Tag Archives: Love

Pope Francis on the Family… and Beyond

By Matt Keppel

Two weekends ago, I had the immense blessing to be in Philadelphia to witness the beautiful representative of the Catholic Church that is Pope Francis. The conference that he was attending, and closing, was on the family and the life of the family within the Church. Following the World Meeting of Families, he is going to follow up his historic visit to the United States with the Synod on the Family. So, it would seem that family is significant on Francis’s list. After listening to him multiple times this weekend, I can attest to what he believes about the life of the family: love.

Just as Francis has been clear about some issues regarding families, he has been interestingly vague on others. On nearly every street corner in Philadelphia the throngs of people were confronted by men, young and old, asking us (mostly men, really) to sign a petition intended for Pope Francis that he might make a definitive statement about marriage being between a man and a woman. And yet, at the World Meeting of Families what did he tell us about families? That they are called to love the members within them; children are valuable to us because they are our future; our grandparents are our familial memory; and the love of the family should be lived out to bring love and joy to our communities. Many of us standing there were shocked. Francis finished his Saturday evening address without addressing what so many people had hoped he would: same-sex unions. Continue reading Pope Francis on the Family… and Beyond

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Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

by Patrick Angiolillo

In the wake of the horrifying attacks in Paris that occurred at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7, as well as those others in the ensuing days, we have seen the swift response from the world, not least of all from the people of France themselves.

Immediately following the tremendous events of that day, leaders the world over spoke out against the form of radicalized, fundamentalist religion that led the Muslim gunmen to commit their heinous act of violence. Pope Francis, along with French bishops, as well as French Imams, and hosts of political leaders from different countries have voiced their sorrow and rage in reaction to the terror attack. The hacktivist group known as Anonymous even released a video in which a speaker, hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask, declared war on radical terror organizations like Al-Qaeda. The group claims to already have shut down a French terrorist website.1

While these reactions all share a deep opposition to the acts of violence witnessed, the particular response from different figures is, understandably, quite different. The hacktivist group has already begun their campaign to shut down terror websites, just as political leaders and government agencies have already mobilized their respective responses to the attack.

Religious leaders, however, have a different kind of role in the matter. Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office expressed, in a matter of hours after the attack, the pope’s—and the Church’s—opposition to this example of the radical use of religion: “Whatever may be the motivation, homicidal violence is abominable. It is never justified: the life and dignity of all must be firmly guaranteed and guarded; any instigation to hate refuted; and respect for the other cultivated.” Indeed, he added that the pope said he “joins the prayers of the suffering and wounded, and of the families of the dead.”2

A religious leader or a religious group has a different responsibility in the aftermath of crises like the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Religion itself, and, as we see today, Islam in particular, has been abused by the ideologizing forces of terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS (or ISIL). The leaders of these religio-poltical groups use religion—use God—in order to justify their twisted agendas. Pope Francis summarized the phenomenon this way: “Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.”3

What, then, is the responsibility of the world’s religions, and of world religious leaders in the wake of such attacks? How does our Catholic faith play into this puzzle? Continue reading Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

Guest Post: Know Love, No Fear

An Essay Regarding

Compassion and Truth
in the Face of Tragedy in America

By Joseph P. Murray

The other day, I posted something on Facebook expressing my disgust at the comments madeby former Mayor Giuliani regarding the recent deaths of Eric Garner and New York City Police Officers Lu and Ramos. I was disgusted because his commentary, though carrying with it some truth, was, in my opinion, rife with bias and a lack of empathy for the information and people surrounding these tragic events. In that angered state of mind, I wrote some pretty scathing things about the former Mayor, which, in the moment, seemed appropriate in detailing how upset I was. I should probably preface this by letting you know that, as an independent musician and native New Yorker, speaking my mind and being brutally honest with my opinion is something that comes pretty second-nature to me. And so, in this moment of contention and plain old pettiness, I clicked the ‘post’ button, allowing for my social network to revel in – or be reviled by – what I had to say.

To give you some more context, I should also tell you that, while I am a fiercely proud son of a
2nd Generation Irish-American family, I myself am, by ethnic definition, a mixed race Colombian (West African, Native American, and European, to be exact; thank you Ancestry.com), adopted at the tender age of 3 months and transported via a 747 to the neighborhood of Breezy Point. So I’m sure you can see how the events of recent weeks and months have presented, if nothing else, a dichotomous and emotionally complicated terrain for me to cross in my day-to-day life.

After I hid and deleted the post (oh, come on, you knew that was coming), I called my cousin Kevin. Kevin is a proud husband and father of two kids, an Irish Roman Catholic man whose life experiences include time in the New York City Fire Department (his brother is still a member), and, like me, whose extended family consists of many firemen and cops. Upon seeing my post, he proceeded to comment, and, as they say, “read me” for all I was worth. At first, I was extremely upset; how dare a family member, knowing who I am and how I choose to voice my opinion, say that I was “spewing hate” or misappropriating the facts? Didn’t he know that I was a fighter for a noble cause?

Didn’t he understand that there needs to be someone like me to keep the conversation going? At the very least, couldn’t he have used less scatalogical language in his reply? Jeez!
And then I took a moment, and reread what I had written. My God, I thought to myself, this was bad. This was really, really bad. I hid the post, and proceeded with the phone call.

My cousin and I have always had a good relationship. He supports my work as a musician, I provide the comic relief at the family gatherings and holiday get-togethers; it’s a win-win. But in all seriousness, he has been a commendable example of a smart, grounded man from good stock that did right by his parents and built a fine life for himself. On the phone, we spoke of many things, first assuring me that what I had said had not led to a vote of having me excommunicated from my father’s side of the family, and then delving into the premise behind my post. Namely, how to react and assess the tragic deaths of these three men over the past several months, and the virulent social backlash that has flowed from the subsequent news coverage. Tough topics like race-relations, police brutality, the plight of People of Color in America, and how it’s viewed by its civil servants were all discussed; nothing was off the table, and when I hung up an hour or so later, I felt…better? If not better, at least less angry.While there were things we discussed that never saw us seeing eye to eye, one thing that Kevin mentioned that helped throw things back into perspective was his kind, but stern admonishment of my social media presence (and my commentary on current events in general): “be responsible,” he said. “Just try and be more responsible with what you say.”

And he was right. I knew better, being from a family of outstanding civil servants – my father, a retired FDNY captain, my mother and sister, Paraprofessional NYC teachers – that the things the men and women who serve our great city see on a regular basis paint a much larger and comprehensive picture of what really goes on here than most. I know that sometimes that picture isn’t pretty, and so opinions form based on the ugliness that one comes across doing these kinds of jobs. And I know that, just like mine, those opinions are to be respected, because they are based in life experiences that I will most likely never have. I consider myself blessed and very fortunate to live in a city where we have great individuals who take a stand against the things and people of the world who would see it burn before they would sit down and have a conversation.

But I also know that across this country, there are individuals who have never been given the chance to experience those blessings. The reasons behind that are intensely complex, stemming from how the public views the gender/ethnicity/orientation/religion of those people, to how those who take on the job of making or enforcing our laws keep order in the midst of the misunderstandings that arise between individuals. In truth, much of the recent social strife we have seen in our neighborhoods and across the country harbors the residue of a very real enigma that the concepts and verbiage set down in exemplary documents like the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, while touting the noble ideals of freedom and equality, started as an exclusive and selective display of what America was to represent and how she would progress as a nascent nation. This exclusionist policy, which saw the dismissal, subjugation, and/or persecution of groups like the African, the American woman, the
Catholic, the Irish, the Indigenous, the poor…this has been the fulcrum from which some of the most radical progressive change has emerged over the centuries of American history, with these groups, alongside other Americans, tasking those who create and enforce policy to foster inclusion, and to live by the great words set down by this country’s forefathers, as opposed to their own goals or intentions. However, the long-term negative effects of these primary decisions are still present in our society today. It is, in essence, a truth that many find hard to bear, regardless of their stance on the state of American society. We have seen how the pain and anger of those long-term effects has been the premise behind the multiple accounts of loss of life that have been highly publicized by the media, how basic misunderstandings and prejudices have taken away fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, police officers, friends. And we have seen how the public has used these events – as well as the objectionable job being done by the corporate-owned news media in following their stories – to further their bias, their bigotry, and their fear.

For some, it is a fear of authority in the form of law enforcement and our justice system. For others, it is the fear of People of Color in this country, that they are somehow at the root of its violence and the source of its problems. For others still, it is the fear that if we face some of these hard truths, we will somehow be compromising our own sense of order, or worse yet, discredit the honorable words laid down in the Constitution and thereby render forfeit our sense of peace and security. Whatever it is, it is all based in fear, and not in fact, but the fact remains that if we continue on this path of being afraid to change our minds, our outlook, or our understanding, there can be no hope for a peaceful future.So what is the answer to these deep, protruding quandries of the world? How do we fight the bleakness of our own fear? How do we rise above so much hatred, mistrust, violence, and death? The answer is so blessedly simple, but I believe it’s the simplicity of it that makes it so hard to grasp.

Love.

I know that by giving that answer, some of you have probably written off everything else I’ve typed, but it is the truth that I’ve come to know. I am certain that I will not be able to pick up a gun and go after the evils of the world; I don’t think I could ever be one of our brave men and women serving our city, or serving in our armed forces, living day to day with the possibility that, because of the career they’ve chosen, they may not come home to their families. But what I also know is that, for many of them, Love is what propels them to take on these arduous and dangerous tasks. Love for their city, their country, their families, and their futures.

The Love that I know, in addition to the unbelievable Love that God has shown me by blessing me with an incredible set of family and friends, is the inconceivable gift of being able to make music. I know I didn’t deserve it, but it was given to me to make better this world that is so full of pain & anger.

It took me a long time to realize that, and so I carry that responsibility with pride and sense of dignity that cannot be compromised by the hatred or misunderstanding of who I am. I use my music to project Love, and the Love I’ve received in return has been unbelievable.

But however you choose to Love, be sure to choose Love. Choose it over hatred, or prejudices, or xenophobia. Choose to Love knowledge, instead of feeding your head with misinformation fed to us by the media; seek out the Truth, do research, get the whole story before making a judgment call, especially with tragic events such as these. Choose to Love peace, instead of being consigned to the idea ingrained in our history that the only way we can achieve it is through violence and death. But choose to show Love and respect to all our exceptional officers and soldiers who do their job in a manner that upholds our Constitution without compromising the rights of the people. Choose to Love progress that fosters positive change and the spread of justice for all people. The best part about choosing Love is that it allows you to show support for the best of these things, as opposed to having to take one side of an issue. As someone who has been purposely riding the fence of topics like social justice and system reform, I encourage others to do the same. You can support good cops and denounce police brutality. You can be against political corruption and still appreciate the American political process. You can protest economic disenfranchisement and still be an active consumer of ethically sound products. You can mourn the loss of victims of violent crime, even if they themselves were viewed as criminals. We have to do away utterly with this narrative of, “if you’re not for us, you’re against us.” It has proven to foster nothing except further civil unrest. We have to err on the side of compassion, instead of being cautionary with it in these days and times. The more we can celebrate our differences as well as our similarities, the closer we get towards the still-out-of reach goal of World Peace.

I hope this serves as a reminder of the work we have to do as children of God to find ways to come together. I still believe it can be done; I have to believe that. If I didn’t believe such a goal was attainable, I never would’ve taken down that post, or spoken with my cousin. But I did, and we talked, and it really reminded me that with some responsibility and a whole lot

“Where there is Love, there is no fear.”
–Dr. Barbara Ann Teer


Joseph P. Murray is an aspiring musician and social commentator. Check out his website: pmurraymusic.com and follow him on Twitter: @pmurraymusic.

Why HIMYM Finale Made Me Angry

how-i-met-your-mother**SPOILER ALERT**

I adore How I Met Your Mother. I really do. But I was borderline livid during the finale last night. It’s not just that the Mother ‘got sick’ and left the door wide open for Ted (which was such a cop out in my opinion) to try with Robin for the umpteenth time. The whole ‘happily ever after’ moment after Ted shows up with the freaking blue French horn made me angry. We’ve seen the Ted and Robin show – it crashed and burned every. stinking. time. It didn’t work – because relationships take more than sex and a lot of feelings. They had fundamental differences – like children. What, because Ted already had two kids and they are mostly grown, all of a sudden it’ll work? Robin will magically become a good mother to two teenagers?

I will admit that I become way too emotionally involved with fictional characters. My deep frustration at this is more than my emotional investment in the show. I try so hard to encourage the middle school and undergraduate students I work with to make healthy and sometimes difficult choices in their relationships. I have seen too many of my students – and friends – stay in unhealthy relationships because since they loved each other, that was all that mattered and they put up with it. Continue reading Why HIMYM Finale Made Me Angry

Embracing Humility by Learning to Love Yourself

I used to think that humility meant loving others more than I love myself. I believed that true service meant giving and giving until I had nothing left for myself. Leaving something for myself would be selfish, I thought. I believed that these ideas stemmed from a sense of humility, but in reality, they came from an incorrect belief that had taken root deep inside: the belief that I was less deserving of love than everyone else. This belief worked its way into my heart, and I let it stay there because it had disguised itself as humility, a quality that God calls us to embrace. Now I realize that anything that tells me that I am not deserving of love does not come from God. In the book Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle says that we tend to apply God’s love to everyone else, except ourselves. We believe that God loves everyone…but we subconsciously (or even consciously) add one constraint: we deny ourselves the love that we believe God gives to everyone else. I confused this belief with humility, when in reality I think it’s the opposite. What makes me believe that I am so strong that I can survive with less love than my brothers and sisters? How am I capable of filling in the gap left by a lack of love, when I believe that for everyone else, only God can fill that void?

Continue reading Embracing Humility by Learning to Love Yourself

What Must Prayer Contain?

From Guest Contributor, Matt Patella

I am a cradle Catholic. I went to Catholic middle school, high school, and college. I always prayed, as a matter of fact I was at times required to pray before class started. Prayer was a good intellectual exercise growing up. It was a nice way to work out problems in silence. So prayer turned into an odd brainstorming session. But prayer must contain more than intellect: it must contain love.

I did not understand how important love was in prayer, until a mentor in college explained to me a fairly simple concept. “God is the perfect Good, no amount of prayer will ever change God. Prayer can only change you, and through you the people around you.”

Well where does love fit into that? Well if we don’t love the people around us then our prayer will not affect them and it certainly will not affect our own lives. It is not necessary to like the people with whom or for whom we pray, but without any doubt we must love them.

Love is so central to the prayer that without it we are lost. As Catholics we can experience this love every day and give it out to those around us. And I mean real true love. It is the love that will get in a car and drive eight hours for the funeral of a friend’s father; or the love that compels us to sit up and talk with a friend who is having a hard time in his or her life; it is also the love that wakes  people up early in the morning to serve food at a soup kitchen. This is the love that we need to pray and this is the love that comes from prayer.

If prayer truly is a conversation with God, it is most certainly a conversation of love. It is a conversation that also contains love and then challenges us to distribute that love to the world in our own unique way.

So how may we distribute love today?

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Matthew Patella is from Long Island where he went to Catholic school. From there he went on to study at The Catholic University of America, then Boston College and is now back at CUA. In between all of that schooling he took a year to serve as a Cap Corps Volunteer in Garrison, NY leading retreats with the Capuchin Province of St. Mary’s. When walking through book stores he has a tendency to end up in the areas devoted to philosophy, politics, and history.

L.O.V.E.

200px-TheProblemOfPain

The popular contemporary Western conception of “love” is difficult to swallow. People talk of love as though it can only manifest itself in in a smile. C.S. Lewis says it well in The Problem of Pain:

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’.

Most of life indicates that deep love manifests itself in quite the opposite manner. The sight of my mom’s thin upper lip when she found out I was speeding on the highway or her stern glare when she insisted that I study hard was constant reassurance of her love (albeit still unwelcome). She loved me so much that she took the time to ensure I didn’t hurt myself and that I put my gifts to good use. On the other hand, I had childhood friends who were mostly let alone by their parents. They could spend money, date whomever, and stay out late. They were also fairly miserable. The absentee parent produces children who “act out” and “cry for attention.” It is so congenital to the human mind that true love must include some measure of sternness that even young children recognize its absence and take action to try to procure it.

Continue reading L.O.V.E.