tragic condition of our times. I also see them as a rejection of Jesus who wanted a journey of conversion to be the model to follow. The only people Jesus rejected are:

  • The powerful of religion and government.
  • The monied class who are biased.
  • The crooks who steal from the widow and orphan.

So before you begin a reply of telling me how evil Joe Biden is … please first check my links above and consider the points I provided.


All the best,

Deacon Gerry

You Are Set Free

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.

Peaceful Repose

All Saints

A day of communion with all those in Heaven (the triumphant) as we (the militant) join in a common prayer of thanksgiving and supplication.

I went to visit Michael today. It’s been five years since I buried him. Actually, yes, buried him for peaceful repose. The cemetery staff was taken aback but it’s hard to push away a cleric in full vestments. But I promised I would take care of him. Maybe a bit more detail is in order.

Mike was an RCIA candidate in my classes in 2012. Mike suffered terribly in his life. Suffice to say he could never bind to a woman and had a hard time making friends with men. After the Easter Vigil I saw Mike on and off for a few years. Mike came back to me last year to tell me he has lung cancer. I tracked with him through his treatments, the ups and downs of Chemo and radiation. But finally the inevitable longer and longer hospital stays. In his last such hospital stay now hospice I would see him nearly daily and helped him through the stages of his bodily shutdown and narrowing of life’s horizon.

Sensing his terror and in a sudden burst one day, I asked him if he would like to be buried with me and we can rise and meet Christ together in the second coming. On July 14th, 2015 we buried Mike’s cremated remains at Our Lady Queen of Peace. The situation with Mike was framed in honest dialog, open medical discussion and more focused on his dignity as a man and person. At the end of his life, he finally knew God loved him enough to bury him with a friend. We’ll take care of him until the trumpet blast.

The empty spot to the right… is mine.

Michael’s AA Sponsor, John Neering, later told me when Michael could never say to me although looking back he tried and hinted but I was not able to hear it. During one of the drinking and drugging episodes with men of similar condition, they raped him, horribly, violently. Male rape is reported less often than female rape which also is underreported.

Mike was abandoned as a baby. He never knew his mother nor his father. He never married. He never had children. By the grace of God he did come to know brothers and friends.

Osner was Mike’s roommate. He is of another tradition but he loved to hear me pray with Mike and asked for the same. So we did that. Also, since I know songs and prayers of his tradition I used those often. He was so peaceful when he died. He always ended our prayers with ‘Jesus knows, Jesus knows’. We even prayed for his brother and his difficulties. What grace! He died a few days before Mike.

Osner, be pleased, in times of difficulty I borrow your inspiration. Jesus knows, Jesus knows.

All Souls

A day of prayer for all who have died, that by the mercy of God they may come to see the Beatific Vision (the suffering). We do not know their state of grace at the end of life but we trust in the mercy of God and in our intercessions for them as Jesus prayed, Abraham interceded and Moses pleaded.

The Unborn
The Unclaimed
A snapshot in time

LIFE

In this season of Man the problem of abortion is a dividing line. But as often is the case the actual fault line is not the one of politics but of juridical frames and pastoral care.

Women don’t seek abortions as a religious or anti-religious act.

Abortion is a horrible act of self-contradiction paradoxically to attain relief of a seemingly unbearable quandary. Jesus doesn’t condemn them. He weeps with them and for them and for their children. It is serious matter. It is intrinsically evil (disordered). It is often not mortal sin.

In regards suicide, the Church has taught except for ritualistic suicide, most suicide is a tragic error to attain relief of a seemingly unbearable quandary. Jesus doesn’t condemn them. He weeps with them and for them and for their families. It is serious matter. It is intrinsically evil (disordered). It is often not mortal sin.

In regards capital punishment, the Church teaches it is no longer even allowed in special circumstances. The openness to conversion is of a higher moral purpose than punishment.

The American obsession on abortion has become a classic example of objectifying women and fetuses. The humanity of these individual tragedies has been lost in the politics.

I have sat beside many a woman in their eighties slowly preparing for their final end. For many they want to talk about abortion. They told me again and again. It is a right but hopefully in abstraction only. The horror… the horror… every time their voices trail off… a story which they can never tell me.

Just like Michael.

May these Days of Remembrance bring you solace. We do pray. We pray for those who have died, triumphant and suffering, and for those who live a miserable life in this life. We remember. We’ll care for you.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Hanging Ten

Hanging Ten

Greetings on this the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: EX 22:20-26; PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51; 1 THES 1:5C-10; MT 22:34-40

Building a Fence

Note: This 30th Sunday in Ordinary time homily is given at 9:00 AM Mass, The Mass is broadcast on the internet on both:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCISl472qhtGffCAFQu35dPg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sacredheartlakeworth/videos/

Now, three short thinking stories before I address the Gospel message.

Rebuilding Story

There once was a preacher that had the smallest church of a certain city. Unfortunately the Church was severely burned by fire so as to be unusable. Being a small and poor community the preacher was forced to go and ask donations of the various faith communities of that city.

He made a meeting with the local Catholic Priest. “Father, would you help us rebuild our little Church.”

The priest replied, “I’m sorry, my friend. Canon law prohibits the use of Church funds to build a Church of other faiths.”

The preacher was crestfallen.

The priest continued, as he reached for the checkbook, “But I am able to help pay for the demolition of the Church”.

Building a Fence

Prior to the use of paper there were several ways in which documents were created. Cuneiforms and Parchment. For the Jewish people the use of parchment was preferable. Rabbis and Scribes would write and annotate sacred Scripture on these parchments.

In time it became necessary to build a fence around the Torah. To build a fence around the Torah has two specific meanings.

The first is it is a teaching device that is used to help people to avoid sin. Even within sacred Scripture itself we see the fence. The idea is to create concentric prohibitions around a central commandment. This way a person knows they are coming close to committing a sin. It is said Jesus himself used this technique when preaching. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount provides a three concentric circle of lesser behaviors that lead toward murder (being angry, being insulting, character attacks). See also (Deuteronomy 22:8).

The second has to do with Scribes and Rabbis. Each according to his inspiration would make annotations on the sacred Scripture. At first the writing was from edge to edge and top to bottom so the annotations could only be made in-line. Over time these annotations, good and useful insights, made their way into the next set of scrolls to be made from the one he annotated. Not good.

So the scribes began to create the scrolls with clear margins on either side, top / bottom leaving a place for the insights and comments. Sometimes they would draw actual lines (fences) as a box around the sacred Scripture so as to protect its meaning and purity. Later when codex came about even pictures were made around the text so that there would be white space, illustration surrounding the Torah and the script in the middle undisturbed.

Haftarah

The liturgy of the Haftarah is an evolved practice. Haftarah literal translation means “taking leave”. Haftarah readings from the books of Nevi’im (“Prophets”) after the reading from the Torah (Pentateuch). The Torah is the principle truth of the Jewish faith. The first five books of the Hebrew bible it contains the ancient tradition of prehistory, the Exodus Event, the sacrificial system, and the moral or civil code of behavior. It is extremely important.

Even so, they “take leave” to read from the Prophets. The prophets bring a different perspective to the question of the common life. The prophets looked at societal behavior and the moral/immoral acts of the leadership and the powerful. In particular interest today is that the Prophets reveal the pathos of God. The prophets reveal God’s feelings. His pain, his joy, his pleasure and his disappointments.

If the Law tells us how to worship and how to act between and among one another then the Prophets tell us how God is affected by our actions. Or to say another way, “Look what you have done to your Mother!”

When Jesus arrived on the scene, the practice of haftarah was a well-established practice.

Readings Today

The first reading from Exodus contains the two sense described above. Firstly, what we are to do and not do. The second, the response and feelings of the Almighty:

  • You “Shall Not” three times and “You Shall” once.
  • God will hear – twice, have wrath, compassion – once each.

Some might be tempted to say, “Not interest did I charge but a fee.”

Gospel

When Jesus replied to the question of which is the greatest commandment(s), he added this to the reply.

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

The Law (Torah) and the Prophets = haftarah. The entirety of worship practice, societal norms and moral behavior depends upon the commandments of Love.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel used to say: on three things does the world stand: On justice, on truth and on peace, as it is said: “execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16). He died during the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE.

The Pharisaic overdevelopment of minor laws was a sore point for Jesus. They have lost the connection between the weightier matters of Law and the life of the people.

Modern Practice

Pope Francis elevated to the Seat of Peter on March 13, 2013. Throughout he uses phrases like Mercy and Journey Together. We must get out of ourselves and go toward the periphery. In 2015, during the Family Synod, warned against a temptation to practice a “spirituality of illusion” that ignores people’s struggles or sees things only as we wish them to be.

  • Mercy
  • Journey
  • Periphery
  • Spiritual Illusions

Modern Encounter

Bringing back the first stories:

  1. We need to help others rebuild their lives somehow or another. We cannot leave their lives in ruins (provide for the needs of others even if we are in opposition to them/beatitudes).
  2. We need to write in the margins of sacred Scripture keeping the Torah intact yet adding our thoughts and issues (build a fence/theologians).
  3. We need to focus less on law and more on the pathos of God and His mercy (Haftarah/Pope Francis).
  4. We need to make and keep central commandments: (Jesus Christ, Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel)
    1. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
    1. This is the greatest and the first commandment.
    1. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Everything, Everything

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The whole of humanity depends upon this.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Prisoner of Christ

These photos are of Gloria and Deacon Gerry doing the Friday boxing of food for the Saint Vincent de Paul Sacred Heart of Jesus conference.

I appear to have a baby bump.

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:1-6.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Tolerance – Guest Speaker

Intolerance – Our Kryptonite

A Reflection

By Tihut Tefera with commentary by Deacon Gerry Palermo

Tolerance

Faith, Unabashedly

I am a faithful Greek Orthodox Christian who is not in the habit of announcing that to all that I encounter as a way of validating my membership but rather worship privately and try my very best to live my life in keeping of the scripture.  I am also UNAPPOLOGETIC about my faith and have ZERO tolerance to those who will either try to ridicule my belief system as nothing but a cult or attempt to silence my expression of it to appease THEIR disdain for it.

Liberty of Conscience

As a fierce defender of liberty, I would picket with the best of them any day of the week to defend one’s RIGHT to not believe and to be free of any discrimination in the name of religion or any law/governing impositions as a derivative of MY religious beliefs – secularism.

Friend to All

I am an ally to all citizens of the world that chooses to live their authentic self in a way that is true to them than what is agreeable with my chosen way of being or believing.  This is not a lack of conviction but rather an introspective understanding that the vastness and wonder of the world God created for us is quite sufficient to host ALL of us to live exercising the freewill HE conferred onto us. To me this is the very tenet, the “Golden Rule” of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12. This maxim is NOT an exclusively Christian concept so where is the reciprocity from none-believers or disillusioned ones being extended in kind to the faithful ones?  Now that the framework for this article is somewhat established let me delve into my observations.

Disclaimer

Just to set the tone from the start, I am not sitting on some soapbox like someone who is above it all (i.e. the subject of intolerance to be discussed at length below). No, in fact I am painfully cognizant of the fact that when a finger points, three points back. So I am not lecturing as if am the “Master” – as contrary is true for me in that I am an eternal work in progress – but my approach here is more a call (or an invitation if you will) for reflection & for the obvious need of self-evaluation & subsequent awareness.  It is my unprofessional but rather observant diagnosis that MOST of us suffer the consequences of insufficient reflection.  These consequences are both detrimental and generational if not remedied in time.

Small Event – Big Impact

A negligible and in truth an inconsequential, i.e. on personal front, encounter on Tweeter inspired me to make this post because it is a microcosm of the human phenomenon we are and have been experiencing on a more profound & consequential way. Therefore, I feel it is worth my penny.

Intolerance – Our Kryptonite 

Though the encounter that inspired this article was an intolerance to expression of faith, my observations of prejudice is an all-encompassing of the many facets of our lives. We are incredibly and almost startlingly INTOLERANT of one another.  We are so entrenched and dangerously encapsulated in our way of thinking, believing & being bubble that anything remotely different becomes almost an existential threat that is poised to POP our protective bubble into nothingness.

Primal Fear – A Root

This primal fear & paranoia; born almost exclusively out of intolerance, is leading us into the madness we see spilt on to the streets, in our work place/market, schools, place of worship or non-worship, politics (election, SCOTUS hearing, policies, governing) etcetera. It is in effect driving us into the abyss! We cannot seem to stand or have respect for those who think differently than us, love differently than us, worship differently than us, or not worship at all and live differently than us. YET we beat our chest in a feigned “social activism” for “Equality and Justice” and fancy ourselves to be among the #WOKE.  

Superiority – A Menagerie

We regard ourselves as being enlightened and among the “elite” and looked down on others that differ from us because we have fancy titles that validates for us of our presumed “superiority”. Our unfortunate historical precedents have given us false notion of our “supremacy” so we climb over those less privileged without so much us a pause to consider what it means to walk in their shoes.  YET all the while, we scream for “UNITY” while we are as divided as we have ever been.  YET we want and demand change and say “VOTE for the change you want to see” every four-year election cycle while we remain STUCK in our ways of INTOLERANCE.   While it is a catchy slogan that fits nicely in a bumper sticker, how many of us are we doing the real substantive work that embodies and supports the passion behind these catch phrases in a more significant & meaningful way?

We Are the Change We Want To See

Well here is the hard reality of it, WE ARE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE.

No single elected official, party or governing body is going to magically make the world fairer and more just.  It is the collective US.  It is in how we treat our neighbors & strangers; it is in how we raise and teach our kids to treat their neighbors & strangers.  It is in the moral values, beliefs & principles we hold dear that forms & informs and ultimately is responsible for how we interact with one another, how we live with one another. 

The Fruit of Introspection

So, to me the ONUS & WORK IS ON US.

BUT we cannot begin to work on that which we have yet to acknowledge its omnipresence. We MUST first sufficiently CONFRONT and REFLECT on our acquired & learned intolerant behaviors in order to shift to our awareness of moral truth that both demands & deserves our understanding & acceptance of the inherent good in almost all humans NO MATTER OUR DIFFERENCES. To ignore this essential work would be to perpetuate the very misgivings we decry about and it will be a perilous journey that ultimately puts us at risk of rejecting our very humanity. I am as guilty as anyone of all accounts stated above, perhaps the difference is I have long begun the inward look a while ago, though I continue to stumble & tumble…the journey is on a continuum.  What if you??? I hope the answer is to either begin anew the wonderous journey of sufficient reflection or to continue its exploration to its fulfillment. Our HUMANITY depends on it.

End of Reflection.

Commentary by Deacon Gerry

I am so grateful to Mrs. Tefera for her thoughtful reflection and willingness to expand her reach beyond the immediate of her Twitter community. It isn’t our first go at navigating differences of opinion, the Great Schism of 1054 notwithstanding, so her words have the power of conviction.

Rejecting the Christian Message of Old

It isn’t the first time. In the beginning of the faith tradition was not warmly received by some. How many of these still exist?

  • Atheists – (no imperial worship)
  • Incest – (misuse of Brothers and Sisters)
  • Cannibals – eat the Eucharistic bread/wine
  • Pretentious poor! (social class uprising)
  • Bad Citizens (no military service), rejection of Emperor Worship
  • Unreasonable (you guys are nuts)

Modern Rejection of the Christian Message

  • Enlightenment arguments – traditional (reason, individualism, and skepticism)
  • Enlightenment arguments – modern (liberty, human rights, faith in scientific reason, secularism, and the freedom of public debate)

Cross Currents

All participants in the public space find themselves with reflection to the contradictions of their own arguments.

  • The arguments of reason can be unreasonable.
  • The arguments of morality can be a trap.
  • The arguments of liberty / human rights can be itself self-contradictory.
  • Secularism and freedom of public debate clash at times.

Reflection is Key

I think Mrs. Tefera is right to point out that it is in reflection that we find our answers.

Co-existence and Tolerance as working frameworks are being redefined. What do these words mean by definition and what do these principles mean in practice?

Are we forever stuck in a tribal view of history and destiny?

At the same time have we completely discounted the wisdom of the ages as irrelevant in the digital age?

Fraternity of Adam

However we came to be, do we not have a fraternity of Adam, the first to know of himself?

What should that fraternity include? What is permissible to exclude?

  • Noahide Law suggests some baselines.
  • Greek philosophers suggest another set of guidelines.

Are we free to abandon any concepts of moral baseline? No, pray God, no.

Fraternity of Christians

From the first of those at Antioch to be known as Christians, have there not been a constant struggle on the definition and implementation of the dogma and the praxis of faith?

What should that fraternity include? What is permissible to exclude?

Forbearance

In either of these spheres of thought (Adam and Christian) forbearance is critical. Yet it is a beginning.

Forbearance presupposes my answer is right and I am to patiently await your awakening.

Eek.

Seeking Truth in Imperfection

Pope Francis is proposing that we being a new chapter of seeking truth from each any every expression of truth. But to do so requires we make the journey together. Somehow I must and you must be able to hear the deepest meaning of the opinions and feelings of the other before we can have a governing praxis that is filled with peace – a functional peace not based on conquest of thought.

Profess

For myself, you know but I state for clarity. I profess Christ crucified and resurrected. I try to live the Beatitudes. I adhere to the Creed as profession of faith. My demands are on myself and those of my tradition. In the public space I want only to have the right speak and live out my profession. I want to not be forced to live out conditions laid out by the State as anathema to me. My obligation to you is not to create artificial conditions of accepting me and my way of life. My obligations is to accept you as you are and not impose anymore observations and conditions that violate our fraternity of Adam.

I invite you (the reader) to the Fraternity of Christians as observer or convert, either way. And even there the battle continues for definition so there is no simplistic answer.

Saint Augustine in his Confessions, Book One, Early Years: Hating Greek and Loving Latin.

[The truth is] that free curiosity has greater power to stimulate learning than rigorous coercion. Nevertheless, the free-ranging flux of curiosity is channeled by discipline under your laws, God. By your laws we are disciplined, from the canes of schoolmasters to the ordeals of martyrs. Your laws have the power to temper bitter experiences in a constructive way, recalling us to yourself from the pestilential life of easy comforts which have taken us away from you.

Discipline

  • To listen.
  • To learn.
  • To share.
  • To debate.
  • To accept.
  • To decide.
  • To adhere.

Peace

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

  • The peace of the world is domination. I do not want to dominate you.
  • The peace of the world is coercion. I do not want to coerce you.

I do ask you to see the way of the Beatitudes as an invitation to journey together. But if you make me choose. I choose martyrdom.

End of commentary.

Right of Conquest

Today is Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

European Explorers
Native Americans

Yesterday was a day of mixed celebrations. Two traditions at odds with one another. Columbus Day is a national holiday is the USA celebrated on the second Monday of October. On the same day Indigenous Peoples’ Day which is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures.

Some are hysterical mad. Literally hysterical in their defense of Christopher Columbus. They choose only to remember the positive aspects of the exploration of trade routes which morphed into a conquest of an entire continent.

Since I am of European origins I certainly would prefer to remember only the most positive of accounts of my forefathers and their discoveries. I especially like the versions I was taught as an Elementary and Middle School student. I tolerated the High School version. Then, when of age, I was taught the more accurate version in College and beyond. Eyes wide open.

Some it would seem we want only the first accounts to be the only accounts. As difficult as it might be we cannot stay in such a vacuous bubble. While addition and subtraction are essential math concepts it isn’t long before we were obliged to master multiplication and division and still further math and logical concepts that, while informative in the first effect, have the ultimate effects of re-forming and improving our understanding of life and truth.

It is a imperative we continue to grow and expand our understanding of truth. We may get it wrong from time to time but we are not flies in amber – we must move and change and live! The gospel message must be reapplied again and again to the current state of life and respond to the Sign of the Times (Pope John XXIII in the Bull Humanae salutis).

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery (GAL 5:1-6). The direct reference is to the insistence of performing and receiving circumcision. Instead we need to grow – but not law rather only faith working through love.

Myth and sanitized stories are OK of themselves. Yes, we must always find the virtue in our ancestral Other and try to remember the best of them. In the same way the memory of sin, of plotting the wrong course, remains even after forgiveness! Why? Because the memory of sin is the forewarning of the future. We have done and but for the grace of memory will do again.

We must break out of this awful habit. Now to be sure, it takes effort to create a retelling that can incorporate the truth from multiple perspectives. Very painful at times. Extremely painful if you love your forefathers but recognize the unintended and nefariously intended consequences and actions.

But it is a journey we must take with openness and honesty. Accounting for the disparate viewpoints which will include an accumulated sense of disenfranchisement, disrespect and subjugation. How can one say ‘Sorry’ without knowing the harm inflicted at some reasonable level of detail?

Returning specifically to the gospel today and relating it to the Right of Conquest and the education of our young to believe a half-truth permanently – a state of perpetual mythology.

Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?

But Jesus provides for a balm that heals the victim and the perpetrator.

But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

National Reconciliation must include that which is ‘within’ – a changed heart and ‘wthout’ the Alms of reparation.

Blessings!

Deacon Gerry

Casual Love

Casual Love

Greetings on this the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 25:6-10A; PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20; MT 22:1-14

Final Things

No doubt you were taught the Four Final Things which are:

  • Death
  • Judgment
  • Heaven
  • Hell

Even if you weren’t taught them in the natural order of things and intelligibility we have a primal sense of the facts:

  • Our mortality (we die), and
  • that we have authentic and true judgment of our actions in life, and
  • that the consequences of our actions are either:
    • Peaceful (Heaven) or
    • Negatively impactful (Hell).

Divine Love

The Divine Love in the gospel parable today is given a marriage motif. The Father, delighted at his Son’s marriage invites all to the feast.

Some ignored the invitation and tended to either farm or business.

Still others reject the invitation out of malice for the Father and the Son.

It isn’t if they don’t know the Father. They know Him. They are simply casual about Him.

They actively reject the invitation of Divine Love. They reject the idea that there is a judgment and/or consequences for their actions.

Finally, the others are invited as well. Some good. Some bad. All invited.

Marriage

Maybe these days the idea of marital love being special seem to some to be a weak argument!

But taken by its intended meaning the marital love is an lifelong, all encompassing, all enduring, love that places the needs of the bride above that of the groom.

Family

Marriage is the making of and accepting of the family.

The center of married life is the family – those before us and after us. As well as those who are near and those who are far either in distance or in sentiment. We are to journey with the family from here to there. From birth to death.

Pope Francis Encyclical

In Fraternity and Social Friendship the Pope urges us to think broadly as to who is a member of our family. To think more deeply as to the responsibility we have for one another. To consider our relativistic tendencies to judge rather than journey with each other. He expresses the disappointment at the failure to transcend a simplistic view of the Commandments and the purposefully ignoring the Beatitudes Jesus taught quoting: without charity, strictly speaking do not fulfil the commandments “the way God wants them to be fulfilled (FT, 91).

Marriage

And in a way that transcends basics of ordinary human marriage we can derive the fact that Jesus has married each of us. And some do not want that divine marriage.

Baptism

In the ordinary sense Baptism is the time when we receive our wedding garments. We are to keep them unstained for the wedding feast. There can be no question that the moral life is a core part of living out that commandment.

Come to the Banquet of the Lord

Feast.

Be a bride who is loved, cherished and honored by the Groom who is the Son of the Eternal Father.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Planting

Planting

Greetings on this the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: IS 5:1-7; PS 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; PHIL 4:6-9; MT 21:33-43

Corn, Beans and Squash

Note: This homily will be preached at the 7:30 AM Mass, Sunday, October 4th, 2020.

Three Crops

The Iroquois legend of the three plants is an interesting story.

This ancient practice prescribes a particular way to plant these crops in pattern of a tight formation.

You first plant the corn. Once the corn raises to about 4 inches above the soil you then plan the beans and squash in alternating points within a circle around the corn stalk.

The corn provides a climbing ladder for the bean vine. The squash provides protection from insect/animal pests and leaves shade upon the mound and holding moisture in the soil for the corn and beans.

Each planted according to the proper time. Each providing an essential component for a bountiful harvest.

All one need do is watch over the crops from the watchtower and keep the crop safe from thieves and large animals.

Singing Dirge

In our first reading today the psalmist sings the divine dirge of the destruction of his vineyard.

A song. He sings a song. It is an ancient practice to put the unspeakable into song so it can be spoken without the worst edges.

He recounts the poor condition of the crop and the wildness of the fruits.

How can this be since the vine master so carefully planted and created such a perfect environment?

The people of Judah are his cherished plants (corn, beans and squash).

Moses was the corn who brought the law upon which the beans (the people) grew leaning upon the stalk. The prophets were the squash who provided protection for the beans.

But all of it ruined.

The Lord looked for right judgment, but instead bloodshed!

The Lord looked for justice, but the outcry of the people reached the heavens.

Nowhere to be found

The gospel reading today speaks to the disbelief and greed of the tenants who had responsibility of the vineyard.

They do not expect the owner to return. When the owner’s son comes to gather the produce, they decide to kill him so as to acquire his inheritance. If a Jewish proselyte dies without an heir, the tenants will have final claim to the property. Of course murder is not a valid reason.

Doubting God

Jesus makes clear that although those who are ruining the vineyard and who will ultimately kill him, they are not in control. Their goals are not attainable. The vineyard will be assigned to a new set of tenants who will be loyal to the master. They will meet the violent end in similar way to those they abused. The vineyard has been given to us. We are members of the body of Christ would enlivens and illuminates us.

Tending A Garden

We are the new vineyard tenants. We are obliged to follow right judgement and act with justice.

 The corn (Beatitudes), the beans (Church) and the squash (Canon) must be arranged properly and in the proper times/proportions.

We must be especially careful to balance the law as to be a supporting structure not an oppressive structure and the squash as to be a protective structure not a smothering structure.

Decide well.

The stone that has become the corner stone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

Grief Burst

They happen.

Bereavement is not a linear experience. It ebbs and flows. Usually it follows a declining slope with occasional spikes.

It started with a dream. Searching for her room to room. Calling out her name asking, “Where are you?”

She’s not there. She’s not here. My intellect knows. My heart springs tears.

Each room was empty. There was nothing. The rooms were dark, unadorned. Nothing to indicate she even was ever there.

A grief burst.

After morning coffee I take the high level inventory. Am I sleeping and eating? Am I dehydrated? Do I have symptoms of depression or delibrate isolation? Am I getting enough exercise?

None of those are out of range.

Sometimes it is a day, date, or time of year association. What happened on October 1st, early Fall, in the past?

Possibly. Fall (September to December) has always been a special time. I am not drawn to either a sad or joyful story. No, not timing.

Physical activity has a very positive effect on the body and essential body chemistry. Time for a walk.

Off to the beach. The walk is from Gulfstream Park yo Boynton Beach Inlet and back. About six miles plus round trip. Some soft sand but thankfully mostly low tide firm sand.

On the walk I consider allowing any story to come to mind. Sad, happy, joyful, any story that would explain the grief burst.

Boynton Beach Inlet in far distance.

Story telling is an amazing curative medicine. Even with none to listen it is an important process.

There are three major types. Sad, joyful and near-death. Near-death story comes to mind but only in a cursory way. This is not the source point.

The beach is beautiful. On low tide lots of fish caught in the tidal eddies. Lots of gulls, terns at the ready as the shore sand traps get shallower.

Calm Seas

No impact. I turn instead to scripture. Today’s reading includes Jobs famous declaration, “My Vindicator lives!”

Job is the highest interior example of the suffering of the innocent. Other suffered, yes. But we have his thoughts and the thoughts of his friends.

Innocent as he was he placed his trust in his vindicator, also translated Redeemer.

Trust in the essential. The rest is drama.

Pier in the far distance

It is true, she is gone but I trust the Vindicator.

I feel a little better now so I continue.

I recall the story of creation. Not hard to do walking along side the Atlantic Ocean. Each time, each “day”, the Lord declares, “It was good”. Everything, everyone contains the good of the Eternal. We are not alone.

Even the Noah story speaks how the Lord will have compassion on “all mortal things”. Bait fish jumping crazy as predator fish chomp after them.

I love science. All of it. As I walk today, I think about all these new scientific discoveries. Every category of science brims with discovery!

Onshore winds hold back offshore thunderstorms as I walk

I can’t wait to travel the Universe in the next life. And even now watch humanity yearn forward to travel the Universe in this life!

It is so comforting to see nature and engage the natural world.

My walk is done. Tired. The grief has abated but not gone. That’s OK.

It was a grief burst. It doesn’t need an explanation. It just is.

I miss her. I love her. But she is one with the Vindicator, dancing among the vastness of the Universe.

Off to eat something healthy.

Bereavement is something we experience. We don’t need to suppress it. We use the major categorical approaches.

1. Self care.

2. Story Telling.

3. Embracing the eternal as our tradition allows.

I hope this blog entry of my grief burst helps you too.

All the best,

Deacon Gerry