Thursday, July 9, 2009

Truth in Love, Caritas in Veritate

"Truth in Love, Caritas in Veritate"
A Reflection on the recent encyclical of Pope Benedict
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church International of New England

This week I have chosen to write my reflection on the encyclical that was released by Pope Benedict XVI. I will begin with what he said At an audience before the wives of some of the worlds presidents and prime ministers in Italy for the Group of Eight meeting and follow up with my own view of not only the encyclical but the who notion of how TRUE LOVE is the only answer to the worlds problems.
The Bishop of Rome noted that the inspiration for the encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” is a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 4:15, in which the apostle speaks of acting according to truth in charity: “Rather living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ.”Benedict XVI acknowledged that he did not pretend to offer technical solutions to social problems but that the encyclical "focuses on the principles indispensable for human development. Most important among these is human life itself," he declared, " Benedict XVI gave particular attention to the "scandal" of world hunger, noting how "Caritas in Veritate" calls for "decisive action to promote food security and agricultural development, as well as respect for the environment and for the rule of law."
When we read Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in it’s entirety we find it also points out the diversity of God’s creation with these words; “Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong.” … “We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. Love should always make us tell the truth…. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy” ….“Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ”.
Obviously, even in St. Paul’s time, people were being self centered and disposed to greed often forgetting the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy which instruct us: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbor the homeless, To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead., To instruct the ignorant, to counsel those in doubt, To admonish sinners, To bear wrongs patiently, To forgive offences willingly; To comfort the afflicted and To pray for the living and the deceased. In our world today I believe that we whom God has called to be His servants here on earth must remind those we serve of their responsibilities, as children of God, to practice these works of mercy and to point out that if all persons did so, the world would be a much better place in which to live. LOVE is the key that opens the door to a better world. Love of self as God created you, love of your neighbors, friends and even enemies as Christ pointed out when He taught; "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) The message of LOVE is consistent throughout scripture here are just a few examples; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14).“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it” (1 Corinthians 4:12). “On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” (1 John 2:9-10).
The bottom line is that if we all began to practice loving one another as Christ loved us and realized that love is not just Carnal but spiritual and requires hard work to become a reality we could change the world. I remember how THE FLOWER CHILDREN of the 60’s were disparaged because they attempted to promote this way of life but then they went astray by uniting the message with the carnal type of love and participating in sexual promiscuity or as they called it FREE LOVE.
There is no such thing as free love, love takes responsibility and dedication in order to be real and fulfilled. In order for TRUTH IN LOVE or CARITAS IN VERITATE or any real change to happen in this world we have to change our current ways of being self-centered and greedy we need to take to heart St. Paul’s words when he wrote to the Ephesians “no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy” ….“Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ”. (Ephesians 4:17-20) AMEN

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Times That Try Men's Souls

2009 Times That Try Men’s Souls
Thoughts for the First Week of July 2009
by Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church International of New England

With an acknowledgement to Thomas Paine, who throughout most of his life inspired passion through his writings but also brought him great criticism, I summit that again in history our nation is facing a time of crisis. Paine communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers and intellectuals alike, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. Paine had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. I also believe that our nation cannot ignore the plight of so many who have been, through no fault of their own, cast into poverty. Some who considered themselves comfortable have now found that they struggle to take care of the bare necessities of life because of the avarice of a minority of corporate, bank, the wealthy and a few government leaders. I have chosen to paraphrase Paine’s very famous battle cry from THE CRISIS to show the relationship between his time and ours. I have used most of his original words changing some things to relate to today and adding others. I believe that we, in this nation, are facing a time when some who proclaim they are Christians and other more dangerous persons who are interested only in power and wealth are denying many of the basic values our founding fathers had when they established our constitution. The following is my paraphrasing of a great statesman’s words The words in Italicize are Paine's words those in bold CAPITAL LETTERS are my changes and/or additions to Paine‘s original. On December 23, 1776 Paine wrote;
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. THE UNITED STATES AND ANY OTHER COUNTRY with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right TO ENFORCE ITS WILL AND CUSTOMS UPON OTHER PEOPLES and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. THE GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS AND GAVE HIS ONLY BELOVED SON TO US TO TEACH US HOW TO LOVE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER WOULD NOT APPROVE OF HOW THIS NATION IS DENYING CITIZENS EQUAL RIGHTS OR HOW THEY DEPRIVE IT’S CITIZENS OF AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND DECENT HOUSING BUT SPEND BILLIONS TO WAGE WAR AGAINST OTHER COUNTRIES AND EXPEND THE LIVES OF OUR YOUTH AND FUTURE……"As all men allow the measure, and differ only in their opinion of the time, TO IMPLEMENT EQUALITY AND JUSTICE TO ALL INDIVIDUALS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavor, if possible, to find out the very time TO BEGIN WORKING TOWARD THIS GOAL. With the blessings of peace, independence, and an universal commerce, the states, individually and collectively, will have leisure and opportunity to regulate and establish their domestic concerns, and to put it beyond the power of calumny to throw the least reflection on their honor. Character is much easier kept than recovered, and that man, if any such there be, who, from sinister views, or littleness of soul, lends unseen his hand to injure it, contrives a wound it will never be in his power to heal. WHEN PEOPLE ARE BEING DENIED EQUAL RIGHTS BECAUSE OF THEIR SOCIAL CONDITION, AGE OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION THERE IS NO JUSTICE. As we have established an inheritance for posterity, let that inheritance descend, with every mark of an honorable conveyance. The little it will cost, compared with the worth of the states, the greatness of the object, and the value of the national character, will be a profitable exchange. On April 19, 1783 Paine wrote the following: “The Declaration of Independence, made it impossible for me, feeling as I did, to be silent: and if, in the course of more than FIVE years, I have rendered any service, I have likewise added something to the reputation of literature, by freely and disinterestedly employing it in the great cause of SPREADING THE WORD OF GOD’S INFINITE MERCY AND LOVE FOR ALL HIS CHILDREN AND THE NEED FOR ALL OF US TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER. I HAVE PREACHED FAIRNESS, AND END TO POVERTY, INJUSTICE, GENOCIDE AND WAR AND PREACHED COMPASSION FOR THE AGED, POOR, SICK AND OUR YOUTH WHO ARE THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD. Independence always appeared to me practicable and probable, provided the sentiment of the country could be formed and held to the OBJECTIVE GOAL: and there is no instance in the world, where a people so COMMITTED, and wedded to THIS TYPE of thinking, and under such a variety of circumstances, were so instantly and effectually pervaded, by a turn in politics, as in the case of OUR RECENT ELECTION; and who supported THE SAME opinion, AND IDEALS undiminished, CANNOT ACHIEVE EQUALITY AND JUSTICE through such a succession of BOTH good and ill fortune, till they HAVE crowned it with success…I have taken and acted, and have a gratitude to GOD, nature and providence for putting it in my power to be of some use to mankind.I pray that I may be given the strength, resources, will and inspiration to continue to try, in my simple way, to serve Almighty God and all of His children that come across my path on this life journeyI believe the time is now for all of us to evaluate how and where our country is heading and speak up for equal rights and justice for ALL THE PEOPLE of this nation and the world. AMEN