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Burdens on the journey

Is 40:25-31
Mt 11:28-30

All of us are burdened by something this Advent season.  For some, sins weigh heavily on the conscience causing guilt, shame and remorse.  Others walk the streets and spend cold and hungry evenings under bridges, unable to find work or shelter.  Many people suffer from physical or mental illness and are worn down by months or even years of pain and suffering.  Across our world, many women, men and children live under the crushing weight of abject poverty or cower in fear in areas ravaged by war.  Whatever burdens we carry, the backpack often overflows and we feel weighed down and tired.

Jesus pleas with us in today’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”.  All of us are invited to respond to that call, whatever station we find ourselves in life.  All are the same before our God and all are called.  It doesn’t matter who we are, where we live (or don’t live) or what we have done.  Jesus invites all of us to rest in him.   For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.  Can we rest in that promise when life seems at its darkest?  Can we be Christ to one another and reach out to those burdened by life?  There are times when our backpack is overflowing.  But other times we have extra room and can help in the mission of lightening the burdens of others.  Let’s at least commit ourselves to trying.

Who Cares About the Saints?

On today’s Feast of All Saints, it’s good to reflect on the saints their relevance.  Fr. James Martin has a wonderful three minute and 47 second reflection on why the saints matter.  As I listened to his story, I reflected on how similar my own life story is – at least regarding Thomas Merton.  It was his book “The New Seeds of Contemplation” that first led me back to the Church after years of straying during college.  While Merton is not yet a saint, I suspect his story and the lives of many saints have had a similar impact on people’s faith lives.  So if you have a few minutes, give Fr. Martin a listen.  It’s the best 3+ minutes I’ve spent today!

 

Oscar Romero: A Step Along the Way

Yesterday marked the 33rd anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  Romero was a champion of the poor in El Salvador and a harsh critic of those who waged violence against them.  The prayer below is often credited to Oscar Romero, though he apparently never spoke these words.  The USCCB reports that the prayer was actually composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw for a homily for departed priests.  Regardless of authorship, the prayer speaks to the life of Romero and is one that I turn to time and time again when engaged in social ministry.

A Step Along the Way

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Death Penalty, Education and Immigration Action Needed

The Georgia Catholic Conference released the following legislative alert related to the death penalty, education and immigration.  If you feel moved on these issues, please take a few minutes to contact members of Georgia Legislature and urge them to ask justly.

LEGISLATIVE ALERT FOR LAST DAYS OF THE GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The Georgia General Assembly has three remaining legislative days in 2013 – Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of the coming week.

Among a number of unresolved issues are several which are of particular interest in light of Catholic teaching and we request that you contact your legislator with respect to one or more of these issues. Since all of these bills will be considered by the full House or Senate, please contact your own legislator wherever you may live but I am indicating below certain legislators who will have particular influence in particular areas.

Immigration

The House (HB 125) and Senate (SB 160) have each passed bills that will alleviate problems impacting all residents of Georgia caused by past anti-immigrant legislation but SB 160 now contains language that will. HOWEVER SB 160 now contains a multitude of technical changes that will have a huge impact on the lives of many Georgians. As a few examples, rather than ease the bureaucratic burden on individuals and businesses, SB 160 proposes to make it more difficult for all Georgians to obtain grants, homestead exemptions, public and assisted housing, retirement benefits, tax credits and driver’s licenses. The bill will also limit the use of certain internationally accepted documents in Georgia for many services now permitted, including in many places limitations on the ability to marry or obtain human services necessary for human dignity.

Please contact members of the House of Representatives and ask them to oppose SB 160 as passed by the House Judiciary Non Civil Committee.

Please contact members of the State Senate and ask them to support HB 125 as passed by the Senate Judiciary Non Civil Committee and reject amendments from the House of Representatives.

Education

HB 70 will allow children with special educational needs to transfer to a more helpful educational environment in an expedited manner. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and been recommended by the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

Please contact members of the State Senate and ask them to call for a vote on HB 70 and to support HB 70 to help children with special needs.


Members of Immaculate Heart of Mary opposed to the death penalty at the vigil for the execution of Troy Davis.

Death Penalty / Pro-Life

Catholic teaching opposes use of the death penalty even though it remains legal in Georgia. While the General Assembly has not chosen to take action to limit the death penalty, a late amendment creating a state secret for the “identifying information of any person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs, medical supplies, or medical equipment utilized in the execution of a death sentence.” When a state assumes the right to execute a human being, the state should not be allowed to keep the mechanics of execution a state secret, particularly when experience has shown problems with drugs and their manufacturing.

Please contact members of the House of Representatives and ask them to VOTE TO DISAGREE WITH THE SENATE AMEMDMENT TO HOUSE BILL 122.

CONTACTING YOUR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS

You may identify and contact your Representatives and Senators through the website of the Georgia Catholic Conference at: http://capwiz.com/catholiccharitiesusa/ga/home/