Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Compare Covid-19 to all other deaths worldwide

Hello, It is interesting to see how global media are making such a case of deaths caused by the Covid-19 disease, which in turn is caused by the virus SARS Cov-2. It appears that the media are dramatizing the situation a little to excess perhaps.

While it is true that SARS Cov-2 is invisible and undetected until symptoms appear - unless one is tested and found positive during that incubation period - which does cause this virus to be scarier than others we have suffered in the past; one might wonder why the threat is being overly dramatized.

Perhaps it is because as a society and culture we have put the whole notion of death and dying so completely out of our conscious minds that any new threat looms larger than it actually should. Check out the data for yourself below, as compiled with the help of WORLD-O-METER.

And then, of course, there is the taboo subject of abortions... those little, defenseless human beings that are ripped out of their mothers' wombs before they have a chance to fully gestate and be born into our world... a world which has become so very hostile and inhospitable for anyone who is not wanted, for one reason or another.... Food for thought and reflection....


Deaths Statistics Worldwide – 2019-2020 


How many people die each day and each year from:                             DAILY                         YEARLY

                        (Daily deaths per sub category)

Cardiovascular diseases                                                                   48,742                      17,790,830

Cancers                                                                                               26,181                        9,556,065

Respiratory diseases (10,724) & 
Lower respiratory infections (7,010)                                              17,734                        6,472,910

Digestive diseases 6,514, Neonatal disorders 4,887,                 (all related to hunger)
Diarrheal diseases 4,300, nutritional deficiencies 740,
Protein energy malnutrition 635, Maternal disorders 531      17,607                        6,426,555

Diabetes 3,753, liver diseases 3,624, 
Kidney disease 3,370, hepatitis 346                                               11,093                        4,048,945

Tuberculosis 3,243, HIV/AIDS 2,615, 
Malaria 1,698, meningitis 789                                                          8,345                        3,045,925

               Hunger    (See all related diseases & disorders)                    8,219                        2,999,935

Dementia 6,889, Parkinson’s disease 933                                       7,822                        2,855,030

Road injuries 3,406, drownings 809, 
Fires 330, poisonings 198                                                                  4,743                        1,731,195

OTHER CAUSES                                                                                    3,227                        1,177,85

Suicides 2,175, Alcohol use disorders 507, 
Drug use disorders 456                                                                      3,138                        1,145,370

COVID-19    (projection) 11’19 – 11’20                                           2,334                            852,060

               Homicides 1,111, wars & conflicts 355, terrorism 72              1,538                           561,370

Heat 146, natural disasters 26                                                              172                             62,78

TOTAL DEATHS                      WORLD-O-METER                                        160,895                     58,726,825

DEATHS DENIED OR IGNORED

ABORTION                                                                                           44,569                      16,267,685

REAL TOTAL DEATHS                                                                                     205,464                     74,994,510

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Communing with God in our everyday life

It is easy for living human beings at any time to feel anxious and troubled. What are we to do at such difficult moments?
First, we are simply to remember that we are right now exactly where God wants us to be... because we are always in the presence of the most Holy Trinity... so at any moment we can stop, close our eyes or look up into the sky, breathe deeply and slowly and then just breathe normally... and become aware of the heat inside our chest... there in our heart is also the center of our soul, our spirit, and we can notice that our breath and this heat are one and the same... There is also the divine light coming from God and shining within us and upon us.... So we can just realize that God in 3 Persons is ALWAYS present and active... so I can allow myself to become passive and receptive... and let God hold me, shine in me, purify me, warm me, comfort me, heal me, and continue to do all that He wants to do within me, as I continue to breathe in and out, in and out.... Then as any concerns come up, I can simply notice them, and hand them over to God, as I continue to breathe in and breathe out.... We can carry on this way until a natural conclusion and then simply get back to our normal active life and family tasks and activities. Repeat this process as often as needed in all simplicity... sometimes as simply as remembering to breathe, conscious of the movement from God into you and from you into God.... Christ is risen, alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A Catholic view of life and death inside a worldwide pandemic

We've heard of, read about, and even studied plagues, epidemics, and natural disasters that have occurred throughout recorded human history. Until now, our perspective has generally been that of the outsider looking in from outside, from a safe distance.

In recent decades there have even been several feature length films on the theme of worldwide plagues or pandemics, which for the most part convey an "end of the world" sort of danger and suspense, including hoped for heroes who lead the containment of the outbreak and the discovery of effective treatments and vaccines.

Now, suddenly in February, March, and April 2020 we all find ourselves no longer outsiders peering into such a threat to the survival of humanity from outside, from a safe distance. Collectively, we find ourselves waking up progressively to the shocking reality and truth that we are, all of us, INSIDE of a worldwide pandemic. We are the human species, immersed in the biosphere on the surface of Planet Earth, under attack by the rapid and invisible propagation of a novel coronavirus - SARS CoV-2 - which, upon entering human air passages, causes the illness Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

This virus, like all such microorganisms, knows no boundaries, no distinctions of language, color, racial or ethnic origin, age, or gender. It is airborne and can also cling to inanimate surfaces, and it is otherwise helpless, needing our help to find its way into our nose or mouth and beyond into our airways, where along it can land, secure itself, and attack healthy cells. It is RNA and incapable of reproducing by itself, and needs to attack a healthy cell in order to make copies of itself and propagate, and in the process, compromise our lungs and breathing passages, thereby producing symptoms of illness and, in the worst cases, causing death.

We human beings living all over the Earth find ourselves without distinction all in the same boat. We are all under threat. Our various civil and religious leaders are trying to mobilize our cooperation to modify our behaviors and adopt safety practices to limit the propagation of this deadly virus. It is a common and worldwide appeal to our collective sense of responsibility, to no longer think only of our own selves and personal interests, but to put the health and well being of others first.

We are coming to understand during this crisis that she and he is most human who is able and willing to take good care of herself / himself, and in addition also commits to joining our collective effort to do all that is personally possible for them to do in order to advance the common good, protect the health and safety of all - especially the most vulnerable - and to count on our collective effort rather than only on oneself.

As Catholic Christians our faith helps us to rise to the occasion of this "best quality of humanity" that takes care of itself while also putting a shoulder to our common load and challenge. People who take the path of this fullness of humanity may do so simply as a best strategy for their own survival and / or that of their family, friends, and community. Without faith in God they may even commit their efforts for "the good of humanity" as a noble ideal.

What Jesus Christ offers us is to be - through personal experience and faith - so convinced of God's love for us that we can in our turn live out of selfless and even self-sacrificing love for others and even in a return of love to God. Jesus' resurrection reveals our common destiny beyond death in life that is eternal in the company of God, the Eternal One. The "price of admission" is complete trust in this love of God, which we are to demonstrate through our unreserved and unconditional service of our neighbor, of all without distinction, even to the point of offering our life. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The pain of not being able to find a priest

Are you a young engaged couple looking for a bilingual priest to marry you?

Increasingly in various parts of the world, and even here in our western societies, it is becoming difficult to find a priest. You might be a young couple in love and you want to get married in your own language in your favorite parish church, but the priest there can't speak your language. So you go looking for a priest who can and you find just how difficult it might be. Priests are older, fewer, and laden with more and more duties. Our priests in many places are suffering a similar fate to lay people in the workplace where, in order to "maximize profits", more and more corporations are eliminating posts and expecting current workers to not only continue doing their own job but, in addition, taking on the jobs of those who have been "downsized", or "excessed", or "reduced"....

The big picture, at least in part, when people make requests of the Church...

One reason for a possible delay in obtaining a bilingual priest to serve you is simply the current conditions in our society and our Church. When I was a boy, the vast majority of people went to Church on Sunday to worship the Lord... we would join the crowds of neighbors all walking to Church. At the same time, the devotion to God and prayerfulness of people and their support of the Church and generosity of both service and contributions raised very high the "good reputation" of God as well as of his Church in society. New parishes were established and new churches built throughout the 1940's to the 1960's because all the churches were literally full to overflowing with 4 to 5 Masses in the church and perhaps 3 to 4 Masses in the basement every Sunday. Most parishes saw anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people every Sunday.

Many young men were therefore encouraged to heed the Lord Jesus calling them to follow Him and join the ranks of his priests at the service of the People of God. Moreover, the generous support of the large Sunday assemblies permitted the local parish to care for the people as well as for their buildings and services. In addition, parishes were receiving enough donations to be able to send their share to the Diocese to enable the Archbishop to assure a number of services needed by everyone but unavailable in parishes.

Then everything changed...

Then came the great prosperity and the emerging "middle class" of the 1950's because of the industrial development brought about, ironically, by the tragedy of World War II, followed by the "sexual revolution" of the 1960's, the abandonment of faith, of the Church, and of God by a large proportion of the population in the 1970's, a kind of "love affair" of society with science and technology in the 1980's (which trend continues until today) and simultaneous distaste for God, faith, and religion, and, sadly, in the 1990's began the coming into broad daylight of the hidden scandal of sexual abuse, clericalism and the abuse of power and authority in the Church.

There has probably always been some sexual misbehavior since the turning of the first human beings away from God. More seriously, there has probably always been the risk of sexual abuse of children within the family circle - by a parent or relative or family friend - due to psychological trouble and emotional immaturity in adults close to children. Also well documented is the risk and occurrence of abuse of women by their husbands or by their parents, and other causes of distress.

Unfortunately, the sexual abuse of children is such pure evil that until our times people could simply not believe that such things could possibly be happening. It is a fact that when a child tried to tell its mother that it has been harmed by the father or uncle or someone else, that all too often the mother just could not believe it, and the child remained isolated.

Until the 1990's not enough was understood about the condition of adults who molest young children; so it was simply seen as a "sin" about which the "sinner" could be expected to feel sorry, repent, and never do it again. What social science research finally discovered is two things. First, that the pedophile who abuses small children has a pathological condition by virtue of which he or she is incapable of realizing the harm they are doing or to stop or "repent". Second, and much more important, the sexual abuse of a child is a very serious crime because of the profound harm done to the child.

The sexual revolution of the 1960's and the abandonment of morality generally in the 1970's by society caused a proliferation of abuse, and many of those who might have been restrained by fear of punishment in the past now no longer felt such restraint and this evil increased. It is now being documented that in a number of seminaries a "homosexual culture" took root which drew in men with unhealthy sexual lifestyles and psychological immaturity; while at the same time trumping the seminary's important duty to "filter" candidates and offer the appropriate formation. This brought new challenges that have to be resolved and a new urgency to face these challenges and work together to find lasting solutions. Thankfully recent popes have taken some important measures and there is reason to hope that they will continue to do so.

The dramatic social upheaval of the 1960's and 1970's caused many serving priests to become aware of doubts regarding their faith and their vocation, and probably more than 1 out of 10 left the priesthood. This trend continued until today when, occasionally, in the face of all these challenges, a priest becomes discouraged and finally leaves the priesthood, but does not necessarily become any happier than he was before.

The crisis of faith...

Social upheaval throughout human history has affected individuals, families, and the whole society. The very dramatic upheavals of the past century have profoundly destabilized human life and family life as well as the whole society as we can see with all the suicides, gender and other identity issues. Troubles in the lives of adults have also had dramatic impacts on children and the young, often affected by such hard changes in their own lives as separation or even divorce by their parents, then having to go through shared custody with their estranged parents, or else being affected by such changes in other people close to them.

Many people have never really experienced the love of God, or struggle in their life because they find God too invisible, too silent, and find their faith almost reduced to insignificance in the face of all the dramatic troubles in society, in the natural environment, and in life in general.

Many people feel their faith is strong when they feel close to God or have the impression that they feel his love for them, but then they feel they have lost their faith when they no longer feel close to God, or don't feel his love, or feel isolated or abandoned in the face to troubles and suffering.

The truth is that - like in the poem "Footprints in the sand" - when we feel close to God it is simply that God is carrying us by his grace. Then, when we feel alone or abandoned by God or suffer because He seems to be silent and invisible, those are the times when God has so much confidence in us that He set us down on our own two feet and says, "Okay, you can do it, go now and play, and know that I am with you."

God is merciful toward his children...

By the grace of God, the taboos preventing us from facing our challenges, from talking about evil wherever it occurs, and from fighting to resolve it and prevent it from happening again, many of these obstacles have finally begun to unravel, and society now feels that it is able to face these wrongs and try to set them right.

God is purifying his Church and is using his Church to bring to the whole society his healing for all that is sick and distorted in persons, family life, and human society. God heard the cries of his children, and in the 1990's the scandal of abuse was brought out into the light of day, thanks be to God.

So how does all this have anything to do with you finding a bilingual priest?

So, now Church authorities are taking strong measures to resolve the problem, to alleviate the suffering of the victims, and to change ways of doing in order to weed out any who might be inclined towards such evil behavior and acts. You need to understand that over the past few decades many priests have left, many have died, the number of those coming forward to replace them has trickled to almost none, the priests we still have are now all older, some of the young who joined us have become discouraged or ill or left their vocation.

In addition, new burdens have been added to the shoulders of the good and faithful priests who, though aging, continue to serve the Lord and his people. Now that instead of 75% of Catholics going to Church on Sunday in Québec, Canada, it is more like 5%. In a typical inner city parish instead of Sunday offerings around $4,000.00 they probably don't get even $1,000.00. Most of our churches are in disrepair and have plaster falling, stones falling out of the walls, leaking roofs, bad plumbing, furnace problems, and the list goes on.

Many beautiful churches have been condemned as unsafe, closed, and the parishes dissolved because they had been abandoned for decades with only a handful of people going on Sunday and an accumulated need for urgent repairs in the millions of dollars for each church. Most parishes can't even afford to give their priests the proper salary, or have a full time secretary, or even give a proper salary to their janitor. There is only so much that volunteers can do.

So, what are your options?

When I was young, Mass was in Latin, but we followed the Latin prayers with a parallel English text in our missal prayer book. You want to marry at a French church, fine. The priest assigned there speaks French; so he can celebrate your Mass in French and allow you to say your vows in English. He can obtain the text from an English parish. You can read your vows to each other from an index card. No matter the language, the Mass is always Jesus offering Himself to his Father and inviting us to join Him in offering ourselves also to the Father.

Most of our priests are of retirement age, but by the grace of God, they continue to be dedicated and motivated to serve; however, we must all acknowledge that we cannot expect a 70 or 80 or even 90 year old priest to be able to function as though he were still 30 or even 50.

Your desire to have an English Mass in a French church seems simple, but because of the current conditions of our whole Church, is very difficult to fulfill, in fact, it is becoming increasingly impossible. You need to decide what is most important for you... is it the French church or getting married in English or what?

The important thing is that no matter what you decide, God loves you and is with you both and your families. Our Lord Jesus is asking you to be merciful and to feel somewhat sorry for the troubled state of his Church. Society in general has a lot of contempt for the Church, for priests, and even for God. More than ever, as Jesus continues his work of salvation on Earth, He needs our help and our support in any way we can. We all need to do our part.

It is time for Christians to believe in the face of great unbelief, because God is calling us to Himself...

In addition, I believe that God wants everyone to demonstrate a little more respect for Him, for his Church, and, yes, even for his priests. There is something schizophrenic about a society that has contempt for clergy today but then tomorrow wants favors from them, or that turns its back on God and his Church on Sunday but when the occasion arises expects the Church to still be there for them. That would be like expecting doctors, nurses, teachers, police, and firemen to continue serving us while simultaneously cutting their salaries down to 10% of what they have been getting. That would be like no longer repairing your home but expecting it to continue to be in top shape for the next 50 years. It's time for Alice to come back from wonderland.

I have been a priest for over 36 years and I am delighted to have been called by the Lord. I can't say that I am always happy, but my life is punctuated by incredible joy, peace, and the love and mercy of God. It is amazing for me to see the "hand of God" at work in people's lives, to see the gentle flow of "living water" from the Holy Spirit heal, grow, and refresh people from within. Jesus continues to be amazing as Lord, King, Messiah, and High Priest.

We need to encourage men who are hearing Jesus call them to "not be afraid" and to explore the possibilities they have for responding to his call. Please pray for these men every day, and as we all begin once again to truly put our trust in God; then He will manifest his power to save in amazing and even dramatic ways. The whole Bible makes it clear, though, that God wants our faith. He wants us to show that we believe in Him, demonstrate that we want to know and do his will, manifest clearly our willingness to obey Him, and He will most certainly act.

May God bless you both and your families, the Father, and the + Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The wonder of our vital human strengths

It is truly a wonder that we human beings have what are called VITAL HUMAN STRENGTHS. These are innate capacities which we have and are able to mobilize in the pursuit of our life as we try to give meaning and purpose to our lives in accord with our chosen values and way of life. Just as there is a logical network of laws and principles at work in the physical or tangible universe; so there is a similar logical network of laws and principles at work in the spiritual or intangible realm, which is also called the Kingdom of God.

One agency which offers formation in the "Actualization of our Vital Human Strengths" is IFHIM - the Institut de Formation Humaine Intégrale de Montréal - which you can tell by its title operates mostly in French. However they have at times in the past offered formation in English.

We human beings, in accord with this perspective on human existence, have six "vital human strengths", which are so many abilities:

    Ability to choose and accomplish one goal at a time = Self-esteem.
    Ability to choose effective means and renounce others = Self-confidence.
    Ability to take sufficient time and live past and future time freely = Hope.
    Ability to repeat accomplishments, learn from mistakes, and improve = Competence.
    Ability to consistently overcome obstacles and accomplish one's goal = Fidelity.
    Ability to persevere in developing all these abilities to accomplish the goals one chooses to freely give meaning and purpose to one's life = Love of self.

© Dr. Jeannine Guindon, IFHIM, 55 Gouin Ouest, Montréal, Québec, H3L 1H9 Canada  514-331-6861

TRY IT AND SEE FOR YOURSELF - CHOOSING A GOAL

Dear Reader, if you are interested and would like to investigate this perspective on human vitality, then I'd like you to freely choose to do a physical activity, a gratuitous physical activity such as a walk or exercise session at home or at a gym, or a swim... the purpose of which would be to freely choose to give yourself a GRATUITOUS GOAL: to change your mood for the better or to dispel tension you might be feeling. Depending on your condition, there may be some discomfort or even pain involved in setting your whole body into motion, but whatever resistance you may experience, you have within you a capacity to forge ahead in the pursuit of this good goal of feeling better.

It is to be expected that at some point during the physical activity that you will have some enjoyment, fun, satisfaction, good sensations, or simple gladness to be alive. Little pleasures are good as acknowledged by Jesus when He walked this Earth. If this visceral experience of goodness is not evident the first time, it will come, because such goodness has been built into us by our Creator. Even severely handicapped people come to experience satisfaction as they do something to be active and care for themselves.

Now it is important that you personally want to do it, perhaps because I ask it, but actually for the purpose I suggest, namely, to choose to do a physical activity so that by means of it you might come to feel better, even if only a little better. The best means would often be one that is most readily accessible: closest to hand, least expensive, one that would not involve too many obstacles or generate the least distractions along the way. This is because the sole purpose is to allow yourself to hopefully feel better.

Now this is a simple thing to do - to want to feel better and to do something in order to achieve this goal of feeling better. It is a simple thing to give oneself a gratuitous walk or other physical activity. The purpose of your chosen physical activity will be to get the whole body in motion, a continuous motion of your whole body, because God our Creator designed the human body for motion, and during sustained motion of the whole body, our whole living organism goes through a process that could be called "RESET" by which the diverse parts of us converge and coalesce in a kind of "hum" to restore proper functioning of the whole in equilibrium and harmony.

However, we human beings are not entirely simple and we live on simultaneous levels of complexity, or to put it differently, we observe at times very complex movements unfolding simultaneously within us in our body, mind, heart, psyche, and soul. For the simple reason of our human complexity, and in order to help you experience the wonder of a gratuitous physical activity, I offer you the following suggestions or instructions or "mini course". Please receive these instructions in the spirit with which I offer them, that is, simply to help you enter into these helpful dispositions no matter what may happen within you in the course of your freely chosen physical activity the purpose of which is simply to feel better as a result of doing it. Don't let yourself get caught up or worry or be afraid. Simply notice these instructions now and take them in, and trust yourself to remember enough of them to do you good as you pursue your goal and accomplish it.

CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE MEANS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOAL

So the activity will be your chosen MEANS to obtain this good outcome for yourself: to feel better. God is not cruel but good and the Holy Trinity very much want all human beings to experience the goodness of life and to feel well and grateful to be alive as much as possible at any given moment. This is a universal truth and principle, and a major corollary is that in times of trouble, God wants us to face and handle the trouble - with divine help - to endure the trouble as long as it lasts and with as much serenity as possible, and to get over the trouble as soon as possible so as to return to a state of goodness in love, peace and joy in God. Why? So that we may be free to give meaning and purpose to our lives in accord with the universal transcendental principles put in place in the universe by the Creator: truth, goodness, and beauty.

To accomplish any goal, we need to give ourselves the proper means. This requires that we choose one means out of many possibilities and, in choosing this particular means, we must necessarily renounce any other possible means. In order to choose one means, one way to achieve your goal by engaging in this particular physical activity, you will need to renounce other possible means and be free to invest in this chosen one. It will be a gratuitous physical activity in that you will not accumulate any other ends to the activity: no mailing of letters or picking up of groceries or any other practical thing or conversations with anyone along the way.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES ALONG THE WAY

It is truly a wonder that we human beings have an innate capacity to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of our goals. If someone greets or engages you in any way, you may gently acknowledge them but not slow down or stop your activity, perhaps thanking them but letting them go with a "See you later" or "have to let you go" or other such "goodbye phrase". This physical activity will be for your good alone and for your good only. In your value and dignity as a human being created in the image and likeness of God, you have the right to keep your own company and to put others off entirely or until another time. You have the right to defer to another time any obligations you may have to others whether they like this or not. Their reactions are their own and you are not responsible for them.

GIVING YOURSELF THE APPROPRIATE TIME

Having chosen a particular physical activity to get your whole body into sustained motion, you then will need to chose an appropriate TIME and also to allot yourself "sufficient time" in order to accomplish your chosen goal, which is to change your mood and to feel better. This also means letting go of any thoughts that may come to you about past time, for the past has passed and you can no longer do anything to change it. In order to be fully available to yourself in the present moment for this physical activity it is important that you leave all the past behind in order to be fully in the present. Similarly, it is important that you simply let go of any thoughts or considerations about future time - the near future or the far future or any future - that may at any moment come to you. Notice such thoughts and let them go... return to walking or.... Notice... let it go... keep walking... breathing....

The human mind and imagination and memory are busy faculties that can generate considerable activity... please resist any dark temptation to berate yourself or judge yourself or be harsh to yourself over any such thoughts about the past or the future... you are only human and such thoughts naturally come in due course until the day we die. That you may have such thoughts is no big deal... I only ask that, if and when such thoughts that are not about the present might come to you, that you simply acknowledge them - just notice them - and immediately put them aside, let them go, refocus on the present and your physical activity which you continue to freely choose to do because you would like to feel better. These and any other "distractions" that may "flow" within you are merely functions of being a living human being, and the wonder of it is that we all have within us an amazing capacity to "manage" all this "traffic" within us and allow much of it to gently "slip into the background" by acknowledging it and gently letting it go by refocusing our whole attention on our present freely chosen activity, this walk or... whatever it is. This is actually much easier to do when I allow myself to enjoy my walk or other physical activity.

IMPROVING TOWARDS COMPETENCE and PERSEVERING TOWARDS APPROPRIATE LOVE OF SELF

Overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of our goals is a human vital strength which brings profound satisfaction the more we exercise this function and actually overcome obstacles and go on pursuing our goals or, in this case, our singular goal.

So, to the extent possible for you, all I need to add is ENJOY, HAVE FUN, no matter what "dark thoughts" may come within you or cause resistance in giving yourself permission to do this, or to even think of feeling better.... If nothing else works, then please trust me, and just decide to do it for your own good.

Reader, if you wish, you can invite someone to freely to engage in a similar exercise for themselves, for their own good. Of course, if you do, then this would add a dimension of solidarity for you with each other, but your motivation would be to do it for your own good first of all, to change your mood and / or to feel better, such as to feel better after feeling stressed or emotional in any other way or agitated or worried, etc. It may be too distracting initially to do the same activity together at the same time, unless of course you are already accustomed to doing so. However, if running or swimming or walking has been part of a "training mode"; then this would be entirely different. In training you are setting a specific time or distance for yourself, which is a completely different motive. This time, the duration or distance are not at all the goal, but simply "to feel better". So you may want to do it is such a way that, once you do realize you have come to feel better, you won't have to far to go to return home; lest you overexert, get tired, and unravel your benefit of "feeling better".

As you pursue this course and actualize your vital human strengths, you will find yourself learning, improving, and achieving levels of competence. In time and as you persevere in the pursuit of your goals in efforts to give meaning and purpose to your life in accord with your chosen values, you will experience within you an authentic love of self, which is a visceral conviction that you are doing all you can to welcome and embrace the gift of your life and to live your life as fully as you can for your own good and the good of all. There is no greater goal than to live your life as a gift of love. There is no greater love than to give one's life that others may also live.

THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-REPRESENTATION

While we all have these vital human strengths, in order to actualize and develop them fully, it helps to become more aware of our use of them. One way to do this is for an interested person whom you trust to take interest in your experience and engage in conversation with you about a specific activity, such as the walk or swim or cycle you chose in order to change your mood and feel better. As this interested person asks you specific questions about your decision and activity, your desire to answer them will cause you to go back into your memory of the walk. As you recall your experience and hear yourself relate elements of the experience in order to reply to your friend's questions, hearing yourself in the telling will cause you to REPRESENT YOURSELF TO YOURSELF, in other words, you will bring to full awareness in the present what you did, how you did it, why you did it, what obstacles you overcame, and so on....

HAVE FUN....

Peace to you and to your families....

                Pax + Caritas,       Fr. Gilles

Friday, January 24, 2020

God's plan to bring us into abundance of life

Dear Reader and Fellow Pilgrim on the Journey of Human Life,

The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time will be, beginning with this New Year 2020, The Sunday of the Word of God. In the Gospels especially we meet Jesus who found so many creative ways of describing the Father's will for us to have life in abundance now and in eternity. One day Jesus defined eternal life in John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

So, we can truthfully say that the Word of God, the Bible, is "God's plan to bring us into abundance of life on Earth and in eternity". This sounds wonderful, but on considering who and what we are, and into which state of awareness and condition of living we are hearing these words and "taking them in" to consider them; we begin to make some difficult observations....

1.  There is a big "hole" in the middle of the human heart which no one call fill except God the Father with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we expect other human beings to fill this empty place - which makes us feel isolated, alone, lonely, abandoned - it never works, because only God can fill our empty heart, mind, and soul.

2. This is not bad news or a tragedy... it is really good news... because God fully intends to "move in with us" if only we let Him, if we let Them, the Holy Trinity, make themselves at home in us. God made us this way so that we would become motivated to pay more attention to God and welcome the divine presence within us.

To this end there are many ways God has given us to help us open the doors of our mind, heart, soul, and body to the divine presence: in what comes next you will see words highlighted in blue and underlined - these are called "hot links" that when you click on them with the mouse pointer, they open up your browser which lets you go on the Internet to other websites, where you will find teachings and instructions useful for you:

See these links: the Holy Mass, praying with the Word of God in the Bible, the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Liturgy of the Hours, contemplating God and in silence "visiting with Him", praying in front of a beautiful holy image or statue, going for a contemplative walk, and much more about prayer and God.

3. We are also made for human companionship, but this doesn't work very well when we go out looking for companions, just like we do when we go shopping for things we need for ourselves or our home. People are not things that we can go looking for in order to find them. The opposite is true: we are the ones that others can find.

4. God's plan for companions to find one another is really quite simple... it is like fruit growing on trees. When the fruit become ripe, all living things are attracted: people, birds, animals, and insects. The goodness of the ripe fruit makes the fruit attractive. It is the same with us. We need to do what the fruit does - we need to welcome God's vitality and grace in order to grow, mature, and ripen. That we grow and become ripe is God's affair, his work, his worry, and sometimes his problem. Our part is to keep paying attention to God and all day long to make room for God and his love inside of us.

5. If we do this and do our best to put God first all day long and every day, then in time we will become "ripe" and others will be attracted to us and companionship will become possible between us and them. It is important not to worry or obsess about "getting" a companion; instead, we need to look around and begin to notice others more, to see what is happening to others around us, to notice when they are in need, and each day not to close our heart to others in their need, but rather to consider what we might do to help them or lighten their load, such as: to offer a sincere and heartfelt smile, to offer assistance, to get their groceries along with our own for a person that is house bound, and so on....

6. In the meantime, Dear Reader, you can look for opportunities to meet other people, such as "Singles for Christ" in the "Couples for Christ" movement. If you decide to check out this movement or any other, go just for the sake of finding out what is their purpose, and simply to meet other people. We all belong in community, and when others welcome us, it is a good thing. Just be careful not to allow any lonely feelings to push you to "go shopping" for companionship. Instead, do your best each day to live the five points listed above this one.

Please take this to heart and try doing these things, and then let me know how it goes....

Peace to you and your family.... Happy New Year!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Boeing 737 Max - What about the common good?

What are we to think of the ongoing crisis in aviation concerning the Boeing 737 Max? Evidence in the U.S.A. is accumulating that there is something structurally wrong with this model, which was a redesign in order to put in larger engines in response to its competitor in Europe. The result appears to have been that the plane tends to put its nose down instead of gliding effortlessly; as planes are supposed to do. Rather than solve this mechanical fault it was decided to make a software solution which would require new training for pilots. The result has been two fatal crashes and for now the planes are all grounded. There is a wrestling match between Boeing and the FAA regulating agency and, now, public opinion.

So what are we to think? There is a growing groundswell of advice for people to avoid any flights on any Boeing 737 but with flight cancellations and changes this may be beyond anyone's control.

For me the underlying issue is much deeper and much more serious, because it stems from the human condition. Charles Dickens was so taken with it that he wrote many novels to express all the human trouble he observed. It comes down to each individual's choice in the face of their human limitations, faults, and disturbing inclinations.

A person either chooses to make relentless daily efforts to master their impulses, inclinations, passions, bad habits, weaknesses, sins... or they don't. The person who settles with their faults, shuts down their conscience by considering moral questions as irrelevant, and sets out to look after their own interests first or exclusively becomes a person who represents a very real and serious threat to the rest of society, because this is a person who sets out to use, manipulate, and exploit others. To use an analogy, that person becomes a shark that considers all other people as so many fish on the "menu" to be consumed at will.

In a society as sophisticated as the U.S.A., this scenario is taken to complex levels in which the legal system, the medical system, the political system, the banking and financial system, government agencies, and transnational corporations, become transformed by a preponderance of "sharks" who employ the full weight of their resources - such as teams of lawyers, engineers, architects, and other professionals - to obtain results which are the complete opposite of the common good originally intended by human laws and customs. The rich, powerful, and influential push their own agendas and "to hell" with everyone else.

The Boeing problem is a mere pimple on the rear end of American society, but the real problem is far worse and much more serious a threat to the common good. America boasts it is the best society in the world, but its form of democracy and capitalism favors the less than one percent who are the rich, the powerful, and the influential who grab the levers of control of the dynamics of the whole society in order to look after their own interests, euphemistically called "American interests", but they turn events away from the common good and toward their own private interests. In public they create a mirage of the opposite, declaring unashamedly that they are doing everything in their power to serve the common good, but in private and in practice, the opposite is true.
The results are everywhere visible in the U.S.A. Consider "Corporate America" and the growing number of thriving little towns turned into ghost towns after the Walmarts of this world have squeezed all the juice out, put all the little businesses out of work, and abandoned their empty store to move on to another town in order to do the same there. American corporations are securely locked into a form of capitalism whose only interests are the profit and well being of the owners, board members and officers, and the controlling share holders. The profit and well being of everyone else, including all their workers, are of little or no consequence; such that with little or no notice they move jobs out of the country or eliminate them altogether with no apology or any sense of wrongdoing.

Then there is the medical system and public health. There are the 1 out of 4 Americans who don't have health coverage at all - the "working poor" - whose values prevent them from taking welfare but who can't afford health insurance. The bulk of Americans who do have health insurance are often told their condition isn't covered. Insurance companies - life as well as health and others too - have lots of staff whose job is to full exploit the exclusions in the contract to save the company as much money as possible and refuse as many claims as possible.

Then there is the legal system which tolerates hordes of "ambulance chasing lawyers", sharks, who encourage desperate people to sue for almost anything, whether legitimate or reasonable or not, and the judiciary system that tolerates and allows wrongful suits, driving the legal costs way out into space. People with the money to hire teams of lawyers trained in all the ways of exploiting laws to profit their employers destroy the lives of people they sue, and the judiciary is often without the wisdom of Solomon and gives its stamp of approval to such miscarriage of justice.
Then there is the food industry which has so industrialized agriculture that they are depleting the soils and turning them into deserts while producing foods that are less and less nutritious, also taking pains and employing lawyers to pressure small farmers out of their family farms in order to seize their property and turn it into huge agribusiness fields. A new strategy is the biological modification and copyrighting of seeds and suing small farmers out of their right to use normal seeds and in the end causing them to lose their farms so they can grab them.

Then there is big pharma which has industrialized medicine and exerts considerable power over the medical system and has pressured, bought, or sued legitimate alternative medical practices and practitioners out of existence, going so far as to create by malicious rumor suspicion of alternative doctors and going so far as to destroy their practices and even drive them to mysterious deaths.
Then there is the banking and financial system that in the U.S.A. has one of the most if not the most unforgiving rule book. All too often contracts clearly state that should the borrower default in their payments beyond a certain limit that their property reverts to the bank or financial institution and they are out on the street. Any number of life crises as indicated above can put people in a situation of hardship where they are unable for a time to pay their mortgage or taxes. When that happens, if they have no rich relatives to help them or insufficient income, they are consumed by the "sharks" and join the ranks of the homeless.

In society that final recourse rests on government. It is the role of government to rule the nation on behalf of its citizens and to ensure the common good by regulating the many rabid human tendencies which tend to exploit the weak and helpless. America came closest to having such a government as an outcome of WW II when in the 1950's a large middle class came into being with an abundance of well paid jobs, good homes, and good health care. Then from the 1960's and 1970's on - coinciding with the government's insane warmongering in Viet Nam and subsequently other nations - American presidents led governments that progressively deregulated all of these fields of action in order to favor the rich, powerful, and influential by simultaneously disenfranchising the common citizen.

One of the results of all of these situations can be observed on late night TV in the "GREAT U.S.A." where people sell schemes for getting rich by gobbling up homes and properties of people who have fallen on hard times and are very late in paying their mortgages or taxes. Banks and financial institutions are the first to take over properties in default of their mortgage payments, but when the banks haven't already seized people's homes, entrepreneurs can grab them simply by paying the back taxes and the people who owned those homes are on the street.

A second result is the poor condition of infrastructures all over the U.S.A. - decrepit utility grids, bridges, dams, roads, sewage systems, and so on - because the rich, powerful, and influential refuse to pay their fair share and insist the burden fall squarely on the common citizen and taxpayer. Rather than do that, governments allow conditions to further deteriorate. Remember what happened to New Orleans when the poor condition of the levees allowed the hurricane to destroy much of the city and make permanently homeless any number of residents.

This is just a brief sketch of the scandalous condition of America's public institutions, and the Boeing problem appears to be wrong in the eyes of public America only because the callous disregard of its agents for the common good was so negligent that they exposed to public view what all the other sharks manage to keep hidden from view. The proof of that is how the current president manages to persuade much of the population that he is acting in their interests at the very same time that he is acting on behalf of all the rich, powerful, and influential and not at all for the common good. There are a few exceptions, such as the way in which at the United Nations he leads the American presence and delegation in hindering the efforts of those bent on forcing the nations into adopting abortion policies against their own nations' values in favor of preserving human life.

Please don't get me wrong... I have met many Americans during my seven decades of life on Planet Earth, both in the U.S.A. and elsewhere around the world, but especially here in Canada. Rarely have I not liked or even admired those Americans I have known. It is ironic that there can be so many very fine Americans while they endure such perverse public institutions. Their government buildings have emulated Greek architecture, as the Romans also did, in part because from the beginning they have seen themselves as successors to the Roman Empire.

Like them, they now interfere worldwide in the affairs of other nations, going so far as to bring down governments they consider unfavorable to their interests. No governments anywhere can be permitted to truly serve the common good in the genuine interests of the general population, because in their view the supreme interests are those of the rich, the powerful, and the influential. The general population can only be allowed the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich, if there are any, but if not; then that's just too bad.

American public institutions are not particularly more blameworthy than you or I, because they are simply more visible manifestations of the human condition, and what Christians call the original sin. Once human beings turn away from the benevolent will of their Creator and God, they no longer have any solid moral grounds for their thoughts or feelings, for their choices or decisions, for their deeds or behavior. Once we treat God as if He doesn't exist, the way is clear for us to take his place. America makes this most eloquently clear by constantly deciding what is to be considered good or evil, but always in accord with its current definition of American interests.

We in Canada are not far behind with our frenzied public enthusiasm for doing away with unwanted babies and anyone who may be tired of suffering or even of living, just as easily as we are publicly eager to redefine not only marriage but even what it means to be a human person, a man or woman. Without God there can be no moral compass, and I feel deep pity for people without God. It is still good news, no, great news, that God does not so easily abandon us as we abandon Him. During these Days of Christmas we have found once again great joy in celebrating the One who came to dwell among us - Emmanuel - Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Messiah, the true Savior of the world.

DISCLAIMER:    It is possible that I may have been inaccurate in one or other of my statements above or in the details. What I have written is nothing of my own but simply an accumulation of other people's observations as reported in countless articles, reports, public inquiries, public investigations, books by professionals, public scandals, American citizens I've been privileged to meet and know, other eye witnesses, and other reliable sources of information that I have been privileged over the past 5 decades to see, hear, or read. Where I am in error, I apologize, and am quite eager to receive authentic evidence to the contrary; upon reception of which I will gladly revise my views.

Peace to you and your family, and a very Happy, Healthy, and Holy New Year 2020!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A family activity: Reading Pope Francis' Letter "On the Meaning and Importance of the Nativity Scene"

Good Day Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Pope Francis has written a letter to us inviting us to contemplate the meaning and gift of Jesus' coming to us, which we celebrate at Christmas... Parents might want to share each of the thoughts in it with your children... a little each day....

The Diocese of Montreal gives a brief summary of his letter: https://www.diocesemontreal.org/en/news-and-info/latest-news/pope-writes-apostolic-letter-significance-christmas-creche

Here is the letter itself: https://www.diocesemontreal.org/sites/default/files/2019-12/Pope%20Francis_Ap%20Letter_2019-12-01_admirabile-signum.pdf

Peace to you all and blessed preparation for the celebrations of Christmas and extending this joy into the 12 days of Christmas.... Even the poor, sick, oppressed, and suffering are able to turn their attention away from their distress to take joy in our God who at every moment and in every circumstance comes to share in our lives, to be with us where we are, so that we may not be alone and take comfort from his love for us.

We take heart at the good news that our distress will not last forever but will come to an end when the Lord commands. This relief enables us to turn to our neighbor, especially the one in need, to extend a smile, a comforting word, a helping hand....

Blessed continuation of Advent and entry into the joy of the Christmas Season!

                Pax + Caritas,       Fr. Gilles


Monday, November 25, 2019

Is the Pope a heretic, or are we Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, or Lawyers?


Is the Pope a heretic, or are we Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, or Lawyers?

Thanks be to God for Catholic TV and Radio

Like many Roman Catholics I have been pleased to watch programs on EWTN and Salt + Light. I was in seminary when in 1981 Mother Angelica listened to the Holy Spirit and boldly had the first TV and Radio studio built. It was seen as a remarkable act of God and an act of mercy for his Church and for all his children, the people of our time. 

Who are we to accuse this particularly fine Pope of heresy?

To my dismay, and that of many, perhaps countless R.C. Christians, there are now some who in the name of reporting news are joining voices that accuse Pope Francis of heresy. A number of analysts suspect that the primary motive of these accusations – which have been shadowing Pope Francis almost from the start of his pontificate – is that certain people don’t like the Pope’s call and efforts at reform in the Church. 

Is this a contemporary echo of what happened to Jesus?

The more I reflect on this and pray about it, the more apparent it seems to me that Pope Francis is being offered by our Lord Jesus an opportunity to suffer what He also suffered during his short 3-year mission on Earth. Jesus tried to reform the Temple’s practice of cluttering up the “Court of the Gentiles” with merchants selling sacrificial animals and bankers changing currencies. The Court of the Gentiles was part of the Temple intended by God to be a place where interested Gentiles could come for conversation with Jews about God.

Jesus’ efforts to reform the faith of Israel included reminding people about God’s mercy towards sinners, and to remind people that not doing any work to honour God on the Sabbath Day did not excuse anyone from the duty of performing works of mercy towards those who presented themselves in their need on that day.

Jesus’ reform met with severe criticism, unjust arrest, and false accusations, trumped up charges, unjust condemnation, incarceration, torture, and execution. It is obvious that Pope Francis is not the innocent and holy Son of God, but he is a good, just, and righteous man, a true believer, a devout Catholic Christian, a holy priest, an exemplary bishop with a long commitment to pastoral care of all the faithful and a predilection for the poor, and now, finally, an exemplary pope. 

Who were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, and Lawyers who accused and executed Jesus?

First of all, they were all men. Second, they were men of privilege, because they enjoyed the highest of all privileges obtainable in their society: education, wealth, and position of influence. Third, in principle, they belonged to the ruling classes, which exist to cultivate order and harmony by their service to their society.

What balance exists between privilege and responsibility, wealth and the common good, power and service? 

Such privileges come with social obligations towards the rest of the population who, through no fault of their own, have little or no access to any or all of those privileges. Those who accumulate to themselves the lion’s share of a society’s resources cannot escape from the truth that all the resources of Planet Earth belong to all for the common good of humanity as a species. Privilege enjoyed without responsibility towards the rest of society could define despotism. Wealth enjoyed without assuring public services could define tyranny. Power wielded without serving the common good could define totalitarianism.  

How could men convinced of their righteousness and religious devotion be so wrong?

The Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, and Lawyers who arrested, accused, and executed Jesus were to all appearances prominent men, religiously devout, and dedicated to their religion and its faith practice. How could they be so wrong about Jesus? How could they fail to see what was obvious to ordinary people, namely, that Jesus was a good and righteous man, a holy man, yes, and possibly even the Son of God? 

The only explanation I can see is that they were unwilling or unable to be self-critical. They were convinced of their perfect record in obeying all of God’s laws, prescriptions, and observances. Jesus had to remind them that they were forgetting the heart of God’s Law which is mercy. They didn’t buy it. They wanted everyone to be clearly identified as the sinners that they were, in accord with all their external failures to perfectly observe all the religious laws and prescriptions. They were mad as hell that Jesus accused them right back of interior sinful intentions and desires, because their good reputation mattered more to them than God’s judgement. Jesus took them to task for their hardness of heart and unwillingness to alleviate the people’s burdens.

How can people be so convinced that Pope Francis is a heretic? What is bothering them so much about him?

Frankly, after having read so many texts by those who accuse Pope Francis, and listening to a few people I know who feel the same way, I can only conclude that in our own day we have – without realizing it – slipped into the hard heartedness and hard headedness of the Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, and Lawyers who arrested, accused, and executed Jesus. 

We / they want it to be very clear who the “sinners” are, so that we can be clearly distinguished from “them”. Those who don’t like Pope Francis, or are angry with him, or despise him or some of his statements and his attitudes towards “them”: those who identify as LGBT etc., or any other issue distasteful to them, disagree with his efforts to reform the Church. They believe the Church is fine the way it is and doesn’t need reform.

How can we who are convinced of our righteousness and religious devotion be so wrong?

Surprisingly, or shockingly, I believe that we could characterize what happened to the religious leaders in Jesus’ day and is happening to the critics of Pope Francis as “vestigial adolescence”. One of the defining characteristics of adolescence – as a child emerges from childhood and begins to notice all that is wrong with the world which they are inheriting from the generations of adults who have gone before them – is shock at the mess they see and anger at the deficiencies in the inheritance we are bequeathing to them. 

When an adolescent gets stuck in that shock and anger – which are perfectly normal reactions to an abnormal situation – the shock and anger compel them to rebellion and misbehaviour which can harden into juvenile delinquency. By definition, a juvenile delinquent is an adolescent who is angry at the world, sees everything that is wrong with the world, but has no sense of personal fault or responsibility. The delinquent’s eyes are exclusively focused on all that is wrong “out there”, but unable to be aware of anything that might be wrong “in here”, that is, within me. If I cannot admit anything that is wrong with me, by the same token I am unable to appreciate anything that is right and good with me. This is a different kind of hardness of heart

The advent and development of a new professional field: that of the psychoeducator

If you search “psychoeducation” on the web, there are indications that this professional was developed around 1980 and much is made of developments in Germany. However, in the French society of Québec, Canada, in 1940 a priest founded Boscoville, inspired by the American “Boys’ Town”, and in the 1950’s and 1960’s they developed the process of re-education into a process of awareness raising and responsibility. Today there is a postgraduate degree in psychoeducation which produces licenses psychoeducators who participate in the province’s health and social services. 

The primary discovery during those decades of development was that when an interested person who accompanied a delinquent took interest in whatever good they were doing – rather than constantly harping on all that they had done wrong – in trying to speak about the good they had done, the delinquents began to exist in their own eyes. From that point on, they could begin to choose to take responsibility for their own life, and by the same token, had less need to blame the rest of society or to find fault with others. 

It is a well established principle in the Christian life that the best way to avoid becoming obsessed with the faults of others is to assiduously examine one’s own conscience and regularly confess one’s own faults and work on replacing bad habits with habits of virtue. 

Why are some Catholics / Christians critical of others rather than “walk humbly with their God”? (Micah 6:8)

Eurasia and the Middle East – a heritage of empires

This part of the world went through successive empires, invasions, wars, and eventually the development of nations. Human nature being what it is, the various peoples accumulated experiences of domination and exploitation by monarchs and invading tribes. At times they enjoyed benevolent rulers, but it didn’t last. Some nations developed empires of their own: the Ottomans, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Holland. They in turn expanded, conquered, and exploited other peoples. 

The Americas

The European nations and empires set their sights on the “new world” and some settlers came to escape the tyrannies they had known there. Unfortunately, the settlement of the Americas collided with native peoples, and the general policy practiced by the settlers in effect carried out the results found in genocide. The native peoples of the Americas were, more or less completely, wiped out or subjugated in destructive ways.

The United States of America

Most prominent among American states is the U.S.A. which has taken the name of “America” to itself. From the beginning, those who developed this nation have taken a posture of superiority towards all others with whom they have had dealings. They took over much of the Spanish colonies in the south and west, and even so far as the Philippines. Through various policies over the centuries they have exerted such influence and power over other states in the Americas; that few if any have enjoyed similar freedom to develop their own forms of government and effectively care for their own populations. Holding other nations back or assuring that they are ruled by dictators or governments willing to do American bidding is seen as a duty to assure “American interests”. 

It is increasingly becoming apparent to American citizens that government policies pursued in the name of “American interests” are not necessarily oriented towards the common good of citizens, but rather towards the good of the largest and most influential corporations. In other words, more and more of the resources in the land are at the service of profiting the very small minority of people who own those corporations. There are too many documentaries to be counted that report the American countryside resembles more and more a third world or undeveloped society. Companies exploit an area for profit and abandon it when it suits them.

The legal system, the health system, large corporations, and the military industrial complex are extremely efficient at assuring their own interests and development; while citizens experience that increasingly none of these players have any interest in the well being or development of citizens, families, or communities. This dimension of America is deeply infected by the virus of profit and greed that excludes the common good. We could call the virus “American capitalism”. 

Canada

Like the U.S.A., in World War II Canada had the impression of standing on a higher moral ground than the people of Europe, where the war was principally being fought. However, we were not very hospitable to Jewish refugees trying to find a safe haven from the Nazi death camps. We didn’t object very strongly to the bombing of civilians in Germany and other nations. We weren’t overly sad at the atomic bombing of civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but only too glad that those atrocities may have accelerated an end to the war.

The death of western civilization

Sadly and embarrassingly, Canada is now on the forefront of those championing “open season” on humanity: abortion on demand, euthanasia increasingly on demand, and what will be next? When a society no longer acknowledges the existence of a Creator, God, let alone any responsibility of gratitude and worship towards the Divine Being; it is a very short step for human beings to begin behaving as though they were god, exercising with reckless abandon power over life and death. What we found so abhorrent in Hitler we now embrace with hardly a qualm of conscience. 

Is there any remaining sense of the common good on the Earth?

One reason that America, Canada, European nations, Japan, China, India, and many nations have at some point been great and retain a capacity to be great nations is the existence within them of great people. Human beings attain greatness when they develop depth of conscience and greatness of spirit, which becomes manifest in their positive contributions to their own society and to other societies.

Poland

Citizens of Poland have with great effort maintained a collective sense of identity and survived very harsh and destructive regimes. Many of their citizens have shown greatness, and now they must meet the challenge of a form of capitalism that focuses primarily on personal profit without due consideration for the common good. They must now contend, like most nations on the Earth at this time, with the virus “American capitalism”. 

Africa and Latin America

The nations and peoples of Africa and Latin America have been exploited by the ancient empires of Greece, Babylon, Chaldea, Syria, Assyria, Egypt, Rome, and others. These were replaced by the Arabic Empire which came to be known later as Islam, the best known and longest lasting version of which was the Ottoman Empire. In turn it was displaced by the European empires and now by the American Empire. For a time they were caught in the cold war between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. With the fall of the former, there now is only the latter. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the American empire – particularly through its transnational corporations – is greatly interfering in the development of nations and their ability to look after the proper interests of their own peoples.  

Japan

The Japanese have long been impressive as a people. Their rise from medieval society and poverty at the end of World War II into an economic powerhouse and highly developed, educated, and sophisticated society has been truly remarkable. The whole world has been impressed with their response as a society to natural or other disasters, at which time their whole society mobilizes as though a single man. Their practice of wearing masks in public transit in order to avoid spreading respiratory infections is very impressive. However, not even the Japanese have been able to resist the virus of “American capitalism”. They are having so few children that their whole population is tipping into old age. Their development has not been without fear for the future. 

China

We westerners have been effectively brainwashed into seeing only the harsh violence of the communist revolution when we consider China and its people. As a child I was deformed with stories of missionaries tortured and killed. The narrative given to us came from our own societies which had been formed by their own interests as empires of exploitation and conquest. When missionaries came from European nations to the Americas – as they did to Asia, Africa, and Oceania – they travelled on the same boats that brought soldiers on a mission of conquest and exploitation.

The Communist Revolution in China had as its first goal the elimination of outside empires and their policies of conquest and subjection for exploitation. Only recently have I discovered that 80% of Chinese in China today self identify as Han. They are an almost completely homogeneous people and their language is Mandarin. Their current rapid progress is due to the hybrid development of capitalism and private ownership and enterprise with a central government operating according to communist principles. 

The Basque economic revolution

One of my most astounding discoveries in the past year has been to hear and read about a different form of capitalism that not only exists but is thriving in our world. In 1956 a Roman Catholic priest encouraged his unemployed and impoverished people not to wait for capitalists to come and invest in creating jobs for them but to go ahead and do it for themselves. Well, they did. Today, the Mondragon Corporation includes over 100 companies entirely owned and operated by the workers themselves. 

Workers evaluate supervisors instead of the other way around. Profits are not siphoned off for the benefit of a handful of owners or share holders, because the workers all have equal shares in the company and together they operate develop it. They set up their own university to assure the development of cooperation as a more beneficial form of capitalism, more beneficial for the whole of society, because the corporation reinvests in the nation in which its owners, the workers, dwell. The corporation pays its fair share of taxes, rather than seeking refuge in foreign tax havens.

Mondragon Corporation reinvests 10% of profits into education, 45% into research and development, and 45% into the worker / owners’ pension funds; where until they retire they are reinvested into the Corporation’s ongoing development and growth. The highest paid worker earns not more than 5 to 6 times the least paid worker, unlike American corporations where the difference is more like 300 times more. Is the success of Mondragon due to the strong sense of collective identity enjoyed by the Basques? Can others emulate and reproduce their success? Can cooperation co-exist with American capitalism and, in time, even replace it? 

Are we any longer capable of recognizing goodness, righteousness, and mercy, or of practicing them?

We are descendants and products of genocidal empires and plutocracies. We modern homo sapiens are ever more convinced of our superiority and inversely willing to recognize any external authority. To put it in a Roman Catholic context, the Pope cannot possibly be infallible because everyone else already is. While it is shocking to see TV reporters and commentators taking what appears to be glee in insinuating if not outright accusing Pope Francis of heresy; it is not surprising, and it is disappointing. 

Because of our political en economic heritage, but especially because of our human nature, we are almost incapable of recognizing authentic goodness, true righteousness, and divine mercy when we see them. It appears that we have very little appetite for practicing such virtuous attitudes and behaviours. However, the situation is not without hope, because it is merely further evidence that we stand in need of a Saviour. Thanks be to God that He has given us One: Jesus, his only-begotten Son, for whose coming once again we now have the privilege of preparing through yet another Advent Season.

Blessed Advent to you and your family!