20 May 2013
Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
St. Bernardine of Siena
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
DeSales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join
in service, prayer, and learning in our struggling neighborhood.
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
1. Service Word Proverbs 8
“When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race.”
The passage from Proverbs serves as this year’s first reading for Trinity Sunday. The concept, “Trinity”, three divine “persons”, one God, can seem abstract. In fact it is one way our faith helps us conceptualize the infinite, unmanageable God who lies beyond human comprehension. God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the Creator and, as the reading puts it, delights and plays in response to the human race.
Very concretely, God, who not only is loving, but who is Love, crafts us in his image. And we are most true to that nature when we ourselves love.
I turn the rest of this week’s reflection over to our Pope Francis, from a talk he gave at a reception for diplomatic representatives to the Vatican. He lays out key principles of Catholic social teaching about human systems that have significant influence on Christian loving.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of humanity, in fields such as those of health, education and communications.
At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way.
One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.
The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces people to one of their needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw-away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted!
In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.
A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.
Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market.
These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls us to our full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery.
Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).
Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule!
The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.
For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity.
And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from his designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.
-How would you characterize your level of security and vulnerability in the present system?
-Are there ways in which God, ethics, or Catholic Social Teaching are “nuisance” in your life? Do they bring balance and humanity?
-What does it mean to say that God is “unmanageable”?
2. Last Week in Camden
Saturday Ethan Stortz and Mike Morgan hosted a service group from Visitation Academy in D.C.
3. Upcoming Events
My trip to Ireland and France continues with a visit with DSW volunteer Raphaël Garagnon and his family in Annecy, France. The Alpine town is also the home of an Oblate high school and was the home of our saints, Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal.
Saturday a group of Boy Scouts from South Jersey will spend the day with service and reflection in Camden.
DeSales Service Works Summer Internship
Session I May 26-June 16 Session II July 7-28.
For information contact program director, Mike Morgan, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Fr. Mike McCue at 215-582-1666.
New Yorker writer, George Packer, has an article that offers though-provoking accompaniment to the Pope’s homily. See what you think: Inequality and the Modern Culture of Celebrity.
Please remember in your prayers all our kids, homeless parishioners, volunteers, addicts and dealers. Especially pray for Bill, Juan, Adam, Peaches, Steve, Gary, Versace.
Thank you, Mike McCue, OSFS