Is Ordaining Women Worse Than Torture?

U.S. Catholic has a gem today that asks that question (by the way, the answer is NO!):

The School of Americas Watch, which protests the military school that taught torture to Latin American militaries, is no longer being supported by the Maryknoll Society due to the SOAW’s founder’s support of women’s ordination.

Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest, started the SOAW in the wake of the martyrdom of six Catholic priests and two companions at the University of Central America in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989. In 2008, he participated in the ordination of a woman and responded to Vatican inquiries resolutely supporting women’s ordination. Though excommunicated, he remains a Maryknoll priest.

SOAW used to receive a $17,000 general-use grant from the Maryknolls, but this year their application was denied due to Bourgeois’ connection to women’s ordination. “Given Father Bourgeois’ central role as the founder and public face of the SOA Watch, Society leadership has determined that it cannot continue its financial support of that organization without giving the impression that it also supports the actions of its leader concerning the issue of women’s ordination,” the Maryknoll Society said in an email.

What if Fr Bourgeois said that the war in Iraq was OK? Would they have withdrawn support then? What if he thought the death penalty was a fine deterrent for criminals? Would they pony up 17K then? How about if he thought plaid socks went with a striped suit?

It seems to me that a cause runs deeper than one man’s opinion, even if that opinion is contrary to the beliefs of the church hierarchy.

I’m not a very black and white thinker here but it sounds to me like the Maryknoll Society really doesn’t care about the issue of Torture and would rather sacrifice that commitment because they are afraid of being lumped in with Fr Bourgeois opinion. I could be wrong but it sounds like implied guilt my association.

Now as I’ve said here before, I think the church may one day ordain women. But until then I also don’t think we should go out and start ordaining them illegally either. If God is calling these women, they’ll figure out a way to respond to that call DESPITE their lack of access to ordination (just as I figure out how to serve my call and you figure out yours).

But to throw out a serious commitment to social justice over this political football is simply ludicrous.

What does this say to tons of college students who thought that the church would stand with them on this issue and were impressed that they took that stand?

Technological Clericalism

Picking up from yesterday’s conversation on clericalism:

Now an interesting point that I could raise concerns technology. Bloggers and writers like Mark Shea and myself certainly wield much power in the Catholic Blogosphere. People do read our opinions and hold us in some regard. I would hasten to say that the internet is a world of particularity and so factions are even more prominent and one can read a “style of Catholicism” that is more to their liking by searching for that style online. Once they find a trusted source a loyal audience sticks with that source and indeed they are in a powerful position indeed.

Priests are often absent from that culture and lay people have certainly distanced themselves from the fray in this corner of virtual life.

Is this a form of “Technological Clericalism?” Priests, generally older men, will have an upward learning curve when it comes to technology. Does this distance them from communicating with the young? Does this empower younger priests who are tech-saavy?

Lastly, this can also be a tool used to divide and conquer within certain factions. The more traditional elements of the church often use the internet to proclaim orthodoxy, rendering other websites, blogs as un-orthodox. CatholicCulture is the most popular watchdog group that makes these declaration. This can lead to a “my website is more orthodox than your site” argument and even worse can lead to defamation of character within the church.

But there’s also an aspect of how people use the internet that’s at play here. Most people don’t just troll around the internet randomly looking for things. Rather, they collect sites that they have been led to through a search for something specific. Examples:

What time is mass? (for parish websites)
How can I get married in the church? (for young people estranged from the church and now returning for marriage)
What’s the church have to say about X? (for people looking for the church’s response to a world issue or a moral judgment).
I forgot what the church teaches about X…what’s that answer again?

They also find these answers and then they leave quickly! Should they bother to interact, they also do that quickly and expect a response even faster. Community sometimes forms but it’s almost always within a trusted set of blogs, sites or social network connections.

So the real “clerical” power that exists is the power to point a bunch of followers to your own unique brand of Catholicism. In essence you say, “Here look at this! This is REALLY Catholic. Not that other mumbo-jumbo that you read somewhere else.”

And it all happens quickly, where there is not enough time for:

1) Rational argument – Cooler heads almost never prevail in a soundbyte culture–it just takes too long!

2) Critical judgment – There are too many sources out there so I’ll just pick one and stick with it–after all who has the time to read 2 arguments?

3) Reconciliation – The best minds rarely agree, but they often hold each other with deep respect and can often be seen drinking and eating together after slugging it out intellectually. With the internet, often one just moves on from one faceless person to another without regard for them beyond the disagreement.

The medium itself is MEANT to polarize. You want to find EXACTLY what it is you are looking for and that means you want to keep everything that is not that –out of your search. You gather together the places that you trust and only listen to those sources.

The scary thing is that we never have to listen to someone with another point of view again if we don’t want to.

And in that we breed a new kind of clericalism that people give their trust to the sources that they claim speak truth.

However, the democratization of the internet also reveals one certain truth:

Any moron could have a blog. And many do.

Will the “actual” hierarchical clerical culture that we live in try to over-clericalize the internet–giving a virtual imprimatur or mandatum to a set of website that they deem legitimate? How will the faithful react to that if they do?

Or can we, as Catholic faithful, go another route, where we can be media-saavy and remain open to the opinions of others? Can we read America and First Things and not slam one in favor of the other? Can we read Amy Welborn and Grant Gallicho and still see the good points both make and criticize what we disagree with fairly? Can you read a BustedHalo.com and a GodSpy.com with critical eyes to both?

Can we become “friends” with people on facebook who hold other points of view to our own? Or are we content to form the virtual ghetto?

Can we listen without disdain?

Both sides of the aisle are pushing the factions further apart. Young people are already turned off by the divisions within our Catholic Culture. Can we avoid our tendency towards clericalism of all kinds and instead hold on to our Catholic unity. Despite the strength which comes with our diversities, and despite the strength which individual factions can wield and separate themselves from, it is unity that breeds true strength.

And that unity can always be found in the body of Christ–if we all can just bother to stand together.

Young Adults Inspire South African Bishop to Question Hierarchical Structures

Bishop Kevin Dowling, (A redemptorist) from South Africa offers the following thoughts that others including America Magazine’s Fr James Martin, SJ, (h/t to the good Father) have been noting positively and that traditionalists are abhorring today (check the comment box at America). This part on young adults influencing him should certainly not be overlooked:

When I worked internationally from my Religious Congregation’s base in Rome from 1985 – 1990 before I came back here as bishop of Rustenburg, one of my responsibilities was the building up of young adult ministry with our communities in the countries of Europe where so many of the young people were alienated from the Church. I developed relationships with many hundreds of sincere, searching Catholic young adults, very open to issues of injustice, poverty and misery in the world, aware of structural injustice in the political and economic systems which dominated the world……but who increasingly felt that the “official” Church was not only out of touch with reality, but a counter-witness to the aspirations of thinking and aware Catholics who sought a different experience of Church. In other words, an experience which enabled them to believe that the Church they belonged to had something relevant to say and to witness to in the very challenging world in which they lived. Many, many of these young adults have since left the Church entirely.

On the other hand, it has to be recognised that for a significant number of young Catholics, adult Catholics, priests and religious around the world, the “restorationist” model of Church which has been implemented over the past 30 – 40 years is sought after and valued; it meets a need in them; it gives them a feeling of belonging to something with very clear parameters and guidelines for living, thus giving them a sense of security and clarity about what is truth and what is morally right or wrong, because there is a clear and strong authority structure which decides definitively on all such questions, and which they trust absolutely as being of divine origin.

The rise of conservative groups and organisations in the Church over the past 40 years and more, which attract significant numbers of adherents, has led to a phenomenon which I find difficult to deal with, viz. an inward looking Church, fearful of if not antagonistic towards a secularist world with its concomitant danger of relativism especially in terms of truth and morality – frequently referred to by Pope Benedict XVI; a Church which gives an impression of “retreating behind the wagons”, and relying on a strong central authority to ensure unity through uniformity in belief and praxis in the face of such dangers. The fear is that without such supervision and control, and that if any freedom in decision-making is allowed, even in less important matters, this will open the door to division and a breakdown in the unity of the Church.

This is all about a fundamentally different “vision” in the Church and “vision” of the Church. Where today can we find the great theological leaders and thinkers of the past, like Cardinal Frings and Alfrink in Europe, and the great prophetic bishops whose voice and witness was a clarion call to justice, human rights and a global community of equitable sharing – the witness of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, the voices of Cardinals Arns and Lorscheider, and Bishops Helder Camara and Casadaliga of Brazil? Again, who in today’s world “out there” even listens to, much less appreciates and allows themselves to be challenged by the leadership of the Church at the present time? I think the moral authority of the Church’s leadership today has never been weaker. It is, therefore, important in my view that Church leadership, instead of giving an impression of its power, privilege and prestige, should rather be experienced as a humble, searching ministry together with its people in order to discern the most appropriate or viable responses which can be made to complex ethical and moral questions – a leadership, therefore, which does not presume to have all the answers all the time….

Amen! While the church and the elements of mystery that many traditionalists hold dear (and who often co-opt young people into their factionalism) at mass, can be comforting, that is not all that Catholicism is and should be. We need ritual that inspires people to go and become that same Jesus, that same Eucharist, that same thanksgiving that indeed can save the world.

What does that mean and more importantly what does it look like?

A simple question: Does mass inspire you? And if it does, than what does it inspire you to become?

Notice I didn’t ask what does it inspire you to DO!

Mass is supposed to be about transformation. Where bread and wine is changed into Christ himself and where in the giving of that flesh and blood we too, are transformed. The self-gift of God in giving His son to the world and then the Son giving His life on the cross and followed by the gift of the spirit’s continual presence in our life should indeed move us.

Just as God doesn’t give up on us, we should not give up on one another.

And with that in mind, Bishop Dowling asks “Where have all the Oscar Romero’s gone?” And perhaps we should think about those figures who have inspired the world to change. Mother Teresa and John Paul II also would be on that list along with Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day. But I just had to reach back 30 years to grab someone who began that inspiring way of life.

Who is doing something inspiring for young people in the church today? What’s the inspiring change that Catholics are being in the world? We can’t even get mothers to stop killing their babies because most of the time people simply vilify them. We can’t get the rich to care enough about the poor that they might sacrifice themselves even a bit, to go without so that others might have something to eat and a place to live.

We are all too self-involved and that goes along with our self-involvement with the church’s internal structure. What if we spent more money on the poor than on a papal mass during the same week the Pope was here and then letting the Pope see that and moving him to talk about those efforts to mobilize others? What if World Youth Day surrounded several giant social justice projects that all participants could take part in –as we often see with Alternative Spring Breaks, Shelters and Education programs for single moms and Extreme Home Makeovers?

What if we actually practiced what we preached?

Now in fairness, because as you know, I am King of Fairness….

The old priests in the hierarchy aren’t exactly able to go out and start rebuilding homes for the poor. And liturgy isn’t unimportant, to be sure and tradition is a high value as well–which is something that they certainly do contribute to the continued dialogue (some might say monologue). But what if for every liturgical initiative a bishop makes he also fronts a social justice initiative? And we have no better example to think of here than John Paul II who insisted that for every hour of Eucharistic Adoration that we do we also give one hour of service to the poor.

Imagine that.

What would that look like?

How would WE be transformed? And how would the church transform the world?

More of Bishop Dowling’s comments are here.

NYC had nearly 90,000 abortions last year?!

John Wilson, a guy who I love to talk with, has an op-ed in the New York Post about the abortion rate in New York City.

According to the city Health Department, 2008 saw 89,469 abortions performed in New York City — seven for every 10 live births. Among black women, abortions out number live births by three to two.

Quinn: Speaker won’t discuss city’s tops-in-nation abortion rate.

In other words, the reality in New York is about as far as possible from Bill Clinton’s proposition that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Yet, of the 51 City Council members, only five — Republicans Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran and Democrats Peter Vallone Jr., James Sanders and Danny Dromm, all of Queens — were willing to call that abortion rate “too high.”

“I don’t think those numbers are meaningful,” said Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. “I don’t tell people whether they should have two kids, four kids or 10 kids.” One council aide even fretted that a lower abortion rate would bankrupt the city.

Speaker Christine Quinn refused to answer at all, offering only the canned response that “we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies . . . by expanding access to contraceptives and increasing sex education.”
Interestingly, one dissenter from New York’s abortion taboo is former state Sen. Franz Leichter — who sponsored the legalization bill when he was in the Assembly in 1970. The abortion rate “is higher than anyone wanted to see,” he says — and “my support for abortion rights . . . is as strong as anyone’s.”

Why the silence? Perhaps it’s a concern that New York’s pro-choice majority is not as solid as it seems, and that talking candidly about the issue will only make matters worse.

Interesting points, but I don’t think the issue is the support for abortion rights but rather the fiscal support for single pregnant women. The question becomes how do we, as Catholics, support these women not just in the effort to bring their child to term but to actually support them.

The “sad truth” is that most actually don’t care. Most are unwilling to put their own lives on the back burner to take up the cause of injustice and poverty. If we all really cared, we’d all be welcoming these people into our lives and making THEM a priority instead of our own wants.

And I really wonder how many Republicans might be on board with that in addition to their overwhelming support for life? And how many democrats would have enough heart to say that abortion is murder instead of saying that question of when life begins is “above their pay grade” as President Obama said.

Perhaps God is continually calling all of us to open our eyes to see the entire tree in our eye as opposed to the log that is usually there when it comes to this question?

Read more of John’s column here:

Catholic Health Care, Sexual Abuse and the Nuns Visitation

John Allen has a great primer on the Catholic Health Care debate reminding us that both the sexual abuse crisis and the recent visitation of women religious will play a huge role in the upcoming conversation between the Bishop’s and the Catholic Health Association. It’s worth a read to understand the context of knowing that the bishop’s moral authority has been seriously damaged and there’s still a lot of fall out from that and secondly that women religious have been at the heart of the administration of the Catholic health care system for decades.

Fortunately, the key players in the tête à tête between the bishops and the CHA seem relatively unencumbered by this baggage. George has not been among those prelates complaining of “petty gossip” or comparing criticism on the sex abuse crisis to anti-Semitism, while for her part, Keehan told me, “I don’t have as many sensitivities about the visitation as maybe I should, or as others have.”
That said, it would nonetheless be futile to ignore the psychological subtext of the situation. With that in mind, one helpful thing bishops interested in healing the rift with the CHA could do is to express their broad appreciation and solidarity with women religious, notwithstanding the concerns that led to the visitation. Likewise, leaders in Catholic health care can find ways to signal that they’re not joining the “bash the bishops” brigades, despite the undeniable gravity of the sexual abuse crisis.
Responsible figures on both sides of the relationship have already been taking these steps. It would make the present climate infinitely less toxic, and not just on the health care debate, to see them scaled up.

Read the rest. Good stuff from John Allen, as always.

Three in One

We often mistake the trinity for three divisible individuals, forgetting that God does all things. So it is always the three persons working in unity together. God the Father doesn’t just create, but he also sanctifies and redeems along with the other two persons of the trinity.

The persons of the Trinity often allows us to understand what God is but it also gets confusing. Three persons. I think that term is what confuses people. My good friend and pet expert, Warren Eckstein, who is Jewish, once put the question best when he tried to understand this:

“If I had the Holy Trinity over for dinner, how many place settings would I need?”

I laughed and replied confidently with the number one.

Others argued that I was wrong because of that word “persons”. But God is only one, unity in a diverse expression. So it is not only Jesus who redeems with his blood but it is also the other two persons who work in unity.

The word expressions I have found to work better than the word persons when we regard the trinity. God has three expressions but only one unity. God is beyond us (unknowable mystery–the inexhaustible one). But God is also with us, we have a God who lives and moves and has our being. Finally God is also within us–closer to ourselves than our very breath.

This Trinity Sunday I am reminded that we are all called to work for unity. Husbands need to unite with their wives to take care of their family—so everyone’s pointed in the right direction. Who are we out of union with and how might we repair that.

Today lets us pray for those who feel confused by the message of the Trinity. God loves us and cannot bear to be without us. So we try to unite with the trinity–to be single-minded with God.

Of course it never happens, because we all sin. However it is through the Holy Spirit that we are forgiven. It’s one of the few prayers other than the Sign of the Cross that mentions all three members of the trinity:

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church may God give you pardon and peace and (priest) I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Perhaps the truth to concentrate on today is how God can be all things to us when we need God in our lives. Does not God the Father hang in the cross and suffer with Jesus and with us when we are in suffering? When we need inspiration doesn’t the Holy Spirit point us to Jesus?

Do we believe in this mystery?

We believe Lord, help our unbelief.

146 Was Her Number…A Child Sold for Sex


This weekend I was invited to an art auction for an organization called Love 146 which is focused on the issue of human trafficking. The name of the organization comes from an experience that one of the founders had when they went on an investigative call in Asia and uncovered a horror: an entire room filled with children offered to Western men for sex.

Most of the children they reported, looked vacant and numb as if they had no hope. Rob Morris the founder of the organization aptly said that they looked “robotic, black” They were passed around to others each night for sex. They were all known only by a number pinned to their clothing. They were listed on a MENU as well!

But there was one girl who showed a glimmer of hope in her eyes. Her number was 146. The crew later returned with authorities (since the organization is not a law enforcement organization) hoping that she had hung on to that hope, but they could not find her.

They named the organization for inspiring them to act, to create a movement that offers hope. Slavery still exists today. And these are the faces of the new abolitionists who are reaching out to the poorest of the poor–those who have nobody to fight for them and who have been deprived of their basic human right to their childhood.

I bought two pieces of art that night, not really because I liked the pieces (I did–but I don’t really need them) but because I was moved to do something, even something small. These are the stories of horror that easily move most of us to act, but there are many others that we forget about who are forced into an indentured servitude as well.

Friend and human trafficking expert Amy Fleischauer pointed me to this Mother Jones article that is truly eye opening. A snip:

LAST YEAR, some 60,000 workers arrived in the US under the federal H-2A guest-worker program, which allows agribusinesses to bring in foreign labor for jobs they say are hard to fill at minimum wage. Similar temp-worker programs in industries like seafood processing, tree planting, and hotel maintenance brought in an additional 59,000 workers, and 60,000 more came in through temporary programs for professionals in fields deemed to have labor shortages—teachers, nurses, computer programmers.

These men and women are bound to the companies that requested them. They remain on American soil at the pleasure of their employers, who can send them home at any time. As Mary Bauer, an expert on temporary-worker programs at the Southern Poverty Law Center, has written: “These workers are not treated like ‘guests’…Unlike US citizens, guestworkers do not enjoy the most fundamental protection of a competitive labor market—the ability to change jobs if they are mistreated.”

Many, like Intajak, arrive with crushing debt from recruiting fees. I reviewed the cases of dozens of Thai workers employed by Global Horizons who had paid between $11,000 and $21,000 in recruiting fees, money they had borrowed from banks or relatives, often with family or communal property as collateral. In theory, they were free to leave their job anytime. In practice, they were modern-day indentured servants.

This isn’t just in Thailand, folks. It’s in our backyard. It might be in your neighborhood (and it probably is just a few short miles from your home at the very least).

Today let us pray for those caught in the horrors of slavery–let’s call it what it is–slavery! Can you imagine? Think about how you might work in your corner of the world to end this problem. Talk to the companies that you frequent online and off about how they use workers both directly and indirectly. While some might not be using slaves directly on their payrolls–they indeed might be at a subsidiary or perhaps a company they use might also be using workers who have their human rights violated. The Mother Jones article above lists a few big players who do just that.

Also consider making a small donation to Love 146 or to another human trafficking organization. Lobby your state and national representatives to make this a priority.

And most of all pray for an end to slavery. And love 146 and all those who the rest of the world may have indeed forgotten.

How to Fill Your Pews

Deacon Greg pointed me to this link from Joe Ferullo and the National Catholic Reporter

My cousin is a business graduate student back at home, and is staying with us while doing a corporate internship in town for his master’s thesis. He’s gone to Disneyland and downtown, to Hollywood and Malibu — but our local parish has made a real impression.

Usually the place is pretty full on Sundays, which is not the case in Italy. Not even in the small town outside of Naples where my cousin grew up and still lives. There, a scattered dozen or so old ladies in traditional black still bother to make church-going a steady habit. An ancient organ heaves out traditional tunes, but no one sings along.

And the priests, my cousin says, are as ancient as everything else — preaching an Italian version of fire-and-brimstone homilies to the few in the pews. He was stunned to meet our pastor, who is a youthful 50 years old and sometimes wears Hawaiian shirts on his days off. His homilies are humorous, thoughtful and straightforward, speaking to everyday life and tying that to the gospel. Same thing when our bishop came recently to deliver the sacrament of Confirmation to my daughter and forty other teenagers her age. He didn’t speak over the heads of kids, nor did he condescend to them — he was simple and direct and genuine.

My cousin said he understood why the church was full, and why the ones back home were not.

Indeed. I’d go a few steps further. You fill the pews by doing the following:

1) Welcoming: Quite often nobody becomes engaged in a community unless someone else comes over and talks with them and gives them some kind of formal welcome. But we often don’t do that at church. The ones that do are the ones that thrive.

2) Good preaching: Now we lay people have little control over this one, but pastors often value feedback and believe that their preaching time is the most important thing they do all week. As someone who gets to do reflections from time to time, I can tell you first hand, this is not easy work–but it’s very much appreciated by the congregation when it is done with care.

3) Singable music: Notice I didn’t necessarily say “good music”. Why? Because we can argue about our individual tastes in music with some preferring Gregorian Chant to Praise and worship–but I think we can agree that if you spin out a catchy little tune people will sing along. They aren’t intimidated by giving them something that they can sing along to and singing with a cantor who has an inviting presence and not an intimidating one that says “I could never keep up with her/him.” It also guards against the “performance” style where the congregation listens and the “performers” sing. That might be entertaining, but it sure ain’t church.

4) No diatribes against modern culture: We all live in this culture and helping people live in the world according to the principles of the church need not be a fire and brimstone activity. When we stand against the culture necessarily at times, we need not denigrate the ENTIRE culture. The world is good. God said it and we believe it. Help our unbelief.

5) Point people to life giving ministry: In short, let people know that there are things going on–but be focused. In many good parishes there is so much going on that we miss most of it because of challenges on our time. And people get overwhelmed by things easily. If we focused our community on one big project per month that everyone could (and wanted to) participate in—that would go a lot farther and keep the community engaged. Now, other smaller things will happen organically and those involved in them will invite others to those events but the parish at large doesn’t need to push those as hard in a litany of various announcements.

6) Size matters: We used to think that we should start small and build on the little event that we can blow up to a large scale event. But in truth, doing something that is a huge event that is done extremely well is far better than a bunch of small events that nobody was particularly engaged in. So build something that attracts a lot of attention to start and then from that excitement, you can build smaller events to keep those excited people coming back. Campus Ministers should do large Habitat projects, mission trips and Alternative Spring Breaks as well as retreats. Parish ministers should think about human concerns and making a difference in the community and having big gala events for celebrations. Both should think about large-scale prayer events that bring people together for mass or prayer for a particular reason.

It’s time to rally the troops and it doesn’t sound like that happens with fire and brimstone in churches that are indeed barely alive.

“The Coolest People in the World Might be Nuns”

So says, Nicholas Kristoff, in the NY Times the other day. I don’t agree with everything he says in his column here but this snip touched my Nun-loving heart:

There’s a stereotype of nuns as stodgy Victorian traditionalists. I learned otherwise while hanging on for my life in a passenger seat as an American nun with a lead foot drove her jeep over ruts and through a creek in Swaziland to visit AIDS orphans. After a number of encounters like that, I’ve come to believe that the very coolest people in the world today may be nuns.

So when you read about the scandals, remember that the Vatican is not the same as the Catholic Church. Ordinary lepers, prostitutes and slum-dwellers may never see a cardinal, but they daily encounter a truly noble Catholic Church in the form of priests, nuns and lay workers toiling to make a difference.

It’s high time for the Vatican to take inspiration from that sublime — even divine — side of the Catholic Church, from those church workers whose magnificence lies not in their vestments, but in their selflessness. They’re enough to make the Virgin Mary smile.

So two the number of women religious that I have been blessed to know and to work alongside…here’s to you today.

To Sr. Jeremy Midura, who is the Pastoral Associate here, and even serves as a dog sitter for not only my dog, but for our parish’s two english sheepdogs. Thank you for your thirst for justice and for reaching out to the least of our brothers and sisters.

To Sr. Jeanne Hamilton, OSU, who spent many a late evening talking and counseling me in college. Jeanne, your love for students always shined bright. Thank you for giving so much of your time to me.

To Sr. Anne Walsh, who ran liturgies at Fordham more precisely than a Swiss Watch. Today, Sr Anne works with student-athletes and is a huge presence on the Fordham campus to this day. Thank you for your rich Irish soul that always met my heart with your own and opened my eyes to the joy of serving this church.

To Sr. Christine Wilcox, OP, who I am proud to call friend, colleague and simply an all-around cool woman! You bring much joy and happiness to my life when we are together. It’s been awhile and I miss you and your laugh.

To Sr. Manuela Tino, who taught me 8th grade in a horrendous, x Catholic school filled with privileged spoiled brats. You were a horribly misunderstood woman. Thank you for being my teacher and for always believing in me.

Religious women have run the day to day operations of the church for years. It’s high time that we give them the accolades that they are deserving.

So today, say thanks to a nun. And be glad for their gifts.

For they indeed are many.

If a Dog is Too Hard to Love…

They say that when you look at how a culture treats its animals, you can make a direct correlation to how it treats vulnerable people as well.

Jarrad Venegas, who was our crackerjack office manager at BustedHalo® pointed me towards this video that is the epitome of that remark. Take a quick look and I dare you not to be moved by this.

Everyone was all too ready to give up on this dog, who was simply scared. Once she was able to see that someone else simply would love and care for her, could she then relax and stop “acting out” of her own fear.

But everyone was too quick to dispose of Edie. She was an “impossible” dog. “Better to put her down” was the conventional wisdom.

How often do we say that about other situations? Do we look at the homeless with their matted hair and their unkempt look as “disposable people?” Can we pull them into our arms for a hug? Or is that too much for us?

How about the unborn or the mother who is too scared to have her own child? Often everyone says that it’ll be too hard for the mother to care for the child. And they might very well be right. But how can we change that situation? What responsibility might we bear? How might we make that child no longer “easily disposable” but rather, loved and cared for?

How about the elderly? When they can no longer contribute to the world of work are we apt to simply forget about them? When they struggle with losing their own independence, are we able to be there to comfort them and help them gain confidence in their new situation? When they lose control of their faculties and even their bladders and bowels can we save them from embarrassment and pamper them as we would a newborn, or do we just let them stay dirty and scared and in need of someone who can care for their immediate needs?

And I’m not above any of this. I know I don’t always reach out to others when I could. It might be because I’m too lazy, or that I know the effort might be exhausting, or quite frankly that I just don’t care enough.

Even my own dog, Haze (pictured, right) who I pamper and treat like a king most of the time, can easily exhaust me when his needs try my patience with constant barking or when he feels too anxious and “acts out”–most often on my couch.

At times, it seems I give up much too easily on people who simply need just a bit of what we all need in order to feel secure.

Is it too hard to love this deeply? Perhaps Jesus who asks us to love without limit would say that we humans have a long way to go to achieve the Kingdom here on earth.

Because after all, some of us can’t even do it for a dog.