My Life’s Philosophy as Told to a Child

My 9 year old Godson interviewed me last week for a school project. I humbly share it with you to remind me of what I always need to be about! God bless us, everyone!


LETTING OUR LIGHT SHINE


I called my Godfather, Fr. James DiLuzio for the essay. He was in the middle of writing a Homily for mass. He put down his pencil, and said he would take a break from writing and do the interview with me. I think that was really nice of him. The interview was based on my nine questions. He said:


“I was born in Nyack, New York on August 18th. I’m a Catholic priest, and am not married. Our tradition invites us to focus on our friendship with Jesus and share that friendship with everybody. The secret to happiness in any life is to be thankful for what we have and the people in our life, and not to worry about what we don’t have. My most important decision was to become a priest and to begin my work as a Paulist Father-Missionary. God is everywhere and his spirit is in all people, and the most important thing of God’s spirit is his invitation to be patient and loving with one another. I learned that helping other people is important, but at the same time, each of us have to use the special talents God gives us so that we can please ourselves while helping others, and that’s a good balance for praising God. Jesus told us to let our light shine, and as I got older, I appreciated that teaching more. The major values that I live by are love, kindness and as much patience as I can cultivate with God’s help, and as little judgment on myself and others as possible.”


Father Jim has a great outlook on life. I learned a lot from him. You can too!

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Homily – Bridge the Gaps –On Faith and Finance

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

Who doesn’t dream of winning the lottery with visions of wealth and security, high standing in society?  Money is power in our world, power to influence others.  In truth, I’m as guilty as anyone in taking for granted the simple things and engaging in delusions of grandeur but Jesus began his public ministry asking that we, the people, not isolate and overprotect ourselves physically, emotionally, economically – because that is often what the rich and powerful do–but rather, live as one people devoted to God and one another. The Gospel is our continual wake-up call to more vital dreams. Initially we may begrudge it but ultimately it is GOOD NEWS inspiring the treasures of relationships, friends, family, delights of meals be they simple or exquisite—all with a continual consciousness of God.

What did Jesus mean when he said,  “I am here to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor?”  He’s quoting the prophet Isaiah who, 500 years before, reminded the people that they were to return to the practice of JUBILEE—“years of the Lord’s favor.”  Every 7 years and again, every 50 years, the Torah commanded that debts were to be forgiven and indentured servants were to be freed – grounded on the understanding that God is the only true landowner.  We may quibble over ownership but  everything we are and everything we have belongs to God.  Leviticus 25: 23 “for the land is Mine; you are but strangers, resident with ME.”  This was the collective memory Jesus was evoking as the new “anointed one,” turning the people’s expectations of Messiah on its head for most were hoping not for a reconciler but a Vindicator exacting punishment on Israel’s enemies.  Jesus insists we see the world differently, not accepting it on its own terms but rejuvenating it, inviting it, coaxing it to become closer to God who redeems people. 

Biblical scholars tell us that when Jesus speaks of “liberty to the captives” he was speaking primarily about people in prison or sent to labor camps because of debt or inability to pay taxes.  We recall how the Jews detested Rome’s tax collectors!  In the Roman Empire the average person had no rights and the poor plebeian or slave caught committing theft could be punished with death (sometimes by crucifixion).   We do well to remember the horrific practices of so-called Christian nations from the Middle Ages up to as late as the 18th and mid-19th centuries in Europe:  the horrors of debtors’ prisons,  and worse, innumerable recorded cases of poor people, with no recourse to work, stealing a neighbor’s pheasant to feed a starving family, receiving the death penalty to instill fear in other desperate people.   Tragically, there’s not a big leap from these horrors to the ways our society cultivates ghettos and alienates poor neighborhoods.  Why?  Because we and our leaders tend to ignore the bigger picture, because we’ve allowed our society to slip—we cultivate awe of the rich and famous and powerful and forget to encourage generosity and compassion as ultimate values and part of our true goals in life.   That includes bridging the gap between the rich and poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged.  Now this isn’t socialism.  I repeat, “this is not Socialism” or what others derogatorily label “the social Gospel.”  All it is, is Christ’s insistence that we LET HIM FREE US FROM GREED and enhance our lives on earth with COMPASSION.  Jesus invites us to know when enough is enough – enough of what we need to be good for a family, for a business, be it money or bonuses or furniture or clothing or toys or retirement or legacy for one’s families—all legitimate concerns but never meant to exclude concerns for others in this world.  Jesus, then and now, insists on “Glad Tidings to the Poor.”   Think of Zacchaeus coming down from his perch on a tree—there’s JOY there!  That’s a JUBILEE embodied in one faithful individual.  Or, if you prefer a more threatening image, think of the parable of the indentured servant who was shown great mercy but refused to show mercy to another—recall his ultimate end.  

Jesus invites us to expand our circles so that all peoples of all walks of life have honest levels of association with the downtrodden, the oppressed and afflicted, the forgotten and the neglected. True, we as individuals cannot attend to all, but we can strive to insist that all people’s concerns are able to be voiced, to be heard and that all aspects of societies and cultures, including government and finance, offer assurance that no one is oppressed, afflicted, forgotten or neglected because of laws or choices we and others make. How often I find myself repeating this phrase – “God wants us all to get ahead–not at the expense of others but the uplifting of others.”  It’s the second part of that equation that finds humanity lacking; finds Christianity lacking. In contrast, attend to the way in today’s Scripture (1 Corinthians 12: 12-30) Saint Paul reinforces this unity of all people, no matter how diverse –for every part of the body is necessary to for every “body;” — all parts must contribute to the well-being of the whole.  This too, is an extension of the Eucharistic Feast. The Eucharist being an ongoing participation in the advancement of all peoples –blessed assurance we are not alone.  

Happily, these past weeks of the recent Government shut-down have nonetheless given us signs of HOPE:   Neighbors and Churches expanded their food pantries and many Banks granted postponement of major credit payments to the almost ½ million government employees working but without their weekly or bi-monthly checks to pay their bills.  Like the redeemed Scrooge on Christmas morning, may we enthusiastically endorse those acts of kindness while we, today, re-commit our prayer and our choices for specific actions so that such kindness becomes the norm, not an exception to the way we live our daily lives and earn our daily bread.   What Jesus said that day in Nazareth, Jesus proclaims to us today: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . recovery of sight to the blind.”  Must not we, too, see ourselves differently, because of Christ?   I’ve offered you what our theologians and scholars have to say about Jesus’s words.  Coming to this Eucharist today, we must ask ourselves, “What else could Jesus’ words possibly mean?”

The Scripture Readings for Sunday, January 27th are:

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 69

Reading 1NEH 8:2-4A, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform 
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, 
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15   

R. (cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “

it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Or1 COR 12:12-14, 27

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

AlleluiaCF. LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus, 
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom 
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me 
to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Homily on The Wedding @ Cana

Readings: Is 62:1-5;  Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10;1 Cor 12:4-11; John 2:1-11  

David Brooks, author, teacher, political and social commentator writes Op-Eds for the NYTIMES and appears on PBS Newshour on Fridays.   Yesterday (Friday), he wrote about Student and Teacher relationships and the necessity of healthy emotional bonds to actualize good learning. He quotes cognitive scientists Antonio Damasio who insists that “emotion is not the opposite of reason; it’s essential to reason. Emotions assign value to things.”  “Furthermore,” Brooks writes, “emotions tell you what to pay attention to, care about and remember. It’s hard to work through difficulty if your emotions aren’t engaged.  Information is plentiful, but motivation is scarce.

“. . . a key job of a school is to give students new things to love — an exciting field of study (AND) new friends (AND MENTORS). . . what teachers really teach is themselves — their contagious passion for their subjects and students. . .  children learn from people they love, and that love in this context means willing the good of another and offering active care for the whole person.”

Feeling cared about is essential for life as well as learning. That’s good instruction for all of us in addressing our relationships with family, friend and foe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Wedding at Cana is Jesus’ response to Mary, his mother, when she asks him to attend to the lack of wine at the celebration:  “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  This remark has puzzled scholars for centuries, especially in the older translation:  “Woman, what does this concern of yours have to do with me?”  It sounds abrupt, uncaring, dismissive.  It didn’t help that  Jesus’ words were closely linked to a popular Aramaic and Ancient Greek phrase “What have you to do with me?” –a phrase indicating someone is intruding on one’s private business, as if Jesus didn’t want to be bothered. And by his mother no less!  Some scholars reflected that this interpretation was justified in that Jesus was always in communion with the Father.  However, Jesus came to earth to extend that communion with the Father to the world.  For Him and for us, the relationship with God could not be privatized, must not be privatized to the point it disregards or impairs our relationship with others. 

Happily, Current Ecumenical scholarship now emphasizes a more nuanced translation of this difficult phrase: It translates Jesus’ question as “What is this to me and to you?” meaning i.e. How does this request engage Jesus and Mary in what they both are supposed to be about; the ways they are to live?  The answer = how is this related to their TRUST in God!  In other words, it is God’s timing, not theirs to which they must defer.

In his humanity, Jesus did not sense the time for his public manifestation was to begin.  Yet he knew  he must always defer his humanity to God the Father.  Therefore, he decides to follow Mary’s inspiration placing himself and the situation in God’s hands.  Surprise! The time was now.  The time is NOW.  (It always is for, as Jesus will proclaim frequently throughout his ministry—the kingdom of God is at hand!)  With trust in God, Mary instigates Jesus’ first mission without any further discernment, saying to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

What wondrous love is this?  What confidence in God’s benevolence? In God’s munificence! Only someone who trusts that God cares for him or her, only one who feels he or she is known and understood, only one who knows he or she is loved has the confidence to look out for the needs of others.  Mary’s directions to the servers, “do whatever he tells you,” is her act of faith that she is loved and cared for by Jesus, echoing the words of the people to Moses at Sinai as he delivered them the TEN COMMANDMENTS: “everything the Lord has spoken we will do”  for they knew they were cared for having been led out of slavery from Egypt. Thus, Mary’s FAITH puts Jesus’ miracle into action.  And may we remind ourselves how FAITH is the necessary overture for all the miracles that occur throughout the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles and even the miracles, both great and small, that happen today.  Note, too, how Faith builds upon Faith; one good example sets the stage for greater goodness: Mary’s trust inspires the SERVENTS to fittingly follow Jesus’ direction.  This, in turn, becomes an inspiring example to the disciples.  No wonder Mary was and forever will be the preeminent Apostle, the first and foremost disciple.

May we take this lesson home with us today: Faith and Trust in God brought The Wedding Feast to its fulfillment.  This  Word and Eucharist is here to enrich us in that same Blessed Assurance:  We, too, are known, loved, cared for.  After all, Jesus is the BEST TEACHER—is He not? Indeed! With Love for us beyond all telling. Remember JOY is the outcome at this Wedding Feast.  And with trust in HIM, that JOY will sustain us in good times and in bad, at weddings and at funerals, at work and at home today, tomorrow and on to the future.  We only need to trust.  We merely must believe!

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading Excerpts:

 Is 62:1-5

No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Reading 2 1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Gospel Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

Homily for Baptism of the Lord Sunday – the conclusion of the Christmas Season

Excerpts from Today’s Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 42: 1-4 Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit; . . .

to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Isaiah 40: 11 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Psalm 29:  R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

ACTS 10; 34 Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.


Luke 3: 15-16;21-22  The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

Note the difference between these two scenarios.  Who do we want to be?  

A man wakes up early in the morning.  The cool morning air on his face contrasts pleasantly with the cozy warmth under the blankets.  The old clock radio clicks on to play a sad, sweet, silly song he loved as a teenager and hasn’t heard for years.  It evokes sweet, sad nostalgia interrupted by a bit of static.  This  thirty-year old AM Clock radio was a gift from his parents when they could hardly afford anything.  Amazing it still works at all.  It broadcasts another song he has never heard before.  He listens intently, focused and attentive and looks lovingly at his wife still asleep at his side. With each passing year he loves her more and more, marveling how they, though no longer fit and trim, still delight each other. He whispers a prayer of thanksgiving to God filled with hope for the future.

Another man wakes up early that same morning. The cool morning air on his face is an affront to his comfort. The old alarm clock radio starts and stops with static before the morning broadcast begins. He recalls how  disappointed he was getting this piece of junk for Christmas when he was young.  Cheapskate parents –they never appreciated the finer things of life, nor did they fill him with ambition and tools for success. “Fool that I am,” he says, “you’d think after all these years I could at least have bought myself a Cd player alarm but who could afford it on the lousy salary I make?” His wife stirs beside him.  She’s gained too much wait.  Their relationship isn’t anything what it used to be.  What hope is there for the future? *

Today we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord.  In doing so we must recognize everything about the life of Jesus is meant to tell us about our own.  We follow Him into baptism so we may lead our lives as close to Jesus as we can be, embracing His Vision that we are beloved and wonderfully made.  No exceptions.  If we accept that we can see ourselves and others differently, not as the world sees us.

Many people think Baptism is only about freedom from Original Sin—our compulsion toward a “ME” centered world instead of a God-centered world.  However, Baptism offers us something more.  Our baptisms (bestowed upon most of us when we were mere infants) consecrated us into the truth that God loves us first –before we were even old enough to do anything good, bad or indifferent to ourselves or others.  Remember, in this fourth great event of the Christmas Season (After Christ’s Birth, His Consecration of All Families as Holy Families and His Offering Friendship to the World via the Magi on Epiphany) God called Jesus his “beloved” before he performed any miracle, before he preached any sermon, before he picked up his cross.  So,  too, God calls us his beloved sons and daughters, before we put any of God’s grace and goodness into practice.  Accepting the truth that God loves us first offers us ample opportunities to  love God, ourselves and others more readily, more spontaneously– out of gratitude, awe and wonder.  Thanksgiving for God’s Love, for the life God bestowed upon us constitutes the heart of a good life consecrated in God’s grace.   Baptism insists that we see that.  Jesus underwent Baptism to insist that we understand that.

Baptism and all the subsequent sacraments of the Church inaugurate in us a Heavenly Vision here on earth.  Jesus turned societies’ rules upside down – refusing to judge others in comparison or contrast to Himself.  Instead, He offered Himself in relationship to all—seeking friendship for the sheer enjoyment of being known and knowing others, confident that relationships of honesty, of quality and integrity are the heart of earthly life and the heart of heaven.  Why even the difficult relationships–and Jesus had many of them, including conflicts with his own disciples—yes, even difficult relationships offer opportunities for growth, for patience, courage and transformation.  Jesus literally didn’t care if people were of his stature, wealthy or poor, socially or religiously educated or even disciplined in their behavior.  He made no such judgments. He only desired to engage, to share Himself, His Being and HIS VISION—GOD’S VISION—an alternate way of living, engaging the world for all it CAN BE rather than taking the world on its own terms which all too often (although not always) eschews spiritual truths and values.  

Jesus may have accepted, for example, that it is inevitable that there will be rich and poor in this world, but while society insists that “Progress is King,” that those who succeed are superior beings to those who don’t measure up to its standards of success,  Jesus insisted such disparities never be perpetuated.  Rather, in communion, He invites us to bridge the gap of “the haves” and “have nots” by affirming our common heritage as children of God. If we believe we are “beloved” as Jesus in his humanity was beloved by God, then our task is to affirm the beloved-ness of all including those outside of our “set,” beyond our circle of friends, including those with whom we disagree—even they who are hostile to our vision of communion, those who intentionally thwart cooperation among peoples or refuse to see each and every one as a saint-in-the-making. 

By inaugurating us into a people, a Church, Baptism and the Sacraments support us in helping one another, struggling with one another, conflicting with one another insisting differences can be overcome because of The ONE who first Loved Us.  Sacraments insist we remain thankful for every opportunity we have, and that through Grace, we begrudge no one the same opportunities.  May our commemoration of the  Baptism of the Lord rekindle our lives with the fire of our Baptisms and this Eucharist, confirming our identities as followers of Christ Jesus in whom the Great Commandments to love God, self and others as ourselves continue to hold sway. Christmas may be over,  but its Spirit can perpetuate and enhance our faith, hope and love today, tomorrow and always if we let it.  God Bless us, everyone!

*These scenarios adapted from the book “How To Want What You Have” by Timothy Miller, PH.D. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Copyright 1995 pp 44-46

Mini-Movie Review: RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is an animated morality tale about the blessings and challenges of friendship.  With typical top-notch Disney animation, the script offers remarkable character development of its two protagonists from the first Wreck It Ralph film.  As before, Ralph and Vanellope are expertly voiced by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.  Each vocal performance conveys outstanding character chemistry. There’s also a wonderful surprise in a character with the warmth, beauty and sophistication of none other than the outstanding Gail Gadot (Wonder Woman) although her character’s initial appearance indicates a person of an almost villainous persona. Bits of wisdom abound throughout the movie as Ralph and Vanellope explore the benefits and burdens of the Internet and aspects of their relationship to it and one another.   Younger viewers may get a bit impatient as the plot takes its time to unfold, but there’s lots of eye-popping visuals to encourage perseverance. Still, I’d recommend it to ages nine and up.
Theologically, I found myself meditating on God’s complete non-manipulative, unconditional, genuine love. Because of this, God bestowed the Divine Gift of Free Will upon humankind. Although this truth engages us in the problem of evil in the world, more importantly, it inspires awe in the blessed assurance that God’s love for us insists that love is freely chosen. God’s love remains constant whatever we choose–guiding us to return to the most generous state of loving that only wants the best for others.Each time we may be tempted to control or manipulate a loved one we do well to remember that Imitation of God is our greatest calling.

 

A fine family film.

How to Handle Angry Feelings / A Process of Love-Forgiveness

Steps to Take When I Feel Angry –How to Apply Charity Toward Our Self and Others (including Tools for Addressing Angry or Difficult People)

  1. Instantaneous, interior prayer required! PRAY: “Lord, help me with my anger. Help me understand what is going on in my heart. I often want to fight anger with anger, but I know from my own experience that doing so is unproductive and doesn’t help solve the problem. Help me move from anger to sorrow over the sins of the world.”
  2. Am I afraid?
    1. Am I in physical danger? “Help me to be wise and extricate myself from this person or situation immediately.”
    2. Is my fear based on my insecurities? “Help me to be sure of your love and forgiveness and not let another person’s judgments distract me from your love.”2. Am I afraid to admit my wrongdoing? “Give me courage to be humble and truthful and ask, ‘What may I do to undo the damage that has been done?’” B, Am I being accused of something unjustly? “Help me to be patient and find the right time and manner to explain the situation more fully.
  3. Is my current adversary putting me down, judging or ridiculing me? “Let me not give this person power over me and play on my insecurities. Instead make me confident in your Love for Me and trust that his or her anger is more about their fears and insecurities. Remind me that fear and anger most often occur when we forget or negate your love/ forgiveness for us–including our fear of change.”
  4. Am I being taken advantage of? “Help me to claim my right to not answer my antagonist’s questions and not to make any agreements until I have more time to examine the situation.” Say, “I feel uncomfortable with what you are asking. Let me get back to you.”
  5. Is it pride that makes me angry? “Help me to see that my life is not about me but always about You. Instill in me the truth that You intend the salvation of the world—a plan that involves me to live according to your will, not mine.”
  6. State what you OBSERVE about the other person’s state –NOT WHAT THEY SAY OR DO.
    1. “I see that you are very angry and upset. This matter is very important to you. Help me understand what you are going through.”
    2. Next state what’s going on within you. Examples:
      1. “When you act this way, I am frightened. Are you aware that you are frightening me? May we address this issue in some other way? Or Take “Time Out?”
      2. “Your actions have harmed me and/or another person. It is wrong to express our thoughts and feelings in this way. I must ask you to leave the room and consider the harm you have done until you calm down. If you will not excuse yourself, I must ask you to leave our home.”
      3. “Your strong emotions bring up feelings of my own angers that are tied to thoughts that perhaps you don’t understand me or know me the ways that I thought you did. Or maybe it is I who don’t fully know or understand you. How may we understand one another better without rancor?”
  7. Introduce New Levels of Logic: “What do you think is really going on here? Are yours or someone else’s feelings be ignored or dismissed as unimportant?”  “Sometimes we think LOVE means that we must do what the other person wants us to do. Isn’t there a better logic than this?”   “Will praying together help us now – or do we need more discussion first?”
  8. When Communication Breaks Down: “We are having a communication problem. Please know that my statement is not a judgment on you. It’s a problem to be solved.” What logic do you use to maintain that saying this becomes an accusation against you?   Do you not believe that every human being needs to work on improving his or her communication skills without thinking that they are a loser or something worse? There’s a wonderful saying. ” Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Only God is perfect. Let’s acknowledge our imperfections and work on addressing your feelings and mine with patience and charity.”
  9. Keep in mind this response: “There’s a certain way of thinking–a kind of logic that you hold on to–that causes you great pain and anxiety. It also brings heartache to all who Love you. May we take a “step back” and explore other ways of looking at this situation? If we are to ever have the peace we need and want, we must seek different ways of thinking, so we can love ourselves. We all need to love ourselves because we are Children of God. Life is about learning to accept Love as it is offered, not as we think it is supposed to be offered. Therefore, HOPE is a matter of lowered expectations as far as people are concerned. We must change our way of thinking if we ever want to be happy. I can’t do that for you. But I know this: As you learn to be kinder to yourself, you’ll find yourself more patient and kinder toward me and to others. Meanwhile, I’m going for a walk because I have great difficulty with the ways you express anger. (“And I don’t want to treat you the way I experience you treating me.”)
  10. Here’s another one: “I understand that you are very angry. And, of course, this is an important issue. If I have done something wrong, I am willing to take responsibility for it. But, remember, Jesus says “Stop condemning! Stop Judging!” because condemning and judging prevent us from solving our problems. So, ask yourself “Do I want help extracting myself from the blaming game, or not?” There are more productive ways to deal with our hurts and fears and angers. Shall we explore these together or do you need to do this on your own? I want to respect your needs. Take as much time as you need. At some point, I trust we will be able to work together to solve this problem.”
  11. Self-Care:
  • Don’t try to teach someone a lesson unless he or she has enrolled in the course!
  • When someone says he or she is not ready to discuss the issue, believe them! Postponing a needed discussion is NOT a personal insult or injury.
  • Be ever-ready to say, “Let’s talk about this later.” But be sure to set the time aside sooner-than-later.

REMEMBER: THESE ARE TOOLS –NOT GUARANTEES inspired by Jesus is teaching “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek.” We now interpret these instructions to mean that we are not to let others take our God-given self-worth and dignity from us. Standing firm in God’s constant love/forgiveness for us, we remind our adversaries of our common humanity. Jesus does not want us to accept their abuse. Luke 6: 27 ff If you just need to VENT –Pray Psalm 109

Love-Forgiveness

By Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.   http://www.LukeLive.com

We either Live in Love-Forgiveness (ONE WORD) or we do not. We must cultivate Love-Forgiveness in our hearts and invite loved ones to do the same. What’s needed for love-forgiveness to reign? Here’s the short list of what to do when we are hurt, angry, betrayed

  • In the heat of the moment, learn to say things like “I am deeply hurt and/or angry by what was said or what is happening (or ‘just happened.’) We need to take “time out” to think this through.”
  • Vent, Rage and Cry to the Only Fully Objective Loved One — GOD; Jesus Himself prayed psalms of lament and disappointment. If you need to share your feelings with another person, try to pick a trusted relative or friend who is not likely to get involved emotionally, come to your defense or take sides against the other.
  • Insist relatives and friends respect the integrity of each personal relationship. Allow only the individuals involved to work through the conflict. Others must avoid all temptation to pass judgment, condemn or enter the fray unless physical  o r deep emotional abuse occurred, or the incident involves a minor in need of protection.
  • Secure that God loves you in your anger, your hurt, your betrayal –that God’s love for you is the foundation of your life—pray that you are moved to PITY the one who hurt you. See in him or her a fellow human being who has fallen from grace, given into temptation of selfishness, greed, violence, fear or weakness.
  • Take TIME OUT, allow yourself time to let grace take hold of you and move you from hurt, and/ or rage to pity and, finally, to tenderness.”
  • Pray Pity be transformed to TENDERNESS as you would offer tenderness to a disobedient child; everyone has a right to live, to learn, to improve, to encounter God through Love-Forgiveness – In this world of ours, it is one of the primary ways to encounter God.
  • Allow for Time to Pass, i.e., GOD’s Time, not “our time,” for you and the other person to come to a place of reviewing the situation and his or her actions calmly and honestly. Here we must trust in Jesus’ and the Psalms’ constant reminder that God allows the sun to shine on the just and unjust, good and the wicked precisely to allow people to choose to evaluate the harm they’ve done to themselves and others. Say, “I was very hurt / angry by what was said and done. I need to understand what you were feeling and where you were coming from. That will help me a lot. Then, if you are willing, I would like to share my feelings and concerns.”
  • With patience, discern forms of accountability you may eventually offer your assailant or adversary—just as a priest offers penance to sinners in the confessional. As penance offers actions and prayers to help the penitent to both show remorse AND accept accountability for his or actions in praise of God, so, too, must we be “priests to one another,” offer opportunities for change – as you would with a child.” Ask “How can I help and support you to undo the damage that’s been done?”
  • If the offender agrees to amend the situation and, if warranted, get treatment for his or her behavior, don’t try to reconcile the relationship right away. If asked, let the other person know that you continue to work on reconciliation but are not ready to remove restrictions on your relationship. Meanwhile, assure them you will pray for their working through their problem and taking responsibility for their actions. More patience is needed for the elderly and infirm than for younger, healthier people.
  • If the offender is not willing to address the issue (e.g. “this is who I am; I’m not changing; my way or none at all”) your health and safety may require the relationship to move to a respectable distance, or, if irreconcilable issues, severed. Forgive in your heart, so you are FREE from reliving the hurt, the pain; free to move onward toward a wiser, humbler, more hopeful future.

Paulist Press Resources: Healing Life’s Hurts by Dennis Linn and Matthew Linn

Don’t Forgive Too Soon by Dennis and Sheila Linn and Matthew Linn

Good Goats – Healing Our Image of God by Dennis and Sheila Linn and

Matthew Linn http://www.paulistpress.com/

We Must Fight Antisemitism

As condolences are offered to the Congregation of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, please spread the word: Antisemitism is totally illogical. It is irrational hatred pure and simple. It must be taught as unacceptable in all our schools and institutions; its illogic explained and shown to be akin to all prejudices and hatreds everywhere. No peoples should become the scapegoat for anything–not for any incident, policy or circumstance. Individuals may be guilty of wrong doing and governments of wrong judgement and policies, but not an entire ethnic group. Not ever. Here is yet another example of the insanity in our nation and world. Please join me in prayer that Wisdom will prevail. May churches and synagogues and mosques and temples join together and sponsor education on the roots of hatreds, prejudices and violence and promote a unified effort toward Shalom! Shalom! Shalom! If not now, when?

Here’s an article by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks that begins to address the levels of illogic of antisemitism and hatred.  It’s entitled Two Types of Hate.  This  article came from his email series called Covenant and Conversation, Aug 30, 2017,  You may find out more about Rabbi Sacks from his website: http://rabbisacks.org/about-us/

The Israelites had two enemies in the days of Moses: the Egyptians and the Amalekites. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. They turned them into a forced labour colony. They oppressed them. Pharaoh commanded them to drown every male Israelite child. It was attempted genocide. Yet about them, Moses commands:

Do not despise an Egyptian, because you were strangers in his land. (Deut. 23:8)

The Amalekites did no more than attack the Israelites once1, an attack that they successfully repelled (Ex. 17:13). Yet Moses commands, “Remember.” “Do not forget.” “Blot out the name.” In Exodus the Torah says that “God shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (Ex. 17:16). Why the difference? Why did Moses tell the Israelites, in effect, to forgive the Egyptians but not the Amalekites?

The answer is to be found as a corollary of teaching in the Mishna, Avot (5:19):

Whenever love depends on a cause and the cause passes away, then the love passes away too. But if love does not depend on a cause then the love will never pass away. What is an example of the love which depended upon a cause? That of Amnon for Tamar. And what is an example of the love which did not depend on a cause? That of David and Jonathan.

When love is conditional, it lasts as long as the condition lasts but no longer. Amnon loved, or rather lusted, for Tamar because she was forbidden to him. She was his half-sister. Once he had had his way with her, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” (2 Sam. 13:15). But when love is unconditional and irrational, it never ceases. In the words of Dylan Thomas: “Though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion.”

The same applies to hate. When hate is rational, based on some fear or disapproval that – justified or not – has some logic to it, then it can be reasoned with and brought to an end. But unconditional, irrational hatred cannot be reasoned with. There is nothing one can do to address it and end it. It persists.

That was the difference between the Amalekites and the Egyptians. The Egyptians’ hatred and fear of the Israelites was not irrational. Pharaoh said to his people:

‘The Israelites are becoming too numerous and strong for us. We must deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving [us] from the land.’ (Ex. 1:9-10)

The Egyptians feared the Israelites because they were numerous. They constituted a potential threat to the native population. Historians tell us that this was not groundless. Egypt had already suffered from one invasion of outsiders, the Hyksos, an Asiatic people with Canaanite names and beliefs, who took over the Nile Delta during the Second Intermediate Period of the Egypt of the pharaohs. Eventually they were expelled from Egypt and all traces of their occupation were erased. But the memory persisted. It was not irrational for the Egyptians to fear that the Hebrews were another such population. They feared the Israelites because they were strong.

(Note that there is a difference between “rational” and “justified”. The Egyptians’ fear was in this case certainly unjustified. The Israelites did not want to take over Egypt. To the contrary, they would have preferred to leave. Not every rational emotion is justified. It is not irrational to feel fear of flying after the report of a major air disaster, despite the fact that statistically it is more dangerous to drive a car than to be a passenger in a plane. The point is simply that rational but unjustified emotion can, in principle, be cured through reasoning.)

Precisely the opposite was true of the Amalekites. They attacked the Israelites when they were “weary and weak”. They focused their assault on those who were “lagging behind.” Those who are weak and lagging behind pose no danger. This was irrational, groundless hate.

With rational hate it is possible to reason. Besides, there was no reason for the Egyptians to fear the Israelites any more. They had left. They were no longer a threat. But with irrational hate it is impossible to reason. It has no cause, no logic. Therefore it may never go away. Irrational hate is as durable and persistent as irrational love. The hatred symbolised by Amalek lasts “for all generations.” All one can do is to remember and not forget, to be constantly vigilant, and to fight it whenever and wherever it appears.

There is such a thing as rational xenophobia: fear and hate of the foreigner, the stranger, the one not like us. In the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity, it was vital to distinguish between members of your tribe and those of another tribe. There was competition for food and territory. It was not an age of liberalism and tolerance. The other tribe was likely to kill you or oust you, given the chance.

The ancient Greeks were xenophobic, regarding all non-Greeks as barbarians. So still are many native populations. Even people as tolerant as the British and Americans were historically distrustful of immigrants, be they Jews, Irish, Italian or Puerto Rican – and for some this remains the case today. What happens, though, is that within two or three generations the newcomers acculturate and integrate. They are seen as contributing to the national economy and adding richness and variety to its culture. When an emotion like fear of immigrants is rational but unjustified, eventually it declines and disappears.

Antisemitism is different from xenophobia. It is the paradigm case of irrational hatred. In the Middle Ages Jews were accused of poisoning wells, spreading the plague, and in one of the most absurd claims ever – the Blood Libel – they were suspected of killing Christian children to use their blood to make matzot for Pesach. This was self-evidently impossible, but that did not stop people believing it.

The European Enlightenment, with its worship of science and reason, was expected to end all such hatred. Instead it gave rise to a new version of it, racialantisemitism. In the nineteenth century Jews were hated because they were rich and because they were poor; because they were capitalists and because they were communists; because they were exclusive and kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they were believers in an ancient, superstitious faith and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.

Antisemitism was the supreme irrationality of the age of reason.

It gave rise to a new myth, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a literary forgery produced by members of the Czarist Russia secret police toward the end of the nineteenth century. It held that Jews had power over the whole of Europe – this at the time of the Russian pogroms of 1881 and the antisemitic May Laws of 1882, which sent some three million Jews, powerless and impoverished, into flight from Russia to the West.

The situation in which Jews found themselves at the end of what was supposed to be the century of Enlightenment and emancipation was stated eloquently by Theodor Herzl, in 1897:

We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us. In vain are we loyal patriots, sometimes superloyal; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to enhance the fame of our native lands in the arts and sciences, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In our native lands where we have lived for centuries we are still decried as aliens, often by men whose ancestors had not yet come at a time when Jewish sighs had long been heard in the country . . . If we were left in peace . . . But I think we shall not be left in peace.

This was deeply shocking to Herzl. No less shocking has been the return ofantisemitism in parts of the world today, particularly the Middle East and even Europe, within living memory of the Holocaust. Yet the Torah intimates why. Irrational hate does not die.

Not all hostility to Jews, or to Israel as a Jewish state, is irrational, and where it is not, it can be reasoned with. But some of it is irrational. Some of it, even today, is a repeat of the myths of the past, from the Blood Libel to the Protocols. All we can do is remember and not forget, confront it and defend ourselves against it.

Amalek does not die. But neither does the Jewish people. Attacked so many times over the centuries, it still lives, giving testimony to the victory of the God of love over the myths and madness of hate.

Shabbat Shalom