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Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action

 

The mission of ARCC is to bring about substantive structural change within the Catholic Church by seeking to institutionalize a collegial understanding of church where decision making is shared and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind and conditio n.
 
Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates. 
                                          -   Patrick Sullivan, ARCC President
 
 
 
Fear - Compassion - Collaboration
John A. Dick
 
A very brief reflection this week. The pain and fear of so many people today demand a Christian response not just more pious rhetoric. A monumental social change is underway... I remember a line from the British writer and theologian, C.S. Lewis, in his book The Problem of Pain: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains...."
 
Fear paralyzes people and contributes to a chaotic environment; but compassion and collaboration bring security and stability. Christians, especially, should be people who do not allow fear to rule their lives. We know and we believe. Resurrection follows the way of the cross and death.
 
Christians can and must be prophetic people, who are clear-headed and courageous.
 
Coronavirus restrictions around the world have been lifted or ignored. Right now, however, this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. Nevertheless, it will not happen overnight; but we can and will conquer corona.....We need to be realistic and work together.
 
Malfunctioning democracies can be fixed. There are peaceful ways to restructure leadership and reform political policies....It we truly want to, we can overcome the extreme and destructive racial polarization in our society, provided we replace angry competition with compassion and collaboration.
 
Ultimately our society will get either the form we want - or the form we allow.
 
Christians need to fortify themselves with renewed faith and moral behavior. We need to base our actions on reality not popular fantasies.
 
Jesus of Nazareth, living and working in the socio-cultural context of his day, was a prophetic non-violent person. He was a threat of course to his contemporary vested interest people: authoritarian leaders for whom religion was more about self-promotion than service.
 
We remember: Jesus was bullied, beaten, and brutally killed.
 
We remember: Jesus' victory over death.
 
As we confront the perplexing political, economic, and social problems of our time, we are called to practice and promote authentic Christian action. Yes of course, people who behave in a criminal and inhuman way need to be sanctioned and restrained; but crude militarism and violence alone will never resolve our contemporary national and international crises. They will only increase and promote more savage kinds of militarism. History lessons are clear about this.
 
With genuine Christian faith and vision, we can create a more humane society. We can help people find a deeper security that banishes the power and influence of fear. We can promote human self-worth far better than political and religious fanaticism. But we must thoroughly reject the contemporary "post-truth" way of life built on and sustained by lies, falsehoods, and deception. The crisis today is serious.
 
Jesus of Nazareth was a courageous and outspoken social critic who respected people and promoted their dignity and sense of self-worth. Recall the narrative about the woman about to be stoned. He honored her self-worth. He restored her own sense of self-worth. That was also the key element in his narrative about the Good Samaritan. These are not just old pious stories. They are exhortations about what should be part of our rule of life, if we really take Jesus and his way of life seriously.
 
Yes. This is the challenge of being a Jesus-person in our days of contemporary anxiety, fear, and impending chaos. We can and must support each other as messengers of truth, when loud voices around us shout fabricated falsehoods and spread exaggerated news stories to conveniently frighten and paralyze people.
In his inaugural address in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "You have nothing to fear but fear itself." In the Gospel of John, Rabbi Jesus, more importantly said "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
 
A closing prayerful thought, by poet and spiritual writer William Cleary:
 
"The future is full of promise, Holy Mystery,
if only because we discern your forces of
evolution at work everywhere.
Every opening daffodil, every growing child,
every glimmer of human enlightenment,
every bodily process of healing
tells us the future is not fearsome
but is full of potential.
Your face is hidden, your name unknown
still we turn to you in faith and confidence.
Creating Evolutionary Spirit,
we hear your comforting voice
in the steady music of the unfolding creation,
in harmonies and dissonances of
the world around us
into which we pour our humble efforts.
We give thanks to exist,
and to be in some way the joy of your heart.
Amen."

John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. (ARCC Vice President and Treasurer)  is a historical theologian - retired from the Catholic University of Leuven and the University of Ghent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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