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Sep. 11th, 2013

Knowing and Loving the Storyteller

Luke 15:1-32

            What kind of person is he who tells these parables  of  “The Lost Sheep”, “The Lost Coin”, and the “The Prodigal Son”?  The three stories are variations on a theme: There is great rejoicing over a repentant sinner who returns/is returned to grace, a lost love found and brought home.

            The Lost Sheep. The storyteller appreciates the  shepherd -- definitely,  not a hireling -- but an  owner of one hundred sheep, a complete flock. One sheep is lost and this owner goes out to look for the lost one. He has a sense of care and responsibility equally for the whole and parts that make up  the whole, the flock and individual sheep, not one without the other. That all may be one is his guiding principle. He knows the nature of sheep, especially of a wayward one which in time would realize its lostness, stop, lie down and wait to be found. He knows the lost one may not be found, and so would return home in sadness.

 The storyteller empathizes with the owner, identifies with him. This good shepherd knows what it means to care and to search and perhaps to experience some guilt in missing a headcount should the stray be presumed devoured by some beast or stolen by thieves. But what great happiness is his when a stray is returned to the fold, happiness too for the ninety-nine and the owner’s entire household and neighborhood. He is Jesus, yes? I know this to be true, because he pulled me out from the wilds of  unbelief, idolatry, selfish attachments, from the Quiapo crowd, and said “You are mine, I  care for you. Enter the church, line up with penitents to confess your sins, worship my Father, then go and give alms to the poor and make people, more than ninety-ninety, happy. Now I sing: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

            The Lost Coin.  The storyteller appreciates  a woman, perhaps a mother, single or married,  who has lost one drachma of ten equivalent to some two thousand pesos -- ten days wages, not ten billion --, needed for an important purchase or to repay an outstanding debt. The lost coin is just in the house and not in a pork barrel in Herod’s palace. The caring woman in a patriarchal society appreciates the value of money for it is an expression of her creative labor power that sustains life, produces goods and services, and enhances humanness, and therefore an expression of the  human dignity of homo/mulier faber. The coin is found and the house and neighborhood and angelic  choirs rejoice. Applause is for the patient caring woman.

            The story  unfolds the feminine side of Jesus. He is attracted to and identifies with the woman because the feminine aspect of his manhood is alive, is not denied but accepted as essential for him to be both just and caring. He transforms the lost coin into a symbol of the sinner, once and lost and now found. Applause for the repentant sinner, yes, but standing ovation is for Jesus who uses himself, and us,  man/woman, disciple/apostle, you/me, to care for persons and communities. This is Jesus-woman who teaches  that the sinner – you-me-him/her – is valuable material, biological, social, intellectual, spiritual being, redeemed by him and blessed by the Holy Spirit and able to call God “Abba-Father”. As a drachma is more than a drachma as part of a treasure of ten. I know this to be true, for he searched for me and found me, and through grace of repentance, released me from sin who allowed myself to be a coin misspent, misused by big business, big government, big military, big science, and big Me. Now I am legal tender, not lost, not hoarded, but circulating for life.

            The Prodigal Son.  The storyteller appreciates the father who embraces his son who has returned to life. This is the Father who was insulted when this younger son demanded his inheritance ahead of his Father’s demise. This is a father compassionate and forgiving, who has not shackled any son to a debt of gratitude because indeed it is a parent’s duty to care for his children. He orders brought out from reserve a robe of sonship, a ring of authority, and sandals of freedom for a wayward child paupered by his pride and stupidity. And gently he corrects the reward-oriented elder who would collect payment for his love. This son of convention is invited to join the family feast.

            The story projects the teller who empathizes and identifies with the father who celebrates with music and dancing, wine and good food, the return of a son from the pigsty of wild and loose living to a life of grace and family bonding. In this parable Jesus projects his values of the highest quality. He remembers his own Father who has sent him to be a father-mother in the world of sinners and saints and sinner-saints to teach them, proclaim the Kingdom, and to heal the sick. The parable is told to me, to you, to him/her now prodigal son/daughter, now self-righteous elder brother, now servants awed by the dramatic event of repentance and reconciliation. It is an invite to repentance and grace, to be unto the image of a loving Father and a loving son called Jesus.
          
            Three stories are given us, are an invite to be good shepherds, caring mothers, welcoming fathers in Eucharistic obedience to him who says now: “Do this in memory of me.” #




 
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Apr. 6th, 2013

Patriarchy Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 [NRSV]
PATRIARCHY CAUGHT IN ADULTERY

                 
          The scribes and the Pharisees were out to get Jesus, he being a clear threat to their elitist power over the people. The people, Jews and gentiles alike, were warming up to his teaching and the values he was stressing in his ministry. He could hold 5000 people, not counting women and children, to listen to his words and line up to be healed of physical and spiritual ailments. How to destroy Jesus and his growing influence was their problem. How to isolate Jesus from the people and get him into trouble with the Roman empire was their plot.

          In John 8: 1-11 the scribes and Pharisees, called hypocrites by Jesus several times in public, try to put Jesus between sharp horns of a dilemma. While Jesus was teaching in the temple, the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman caught “in the very act  [wow!] of committing  adultery.” They said” “Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” John comments:“They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.”

          Would Jesus say No! to the law of Moses and thereby be accused of being a lawbreaker unbecoming of a son of Israel?  Would he accede to the stoning to death of the woman, and perhaps cast a deadly rock himself, in defiance of Roman law that said only the Empire could impose the death penalty? In Jewish law, the Mishnah, idolatry, murder, adultery were considered not only as sins but as crimes punishable by death. It was legal for adulterous persons to be either strangled or stoned.

Jesus saw that he and the woman (where was her companion?) were caught between the cruel patriarchal legalisms of the Temple and that of the Empire/State. Jesus sized up the crowd and the accusers and then looked at the guilty face of the woman.  He bent down and wrote whatever on ground, effecting thus the dispersal of the bystanders and accusers..

His consciousness rose from the horns of dilemma to vision-logic of love
and compassion. Alone with the woman, Jesus announced his verdict. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?   She said, No one, sir. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

          Jesus caught the scribes and the Pharisees in the very act of patriarchal adultery-idolatry, and pronounced a verdict: Guilty! What? The covenantal relationship between God and his people is unto the image of marital relation between husband and wife. The Lord delights in his people, espoused. God’s beloved is Israel – all of us/ (Cf. Song of Songs, esp 7; Hos 1:2; Is 60:4-5; Eph 5:22-25; Rv 21:2; 9-14).  If the people/or you or I, break the first commandment and
adore false gods, that is adultery-idolatry. If anyone, any class, group, organization, church upholds, promotes, and defends the idols of patriarchal  values and concomitant vested interests, the sin of patriarchal adultery-idolatry is committed. Writing on the ground, Jesus engraved and condemned the sin of the scribes and the Pharisees.

          What is patriarchy, what are patriarchal values? Informed lecturers define patriarchy “male domination over women by virtue of his sex and gender.” Technically,“it is the rule of government by men, either in the family or in society, with authority and materialities passed from father to son.” In patriarchal society, despite the divine and human insight that all persons are created equal, patriarchal practices condemn woman to second class economic, political, social and cultural status. Adored are patriarchal values of male toughness, decisiveness, rationality, self-sufficiency, individualism.

          In patriarchal society, woman is treated not as person but as a mere instrument for the reproduction of the species, means of pleasure, a sex object, an advertisement tool to sell products. She is restricted to house and home, and interaction among the sexes is limited. Her labor power/productive labor is underestimated. She with her children are treated as property.  It is patriarchal praise for an outstanding strong woman when a man tells her: “You’re the man!” And it’s sad when the woman says: “Thank  you!” A negative sign of internalized oppression.
She is in the confines of unfreedom.

          In the case of the scribes and the Pharisees in John 8:1-11, the woman caught in adultery is a means to test Jesus and bring him to his downfall by virtue of patriarchal law. She is used / instrumentalized by chauvinist scribes and Pharisees for their evil patriarchal designs. Jewish society at the time was patriarchal. As all societies around it. As societies in the ages of slavery, feudalism, capitalism. As  semi-feudal Philippines yesterday and today.

          What is to be done? The condemnation of patriarchy by Jesus and all of good will is written on earth and in the sky and tablets of  authentic women’s movement for freedom and people’s solidarity campaigns for justice, peace and care for the earth . Uphold, promote, defend genuine feminine and masculine values in balance. Be caring and just. The bases of the agenda: The Lord God and him alone shall you adore. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not commit patriarchal adultery-idolatry. Go, and sin no more.

          Down with patriarchal empires! Christify society!

          Happy Women’s Month of March to all! #
 
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Aug. 10th, 2012

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Eucharistic Command
Mk 14: 12-16. 22-16 (RSV)

            Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he said to his disciples, and to us all believers and non-believers alike:  “I will not leave you orphans.  . . . I will be with you until the end of time.” “Promise, ha? Yes?”,  the disciples said.  And Jesus has fulfilled his promise. Indeed he is with us, has always been with the people, not physically, but in new modes, still living, in his Word, in the love we have for one another, and most specially in the sacrament of his Body and Blood, the  Holy Eucharist. He, God-Man, is to be eaten and imbibed, really but sacramentally under the species of consecrated bread and wine, fruits of the earth and work of human hands, to empower life for love, service, and joy.

            The Holy Eucharist has been given to the Church as its special bearer and caregiver. It has been given to men and women of faith in Jesus, But the Church is now divided into many denominations, each of which is trying to make present  the fullness of the one Church founded by Jesus. And many, if not all at present, praying with Jesus: “. . . that all may be one.” The various denominations differ in their understanding of what real but sacramental presence of the glorious Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, is. They differ in their acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior – is he true God and true man, or is he just true man but only an adopted son of God?

            There are denominations that believe in the real presence of Jesus  in the sacrament of the altar through the phenomenon of transubstantiation (bread and wine keep their forms but lose their essence/substance as these are replaced by the body and blood of the Lord; or consubstantiation (the essence/substance of bread and wine are in tandem with the body and blood of the Lord). through consecration of bread and wine at Mass or Supper of the Lord by an ordained minister/priest. There are denominations that accept only symbolic presence of the Lord after the rite of consecration by an ordained minister. So the differences among the Catholic and Protestant  families in theological understanding and liturgical rites and rituals and sanctuary appointments. In all cases, the Supper of the Lord is meaningful as it enables intimate friendship with Jesus and love of neighbor.

            But common to all, -- a crucial basis for ecumenical unity -- is the Holy Eucharist as Supper of the Lord and Sacrifice, recalling the Jesus story, re-enacting Calvary, and replacing the bloody sacrifices of the Temple.  The separate consecration of bread and wine is virtual but not real destruction of Jesus as victim. And it is Jesus as priest who offers himself to the Father through the instrumentality of a minister for the forgiveness of sins and justice to God. The Holy Eucharist is thus of incomparable infinite value highly pleasing to God. It is the sacrifice of Jesus for humankind, and ours as well in his name.

            Common also to the churches and the faithful is the Christic command:  “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk 22:19).  It is an explicit  Eucharistic command to break bread – panaderia bread, bread of self, the bread of  “all goods of the earth, all decisions of history, all gifts of humanness”, Jesus himself as bread of life, for sharing in joyful fellowship. It is explicit command to shed the blood of our covenantal life for the enhancement of life of our brothers and sisters.

It is a Eucharistic command  to replicate in our lives the miracles of the Lord that the poor may have the gospel preached to them, the lame may dance, the blind have sight, the imprisoned have liberty, that all may be blessed with resurrection and life. It is explicit in every salvific act of Jesus of teaching, proclaiming the Kingdom, and healing the sick of body, mind, and spirit.  We are to break bread with one another for the healing of human brokenness. We are to pour out blood, sweat, and tears, in the manner of Jesus, for the gladdening of the hearts of many.

The command is to lead Eucharistic lives in replication of the ministry, passion, death, and resurrection of  Jesus; thus, to be in intimate union with Jesus in his Father’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit. Take his bread and eat. Take his cup and drink, and be his bread and cup for all in the people’s struggle for justice, peace, and care for the earth. Be proofs that the Kingdom is near, in us, among us.

The Eucharistic command is to be fulfilled daily, in good times and bad, and even under conditions of risk to one’s person.  #

         

         

"I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE' -- Me Too!

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 6:41-51
 
“I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.” -- ME TOO! 
 
          I am the bread of life for the life of the world, said the Lord.
 
         We ask: Why was it difficult for many, including disciples, to accept the invitation to come and eat him? Because Jesus, an ordinary lowly son of a carpenter, was presumptuous and obtuse in saying he was from heaven and offering himself to be eaten like a sacrificial temple offering. They could believe that God entered an animal offered in the temple; that God was in the part burned in adoration of him, and in the choice cuts taken by the priest/s and the offerer/s to bring home as take-out (pabaon) for family and friends. They believed they ate God in their share of the animal. Eat God in the flesh of sheep and bullocks, yes. But eat a bread-for-the-world-carpenter? - No way!
 
          So, what is this life-giving bread that all who believe in him are invited to eat?

         The bread of life is the word of God discovered in the light of faith in historical personal and social situations and events we find ourselves in. What is the word of God addressed to us when we see fellow human beings hungry, naked, shelterless, crippled, in prison. The victims of oppression and exploitation. What is the word of God addressed to us when we see fellow human beings well-off in body, mind, and spirit enjoying the good life, Aristotelian eudaimonia? What is the word of God contained in the events such as the Philippine revolution of 1899, the socialist revolutions of Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, the explosions of People’s Power in several countries catalyzed by Edsa-1 in contemporary times? In the birth of babies. In the unborn nesting in the care of their mothers’ wombs. Reflect on these, be still, and the word, his word, he as word shall be to hand to eat.

          The bread of life is the word of God in Sacred Scriptures of the old and the new testaments. Take and read, is the advice of angels to each of us. It is the word reaching out to the heights of heaven to access the divine, plumbing the deeps of the heart to enliven it, stretching the length of goodness in human history, and embracing all in its wide loving embrace. Eat this: Be holy, because I, your God, am holy. Eat this: Love one another as I have loved you. Eat this: Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Eat this: He shall separate the goats from the sheep. Eat this: The righteous shall shine like the dawn. Eat this: Repent, and believe the Gospel. Eat this: The Kingdom is among you. Eat this: Behold, I make all things new. Eat the Sermon on the Mount and the parables. Eat to live in his word, to live in him.
 
          The bread of life is Eucharistic bread consecrated at the last supper of Lord, and since then liturgically replicated up the centuries to this day in Eucharistic ecclesial denominations of the Church. It is offered to all believers but eaten in different ways – symbolically, by Christians who do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the altar; really, by Christians who believe in the real presence of the Lord, true God and true man, flesh and blood and all, under species of consecrated bread and wine. There is everlasting life of grace here and now in those who partake of the living bread.Take and eat: This is my Body. Take and drink: Thus is my blood of the new covenant.
 
          Now, the big import: Partaking of the bread of life means we are to be what we eat. To be Jesus of ministry, passion and death, of resurrection and glorification. And, in mission to the world, to replicate the deed of Jesus – to be bread for others, for abundant life, copious redemption in him. To be consecrated as sacrifice, entailing breaking of body and shedding of blood, sweat, and tears in communal struggle for justice, peace, and prosperity of his making. To come down from heaven of grace to the earth of contemporary economic, political, cultural, and spiritual life; to mountains and valleys, town and country, joys and griefs of daily life of personal renewal and social transformation of family, community, and nation. To be presence of Jesus in food and drink at family and fellowship tables. By faith and baptism have Christians been“Christified” to do all this in memory of him.
         
          Partaking of the bread of life is to be love, sociological love, shared with one another of common faith, and with non-believers too, our love and his grace guiding them to consider open possibilities of faith in Jesus Christ. We are invited, nay, commanded, to be eaten by all of good will. To let Jesus be eaten through us his living bread, this time, here, now. That in all things God may be glorified.
 
 
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Dec. 21st, 2010

(no subject)

I SING OF THE EVENT THAT IS MATCHLESS

The way it was:
A newborn baby’s cry broke silence of one night.
The cow mooed, the donkey brayed,
A chicken cluck-clucked and laid an egg.
Carpenter Joseph uttered: “It’s a boy!”
“Of course it is, silly,” Mama Mary said.
The swaddled one took to her breast,
And the heavens burst into De Angelis
Gloria in excelsis Deo, peace on earth!
The rest is history of slow but sure recognition
And firm affirmation of presence of Word-
Made-Flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us,
Of a separate peace in violent Pax Romana,
Of space-time reordered in redeemed relations
As planned for a new heaven, a new earth.
You see it too? Let’s from the stable go
Into land-time of armed Pax Capitalista
And defensive emerging Pax Socialista
And sing his story.

(Christmas 2010)
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Jul. 20th, 2010

Presence

In memoriam:
Crescenta Rojas Albano, (1920-2010)


Not in this anointed urn before me are you, Mama;
Not in unchained elements of your ashes,
Once mode of your body and heart and mind.
Where is your spirit now but in freedom
Of earth and sea, sky and wind -- god-like
Nowhere and everywhere undefined, uncontained?
Where are you, Mama of stories and prayers,
Model of forms of kindness that brought
People to enlivened faith and hope and caring?
I break this silent vase with this poem of tears --
Your real presence explodes in fiery holiness,
Enfolds me with light of memories of love and home.
The taste of your milk is on my tongue,
That made us one: Madonna and Child.
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Grace of Freedom

I lift this poem to the Lord and his people in gratitude
For grace of freedom greater than whatever I had before –

Greater freedom:
• Of body, to contain in health bone, muscle and nerve; and to return to dust and ashes;
• Of heart pierced open to give love and receive love as the sea; to forgive and be forgiven as the rain;
• Of mind, more rational and reasonable as the self-budgeting earth, birthing ideas in dialectical ways from the cauldron of unselfishness and the holons of life;
• Of spirit, to soar above regrets, failures, and lost opportunities, to transcendent, translucent worlds of star-rich meaning; and to return to good earth:

 To embrace all peoples, all creation, all choirs of angels;
 To move as the wind in the infinity of caring struggles of toiling peoples;
 To plumb depths of Self to finger the skin of pearls;
 To touch and heal wounds of flesh and soul;
 To clasp in blessing the hands of the sick and the dying;
 To dispense the many sacraments and sacramentals of life.

Greater freedom:
• Of tongue, to proclaim the presences of new heaven, new earth, and holiness and sacredness everywhere;
• Of Being in infinity of time at the threshold of eternity with the Son of Man

Before uninhibited fullness of everlasting life
Here and Now.
[Tagaytay City, July 9, 2010]
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Mar. 31st, 2010

IN HOLY WEEK

IN HOLY WEEK

His prayer abides
That we be gentleness of his ways
Of his hands breaking bread
Pouring wine of health and cheer

Gentleness of his silence
Of self-surrender to the Father
Wordless in Spirit that contains all
After words made pain in questions

Gentleness of his Light
Melting resistance of rock and wood
Dispelling doubts of faith
Dissolving nights of the heart

To appear in gardens of our lives
As radiance of the way it is
That we be for one another
In remembrance of him
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Dec. 21st, 2009

Mensahe sa Misa de Gallo 2009

SA MISA DE GALLO 2009

Para sa lahat

 

            Kok-ko-ro-kok! Tumitilaok na si kawitan, higit sa tatlong beses. Riiinnnggg! Umaalerto ang mga relo at selfone. Kaleng-kaleng-dong! Kumakampana ang mga simbahan! Tayo, tayo, tayo! Hinihila ni Nanay ang kumot bumabalot sa anak baluktot sa kama. Sumisigaw si Pablo Apostol naman sa pulpito: Panahon na upang gumising kayo sa pagkakatulog. Ang pagliligtas sa natin ay higit malapit ngayon kaysa noong tayo’y magsimulang manalig sa kanya.  Namamaalam na ang gabi at malapit nang lumiwanag.: (Roma 13:11-12) Layuan na natin ang lahat ng gawang masama at italaga ang sarili sa paggawa ng mabuti. [Ito ang salita ng Diyos -- pahayag ng 1001 lektor sa buong sanlibutan.]

 

            Kailangan pa ba natin ang tawag ni Gabriel?

 

            Bangon at magningning at magbigay liwanag!  Gisingin ang tulog o inaantok na katawan, isip, puso, at espiritu – Para saan? At para kanino? Upang makamtan ang biyaya ng pagsisisi at kapatawaran at Kapangyarihan bigay ng Espiritu Santo. Upang makamtan ang lakas ng kabanalan na hindi naranasan ni Samson, at ang paniwala sa anghel na nawala kay paring Zakarias – mga birtud na kailangan ng isang tao upang maging tunay na lider-lingkod, matapang na propeta, at banal na pari ng bayan ng Diyos.

 

            Bangon at magningning at magbigay liwanag! Para saan? At para kanino? Upang lagi tayong manatiling ilaw nagbibigay pag-asa at sinisunog ang kadiliman sinuwits ng Dambuhalang Negosyo, Dambuhalang Pamahalaan; Dambuhalang Siyensya. Kadiliman ng Kahariang Imperyalista at Palasukong Simbahan. Kadiliman ng karahasan, kawalan ng hustisya, at ng kalupitan ipinarusa sa kalikasan sa kalagitnaan ng pakikibaka ng taong bayan para paunlarin ang kalidad ng buhay. Upang tayo’y maging maka-Diyos na liwanag sa isa’t-isa at sa sandaigdigan, kung nag-aalinglangan ang pananampalatya, kinakapos ang pag-asa, at humihina ang pag-ibig.

 

            Bangon at magningning at magbigay liwanag! Para saan? Para kanino? Upang bigyan liwanag at makita ng Panginoon ang kanyang mga tuwid at mga kilong daan, mga landas din natin,  tungo sa ating puso at puso ng daigdig, kung saan ang mga espesyal na presensya ng kanyang Anak na si Jesus ay sisilang at mapakinabangan lubos ng lahat sa pamamagitan ng Espiritu Santo

 

            Bangon at magningning at magbigay liwanag!

 

Kinikiliti ko ang inyong talampakan.*

Nov. 27th, 2009

On Enabling Vows/Disciplines

ON ENABLING VOWS

OF RELIGIOUS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Dos Palabras

On the occasion of renewal of vows of RGS Guibang Community


“Zeal for your House consumes me as fire . . . .” Psalm 69:9



Today the Church remembers the presentation of the child Mary in the temple when God received a most precious love offering from parents Joachim and Anna. Today, you dear Sisters, Religious of the Good Shepherd, in the manner of your foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, if not of Jesus, the Good Shepherd himself, renew vows of evangelical poverty, chastity, obedience, and zeal to care for people and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. We ask God to receive you as our pleasing love-offering.


It is through you that the entire Church, the people of God, are reminded that poverty, chastity, obedience, and zeal are disciplines for all, necessary for the establishment of just and caring economic, political and cultural structures of care in Church and Society. You, and other special people like yourselves, vow these disciplines so that as vows they stand out as reminders to all to live and practice them more and more consciously in their daily personal and communal lives. There are, of course, other disciplines, but you have chosen to stress for the people these four, with a high light on zeal.


The discipline of poverty enables just redirection of the economic dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in resource development, production and distribution. The discipline of obedience enables reordering of the political dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in governance, legislation and social welfare. The discipline of chastity enables just revitalization of the cultural dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in the cultivation and transmission of wisdom and knowledge, proper invention of lifestyles, and development and nurture of symbolic life. The discipline of zeal enables enthusiastic commitment to the practice of the disciplines and the pursuance of ministries of service.


Actually people of different cultures and of all walks of life have been practicing these disciplines in different ways and according to various levels of consciousness. There be those who forget these or have forgotten these to their detriment and that of community. Consider the profligate, the selfish, the intemperate. Consider those who trample on human rights and exploit and oppress people and disrupt righteous ecological balance. The undisciplined have priorities all awry. They fall into pitfalls of idolatry – economic, political, cultural.

And consider the good people, specially the poor. They practice poverty when they budget well their time, talent and treasure if only to survive. They do more when they share from abundant wealth or from their survival kit and help redirect economics for the good of all.

They practice chastity when they strive not only to be clean of heart and to be transparent in their person and lifestyle that others see them as mirrors of human and divine dignity, and in faith, see Jesus of ministry, passion and death and resurrection in them, but also when they revitalize cultural life through gifts of humanness.

They practice obedience when they read well with eyes of faith and reason the signs of the times, discern the will of God and engage in sound political action for justice, peace and welfare.

And they practice zeal for person and community as House of God [“zeal for your House consumes me as fire”] when they, in the words of St. Mary Euphrasia, "go after the lost sheep without other rest than the cross, other consolation than work, other thirst than for justice". They are able to do this because they have, in the words of St. Benedict of Nursia , the zelus bonus to try to be the first to show respect to the other, support with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, earnestly competing in obedience with one another. They are able to do this because they do not pursue what they judge better for themselves but what they judge better for others. To their companions they show pure love; to God, loving fear.

Because the people’s practice of these disciplines is uneven in qualitative development, reminders that higher quality, worth, value can be had; that it is not enough to be good when, better can be had; not enough to be better when the best is yet to be. Disciplined religious, zealous religious, remind people of capacities for discipline they have for personal renewal and social transformation. Dear Sisters, your vows enable people to be more conscious of their ability to discipline their power to love one another, to restore all things in Christ, that in all things God may be glorified. You are a concentrated expression of what they have.

Dear Sisters, in the spirit of St. Mary Euphrasia and her own patron and soulmate St. Euphrasia of Egypt, live well your vows that through your good example people may be inspired to practice well the evangelical disciplines, and be enabled "though old stars burn out and die, to look to the new and even beyond" (St. Mary Euphrasia). Amen.

God bless you. I bless you. [November 21, 2009]

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