Friday, October 31, 2008

Justice's Fires are Burning

This is a poem centered on the upcoming election and what's at stake for those defending life, specifically the unborn. I wrote it one Sunday evening during a "Faithful Citizenship" coffeehouse but had to revise quite a bit since I had to reconstruct the poem after the first two stanzas. The second half was lost on a notecard somewhere on campus, but it remains relatively intact—if memory serves me correctly!

Justice's Fires are Burning

Justice's fires are burning;
The faithful's hearts are yearning.
Blessings and honor are flowing
To those Faithful Ones, age to age.

Wonders of God's work are showing;
His love remains enduring.
Evil's ways are falling;
Its ways are forever estranged.

Day to day, we hear the calling,
Working to enact true, lasting change.
Year to year, we seek to end the fighting;
We struggle and stumble all the same.

Faithful Citizenship is our call,
A calling of love and service to all.
We are called to tear down Injustice's walls
And to fight for faithful, lasting change.

The walls of injustice are falling,
Life overcoming the walls of death.
Never, never settle for injustice's delight,
For change is coming, Blessed Change—the True Light.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lost Discourse: "Our Calling"

The following is the lost discourse, "Our Calling," in its entirety. I feel compelled to share it as it seems for me, at present, to be the thesis, so-to-speak, of my faith life these past five years. And so I have grown attached to it, for I see His handiwork so clearly, so succinctly in the movements these years that I cannot put these words—an imperfect glance at "the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness" (Wisdom 7:26)—beneath the proverbial bushel basket:

Peace be to you.

How often at times do we think we aren't as faithful a person as others in our lives, that somehow less worthy of His love and His grace. And for each of us, we've been there and often times go back to thinking that, too. This is a mistake to think somehow we are less worthy.

We're not called to be perfect; we are called to be faithful to Him. No matter what we have done, God is there to forgive us for our own individual shortcomings. These shortcomings can become obstacles not only to God's love, to His love, but to others' love as well.

At times, we can see this happening in our hearts. God moves our hearts by putting us in situations that pulls our hearts, opens our hearts, and makes it wider for a greater capacity to love—greater than we can even possibly imagine. At times, this process of patience hurts. How unbearable it is at times!

And, yet, the Lord brings respites of joy into our lives—oases of consolation amid a desert of desolation: others in our lives, their love for us, God's made visible—especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist—in Christ's Body and Blood made real—and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where God's forgiveness is made manifest. These moments of grace can be such an oasis, a cool drink of consolation—a manifestation of a small piece of Christ's joy for us and the peace that the Lord can only give.

It would then be a reproach of this gift if we did not return the favor in the form of love for others in our lives and for God Himself. It would be an extinguishing of the light given to us if we rejected our calling to return not only what has been given to us but to do so many times over.

For these reasons, we ought to profess words of kindness to others in our lives, to the least fortunate; and not only words but acts of kindness and acts of love. And hold them, day by day, in the depths of our hearts, relishing in that love that Christ has given us.

We ought to give of our lives freely, but we aren't alone in this journey. As Christ said, in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11:
"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." [Matthew 11:28-30]

May God bless you today and everyday. May the peace of Christ be with you. Amen.

A Voice Unsilenced: The Need for the New Springtime of Evangelization

I struggle at times to balance what is my voice and the One who sends me. I struggle to see through what are my own vain attempts of vainglory for my own sake rather than that of Christ, Our Lord. I struggle to see the good of being vocal for the sake of righteousness. I struggle because there is conflict in being vocal, even among the Faithful. I struggle to see because of the gifts the Lord has given me, the calling He has given me isn't one that is as clear cut as I wish. It is a path that straddles many different is a path into the Wilderness.

I feel the great pull of inspiration both to create (the poems and prose) and also to speak out of what I have learned and have heard through those who have been placed in my life (the evangelization). If I remain silent, I reject the gift. If I speak out, I am at odds with rules set forth for good reason. As Peter and John said in Acts: "It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20) And so I am torn in spirit and in flesh of what to do. I have felt anger for what seems to be foolishness, to silence the Truth for the sake of the Law. It is a silencing of the Truth that disturbs me so. I understand that which is set forth for good execution of evangelization by the Church, the Body of Christ.

However, I am also reminded increasingly of John Paul II's call for a "new springtime of evangelization." And what tools do we have here! What amazing blessings the Lord has bestowed to put this into action. And yet, in my stubbornness and impatience, I am dismayed at the delay. I see inaction where there should be action, from myself and from others. In these five years here at Texas A&M, I see a striking need for further evangelization of the campus and of the community.

It is almost as though we remain ensconced in the marble temple and not tread forth into the malaise of the moment. We are a community of the Spirit, yes, but we still have so much to do. It can be accounted to be our nature to remain at rest in what is comfortable, but I sincerely believe we have an earnest and compelling call to go forth without fear, preaching to the nations, to our neighbors the Good News given! And how good it is!

I feel the following to be my resounding foundation for what drives me to further service, Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi:
But evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social. This is why evangelization involves an explicit message, adapted to the different situations constantly being realized, about the rights and duties of every human being, about family life without which personal growth and development is hardly possible, about life in society, about international life, peace, justice and development- a message especially energetic today about liberation. (par. 29)

We must meet each in their concrete life, and not merely rest on what was stated in catechesis. We should be out there helping the lost in applying the Gospel to speak directly to what is occurring within their own lives. It is the mustard seed to which sprouts a huge bush, a contradiction of thought—the small seed of Faith into something so much greater in size.

Of great importance then too is the "how" of evangelization, which Paul VI further addresses in Evangelii Nuntiandi:
The obvious importance of the content of evangelization must not overshadow the importance of the ways and means.

This question of "how to evangelize" is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.

On us particularly, the pastors of the Church, rests the responsibility for reshaping with boldness and wisdom, but in complete fidelity to the content of evangelization, the means that are most suitable and effective for communicating the Gospel message to the men and women of our times.

Let it suffice, in this meditation, to mention a number of methods which, for one reason or another, have a fundamental importance.
(par. 40)

Of great importance too is the means of evangelization and the need for communication that is both broad in reach but specific and personal in calling:
Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already emphasized.

When they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims "from the housetops"[72] the message of which she is the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit. Thanks to them she succeeds in speaking to the multitudes.

Nevertheless the use of the means of social communication for evangelization presents a challenge: through them the evangelical message should reach vast numbers of people, but with the capacity of piercing the conscience of each individual, of implanting itself in his heart as though he were the only person being addressed, with all his most individual and personal qualities, and evoke an entirely personal adherence and commitment.
(par. 45)

In all of this discovery I have received in these past five years, I feel there is more I must do before I leave my current station, but the eagerness to go forth is increasing by day. I am concerned, though I have reached the end here. I am dismayed to a certain extent of what is to come and where I should go.

I must remember, however, John Paul II's exhortation: "Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

And so too we should be reminded here of the substratum of John Paul II's words:
"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:6-9

And so this is my calling, a voice unsilenced that continues to speak. I pray it is never separated from the Truth. I pray that I remain faithful to the One who calls me by name, no matter the storminess of the seas.