The Samaritans have been blessed with many donations this Christmas season. We especially would like to thank the organizers of the Antorcha Guadalupana 5k Run/Walk event for choosing us as one of the organizations that would benefit from their donations. Thanks to this event, the Samaritans received $601. The Samaritans also received this month, thanks to our parishioners, a check from the Diocese of Erie for $312.33 from the Rice Bowl donations. Many other individuals, organizations and churches have been very generous in donating to the Samaritans so that we may help those in need in our area. May you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
Here’s a beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman, “Higher Ways,” that relates to this Sunday’s OT reading (Isaiah 55:6-9 for 25th Sunday A).
You are not going to want to miss this unique opportunity to discover your spiritual gifts. God calls YOU to a special purpose in life, a work of love that only YOU can do.
Plan to attend the Called & Gifted Workshop on Friday, May 16, 7PM-9PM and Saturday, May 17, 9 AM-4 PM. This workshop is open to OLQA parishioners ages 15 and older. Need a ride? Call the Parish Office to make arrangements.
Registration form is available right here: Workshop Registration Form.
Offered by the Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado and conducted by:
Fr. Sean Wenger, CC, from Detroit, MI, a member of the Companions of the Cross, a new Society of Apostolic life with a charism for fraternal life and evangelization and Mary Sharon Moore, author, speaker, vocational consultant and spiritual director from Eugene, OR…their Bios are available here: Catherine of Siena BIO’s.
Colon cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in both men and women and that is why March is dedicated to spreading the word about getting checked out.
The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years or a CT colonography every five.
For adults over the age of 50 it is extremely important to get screened. Early detection can lead to better odds of getting cured. Colorectal cancer is the most treatable and preventable cancer we have, but 55,000 Americans a year are still dying from it.
It is the third most common cancer diagnosis in the country. As most colorectal symptoms go unnoticed it is extremely critical for people to get screened. The colonoscopy process is painless and the entire process usually takes between 20-30 minutes.
Ask your doctor if and when you should be screened!
A number of parishioners asked about the book on the virtues that I cited Sunday, Feb 23rd. It is Romano Guardini, Learning the Virtues: That Lead You to God. Click on the hypertext to see it on Amazon. I highly recommend it.
Much is being made these days about the ancient alien theory. It maintains that intelligent beings from distant stars or even galaxies gave us mere human beings technological help to build some of the great structures in history (like the Pyramids), and that these alien visitors show up in early art, even Christian art, etc.
This idea was recently popularized by the “History” Channel which never went beyond presenting an infomercial for the theory. This is rather odd given that credible history requires a critical evaluation of sources. Is this how we teach the next generation to do history?
Be that as it may, writing the forward to the book below even Carl Sagan noted: “There is nothing a priori absurd in this contention [the ancient alien thesis]; it is absurd only a posteriori. The possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence is something I and many other scientists take very seriously–to the point of using large radio telescopes to listen for possible signals . . . . If there were good evidence that in the past we were visited by such beings, our task would be immeasurably easier. But unfortunately there is no such evidence, as the present book helps to make clear.”
[Ronald Story, The Space-Gods Revealed. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1976, p. xi.]
A good source refuting the idea that ancient aliens show up in art is here.
Fortunately there is also a 3 hour series Ancient Aliens Debunked that takes on the claims and presents a critique that the “History” Channel, had they intended to present the results of true historical research, should have done themselves.
Some people have criticized Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on evangelism, claiming it is Marxist in its economic statements. Is this so?
The short answer is: “No” and Francis has said so.
In an interview published in the Italian magazine La Stampa following some of these criticisms the Pope said “The Marxist ideology is wrong.” He went on “I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”
All through his pontificate Fraincis’ default solution to poverty is for the poor to be able to find work; and for those who are successful to create job opportunities for others in need including educational opportunities.
Individual initiative is fundamental to his social vision.
For example, in the text of a talk for workers in Sardinia Francis writes.
“One very important factor for the dignity of the person is, precisely, work; work must be guaranteed if there is to be an authentic promotion of the person. This task is incumbent on the society as a whole. For this reason we should acknowledge the great merit of those business people who have never stopped working hard in spite of all, investing and taking risks in order to guarantee employment. The culture of work together with that of social assistance, entails an education in work from a young age, guidance in work, dignity for any work activity, sharing work, and the elimination of all illegal work. In this phase the whole of society, every one of its members, should make every possible effort to ensure that work, which is the source of dignity, be the main concern!”
[Pope Francis, “Meeting with Workers” Cagliari, Sardinia, 22 September 2013]
Regarding the Exhortation itself, if one reads Evangelii Gaudium carefully, it is clear that the Pope is neither a Marxist nor collectivist nor particularly left-leaning.
(1) He’s from a South American country and has never been to the U.S.
Many of his economic comments reflect the conditions there. When the Spanish pulled out of South America the wealthiest elites controlled almost all the wealth and the means of production. These few wealthy families typically own nearly all the land, have government-protected monopolies for their companies’ products, have friends in government and the legal system, and own the businesses that exclusively receive huge government contracts. The poor are truly excluded from the opportunity for upward mobility through individual initiative. No. 53 in the Exhortation, in my opinion, clearly relates to South America.
(2) Francis expressly states (#184): “This Exhortation is not a social document” and suggests that we read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The Compendium rejects collectivism, class warfare, and dependency on government entitlements, and it encourages individual and collective initiative, private ownership of property and the means of production, entrepreneurial ability, education, competition, legitimate profit, and regulated capitalism (i.e., government ensuring a level playing field). A more complete listing can be found here.
In the same paragraph Francis explicitly qualifies his remarks: “Furthermore, neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems. Here I can repeat the insightful observation of Pope Paul VI: ‘In the face of such widely varying situations, it is difficult for us to utter a unified message and to put forward a solution which has universal validity. This is not our ambition, nor is it our mission. It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country.’”
(3) Francis mentions lack of economic “opportunity” (#s 54, 59, 209) as a social ill three times, not lack of entitlements. Twice he rejects the idea of the “welfare” state/mentality (202, 204). And he cites the teaching of Paul VI in Popularum Progressio that all people should exercise individual initiative to be artisans of their own destiny. (190)
(4) Good old-fashioned rules for interpretation of papal documents help.
So, when the Francis rejects the idea of the “absolute autonomy of the marketplace” and opposes theories that “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control” (#56, also 202), we should ask: is that factually the case here in the USA? The answer is “No.” OK, then move on.
When, quoting a letter of Paul VI, he says “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (190), we should ask do the rich here, over and above their taxes, give some of the money and time they have a right to keep to the poor? The answer is “Yes.” OK, then move on.
Take the sentence (202) “Inequality is the root of social ills.” In itself it is extremely frightful, sounding like something out of Das Kapital or Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Yet once one realizes that, stemming from his South American experience and given what he has already said in the Exhortation, he is talking about inequality of opportunity (not inequality of outcome) and that in the very same paragraph he rejects the idea of the welfare state, the whole thing looks a little different.
Francis takes to task “trickle-down theories” of economics (54); yet, Thomas Sowell noted regarding the theory, “As someone who spent the first decade of his career researching, teaching and writing about the history of economic thought, I can say that no economist of the past two centuries had any such theory.” (Townhall, 3/31/2005) Furthermore the Pope’s concern in that very paragraph is not that the poor are not getting more entitlements, but rather for “all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity.” Again he seems to have South American conditions in mind.
The tradition of Catholic social teaching rejects collectivism as an economic policy for nations. Francis is squarely in agreement with that. He is fundamentally a “teach a man to fish” kind of guy.
Variety has characterized the ministry of our newest pastor, Fr. Jeff Lucas. He has served in urban, suburban, and country parishes. He has taught at the university, high school, and grade school levels. He was in Campus Ministry at Penn State Behrend, served as Chaplain for the men’s State Correctional Facility at Mercer, and Chaplain for Gannondale Home for Girls in Erie. His most recent assignment prior to coming to Our Lady Queen of the Americas was on the faculty of Kennedy Catholic High School serving also there as the Vice-President of Mission and Ministry and pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Sharon, PA. Aside from adaptability, the one constant underlying all of these varieties of ministerial experiences is daily prayer in which one draws near to the “living flame of love” that is God.