Learning to get ourselves out of the way is
no easy task.
As sincere as we may be, our professional
Catholicism doesn’t really challenge us, our
lives are fairly easy, we have leisure and
convenience, it is relatively uncomplicated
to “believe” because there are really few
obstacles to our belief, no real demands on
The Catholicism that people of my age were
raised in focused on personal moral issues
and didn’t teach us much about the teaching
of Jesus in reference to the Kingdom of God
and the consequences of loving our neighbor
The Church in the guise of the local parish
was enough of a kingdom for us and if things
were well in the parish, things were well in
There is an element of Catholicism that
prides itself on moral superiority and
exceptionalism, an elect group that is apart
and above ordinary folks and looks with
condescension on folks on the margins who
are on the margins because of their own
When Catholics were immigrants their egos
were routinely dismissed by the larger,
sometimes hostile, population.
Catholics were given all kinds of derogatory
nicknames and suspected of harboring all
kinds of defective genes and they had
disgusting eating habits and they smelled.
As Catholics became ascendant with more
education and employment opportunities,
their egos became stronger but less flexible
and more self-reliant.
Our egos are important but not supreme,
inclined as we are to act as if they were
The teaching in this week’s Gospel story is
conventionally interpreted as a kind of
marketing plan or a development strategy for
creating what we call the “Church.”
But, I don’t think so.
It seems to me that Jesus is trying to
destabilize the egos of his original
followers and, by implication his followers
at any time, as an ongoing aspect of his
For one thing, he challenges them to not
think that they have to be right, as in they
have the “true” religion. He cautions, don’t
get into arguments, arguments can lead to
belittlement, and belittlement leads to
violence very quickly.
I don’t think he meant just when we talk
religion but when we talk anything.
It is very hard these days not to demonize
and denigrate others who “talk” different
One of the hallmarks of ascendant
Catholicism is that we are “right,” and we
have the truth. Ascendant Catholics tend to
think that our interpretation of reality is
the truth and we are not particularly
tolerant of or curious about the experiences
Abortion is but one issue, not the only
issue. Abortion is an easy issue for morally
superior Catholics because they are not
likely to have to make that choice nor will
A militant anti-abortion stance
unaccompanied by respect and a genuine
willingness to learn from those who
challenge our beliefs by the details of
their lives is not at all what Jesus implies
in this week’s teaching.
If abortion is a moral issue, immigration is
a moral issue.
If abortion is a moral issue, gun violence
is a moral issue.
If abortion is a moral issue, access to
healthcare is a moral issue.
If abortion is a moral issue, care for the
environment is a moral issue.
If abortion is a moral issue, adequate
nutrition is a moral issue.
If the fetus has a right to life, the child,
the immigrant, the gay lesbian transgender
child, the hungry, sick, homeless child has
a right to life.
We have not really been taught to seek, much
less find, the Holy One outside of “our”
church or “our” parish or in the people like
We have a blind spot acknowledging the
interdependence of Catholic identity,
interdependence being a hallmark of the
Kingdom of God.
Rugged and aggressive individualism is the
work of an ego reaching for grandiosity not
the characteristic of a disciple of Christ.
A walking stick and sandals are not very
appealing things to me, but the directive is
just that simple because, maybe, that is all
that we actually need.
I try to remember and practice what I
preach, but I don’t always do that. I
demonize and denigrate and I regret that and
work at trying to be more tolerant.
I try to look to the details of my life to
discern what God is giving me to make my
life’s meaning and be my work in the
building up of God’s Kingdom.
When I take the time to think and
contemplate, I find extraordinary gifts of
abundant love and meaning that have walked
into my life, at first unnoticed, quietly,
without lights and sirens, gifts that I did
not earn or merit.
Taming my ego is not an easy project, it is
harder for men than women, I think, it is
not accomplished in finding moral
superiority, and it isn’t ever totally
accomplished, it requires solitude,
stillness, and serenity.
You can only find an ego at the service of
the Kingdom of God as a gift hidden in the
Director of our Christian Formation Program
I am happy to tell you that Kathleen Hansen
has been asked to be our new Director of
Religious Education and she has accepted.
Mrs. Hansen has been a member of our parish
since it was founded. She has been actively
involved in virtually all aspects of parish
life through the years. Currently, she
serves as a Eucharistic Minister at the 8:30
Mass as she has for years.
She has been a catechist in the SMG program
and the CCD program at Saint Joseph Parish.
She was an original catechist in the
children’s dismissal during the 10:30 Mass.
Kathleen retired earlier this summer from
her most recent position in public education
as an elementary school principal having
been professionally involved in public
education for over 45 years.
She served for a number of years as the
Director of Parks and Recreation for the
Town of Dyer.
She was interviewed by a number of parents
and catechists and all of them agreed that
she was the right person at this time to
help us continue to evolve our religious
education and faith formation efforts with
our children and their families. CWN