Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday -- a bit of parish history

From the redoubtable Pete Konenkamp, one of the managers of the St. Joseph Parish Facebook page.

On the ground ecumenism from the late 1960s. A long-time parishioner (who's been at St. Joseph since 1959) was just telling me about this incident earlier in the week! According to him, this arrangement didn't last too long, however. Apparently folks weren't too comfortable having Mass at First Christian. I didn't quite catch what happened afterward ...

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Obstacles to forgiving

Something to meditate on this Lent:
One of the biggest obstacles to forgiving is the feeling that the other party's behavior has deprived us of something important, even vital. This confused feeling nourishes resentment. The thing in question may be material, or affective or moral (not getting the love I had a right to, or the esteem, etc.), or even spiritual (the behavior of the person at the head of my community keeps my spiritual life from developing as it should...).
To live at peace, even when it is the people around us who are causing us suffering, we must take a fresh, radical look at our frustration. It does not correspond to reality. Other people's faults do not deprive us of anything. We have no valid reason for resenting them or their actions. 
On the material plane, of course, other people can deprive us of things. But not of what is essential, the only true and lasting good: God's love for us and the love we can have for him, with the inner growth it produces. Nobody can prevent us from believing in God, hoping in him, and loving him, everywhere and in all circumstances. Faith, hope, and love make human beings fully human. All else is secondary and relative; even if we are deprived of it, that is not an absolute evil. There is something indestructible that is guaranteed by God's faithfulness and love.... 
Rather than wasting time and energy blaming others for what isn't working out, or reproaching them for what we think they are depriving us of, we should strive to acquire spiritual autonomy by deepening our relationship with God, the one unfailing source of all good, and growing in faith, hope, and disinterested love. That others are sinners cannot prevent us from becoming saints. Nobody really deprives us of anything. At the end of our lives, when we come face to face with God, it would be childish to blame others for our lack of spiritual progress.

-- Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom  (H/t Clayton from MN, on FB) 

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Mass as the Council intended it ... ?

[I posted this on Facebook a couple of nights ago, after reading an interview with Robert Cardinal Sarah on Aleteia (so far only in French). The post sort of grew as I was typing ... ] 

Thank you, your Eminence! This is from Robert Cardinal Sarah, who was recently appointed to head the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by the Holy Father. 
Le Concile Vatican II n’a jamais demandé de rejeter le passé et d’abandonner la messe de saint Pie V, qui a engendré de nombreux saints, ni même de laisser le latin. Mais il faut en même temps promouvoir la réforme liturgique voulue par le Concile lui-même
La réform liturgique voulue par le Concile ... the liturgical reform desired by the Council.

So, what does the Council say?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Joshua Bishop

On Monday, the State of Georgia was going to execute Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman on the state's death row.  Her execution was postponed because of apparent problems with the drug cocktail that performs the deed. Also, it seems there is a temporary halt on all executions until the pharmaceutical issues have been sorted out. This year so far, Georgia has already executed two people: Andrew Brannen and Warren Lee Hill, in January.

Thanks to my friends, Gary & Diana, I have come to know Joshua Bishop, another inmate on the state's death row. We've exchanged a brief correspondence -- the lapse in which is entirely my fault. Joshua committed a horrible crime, back in 1994, when he was 19, and was sentenced in 1996. Over the years, he became friends with Gary & Diana. This friendship drew him to Christ, and to the Catholic Church. When he was 23, he was baptized by the late Archbishop Donoghue, in the prison in Jackson. Gary & Diana became his godparents, in absentia. An article in the Georgia Bulletin talks about this friendship between them. In that article, Joshua writes:
“The family of the church has saved me,” Bishop wrote. “Every day is not a picnic, but I try every day to live my Christian faith by doing something positive with my life left. Society with the death penalty say(s) we are unredeemable. But the change in me is to say no matter what they say I must still offer my life up to give back anything I can that will be positive to those I hurt and those that live around me.” 
“The family of the church has saved me. If it’s not a ‘family’ it’s not true or real. But the Catholic church that I am a member of is so, so real because I have the love of family—God’s love, God’s family, and on death row, seeing friends executed, you need that love of family that God provides,” he wrote.
Last year, Fr. Augustin Fogarty, one of my fellow Atlanta priests, died. Fr. Fogarty had for years ministered to prisoners, including those on death row, and Joshua. The Georgia Bulletin published a heartfelt testimony to this friendship. Reading it once more brings tears to my eyes again.
But he was a stern man too at times. He was open to things, but the traditions he held in high esteem. The Body and Blood of Christ—that, he said, was in essence our belief. God gave to us life so we take in his gift of Body and Blood. 
I used to fear dying, but Father Austin told me to fear only the things left undone. Take care of your heart, love others, and have your spirit clean from any hate or anger for the laws of man. 
Sometimes we would talk about how mad this place made us, and Father Austin would agree that the death penalty was wrong in his light Irish speech, nearly hidden behind his neat white mustache. 
Father Austin was our father. Lots of us did not have a father to teach us things about treating our fellowman with love and respect. 
Father Austin loved us. He would tell us each one. “I love you, Joshua.” “I love you, Lenny.” “I love you, Warren.” He’d tell each of us that man only has power over our bodies. But God has power over the men who prepare us for execution. So we should show love to them and let God speak to them through our actions. I never felt a negative thing or word from him.
Now word comes from his lawyers that time is running out for Joshua. It is possible that the State will execute him as early as the end of this month.

If you are reading this, and are moved by this, drop him a line, a card or a letter. Remember, visiting the imprisoned is one of the corporal works of mercy. Pray for him, for his family. Pray for Leverett Lewis Morrison, the man he murdered in 1994, and his family and loved ones. Pray for an end to the death penalty in our country.

Joshua Bishop, 865709
GDCP - G1-31
PO Box 3877
Jackson, GA  30233