Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayers For Our Local Society: Archbishop Listeki Comments On Milwaukee Art Museum

As a young man living in the city of Milwaukee, it is real men like Archbishop Listecki that I look to for inspiration on how to continue to live my life for God in the midst of such turmoil. Please pray for our world, our country and the city of Milwaukee. Via Archdiocese of Milwaukee

June 23, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There’s a phrase that one doesn’t like to hear, and that is “I told you so!”  Two figures in the Church have been prophetic in what they have written, taught and preached to Catholic audiences around the world and especially in the United States. St. John Paul II and Cardinal Francis George warned of the embrace of radical individualism, its consequences and the ideologies created which are contrary to faith and truth.

In the last few weeks, we have been confronted with Bruce Jenner who wishes to be Caitlyn Jenner and accepted as a woman, and a female director of the NAACP, who presents herself as an African American woman (however was born and raised in a Caucasian family). Now, the Milwaukee Art Museum – the Calatrava – accepted a work that fashions a portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of condoms and refers to it as art. What is similar in all these situations, is that they each rely on the notion of “radical individualism” based on personal freedom, that is exercised without license.

Now, I am all for freedom. Americans hold freedom sacred and the Church is for freedom. Remember, Jesus Christ died to make us free. But, freedom is never exercised in a vacuum. Freedom demands responsibility and that is a responsibility to truth, beauty and goodness (sorry, if I’m bringing the Ancient Greeks into the discussion, but it’s hard to ignore the obvious wisdom).

Here’s the rub. In our society, we have characterized “truth” as whatever we want to make of it. Therefore, truth is only accountable to the individual. In that context, Bruce Jenner can be a woman this week, a man next week or a Labrador Retriever the week after. Our NAACP director can be an African-American woman this week, a Native American the next and possibly an Asian, simply because she likes egg rolls. Would the art museum accept works that depicted various political leaders of our state in cow dung (a significant animal for Wisconsin)?  Would they accept art – pick your favorite religious or historical figures – featuring them in various pornographic poses (which has happened in some international publications)?  What about art featuring national or international popular social reconstructionists in a manner that would depict the opposite of what they represented, such as Gandhi sporting an uzi, Lincoln in Klu Klux Klan garb or Hitler with a yarmulke reading the Torah, all in the name of art and beauty? Whose art and whose beauty? I would offer that even if the art museum considered accepting any of the above examples, there would be an extensive public discussion that would take place before any decision would be made.

There are three areas I believe have contributed to this radical individual craziness which is taking place in our society. First, the loss of objective truth: when we lose objective truth, meaning that something is truth apart from assessment, then we lose language and our ability to speak with one another from a common perspective. Is something objectively true apart from what I believe it to be? Every word becomes subject to a person’s individual perspective.

Second, is the loss of natural law, a concept which is mocked by some in the academic circles. How we come to a conclusion of whether something is right or wrong has been traditionally accepted as coming from reason. We can know the good because it is engraved in our hearts. However, when there is no longer a good or an evil and it is only such if I choose it to be, or enough people affirm it, you can see why we exist in this chaotic situation. The good is subjected to the whim of the individual.

Third, is the loss of the sense of God. There are two ways by which we come to the truth through faith and reason. God reveals His plan or will to us. Cardinal George wrote in his book, “The Difference God Makes,” “In the face of triumphant human reason at the end of the nineteenth century, the First Vatican Council taught that faith is not irrational. Ironically, at the end of the twentieth century, the Church is saying that faith must rescue reason from its own self-inflicted wound of skepticism,” and I might add, radical individualism.

We have lost the sense of sacred and in so doing, everything becomes profane and is subjected to our own individual appreciation. I need not remind us all of the recent tragic situation in Charleston S.C, where a young man killed nine people after praying with them for an hour. What sense of God or the sacred could he have possibly had? When we lose our sense of God, we lose our ultimate accountability and the identification that my dignity depends on the respect of the dignity of my brothers and sisters who were made in God’s image.

Some may want me to be more upset at the museum for their callousness – calling for boycotts, suppression of donations or picketing. God, religion and faith have been insulted by others throughout the ages and by autocrats and movements far superior to our little local museum. But, still God rules supreme, the Church is here and will be until the end of time, and faith continues to inform and form.

An artist who claims his or her work is some great social commentary and a museum that accepts it, insults a religious leader of a church, whose charitable outreach through its missionaries and ministers has eased the pain of those who suffer throughout the world, must understand the rejection of this local action by the believers who themselves have been insulted.

Love your enemies, do good to those who might harm you, said Jesus. In the face of ridicule, we’ll continue to do our best to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

See with God’s Eyes,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Embracing The Way Of Christ: Deacon Christopher Krall SJ Homily At Cor Jesu

                          (Courtesy of Arise Milwaukee. Cor Jesu is held every Wednesday night from 7-9pm)

Wednesday nights are the best! My girlfriend Morgan and I joined a volleyball league and play on her cousin's team at Bradford Beach. While I love playing for the "Setting Ducks" (we're 5-5 by the way, in case you were wondering), I also love the fact that we can still attend Cor Jesu at St. Robert's in Shorewood together for Mass. It always ends up being the highlight of my week and tonight was no different!

Along with Fathers Jacob and Luke Strand and Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani, there were three transitional deacons assisting at the Mass-Deacon Andrew Linn, Deacon Patrick Behling, and a visitor from Chicago, Deacon Christopher Krall, SJ. It was a blessing to hear Deacon Christopher's homily tonight and I wanted to share a few things that touched me personally while he spoke.  

                                       (Deacon Christopher Krall SJ. Photo courtesy of thinkjesuit.org)

Deacon Christopher spoke about the need for extra motivation to follow Christ, offering your heart completely to Him.  He referenced the The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and specifically mentioned the Third Degree of Humility. The Third Degree of Humility begins with a prayer to the Father that He will grant you the grace to live in the way of Jesus Christ, who "emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave" (Philipians 2:7). This means freely choosing to lead a life that the world despises. In order to truly become one with Christ, one would have to set aside anything in his or her life that stands between them and God's love. This could also require one giving up some of his or her strongest gifts in order to fully embrace Christ.

As a young man working in the business world, it is easy for me to get sucked into the corporate life. There is a temptation to want to climb the corporate ladder and to want the money, expensive cars and luxurious houses that would come with it. I often get a big head when I complete the smallest of work tasks, or put together a nice presentation, and then I foolishly think that I am on to bigger and better things. I often think about the rich young man that Christ instructed to give all of his riches to the poor and follow him. Could I really do that? Would I turn away just like that young man in the Gospel did?

This is the ultimate challenge. If I really love Christ and want to give myself to His heart completely, then I cannot be blinded by the potential and opportunities I would have to climb the corporate ladder. I have to give all of my naive ambitions, false loves and talents away, trusting in the end that only Christ's love matters.

If I want to take a lesson from Deacon Christopher and truly become humble then my prayer has to lead to a life that would allow me to slowly empty myself to assume the condition of a slave, to be of service to the poor and marginalized, to be satisfied with my current occupation level, transportation and housing, to give money to the Church and to organizations that do the will of God, to go to confession regularly and to be able to stand up for the truth in the toughest of situations. 

How will you empty yourself and become one with Christ?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Brewing The Faith with Vivian Roe

There are so many wonderful new and exciting events and initiatives for young adults in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee these days, that I wish I had the time to go to them all! One event that I have always enjoyed attending is the Brewing the Faith series. Please join me this coming Thursday as we continue to dive deeper into our relationship with the Lord!

When: Thursday, June 11th 7:00pm

Where: St Francis Brewery- 3825 South Kinnickinnic Avenue, St Francis, WI 

Via: Emily Burds

Come & join young adults in their 20's & 30's for an evening of prayer, fellowship & relevant discussion on how to live your faith in the 21st century! 

7:00pm II Fellowship (free beer)
7:30pm II Message & Discussion
8:30pm II Communal Prayer

This month VIvian Roe will be sharing about "Religious Freedom and Truth in a World of Political and Media Spin".

Vivian Roe is mom to Elliot, Ethan and Sophia and wife to Brian. They are Sacred Heart of Jesus parishioners and proud to send their kids to school at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. Vivian is a freelance writer, and former Community Columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She is the founder of TherapEase Cuisine, an on-line nutritional service for cancer patients, and a breast cancer survivor.

Sponsoring parishes: The Basilica of St. Josaphat; St. Charles Borromeo; St. Mary’s Hales Corners; Sacred Heart of Jesus; St. Alphonsus; St. Paul Parish; Immaculate Conception; St. Augustine