A Christian Civics Lesson…or…The Political Perspicacity of Public Goods

Citizen of heaven

I’ve been reading a great deal lately.

Mostly because I like to, but also as an alternative to the idiocy-inducing options from the deviant minds of television producers who seem to think that a line-up such as currently “trending” is what a pandemic-ridden, panicked public in the middle of political upheaval on the edge of a dystopian nightmare needs right now.

It is not.  [That’s another post topic].

My first book related to this topic was by Ben Howe “The Immoral Majority” about how supposed Christians could justify voting for Trump. It broke my heart as a Christian, especially knowing it was these well-meaning [being charitable] people who put him in office and we have all reaped the “rotten fruits” of his labors.

Then, I realized THAT I’d Been Researching the Wrong Topic.

My additional reading list took me back to Spring 2017, just after Trump was inaugurated, the new president was whining about having to live in the shabby White House—and his wife and son were still in New York. The introduction in the thin tome, begins by pointing out the double-duty and double-dollars for Secret Service needed to provide for multiple presidential residences as a way of entering into a conversation about public goods and the importance of same.

The Boston Review Forum #3, 2017: a collection of erudite essays, issued a few times a year on currently relevant topics.

Today’s Topic: Civics and Citizenship

First, we’re going to back-track a bit, just-in-case some of these concepts are new to you or you haven’t given them much thought recently—like since 7th grad civics class. Alas, a subject, obviously, no longer taught in schools–abandoned along with the Pledge of Allegiance..

In contrast to the current “Me, Me, Me, My rights, My Desires, My Right to Individual, Instant Gratification no Matter who gets hurt” American trend in self-indulgence, there used to be two concepts as fervently taught and practiced as any religion:

#1  American Civics

While civics includes the Rights [capital “R”] of the citizen of a given city, state, or country, it also includes the long-forgotten term: Responsibilities of citizenship. Also capital “R.”  

Membership in a community comes with both rights and responsibilities—the first of which is that my/your/our Rights can never negate [trample] the Rights of another. That’s what the term inalienable rights means [from the Constitution].

In 1922 an editorial cartoonist coined the term/image of John Q. Public

Gentleman concept
John Q. Public 

John Q. Public is the Everyman, the man on the street, the average citizen [aka voter/taxpayer]: at that time, in 1922, before either world war, John Q. was the hard-working family man toiling for the good of his family and the common good of his city, state and nation.

John Q. Public was the epitome of citizenship. And one of the things that happened when you got all the John Q. Public’s together and pooled their intellectual, inventive, and financial resources is that you created a sound local community, a state of prosperity and a secure nation.

And it worked increasing well for decades as America prospered and grew and grew and as our resources grew and we eventually became the envy of the world—and a model for greatness. There was an expanding middle class and every citizen had cause to hope and work for their version of the American Dream.

There was something CIVIC-minded in the citizenry, the daily spoken pledge of Allegiance bore out that concept and we used to teach it to our young… while the “pledge” is not to an idol aka THE flag itself, it is allegiance to an idea, a goal for which the flag symbolically stands. It is allegiance as a countryman to the country, to the Constitution. It’s these common ideals of working toward the common good to which we, as citizens owe allegiance—loyalty.  That’s not asking too much. That’s the Responsibility portion.

Perhaps you’ve seen this. https://youtu.be/hJNL_rhGDq4

Please, enjoy it again.

Think: not-to-be-violated, Rights. As in, it should have been just as inalienable for me to have my children learn the pledge of allegiance [and loyalty to community] at school rather than none of us could because ONE PERSON wanted it stopped. Not just being able to opt out for themselves–to sit down quietly while those who want to make the pledge could [THAT is  what NOT squashing another’s rights looks like] but we have become the nation of one dissenter makes the rules for all. That is not equality.

THAT is NOT protecting everyone’s rights–that’s domination of the most litigious. And then it followed in the same vein with Atheists and school prayer. Not that the prayers would thereafter be made silently, [still keeping religious freedom] and the atheist could think whatever he wanted during that time–but that any form of prayer/faith was to be banned. Again, not protecting everyone’s rights.

There was also regularly spoken [and taught in schools] obligation to promote the “common good”  [even including some measure of self-sacrifice, if necessary] and the products of such promotions were called:  Public Goods

Before we move on to Public Goods, let’s discuss specific CHRISTIAN CIVICS

Christian Citizen

1a: Christian Civics 101…

Christianity has always been about putting the welfare of the “other” before self.

In the very beginning, the issue of covetousness comes up in Gen 4:9 when the jealous Cain has just slain his brother Abel for whom God comes looking.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asks sarcastically, and then he lies to God about where Abel’s body is.

For coveting the love God gave Abel—for wanting more than his fair share, for failing to care for his brother, for murdering in the name of greed, and for bearing false witness—Cain is cast out for eternity.

Over and Over again, Scripture and tradition tell us how we are to live out our duties as citizens no matter the ruler.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”   [pay your taxes!]

Abp Charles Chaput on Rendering to Caesar: [his book by the same title]

“When Jesus tells the Pharisees and Herodians in the Gospel of Matthew (22:21) to “render unto the Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,” he sets the framework for how we should think about religion and the state even today. Caesar does have rights. We owe civil authority our respect and appropriate obedience. But that obedience is limited by what belongs to God. Caesar is not God.

Only God is God, and the state is subordinate and accountable to God for its treatment of human persons, all of whom were created by God.

I’ll repeat the most important part:

The State is Subordinate and ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD for its treatment of human persons, all of whom were created by God.

AND THEREFORE, WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR PUTTING THEM IN OFFICE

Our job as believers is to figure out what things belong to Caesar, and what things belong to God — and then put those things in right order in our own lives, and in our relations with others.

Not really seeing so much…“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 19:19

 Sheep on the right Goats on the left

                       The Judgement of Nations      Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’     

Or did we let people be put in cages, left thousands going hungry/homeless in our wealthy nation, or dying from a pandemic, or stealing from the infirm and elderly to give to the rich– We cannot say, well, I didn’t do that personally… IF YOU VOTED FOR THE PEOPLE WHO DO THOSE THINGS…YOU ARE COMPLICIT. PERIOD.

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’ 

giving food

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

By doing what is right and godly by your neighbor, you gain eternal life.

By NOT doing right by your neighbor, you have everything to lose.

You simply cannot OUT-GIVE God’s generosity.

For God always takes what your give and multiplies your blessings.

You Simply Cannot Out-Give God

Let us look at our Citizenship, then, with the heart of God’s generosity.

And now, back to our story of Public Goods and what that looks like through Christian [Christ’s] eyes.

#2 Public Goods

The Boston Review starts out by taking a look at what Trump’s presidency, in particular, was already doing to America by way of rearranging and in some cases scuttling Public Goods in the few months since his inauguration.

Inasmuch as the White House is a public good…a home provided for our leader with the tax dollars of the nation’s citizens…Trump’s refusal to stay where all other presidents have stayed at the cost of MILLIONS of extra tax payer dollars for secret service security in New York for his family AND at the White House AND at MARLAGO which is not designed for safety to begin with, after rejecting the equally “shabby” Camp David was a blatant squandering of public goods.

The warning signs of the upcoming reduction in PUBLIC GOODS were evident from the get-go, and have been borne out over the past three years.

Going back to our civics lesson–the idea of public goods—it is our civic responsibility to contribute to the common good. That means everyone pays taxes into the common pot.

EACH OF US… FOR THE “OTHER.”

 Philippians gives you another Christian Civics lesson and clearly expresses the attitude we are to have toward others:

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

We are, by God’s mandate, for the sake of our own soul, to care for the vulnerable, to think of the needs of the other rather than only ourselves and in that vein of common good we, as a community, provide and share Public Goods.

What are Public Goods?

Easily identifiable as a PUBLIC GOOD are public ROADS so people can get goods to market, that became major highways so that interstate commerce can cross the nation bringing prosperity, opportunity and MAIL [USPS] to even the most remote region.

The USPS was considered SO important it is a self-sufficient agency and mandated so just what Trump’s trying to do cannot happen—well, not legally.

As we became industrialized, Public Goods grew to include ELECTRICITY everywhere, and WATER pumped TO our homes and SEWAGE pumped away from our homes.

It came to include NATURAL GAS for heating/cooking and TELEPHONE lines to improve communications and improve commerce.

It became the PUBLIC SCHOOL system because we knew that an educated citizenry benefits every community.  The PUBLIC LIBRARY.

Those PUBLIC GOODS used to be all publicly held. BY THE PUBLIC, in other words: by the elected government who are “we the people.” Goods provided by our taxes for our use.

We, the American collective of John Q. Publics, controlled public goods so that these goods could be made universally and unilaterally available to each and every citizen.                         [Underling added. We’ll discuss lack of access a bit later]

For those PUBLIC GOODS…We pay Taxes.

Originally, EVERY John Q. Public paid his SHARE proportional to his wealth.

Even the Bible had a sliding % scale. 10% of first fruits.

All the way up to President Eisenhower, the rich always paid more.

President Dwight David Eisenhower, IMHO perhaps the last real Republican, had a 90 percent tax rate for the superrich during his administration. [1953-1961 my admittedly, white privileged childhood—from birth to eight.]

What such taxation did for the PUBLIC GOODS was create and sustain a real middle class.

Success leaves Clues.”

family house car

I remember many of my friends had stay-at-home Moms…the Dads had ONE job with maybe a bit of overtime, and they owned a house, a TV, a car and a SUMMER COTTAGE on the lake and we had change for the ice cream truck. The houses weren’t fancy but they were equipped with lights and heat and telephones and public water and sewer. The neighborhoods were nice. There were public parks. We went to public schools that were clean and well cared for and we had enough textbooks.

The Boston Review defined “public goods” as those”

“Essential to enabling human success and well-being. The Review called it a democratic conception of public goods.  It is a democratic conception the substantive and aspirational sense of democracy: These are goods that we owe to one another in a shared democratic society.”  [Underlining added]”

Let me repeat that.

PUBLIC GOODS ARE WHAT WE OWE TO ONE ANOTHER IN A SHARED DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.      [underlining added]

We even provided for our elderly John and Jane Q’s after they paid into the Government Social Security program… Social Security is a not entirely a PUBLIC GOOD—but supposed to be a cooperative between the public [workers] and the government who holds the money and then gives it back later. We even expanded it to include a Social Security net for those who are too ill/disabled to work.

Social_security_card_john_q_public

PAID INTO during their entire working lives. Workers provided for the citizens who retired before them, as the young pay for today’s worker when he/she’s too old to work. This social safety net…is for the common good.

EACH CITIZEN PAYS IN—in essence LOANING the government their money to invest the fund so that when they are too old/ill to work, the GOVERNMENT will REPAY THEM in MONTHLY INSTALLMENTS in their declining years.

Social Security is BOUGHT AND PAID FOR by the SWEAT AND LABOR OF THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY…it is not some “handout” some “PERK.”

Just this week [Aug 2020] Trump threatened to do an end-run around gutting social security by directly withdrawing funds—which he can’t… by saying [If he is reelected] he will stop taking FICA from workers which means the FICA Withholdings will stop and there will be no money going into Social Security.

NO PRESDIENT CAN DO THAT, he/she cannot stop Tax Withholding. Which is why, for now, Trump “deferred it”…to look good now, pay back later while his posse tries to figure out how to abolish this law if he should be re-elected.

In fact, the 1935 law expressly forbid this idea, in Section 803 of Title VIII.

Just so you know.

The Boston Review goes on to say:

 “In turn, this suggests that ensuring equal access to these goods is a matter of public concern and public obligation.”  [Underlining added].

The Problem of “Access”

I made a point of italicizing my memories of childhood as white privilege. Because 1950’s Blacks did not enjoy the same era of prosperity or ease into the middle class as whites. There were no blacks in my middle class neighborhood, blacks did not have access to equal housing, jobs, or many other “public goods” and even though there had been desegregation in schools, many municipalities paid out PUBLIC MONEY based on the income/property value of the neighborhood. So a “public school” in an affluent white neighborhood was a far cry from the “public school” in a black neighborhood.

Speaking of Housing and neighborhoods… PUBLIC HOUSING designed to be “fair/affordable housing for the poorer communities” was just another excuse to seclude, warehouse and segregate blacks/minorities from white communities. The ghetto, the slum, the “projects” were just that, projects in misdirection while perpetuating segregation and unequal access to PUBLIC GOODS.

Let us revisit the democratic conception of public goods…

 “Essential to enabling human success and well-being. The Review called it a democratic conception of public goods..

It is a democratic conception the substantive and aspirational sense of democracy.

Public Goods are goods that we owe to one another in a shared democratic society.”

What we Owe to one Another.

Given the advances in technology and innovation, and longer lives and in the face of countries as large, or larger than ours, who provide better, more comprehensive public goods for their citizens—with far less GDP—America must do better.

We need, as a nation, to recommit ourselves to finding a way to ADD:

UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE, CHILD CARE, and INTERNET ACCESS to the list of PUBLIC GOODS…

And while we’re at it,

The Danger of Privatization of Public Goods

Remember when Ma-Bell was the only phone company? Everyone had a phone and whoever didn’t could use the pay phone on the corner. But along came the breakup of the “monopoly”—and supposedly prices would decrease as efficiency increased.  Look at your phone bill and everything you have to pay for now–phones cost hundreds of dollars. There is no competition for lower rates, it’s corporate collusion driving up rates.

Flint, MI water which WAS a PUBLIC GOOD went private and the poor communities of FLINT, mostly of color, were POISONED via neglect because there was no PUBLIC GOOD and no PUBLIC OVERSIGHT and the “private owner” took the money, left the state and never looked back.

We’ve seen it again and again and now many POLITICIANS want to scuttle PUBLIC GOODS for privatization of the MAIL, of SOCIAL SECURITY…the way they did for HEALTHCARE…

It costs thousands of dollars in America to have a baby…but only a couple hundred to have an abortion. In Scandinavian countries it costs $70 to have a baby-abortions are almost free but the have the lowest abortion rates in the world per capita.

Success leaves clues. 

RX medications like insulin skyrocketed because of PRIVATE PHARMA, the Medical Insurance industry is rolling in cash while people die, every day from rationing.

And the people at the top of Amazon, and other mega corporations, Insurances and Pharma companies PAY ALMOST or NO TAXES and raise prices to DENY ACCESS to all but the most wealthy.

I’m alternately saddened/enraged over this “trend” and I’m tired of daily watching the next theft/dismantling of PUBLIC GOODS by a government that is holding us hostage rather than serving us.

This is not a Republican/Democrat thing…

dem vs rep

It’s a Save Your Soul Thing!

When you think about any election of and “Caesars,” local, state or federal… ask:

Is this person someone who will take care of the vulnerable “least” others or are they just in it for the power/fame/money?  It’s easy to tell. Not by their words…

By their deeds you shall know them”       Mat 7:6

Does the platform  of these candidates support…by introducing bills for AND fighting against cutbacks of Public Goods?

Do they take action to feed the hungry- or do they want to poorest of people to have less food [stamps?]? Do they want to take away from the poor [Cut Medicaid/Medicare] to give to the rich?

Clothing the naked, housing the homeless, medical care for the sick? Universal healthcare of all of God’s children is a right–not a privilege.

Protecting the planet [over which God gave us stewardship in Gen 1:28]—do they want to reduce pollution of air, water, soil or deregulate corporations to do what they want?

Protect Earth

Do they promote equal access to ALL public goods or do they want to withhold it from foreigners, refugees, minorities, and the list of everyone BUT white folks goes on and on.

DO NOT COMPARE CANDIDATES TO EACH OTHER COMPARE THEM AGAINST WHAT GOD REQUIRES OF YOU! Who will help your goal of heaven?

THE CHOICE MAY NOT BE EASY,

CERTAINLY, NEVER PERFECT, BUT EASIER.

IT HAS TO ALWAYS BE THE OPTION FOR THE POOR,

As a Catholic, as a Christian…

Pray for the courage to vote for people who will care for the “others” in our society. Forget party, forget pride. Yes, it will cost YOU more. Sacrifice purifies the soul.

VOTE, NOT for MAN, but  FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR ETERNAL SOUL

 sad angel

Have a safe and blessed week ahead.

Your sister in Christ,

T

 

 

 

 

 

This St. Iggy’s Girl and his Feast Day: July 31st.

Image may contain: 1 person

Tomorrow’s my St. Iggy’s feast day.

St. Ignatius of Loyola 1491-1556. I am a St. Iggy’s girl, self-proclaimed as the Jesuits [Society of Jesus] that St. Ignatius founded does not have a 3rd order for lay persons. Doesn’t matter, I’ve taken him and Ignatian Spirituality to heart. Let me tell you why.

St. Iggy’s main claim to fame was showing us just how to put into our daily lives what Socrates said 1900 years earlier [399B.C.]:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

St. Ignatius developed the Daily Self Examen[ation] in which we look over our past day and see where we have fallen short of God’s will for us, where we have encountered Him, and where we need God’s mercy and grace. This daily examination does a few things.
1. Seeing yourself in blunt TRUTH, warts and all, promotes humility.
2. Recalling all the times, today, you encountered Him, through nature, prayer or other people develops the tendency to look for Him, to look for the good, to look for blessings and as humans we “see what we look for.” So look for the good, the beautiful, the holy; not bad. The bad will proclaim itself. Doing this produces not only an “attitude of gratitude” for today, but in your whole life–your whole view of the world will change.
3. It calls to mind the times you fell short, reminds you of your place in the universe [NOT the center, btw] and how fragile and frail we are and we must love mercy, ask for grace and forgiveness.

THE REALLY BIG ONE FOR ME, so important these days…

4. JOY in the midst of SUFFERING. Yes I said it… JOY while still in the midst of suffering. That Joy comes from knowing that this life is finite and right now we’re struggling for every day we can get; this government is betraying us–but God never will. We know that even if the worst happens– Jesus, resurrected after he conquered death for us…
Karl Barth said:
 Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
And as Joy in gratitude allows us to see the world’s beauty, it also allows us to see the ugliness [COVID and government upheaval, racism, world wide tragedies] with hope. To see every challenge with both hope and the determination to fix what’s broken.
Because,
Love isn’t love if it doesn’t move one to action.
So I can be HOPEFUL in the challenges America faces.
I can be JOYFUL in the midst of a pandemic–because I see so many heroes bringing God’s love and grace to people.
I see ordinary people doing extraordinary things for Christ. I love this country and this planet and the plants and animals and waters and sky…and so in this gratitude I’ll show that love by voting to protect natural resources, I’ll wear a mask, and wash my hands and stay home 99% of the time because the only thing I can do to actually save lives is NOT GET COVID so I’m not taking a bed someone else needs, and remain alive and healthy to take care of the people [my family and the gal I cook for] and country I love.
I’m grateful I’m alive to spend much of my day praying without ceasing–every time I think of someone or some situation I pray about it.
Prayer changes things
PRAYER CHANGES ME.
So tomorrow on St. Iggy’s Day, check out his story, check out his Spiritual Exercises, check out his 6 Characteristics of a Healthy Spirit.
Those of you who know me, know that the singular reason I wrote “From Trauma to Joy…the Ignatian Way” was to share with others St. Iggy’s strategies for those experiencing/living through civilian P.T.S.D. to find the JOY even in the midst of suffering.
AMDG
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Kay Kiefner, Lori Weismantel and 1 other
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Reform the Police!  Just Call a Catholic!

 

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz

“I’m having Déjà vu, all over again!” Yogi Berra

Not too many years ago, the American Catholic Church was very nearly in the same position American Law Enforcement finds itself today.

The Catholic Church then and the Police now, were forced to face some UGLY, humbling and humiliating truths about systemic corruption and criminal behavior by its members.

Just like the Catholic Church, the Police now face some excruciatingly difficult conversations and must take some sweeping, drastic measures to repent/reform and rebuild—both individually and institutionally.

First we Catholics had to own our sins:

 

long confession

Sins of Commission:

A small percentage of our “organization” did criminal and morally repugnant things against other children of God [victims].

Certain Officers are more danger than protector to people of color, using violent, unnecessary tactics up-to-and-including murder. [victims]

Sins of Omission:

When leadership knew of the crimes and did nothing,

Followed by

More Sins of commission:

Leadership became complicit,

* Covering up the crimes,

* Silencing victims/witnesses,

* Transferring the criminal to commit the same crime again.

* Whistle blowers were subjected to retaliation/career suicide

 

Yup, We’ve Been There, Done That!

And not just Recently…

 

You may remember we had, as a Church, some ‘splaining to do’

Over a violent murderous thing called The Inquisition

Even when we stopped killing people,

The Church stirred up hatred for the Jews claiming the Jews [alone] killed Jesus. [spoiler alert: our SIN killed Jesus and that was why He was sent as recompense]

And we are currently struggling with many parts of our faith that are discriminatory and hurtful to the LGBTQ community.  We have a long way to go.

Truthfully, Reform never ends.

The Takeaway? No institution that is peopled by PEOPLE will ever be perfect or holy—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the GOAL.

Because you see, even with our collective wisdom and determination, sincerely devoted to the proper handling of the pedophile priests, it was too-long coming, too slow and didn’t go high enough in the beginning. The continued “accountability” search for all complicit and involved only happened because the majority of the community demanded that the purge go as high as necessary.

Otherwise, the bottom rung will get cleaned but the “old boys” tradition of institutional corruption will get away free.

WHY?

Because systems themselves can be flawed.

Both systems: Church and Cops.

Both Institutions were/are flawed in procedures and policies and need reform. Constant reform. There is no “once and for all” because people, communities and society changes.

 

Q: What Should Cops Do First?

A: Quit, Quitting.

Cops should first look at the following quote.

If they agree, they stay, if they don’t—the find another job and

“Don’t let the door hit ya….where the good Lord split ya!”

That’s all there is to it.

Either you’re part of the problem, or part of the solution.

“You have to hate it enough to make it change; and love it enough to think it worth changing.”                                                                               GK Chesterton

 

Like a good cop confronted with a “dirty” partner, or a leadership that promotes a culture of racism, violence and creates within the department—the heartbreak is real, the sense of betrayal by the organization runs painfully deep. The good cop is a victim too.

Many end up with a fatalistic view that they, as one officer, or one pew sitter, can’t do anything. Especially because to stand up, to blow that whistle means retaliation, being ostracized by colleagues, possibly career suicide—or even death when fellow officers deliberately fail to “back you up.”

It happens. It happens more than you think.

Like those of us sitting in our pews, pondering the sheer numbers of little boys [and fewer girls] molested over the decades, the rot of cover-ups—our hearts torn asunder by the betrayal.

We felt small, impotent, helpless and hopeless…just like the cops do...for about a minute and a half.

Then we gathered our Angels and Saints, our Good and Godly priests and got behind them. WE LOVED our God, our Faith with its ancient, and often sinful history and said again, what we’ve said before:

Time to confess our sins and hold ALL accountable to task

Time to heal the victims—by asking for forgiveness and helping them heal.

Time to prevent future victims with a deep organizational self-examination

Time to prevent future victims by bringing in the best and brightest minds

Time to bring in the BIGGEST HEARTS to support and encourage all the

Innocent, maligned good members who have been tarnished and endangered by the actions of a small percentage.*

  • pedophile priests were estimated to be something like 1% while in the general population, per capita they represent 2% of population—but like police officers, priests are in positions of exalted authority so their betrayal is far worse, far more criminal, far more damaging to victims.

 

Catholic Opportunity #1

Support our Local Police Departments

 

Jesus hugging police

LOVE COMES FIRST

Because we Catholics know exactly what police departments are facing across the country we can help them by getting behind them, encouraging them in love and support—just as we did all our good and godly priests.

We can show police departments the ways of systemic change, and we are experts at bringing multiple cultures together…despite out squabbles we are STILL the Universal Church with 1 BILLION members worldwide. We get that it’s a tough job but we can support them locally while they do it.

We can mentor, encourage, and counsel broken departments toward healing.

 

Catholic Opportunity #2

Support Black Lives and Businesses

 

Virgin Mary Black Mamas Pieta

LOVE COMES FIRST

WE can start, as I see we have, by joining in the protests, by supporting the protests, by reaching out in peace and love.

Cleaning our Catholic Corner

Before we pass the Broom

And to prove that, I’ll point to a place in my beloved Church that currently suffers from endemic racism and segregation. The Knights of Columbus—for white Catholic men and the Knights of Peter Claver for Catholic African American men and women.

Just to be clear I know nothing of these two organizations but it doesn’t take someone “woke” to know that SEPARATE is NEVER EQUAL.  The picture says it all. 

Yes, in 2020!

 

Knights of Columbus                                   Knights of Peter Claver

And we can start by merging/changing the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of Peter Claver… NOT by dismantling both of them.

To dismantle them sounds like an old tantrum from the deep South that says, “if we can’t have segregation—then I’m taking my toys and going home.”  We Catholics know how wrong that is.

My question is: Why did no one do something about his earlier?

My guess is that there are too few African American Catholics to raise the issue with any bit of power behind them.  Doubles our shame.

Catholic Opportunity #3

Evangelization

Because of Irish and Italian Cops—historically, predominantly Catholic, there’s a connection there that needs to be explored. Catholic cops need to be supported and encouraged to be change makers. To see that their policing mandate is perfectly compatible with their religious and moral beliefs. That equal justice under the law and Catholic Social Justice are one and the same; and that ALL LIFE IS SACRED.

Catholics are a natural to Evangelize the African American community because we Catholics know what it’s like to be on the KKK’s extermination list. We know what it’s like, even with our “white privilege” to still be denied equality in jobs, housing, career advancement, even in running for political office. John Kennedy as a Catholic president was near scandal and the hate mail and death threats were the same as for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Catholics need to reach out to our wounded and neglected Black brother and sisters and ask for forgiveness that we are so late in taking up their cause, so late in seeing that their cause is every American’s cause and that we fully intend to stand WITH THEM while they seek justice for all those victimized…

 

Catholics are called to be the Mediator in this time of crisis, to help the police departments do what we did when we found criminals in our midst, and to help heal the wounds of our victimized brothers and sisters–Both Black and Blue–for the sake of our nation, and our very soul 

priest in prayer

It can’t be either/or, it Must be Both

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could Trump be an Answer to Prayer????

Before my readers who are Trump supporters shout “She’s seen the light” and those who know me better, are calling for the jacket with wrap-around sleeves and some heavy medication…take a deep breath and hear me out.

First ask: What was the prayer?

One of my daily prayers is for our country:

Father of all nations and ages,

we recall the day when our country

claimed its place among the family of nations;

for what has been achieved we give you thanks,

for the work that still remains we ask your help,

and as you have called us from many peoples

to be one nation,                                  [underlined added by me– the part that got answered. ]

grant that, under your providence,

our country may share your blessings

with all the peoples of the earth.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.                                                                     [from: the new Roman Missal]

I usually follow that with a prayer for the mental health of Donald Trump for he’s not only a man out of his depth professionally, he’s out of his mind-mentally. Clinical narcissism and total lack of human empathy is a mental disorder. He is to be pitied [and removed from power for the sake of our nation and democracy] but most of all, pitied and prayed for.

When God clearly answers one of my prayers, I rejoice and give thanks immediately.

But, most of the time, it’s not like that… is it?

Typical answered prayers are like Jesus’ stories and parables.

You have to do some digging to ferret out the meaning and its relationship to what you prayed for.

A second part of my daily prayer routine is lectio divina…randomly reading from the Bible and then meditating on the verse.

One verse has haunted me for weeks, long before George Floyd’s murder: Genesis 50:20 and it would pop up every time I prayed for Mr. Trump and also, repented the less-than charitable posts/thoughts/wishes I had in reaction to his latest stunt/tweet.

The verse tells when Joseph [coat of many colors] forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery—but in the end, even though what they did was certainly evil, Joseph rose to power in spite of it and was able to SAVE THEM.  This isn’t about slavery, although it could be. More importantly, it speaks to God’s ability to change things.

God can change evil into something good.

“The evil you planned to do me has, by God’s design, been turned to good, to bring about the present result: the survival of a numerous people.” Gen 50:20               [underlining by me]

THIS is where Donald Trump and his presidency come in

Through 3.5 years of  Trump as president and the things he’s done, at first, seem to indicate God abandoned us to our apathetic, [not bothering to vote], hateful ways.

In the end, many lives, Black lives will be saved.  [Take another breath, I’m getting there]

I have to be grateful. Trump’s presidency has taught us what REALLY matters:

It matters if our president understands the Constitution he’s vowed to protect.

It matters if our president knows that truth is objective.

It matters if our president has diplomatic skills in dealing with other nations.

It matters if our president is loyal to allies as such partnerships require.

It matters if our president is more concerned with feathering his own nest and those of his wealthy friends rather than caring for the most vulnerable in our society.

It matters if our president has respect for preserving the earth for future generations.

Protect Earth

It matters if our president has a fully formed conscience.

And

It matters if our president is a xenophobic racist.

Because

It matters if our police and government are implicitly racist.

Harper Lee Quote

It matters if our president approves of suppressing votes of black citizens and citizens of “blue” states.

It matters If our president wants to be a dictator and use our military against our own citizens

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts” Donald Trump

It matters that Black LIVES ARE IN DANGER. Every. Single. Day.

Virgin Mary Black Mamas Pieta

First comes the Pandemic.

            Our whole nations gets a “time out” to realize what really matters:

The lives of our loved ones, surviving the pandemic, a job, safety, food, voting.

Then comes white militia storming my own capitol city. [over haircuts, masks]

Then comes the murder of George Floyd.

Then come the protests.

Then come the riots.

America’s Dirty Underbelly FULLY Exposed

For the past 3.5 years… America’s dirty underbelly has been showing in increasing proportion to the encouragement given from the White House, the complicity of prosecutors who won’t prosecute, of cops who act with impunity and immunity that our country has far less to be proud of than we boasted. We are forced to face the truth.

Our own government has shouted fire in a crowded theatre.

It’s ugly and it’s TRUE… we are a racist nation.

WE HAVE TO OWN IT, repent it. Fix it.

Finally, Finally, in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd the RIGHT QUESTIONS are being asked:

What CAN we do as individuals, locally, state wide, and nationally?

What MUST we do to stop the inherent racism in our country?

What MUST we do to stop WHITE PRIVILEGE, WEALTH PRIVILEGE?

White Wealth Privilege

What must we do to clean up our Government? Our Policing?

That’s easy, elect better people but for that everyone must VOTE.

Black Votes Matter too.

But the REAL QUESTION this meme brought to my mind is: [not did they] but COULD THEY?

Didn't vote

 

Another Prayer Answered:

[This time my prayer for my fellow Catholics who’ve been coming unhinged on social media and dividing the CHURCH the way the nation is divided  and over nothing so urgent as murdered citizens.]

“Let my Catholic brothers and sisters stop infighting about whether Eucharist must be on the tongue or can be on the hand and other ridiculous, divisive, first-world, non-issues.

Turn their focus to actually doing something meaningful about the suffering in this world. [NOT whether a Bishop has the right to ask you to wear a mask.]

Make the invisible, visible to us Lord.   [another prayer answered and it ain’t pretty]

Make parishes more concerned with evangelizing and welcoming people without judgment as we remember our place in the scheme of things. That we’re here to love. We are here to love.”

I Praise God as I see so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ MARCHING, So many priests and Bishops and Archbishops MARCHING. [wishing I was well enough to join in]

Thank You Lord for another prayer answered as I also pray for the grieving family of George Floyd—martyred to change our entire nation.  

Bless George with eternal rest in Your arms, Lord.

Just one happy example among many:

https://cathstan.org/news/local/participants-say-priests-protest-against-racism-was-about-prayer-not-politics

The Other Side of the Coin

An excerpt from the link above also touched on the side of the coin I’m now going to flip.  Policing…namely Good Police Officers.

“St. Luke’s pastor noted that “at the march today we prayed for good police officers and good policing,” and he said police officers provided security for the event, with four to five police cruisers driving ahead of the marchers as they marched from near Lafayette Square to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“While we were praying, there were police officers praying alongside us. They saw the essence of what we were doing,” he said.

This past year, the parish priest received an award for community leadership from the Metropolitan Police Department.

“I personally work with tremendous police officers who would lay down their lives for me,” he said.

But he said reform is needed, to prevent bad police officers from discrediting the uniform they wear.

“The only way we can get peace is to get reform, so the community can continue to trust the police, and the police can have the backs of the community people and defend them,” the priest said.”

As the daughter of a cop who was shot – 5 times–answering a domestic violence call [when I was just 6 years old] I know most cops are good.

I also think that too many that should have never gotten a badge and gun in the first place. I’ll explore this and other cop issues in another post.

Since I hold a degree in Police Science, (one of the first women admitted to my particular academy–way back when). I will also admit, I studied alongside some I prayed would never make the grade, for a variety of reasons.

Many have been trained to have the knee-jerk response Mr. Trump has…overly aggressive domination as first and only response.

Often, good cops are tormented because they  are powerless to get rid of bad cops even when they try, because of cop unions and complicit higher ups…then there’s the legendary SILENT BLUE WALL that spells their doom if they “rat” because the other bad cops will retaliate—and if the higher ups are racist/complicit…it’s a living hell for a cop with a conscience.

They need our help.

They want our help to clean out their department.

So, just as some of the police marched with us supporting the protest, let’s support them in fixing things on their end.

While we work hard to reform our police departments…remember that if 1 in 10 are racist…there are 9 who dreamed of protecting and serving their entire childhoods and work hard at it their entire adult lives…and serve us, protect us and even die for us.

We must hate RACISM enough to demand it change, but LOVE the good officers enough to help them clean up their departments.

IT can’t be either or…it has to be BOTH...

Please read this with an open heart…there are thousands of good cops out there.

tearful cop

 

 

From an Ohio Cop:

“I didn’t enjoy writing tickets – But you didn’t know

I cried when I found your daughter lying in a ditch, high on meth – But you didn’t know

I was devastated when I found the 32 year old veteran dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound – But you didn’t know

I missed my kid’s birthdays, school plays and family trips because I had to work – But you didn’t know

I had nightmares about the 2 year old I found crushed under a truck tire while mom was inside buying dope – But you didn’t know

I really struggled with EVERY death notification I made to a family about their loved one – But you didn’t know

I was never comfortable at social gatherings because with the things I’ve seen, I can’t trust anyone – But you didn’t know

I’ve seen things you could never even imagine – But you didn’t know

I really didn’t like putting people in jail – But you didn’t know

My job was hard on my family – But you didn’t know

I had problems, just like everyone else – But you didn’t know

The next time you see an officer, or any first responder, remember that they are people first and there is no training in the world that prepares them for the things they see and do on a daily basis.”

 

And let’s Pray this next prayer every day

UNTIL THIS PRAYER, TOO, IS ANSWERED …

From the Congressional record,

Specifically for the 4th of July…

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Let us free ourselves from racism, hatred, revenge and apathy.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalms 33:12).

Eternal God, stir thou our minds and stimulate our hearts with a high sense of patriotism as we approach the Fourth of July. May all that this day symbolizes renew our faith in freedom, our devotion to democracy, and redouble our efforts to keep a government of the people, by the people, and for the people truly alive in our world. [my underlining]

Grant that we may highly resolve on this great day to dedicate ourselves anew to the task of ushering in an era when good will shall live in the hearts of a free people, justice shall be the light to guide their feet, and peace shall be the goal of humankind: to the glory of thy holy name and the good of our nation and of all mankind. Amen.”

I’ll end with a quote from my beloved G.K. Chesterton:

“We must hate the world enough to change it; but LOVE it enough to think it worth changing. ”

GK Chesterton

I do.

I do.

We can…with God’s Help

 

Black Cop Friendship

Your Sister in Christ,

Thora

Tale of two American Baby Boys.

Baby #1

I recently heard, with great joy, the news that my son and his wife are expecting a baby boy to be born this fall. This news heralded several things: my son, the last of the line of men named Wease,  so the Wease name would not be carried on for another generation. The father of a precious daughter who would probably, someday take the name of her husband, there endeth the line of Wease. Happily, the Wease line will continue.

My new grandson will be added to the rolls of both American Citizen and Children of Abraham…WOO HOO! Another Jew to rejuvenate a dwindling population, as holocaust survivors count down to a precious few. The survivors, made us remember the truth and the horror of selecting a people, any people, for  persecution and extinction for no other reason than some mentally ill leader’s idea of the Ultimate White Privilege.

In the last four years [counting the volatile election campaign], I have worried more than a few times about my children’s safety as Jews in America. [Synagogue shootings and fires, all by perpetrated by WHITE RACIST NUTJOBS btw]. Compound that by having a national spokesperson in chief who calls overtly racist “nationalists” and self-proclaimed Nazis  “good people” and I had no little cause for concern. Combine that with his outspoken joy at being a provocateur of violent behavior against minorities of all stripes, hatefulness of refugees/ immigrants and demeaning disdain for all womanhood, proclaimed in dozens of reprehensible daily tweets cause me to worry for my children/grandchildren’s safety and the future of Democracy.

BABY #2

THIS WEEK…I found out about Baby #2 when I was getting my medical exam on the phone, tele-pandemic style. As I was discussing upcoming labs and the safe way to get them—diabetics need them regularly,  my wonderful doctor, an African American woman, announced the upcoming birth of her first child.

I love my doctor. I waited a year for her to have an opening.

What do I like best?

She listens.

I feel heard.

Being heard is all any of us really want.

She and I chatted possible names … her child: so far Langston Samuel is winning and my grandchild’s possible moniker is Avi [no middle name yet]..

I wished her well.

I asked her to let me know when her son is born and told her I would add her and the safe delivery of her child to my daily prayer list. She would expect that, I’m a practicing Catholic with a prayer ministry.

We pray for each other.

But I will actually be praying for them for as long as I live–especially since her son will be born Black in America.

Her son will be my grandchild’s contemporary.

I want them both to live long happy lives and be friends.

That’s the America I want.

That’s the America I need to try to make happen with my time left on earth.

That’s the America we Americans all deserve.

Then…

George Floyd was Murdered

Live.

He was murdered LIVE on film.

He was murdered by a cop.

He was murdered while 3 other cops watched and did nothing.

I wept. For my doctor and for all the black mothers in this country.

I saw this on Facebook after I finished my daily prayers for my friends, family, my doctor and her unborn child…

I prayed over this horrible crime and injustice as if the pandemic wasn’t enough to pray over.

cop diner kid

I wept again.

I was pleased with the protesters who protested peacefully like Martin Luther King Jr. would have insisted, would have approved.

I believe the violence is most often STARTED by outsiders and anti-government, anti-law enforcement groups who take advantage of tragedies and co-opt a community’s pain for their agenda of creating chaos in society.

I was overjoyed with the many policemen across the country taking a knee with their city’s protesters [New Jersey,  & a couple departments in California] and in FLINT, MI, in our embattled state, the police chief and officers joining the protesters.

Here’s the clip”

Flint, Michigan’s Protest today.

We weren’t sure what to expect. With everything we have been seeing on the news, it wasn’t clear what would happen but as we were walking, it was beautiful to see people of every race, age, demographic come together and unite. When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question… “We are mad too! What can we do?”

and the crowd responded, “Join us.”

AND THEY DID.

I know, it might feel a little too little, a little too late. Especially for George Floyd’s family.

IF ONLY, IF ONLY something was done after Kapernick took a knee. Why wasn’t white America kneeling with him then?

But we’re here now and we have to deal with it, with the shame of our silence, with the guilt of our inaction.  Is it hopeless? I don’t think so.

But then you hear about the Police Chief in Houston  who said, “I will walk with you and make sure your right to protest is protected and you and everyone else is safe.”

“I will walk with You” 

THIS WAS GREAT RESPONSE. THIS WAS HEALING.

Meanwhile In Michigan…

the State’s Capitol of Lansing—Not So Much

After 8 hours of peaceful protests, the news is cutting in with video of a car set on fire near the capitol. The protest started peacefully at the Lansing capitol at 11am and they walked to E. Lansing 4 miles away [where I live,] and right up to the E. Lansing police the Chief of Police recently retired amid abuse allegations against an officer’s treatment of an African American suspect. Like in George Floyd’s case, this officer seems to have several similar complaints. The “outcome” for this officer is still pending while the community and complainant  hold our collective breath.

IT was perfectly fine and maybe even logical for them to protest BUT The E. Lansing Police department DID WHAT IT SHOULD HAVE…it fired the offender and also held leadership accountable.

THIS WAS GOOD policing of the police, by the police.

We need more of that.

The protest at that department put them on notice that a permanent change in culture must take place.

Fine.

But then someone smashed an E. Lansing Police patrol car.

BAD MOVE… the E. Lansing department was taking the appropriate actions SO THERE WAS NO NEED for violence to make sure the protesters were heard.

The people had been HEARD.

Appropriate action was taken.

The City of E. Lansing is even trying to form a civilian board of oversight. So although it was the site of a recent offense…the real activism should be for those who refuse to listen, refuse to act.

The protest lost its dignity, its power and most of all it lost credibility when they smashed a patrol car of a department that was taking the VERY ACTIONS they claimed was the GOAL of said protest.

That was counter-productive and made no strategic sense.

[Please let’s find that person, is he local? What’s HIS agenda, because it was not in the best interest of the cause]

Shortly after that incitement, back at the capitol ,where the protesters had returned to point of origin…a car parked on the street was set on fire and is, as the news just showed…still burning.

And they were doing so well.

The NEWS SHOWS SOMETHING ELSE TOO…There’s a man, seen by all the protesters and news crews, on the roof a nearby building with a sniper rifle fitted with a sniper stand. There is no way to tell if it’s one of the armed, white, nutjobs that barged into the capitol last week over not wearing masks or getting haircuts in the middle of a pandemic…or if the armed sniper was part of the police department—but what was unmistakable was that he is WHITE. If it is the police…it needed to be a Black policeman [or one of each]–for the sake of fairness, for comfort to the black protesters and community. Because of his whiteness–much will be made/questioned about his real purpose.

There’s nothing more to say.

I will pray for both boys.

I will pray they meet in a classroom and become fast friends, the kind who go on to show the world how  justice and friendship and citizenship is done right.

babies

Racism isn’t born, it’s learned.

Your sister in Christ,

Thora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming the “New Normal”

For the past year I’ve seen, ad infinitum,  TV pharmaceutical advertisements for a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. It explains “metastatic” means the disease was not contained or cured by surgery/chemo. The ad then euphemistically, with sunshine and smiling happy faces belies the fact that these women have actually received a death sentence. But with this pill/shot they can apparently live longer (a great thing) but as the commercial would have you believe, they will do so in otherwise perfect heath doing whatever they might want to do physically–indicating strength and stamina–in their “New Normal.”  If anyone you love has died of cancer, you know it was never like that.

Without a little irony, is the fact that a pharmaceutical company is the origin of a phrase that would literally “go viral.” Covid 19 has spread the world like a metastatic disease and delivered a no-longer-euphemistic death sentence to over a million people–so far. So far.

A dear friend of mine, Michael Edward, reminded me recently that it is all too easy to be critical of every little detail in this at-home-nothing-but-time-and-internet and our, New Normal. As persons of faith, we all must remain open to both sides of the conversation and stay calm and rational and avoid the fringes on both sides. Nothing good can come of succumbing to the lowest common denominator.  I freely admit I find it easier to channel St. Jerome than St. Francis.  I love when friends share their spiritual struggles, because I always, always see myself in them too. I think it’s what was meant in the Scripture about confessing our faults to one another [James 5:16]…and to discuss our spiritual struggles. He will pray for me, and I for him. A mutually beneficial system that works.

Speaking of Working

I live in E. Lansing, just a couple miles from the Capitol where all those protesters who wanted to reopen society/ businesses to save their livelihoods but, not wear a mask to save their actual life. They also oxymoronically, wore weapons of mass destruction and death while whining about their financial lives. They were there spitting on each other and generally terrorizing the staff at the Capitol while wielding hateful, racist signs and one man, who is purportedly running for a seat on the legislature, was there campaigning, wearing a long rifle, adorned with a brown-haired Barbie hanging from a noose [our Gov. Gretchen Witmer in effigy] from the barrel like a character fob on a teen girl’s cellphone. Spoiler Alert: He’s not getting my vote.

About a third of those protesters were truly, genuinely concerned about reopening our businesses before they all go bankrupt and lose everything they’ve worked so hard for. I get it, especially in the face of the fact that the lion’s share of the money will go to big businesses who have friends in high places, but that miscarriage of justice is another storyline–for now.  So let’s talk about what our economic NEW NORMAL can a look like IN THE FACE OF THE FAITH we claim.

Many of us, who are older, retired, on a fixed income are grateful to be so as long as our age doesn’t create an “obligation to die first.” We can almost make ends meet and stay home safely and our only complaints are First World. So we’re good.  And most of us realize that our NEW NORMAL is going to be deliberate social isolation for a much longer time than the general, younger, working public. Probably by a couple years. Because we are so dangerously at risk, because we CAN stay home to help flatten the curve and simply because we unapologetically want to live. It’s that simple. I want to live.

Most of us Older Folks [Euphemistically the Silver Set] also gave generously as we tithed from our unexpected stimulus checks–and we gave that money locally. That’s part of the NEW/Old great surprisingly Catholic idea that needs to make a comeback: the principle and practice of  Subsidiarity. 

Subsidiarity:

“is an organizing principle that matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least-centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at local level if possible, rather than by a central authority. “

OTOH it doesn’t sound like our Church hierarchical system and instead sounds pretty GOP doesn’t it?  Small government. OTOH, it’s more about taking care of your neighbor. You might know just what your neighbor Bob needs more than some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. Taking care of our neighbors is what Catholics do best. The principle, subsidiarity is a common ground both political parties need to work on. And as Michigan saw when the White House singled our state out for abuse and neglect–we need to be less dependent on them–because they can’t be trusted–at least for now, in this case.

I hold a Masters in Business (concentration in ethics) which makes people think I’m automatically a member of the GOP. Nope.  I’ve stated publicly, that I’m a Democrat for ALL Life…as in ALL LIFE is sacred (aka. I’m a Democrat against abortion.) That might seem like an untenable position, or impossible dream including unicorns but we Catholics do the impossible all the time. We care for 23 million Americans medically who will never be able to pay their bill, we educate hundreds of thousands of children with our hard-earned personal tuition money and yet we also pay property taxes that support public schools our children will never attend. We know an educated society is better for everyone, and we know a working society is too. We have the most soup kitchens and hospices for people with dread diseases; we help Africans start small sustainable businesses. We ARE the get it done people. I’m proud of that.

So what are we going to do with all these out of work people as we, as a nation, venture into the New Normal of current and post Covid America?

Tour of the New Normal Landscape

Rather than the buildings all torn down in some post apocalyptic version of Mad Max (although the armed rabble-rousers at the Capitol gave me extrapolated flashes of the film), let’s think about our Post Pandemic Landscape.

More people will need to wear masks more often. With our level of pollution in some cities, it should have been a common practice before and with all the environmental restrictions on same that this president has rolled back– POLLUTION will be another reason to own several face masks. With the symptom-free aspect of the contagion, people need to learn like Asia did..Masks make a difference. Easy, simple, cost effective.

Both businesses and homes will need increased capacity to SCRUB THE AIR…so manufacturers of air scrubbers with increased germ fighting filters and HVAC systems to clean a business’ air overnight when they are closed will be in increased demand.

Many people will continue to social distance and I for one, will continue to have my food and supplies delivered–and Restaurant food, and, and, and.

Delivery people [with scooters like in Asia], and Delivery systems and vehicles will become the new entry level job. Local, local, local.

Manufacturing will have some new opportunities…

MADE IN AMERICA

If more people are getting things delivered we will need more boxes, and shipping bags and filler and systems to track them, and people to deliver them.

And we can save the USPS in the process! They do it best for the cheapest!

A great opportunity for recycling sciences to merge with “save the trees” environmentalists and create new containers out of old trash, for our items to be shipped and delivered and again recycled.  We have to do this, our faithful stewardship of the planet demands it.

The auto industry is lamenting they won’t be selling enough personal luxury cars. I have two things to say to them…

  1. If the delivery needs continue–as in Asia and other countries–then small delivery vans for private, small businesses will be the ticket. With innovative features unique to what is being delivered–customization is the NEW auto buzz word.                   a) Advertising on the sides of all these new vans will be ramped up too.
  2. You’re already retooled to make ventilators. LEARN FROM HISTORY…we don’t have enough, we didn’t have enough, we tried to buy from other countries. Do you really think this is the last pandemic?  Keep making ventilators until there are undoubtedly enough for America and sell the rest to the other countries who don’t have the ability to make their own.  Which means also making replacement parts. This is your chance to diversify on the government’s dime…and keep your people working.

When I was looking online for masks to buy, I found ETSY, the small-business and craft product auction site, was overloaded with options. As a former dressmaker I could see some were made better than others. We need ones that are durable, fit correctly and have replaceable filters. This need isn’t going to go away. THIS IS A NEW MARKET.

Just yesterday the German company Melitta, of cone-shaped coffee filter fame discovered that a cone filter split on one side was the right shape for a COVID MASK and some people were using them as “better than nothing”…Melitta saw the opportunity, jumped on it and announced they will be making mask filters out of better virus/bacteria battling fibers!

The new industries will be about shipping, shipping, shipping. Shipping our products to other countries, we will become more self-sufficient having learned the negative lesson of what it is to have other countries strangle our supply chain. Never again. Smart governors will focus on inviting new manufacturing and business to their state because we now know we cannot count on the federal government in times of crisis.

Planes may have fewer passengers but they can have more cargo.

Computer scientists can create the logistics and systems for tracking/shipping and delivery systems for small businesses just like they developed for Fed Ex, UPS and USPS.

With more transactions done online…we’ll need CYBER COPS more than ever…Forget the outer space force and create a Cyber Space Force!. Yes, where there’s opportunity, there’s always a criminal looking for their chance to steal.  Cyber cops can also protect us from and reveal foreign hackers with greater accuracy.

The service industry will have many opening for caregivers and Personal Assistants like Errand Girls/Boys. While stores deliver, I  will need someone to get my stamps, pick up books from the library when it opens, mail a package at the POST OFFICE, drop off clothes at the seamstress, dry cleaners and take donations to St. Vincent de Paul.

The CLEANING industry can ramp up post-infection cleaning, providing thorough cleaning for places that are changing residents, or where someone has been ill or teams to scour public transportation like they have in Asia.

We need to keep making masks/ shields and gowns for both medical and private use and then SUPPLY THE WORLD.  MADE IN AMERICA also needs to make a comeback, and that will put people at all levels of expertise to work.

Innovation IS America…

These will become the NEW opportunities for our new graduates to create a NEW future from our NEW NORMAL.  They might be home with parents (temporarily) because of the COVID 19  [and student loans] or because they have no job to go to. But they know how to network, they know how to do start-ups, they are well prepared for New Normal.

Seriously, If a sixty eight year old woman, jotting a few notes can come up with hope for a bright, more independent, outside the box, America…I know our new graduates and seasoned business veterans [with some venture capitol] can figure this out together. Because to me America has always been great at innovation…and the best is yet to come! I have hope, I have faith in our future.

Appropriately, a Chinese observation of crisis:

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
― John F. Kennedy

“Thanks, I Needed That!”

I find myself saying that a lot lately, not in-spite-of the pandemic but because of it.

Gratitude during a pandemic is both easy and difficult.

To the people who deliver my pet food [Chewy.com], to the people who deliver my food and other products. [Meijer/Target Shipt], to the postman who delivers my magazines and insurance forms and mail-order meds, to the foot Dr. who did a tele-med appt. to help me navigate a foot injury at home, to the people who run errands and do things that can’t be “delivered,” to the people who call and email to “check on me” to the 17 lb. cat on my lap.

I say “Thanks, I needed that!”  to friends on Facebook who post funny things;

laughter boosts the immune system.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Folks, be aware of this. Lawn Lawn flamingos may seem kitschy and adorable, but they can can pick a T-Rex clean in under 90 seconds at this time of year. Be careful. Use a trusted anti-flamingo spray before venturing outdoors. Let's be safe out there.'

But What about Thanks to God during a Pandemic?

Other than “Thank God I  [my loved ones] don’t have it” knowing that could need an addendum:  “yet”  because it’s far from over.

It’s tough to feel grateful to God when we watch the daily death toll scroll across the bottom of the News screen as we watch the suffering of the dying, the suffering of those on the front lines like the Detroit couple who are frontline workers…and their daughter, their only child, died of the Coronavirus while they were out trying to save others.

Sacrifice.

It’s tough to feel grateful when you see people/businesses/government officials putting COMMERCE before human life.  [Or calling abortion “essential”]

It’s tough to feel gratitude when you see people blatantly and ignorantly flaunting what are the few proven methods for reducing deaths:  social separation, masks, hand washing, not touching face…it’s so little but it’s enough to reduce deaths…It’s PROVEN. So one of those scofflaws could infect someone you know and love.

As Catholics we know that as John Paul the Great said in Evangelium Vitae: Freedom is not the license to do [anything we want] evil; freedom is only the freedom to do what is right and good.

Even the constitution says that personal freedoms are not boundless–that a person’s right to do something [protest in close quarters without masks and WITH guns] is not a RIGHT if it endangers the common good [like not spreading a deadly disease] or the rights of another person [to live!]. But our government let them do it because confronting them and their superior weapons [topic for another post] would have turned into a blood bath. And there’s enough dying right now.

Everything else Medicine/Treatment wise is still just by-guess and by-gosh, not enough testing to make reopening businesses safe. What do we do about the local scofflaws? What Can we do when some of them are government officials/governors and even the president.

And now the beaches are open. One man is seeking to educate the beach goers of the potential danger–but chances are they won’t listen or they wouldn’t be there, yet.

Yes, he has a mask and gloves but those two guys aren’t 6′ apart.

Guy To Travel Around Florida Dressed As The Grim Reaper To The Beaches That Opened Prematurely

It seems hopeless and certainly not cause for thanksgiving.

It’s  even tougher to feel grateful to God when those you love are lost to Covid 19.

“Why,”  you ask “did a senseless, random germ pick him/her?”.

Many  Catholics seem to be saying on internet sites [and lamenting their lack of access to Eucharist]  that it’s more Difficult to give THANKS to God, to be a good Catholic, to live our confirmation promises when the churches are closed.

Or is It?

Like the addage: Be careful what you wish for. Well, be careful what you pray for, too.

Before I continue…NO, I’m not saying this pandemic was God answering prayers. Remember, God DID NOT DO THIS…viruses are living organisms and they are simply behaving like viruses whether occurring naturally or born in a lab.

But God will USE EVERYTHING in this world as an opportunity to connect with us, to show us his Love and mercy and grace.

IMHO, I think one of the Great causes for Gratitude to God in the midst of this pandemic  is what I see in the face of the CLOSED CHURCHES.

also IMHO I think we all needed a Spiritual TIME OUT –a time for serious reflection.

How many of you, honestly now, prayed your life wasn’t so full of demands to go here, do this/that because in the end, your family time, dinner time, fun time and even private prayer time suffered so much from hectic schedules that you and your loved ones were all passing ships in the night and had lost that feeling of connected-ness?

I would imagine more families than not.

How many of you prayed for more time with your spouse or child?

How many of you wished the endless rat race would just “take a breather?”

What we got with the STAY AT HOME could be an ANSWER TO PRAYERS, millions of them. What we got was an opportunity for a real spiritual RETREAT and time to re-prioritize our lives so rather than spinning our wheels we are headed toward holiness.

Promises, Promises

As Catholics, at the end of each Mass we are literally SENT into the world to preach and live the Gospel of salvation and redemption.  Supposedly we do that.

Our Godparents promised it for us when we were Baptized.

We promised it for ourselves when we were confirmed.

Be Careful What you Promise God…

He WILL call you on it…

I learned that lesson in 1993, Easter Vigil I was initiated into the Faith and confirmed.

I promised.

Two days later

Moments before I was to take the stage as the then front-runner, in the Midwest competition of the Jay Leno National Comedy Challenge, I got a call that my estranged mother who had at times been less than motherly was dying and that the V.A. in her district had no rooms for women veterans. She wanted to die at home. As her only child I would have to be there in less than 3 days when her hospitalization benefits would run out and I’d have to be ready to take her home.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling very funny after that call. It was bad enough I had a neon green cast on my left foot for a ruptured Achilles to navigate. I got on stage and forgot my entire routine and bombed worse than my first open mic ten years earlier. It had been ten years of struggle and I was on my way to the national stage. Well, not anymore.

All I could think was Why now? Why would God…oh, yeah, God…and then the promises I made swirled in my head and I knew, I knew that no matter my feelings toward my mother I had to do this. All I could say was “I gotta go” and dashed off the stage.

Also needless to say, I was full of anger and resentment for the entire 5 hour drive from Detroit to my mother’s home of Frankfort, Michigan. I had two days to get the oxygen tanks and hospital bed ready for her. She came home and four months of 24 hour care with little very little help, she was laid to rest. I was spent and empty but surprisingly no longer angry.

Doing what I promised God during my confirmation, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do made a difference in my spiritual life then and ever since.

Perhaps it was because of the daily reminder of impending death in the face of my belief in everlasting life, or perhaps because during those 4 months that felt like a lifetime I sensed a holy presence every now-and-then, of Jesus walking with me, of the Holy Spirit holding me up when my exhaustion threatened to topple me at any moment.

I also had a routine where a nurse showed up once a day to stay with her for an hour and administer the morphine I couldn’t, so I could drop off laundry at laundromat, grocery list at store and attend daily mass with a scant 15 minutes of  pre-grief counseling with the priest right after…EVERY WEEK DAY. Yes, Mass and Fr. Rabier got me through it.  Even if I hadn’t been able to go to Mass, Fr. Rabier would have been available– if only phone. He helped me decide to NOT confront my mother with our unfinished business and let her finish out her life in the belief that we were “okay”–small grace in the face of her horrendous suffering from gangrene blood poisoning.

In the end, it would take another 20 years of study, therapy, and spiritual direction before I could fully forgive all that was done to me in childhood and all those who participated…but I could, then and there be grateful to God that He gave me the strength to keep my promise to Him and take care of her. Of course, it goes without saying, I could have never accomplished that without a supernatural grace from God. None of us can.

 Keeping Our Promises to God…with Closed Churches.

It’s easy to keep our Promises to God when we can congratulate ourselves on “perfect attendance” at Mass, on substantial financial giving to the building fund or school, on using the “plug-n-play” programs already established in our parish to “do good deeds.”

What happens to that Promise when the doors are closed? When there are no potlucks, When you can’t take communion to the shut-ins? When YOU yourself have become a SHUT IN?

What if all you can do is Pray?

Amazon.com: Praying Hands with Rosary Sticker Decal White (7"x3.8 ...

Follow this closely…. I’m going to repeat something 4th hand… posted on Sherry Weddell’s  FB page. Thanks Sherry.

A person posted in the Washington Post.com opinion column that they once attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in which Monsignor Charles Pope provided the homily and he was discussing prayer [of course].

Here’s what he said:

 “I’ve often thought that one of the joys of heaven will be that we’ll be able to see what a difference our prayers made,” he said that day. “I think in heaven we’ll see that we changed world history by our prayers working with God’s grace. … We’re going to find out that hearts were changed, enemies were reconciled, communities were renewed and families were restored because we prayed.” He ended by quoting an old gospel song: “Somebody prayed for me. Had me on their mind, took the time and prayed for me. I’m so glad they prayed.”

I’m trying to pray like a Prayer Warrior, and Grateful to all who pray for me.  A prayer is never wasted.

It’s also important to know that when you pray not only are your prayers heard, but every time you pray you are changed.  we are to be in a constant state of motion toward holiness and prayer is a huge part.

So, no, we cannot pray communally, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart in the pews.

No, we cannot go to adoration even spaced apart if we are high risk.

No, we cannot go anywhere–especially if we need a ride.

But we CAN Pray

And if you want to learn more about prayer check out this link: https://www.catholicbible101.com/thepowerofprayer.htm

As I try to live my life compatible with Ignatian Spirituality, I recognize the importance of prayer in my daily life aiming for “pray without ceasing” and among those, most importantly are the prayers of gratitude and of course, prayers for others.

There is so much to be grateful for–even in the midst of a pandemic…

Isaiah 41:10 (ASV) Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Matthew 28:20 (CRSV) …and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Your Sister in Christ

t

Who Needs a God who let [fill in the blank] happen (to me)?

This is frequently the question of a believer who has just suffered a traumatic, event.  

In my Book, “From Trauma to Joy” I define trauma as:

“Life-Altering Trauma: (1) A sudden, violent (as in forcefully shocking) event that could neither be anticipated, prevented, nor terminated at will. (2) An event that renders a person vulnerable to and helpless against, victimization. (3) As a result of the event, the person’s quality of life is drastically and forever altered- physically, mentally and spiritually.”

The heartbreak of having believed “God will always protect me and mine” until that time He doesn’t and drowning in grief, we to the conclusion that “religion” is a joke and we don’t need it or a God who would let fill in the blank happen.

We’re trying to take back control over the trauma…when we were helpless and victimized and couldn’t make it stop…by doing whatever we can and we start by throwing out that useless religion. “What did all that belief get me?” “What good was all that pew sitting?” “Where was God when I needed Him most?”

Trauma always involves loss and quite often is coupled with death.

“Where are the perks for being so faithful all my life?” I don’t need ‘this’ or Him anymore. It’s a break-up of epic proportions.

This Pandemic is a Perfect Storm of Trauma

Storm Creator Atlantic Drawing by Vincent Alexander Booth

It’s out there, We can’t stop it. We can’t control it. People are carelessly out there protesting while no one can get access to rapid testing and there is no vaccine. There are shortages, worries about economic futures and simply—of dying before our time.

Then there is all the bad information out there.  No, I’m not talking about the media (that’s a topic for another time) I’m talking about BIBLICAL misinformation.

It’s Tempting to go Old Testament

Yes, global nations and America, in particular, have been behaving very badly.

Yes, we really needed a “time out,” a “wake up call” to think about our skewed priorities when celebrity and fame have become our Golden Calf. When ‘want’ has been misconstrued to mean ‘need.’

Yes, we have failed to live up to our call to stewardship of the earth [Genesis 1:26]. I know, I just went O.T. on you but this is where some of the issues arrive.

Hand Drawn Planet Earth With Sad Face. Global Warming And ...

Yes, we, like Pharaoh have enslaved people on slave wages while the rich get richer and the working poor are truly slaves and can barely survive. Those of us with Jewish ancestry remember well (from Passover every year) the story of Moses and the plagues. God definitely sent plagues.

Face it, no matter how you look at it, we Christians could be doing better taking care of “the least of these” and could be doing better with our own call to holiness.

After three weeks of reflections on the WHY…many Christians have come to the [erroneous] conclusion that this plague, this pandemic is God’s doing/punishment.

That He’s a fickle God who is sitting up there just looking/hoping for a chance to smite us.

In Which We Up The Ante (Sign up for your Smiting!) - Think Atheist

You’ve got to admit, with the way we’ve trashed the earth, trashed each other, gunned each other down, starved each other out, enslaved the poor, and ignored the homeless. Who among us could cast the first stone?

If God was not a merciful God who loved us so much he sent his own Son to die for us so that whosoever believes in Him should have everlasting life, we’d have it coming—and more.

Is Covid 19 an Exodus Remake?

Nope.

While we certainly don’t seem to have learned from the history of Exodus and the Pharaoh/plagues, we are under the NEW COVENANT. One of Mercy and Grace, whether we deserve it or not. the answer here is NOT.

Having said that, God WILL USE whatever is happening to teach us, to heal us, to draw us back in…not to mention the fact that Jesus walked this whole sorrowful road WITH us.

Germs and viruses act like germs and viruses, whether occurring in nature or man made in a lab and exposed to the world. It doesn’t matter. Biology will act as biology is meant to. Weather will behave as it is meant to even though our poor stewardship is creating climate change and pollution is creating acid rain, the weather patterns, etc will follow natural courses.

There was a virus, a new virus and it spread. People were careless with infecting others, people refused to distance and many, many people have died and will die as this pandemic plays out.

THE GOOD NEWS: Yes, God knew this would happen, and because He did, He prepared a way for healing, a way for growth, a way for greater communion with Him. Don’t think all those every-day heroes aren’t taping into the great store of courage by trusting in Him.

A Two-legged Tripod Cannot Stand

It is good [IMHO] that this plague happened during Lent, Easter for many reasons.

The human person, created in God’s triune image, [Gen 1:26] is like a tripod…Mind, Body and Spirit.    And now, as we await the end of the Pandemic, just as we await Pentecost, we turn our eyes and hopefully our hearts, to the Holy Spirit.

We have bodies battered by anxiety and disease [Covid], exhaustion from overwork [first responders] and being out-of-work,and our minds/emotions [having to decide who gets ventilator and who dies] our spirits become wounded.

It is when our spirit becomes wounded that we often reject the ONLY healer who can heal our wounded spirit: The Holy Spirit.

If, in our grief, we reject God for what “happened”, reject prayer, faith, and our religion, we are doing the same thing as having COVID 19 and refusing to let a doctor treat us, refusing to use a ventilator. We are rejecting our only Spiritual Medicine.

A two-legged tri-pod cannot stand.

You will never be whole again if you do not heal mind, body and spirit.

Pandemic Survivors will have P.T.S.D.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Is More Than A Bad Story including Survivor Guilt. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is just that: A Dis-Order of the Normal Order of Things. Your normal functioning, because of a trauma is out-of-order. 

Until the pandemic, roughly 5 million American civilians had active [non-war related] P.T.S.D. issues.  * Now you can assume that almost everyone in America, and around the world has some degree of P.T.S.D. And these are the non-combatant victims.

*violent assault, rape, child abuse, domestic violence, tornadoes, floods, fires, school shootings, drive-by/gang shootings, genocide, pandemics, auto/plane accidents, building collapses, and even such “violence against the body” as Cancer and other ravaging diseases.

All these things fit the definition trauma: you can neither anticipate it, nor can you terminate it at-will. Your life will never be the same afterward.

Healing P.T.S.D… From Surviving to Thriving

Until recently, (and for most of my life) all the attention has been paid to healing the Mind and Body…but it is my belief given my personal experience with P.T.S.D. that if you do not heal the Spirit then it’s virtually impossible to go from merely surviving to thriving with joy.

After not being able to find a book that would also address my “God Questions” in light of my Catholic Christianity–here comes the shameless plug:  I wrote one.

During my years of research in Catholic and not-so-self-helpful literature I discovered St. Ignatius.

St. Ignatius, first Saint with P.T.S.D. Ministry

St. Ignatius Loyola - IgnatianSpirituality.com

Although it was from the Battle of Pamplona when many of his  novices suffered from the symptoms of depression, [often a traveling companion of P.T.S.D.] St. Ignatius [founder of the Jesuits—the Society of Jesus] developed guidelines for helping them work through it during their formation for the priesthood.

Later the Psychiatric community would use [dare I say steal]for their DSM: diagnostic bible, an almost verbatim definition for depression that St. Ignatius defined in 1538.

The Ignatian Way

Using the 6 Characteristics of a Healthy Spirit—the goal, designed by St. Ignatius, I was able to complete a journey to wholeness that took me nearly two decades. No longer was I trying to sit on that two-legged tripod and predictably, falling.

St. Ignatius oversimplified is about gratitude and JOY, something we all need and think: “Well, I’ll be grateful when this is all over, then I’ll find some joy.”  But Ignatius knew that happiness is situational, like the sentence above; when, if… JOY, real joy, comes from a deep abiding faith that no matter what comes: God knows, Jesus walks with us, and the Holy Spirit will heal us.  Knowing that allows us to have JOY, even in the midst of suffering.

Today’s Challenge to the Faithful

Our friends, neighbors and family are going to be exhibiting signs and symptoms of P.T.S.D. in varying degrees, but for us, as Intentional Disciples and Evangelists we need to find a way to help them NOT sever their ties with the Great Physician, the Holy Spirit, the ONLY One who can finish the process of healing to make them/us whole again.

And we are going to have to help them. We know they had faith, we have to help them keep it.

More shameless plugging…

I wrote: “From Trauma to Joy” the Ignatian Way, as a workbook through St. Ignatius’ 6 Characteristics of a healthy spirit.

The book has helpful questionnaires and journaling exercises. It has some helpful and is designed to be used alone, and then, if necessary with a counselor, spiritual director or therapist. Preferably a therapist who believes and understands the importance of spiritual healing and what that means in Catholic Christianity.

“From Trauma…” is Personal, Candid

Amazon.com: From Trauma...to JOY: Even in the Midst of Suffering ...

Speaking of Therapists, I once sat in the lobby of a new one with articles promoting HIS books covering the walls…especially telling was “How to write a best seller based on patient histories.” No, I did not stay. From that point on, I worried that my pain was just fodder for some psychiatric journal article or my supposedly safe secrets were in some book somewhere, entertaining people. I began to question whether the authors really understood what I had experienced, how difficult it was for me to forgive and face other spiritual challenges.  TRUST is the first casualty of P.T.S.D. Trust in the “system,” trust in others, trust in love, trust in God.

Therefore, to help my readers know that I know some of what they are feeling, I inserted personal anecdotes in relation to each characteristic and how it helped me. I didn’t reveal “all” and I know that many people have suffered far worse, but for each of us, in our own way, our cross is heavy.

Some criticized me for inserting myself into the book–TMI; that it should be more neutral or anonymous while others found that honesty to be the thing that resonated with them. Whichever, no one can/will please or reach every reader. I consider it worth the months of agony—and writing a book is a new kind of agony/joy—if it helped just one. I have a few letters saying it did, so it’s all good.

Having said that, I didn’t write it to make money but as my “Little Drummer Boy” song of gratitude to God for the gift of His Salvific Son, for sending the Holy Spirit to heal me, the wisdom of St. Ignatius to mold me, and the love of friends and family when it was so very difficult to do so. The royalties I get from Amazon are used to buy books at “cost” so I can give them away to people who can’t afford them and to pay for postage to send them.

Who Needs a God who allowed _______ to happen (to me)?

I DO…THEY DOWE ALL DO

 

 

FYI* * *

My credentials to write such a book are equally experiential and academic.

RE the Mind/psych aspects: 40 years in and out of therapy and ownership of having conquered P.T.S.D. 

RE the Spiritual aspects: Theological Studies Certificate from Aquinas College and Near Graduate [only needed 2 classes and to defend Master’s Thesis] at Sacred Heart Major Seminary until I became disabled. Interestingly, St. Ignatius was not able to finish his studies due to ill health. 

Former RCIA and confirmation Catechist, Certified Religious Education Teacher for A.O.D., and parish librarian.,

Currently, I consider myself a St. Iggy’s Girl [sadly, there is no third order for women] and live according to an integrated Ignatian Spirituality.

I am a Catholic author and blogger.

WE WHO STAYED HOME, OUR BATTLE IS COMING. WHO WILL ANSWER THE CALL?


Because of the recent rain and high winds… HIGH, strong, vociferous winds, I have had lots of strange dreams. I thought I left the Santa Ana winds mischievousness far behind when I left California. I’m a simple gal, you don’t need Freud to figure me out! At first, I dreamed about opening a new business, being exhausted and worried about the business’ survival, [been there, done that, I vividly remember that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: “this business isn’t going to survive”]. See, Freud not necessary. I was empathizing with all the closed businesses.

Then came technicolor flashbacks from working in a level 1 trauma center (1999). It was the year we had a real nasty flu season commingled with blizzards which equaled an increase in car and bus accidents, and then add people quitting without notice because of the hospital merger. I worked Fifty seven, 12-hour shifts without a day off–and I was just a clerk.

Although I sat in the middle of it, waited for the death certificates and often accompanied the bodies to the morgue, I was just a clerk. I didn’t hold their hands while they were dying, I wasn’t keeper of their last words, I wasn’t the person who caught the loved one having collapsed under the weight of grief. It was tough, all I could do was pray for them–and I did, for nearly 10 years, everyone who came through “my” doors. But our hospital had enough of everything: equipment and personal protection-wise. Some of the worker shortage was because of blizzards… people couldn’t get in to work. Couple that with the antics of the merging company’s efforts to get people to quit now– rather than in the few years they had left –to avoid paying full retirement [oh, yes they did] coupled with the greed of our Acquisitors who always ” downsize” to “restructure” for their own monetary gain. Morale couldn’t get any lower. It was heartbreaking.

When it was over, I went on vacation and took a job in an ortho surgeon’s office so I could make a mid-life career change by going back to college …I was fine. It didn’t follow me.

For What’s Coming Next, we ARE Forewarned…

Let’s do better with this advance knowledge than our government did when it failed to protect our front line workers…by ignoring the advance warning of George Bush II in 2004… A REPUBLICAN warned us we would not be ready. And then, in December of 2019 our government procrastinated.

Those of you my age [60+] remember the last two times we had a running banner of the DAILY DEATH COUNT running under the nightly news… Viet Nam as our classmates and boyfriends and husbands died by the thousands, and 9/11… we remember.

We vowed never to forget, we vowed to protect those who protect us. We lied. When our Viet vets came home they were spat upon, bullied, ignored and cheated out of the government’s support and help…it was the ‘thanks’ of an ungrateful nation. We didn’t address their PTSD or re-entry issues letting them fall through the cracks or their struggles with Agent Orange–first came the denial and the attempted cover-ups. With 9/11 our government fought tooth and nail to NOT PAY for the first responders dying from the chemicals and resultant cancers from being the FIRST responders–they didn’t die immediately so why pay? Like Agent Orange they tried to cheat those who gave it all.

And again, we did no better treating anyone’s PTSD. Look at the homeless vet statistics. Deplorable.

At least when we sent the soldiers to war, they had bullets. But none of the above, including our medical workers had effective personal protection devices…bullet proof vests, masks, or any of the other “gear” needed to keep these heroes safe.

The PPE shortage after having been warned in 2004 is just such a crime of neglect.

The New Battleground for the Pandemic Medical Staff is PTSD.

ALL these pandemic workers WILL have PTSD to fight next….we know it NOW, we need to prepare for that in the certain future…by not thinking Thank Heaven, “this is all over now,” throwing some “thanks” and maybe an award or two in their direction.

We must acknowledge that when these medical workers return home to their families, their return to normalcy has a longer road…a longer, more gruesome road.

That is when WE–who sat home safely–will be called up to deploy and fight along side them as they, already exhausted, traumatized and running on empty, try to take on another merciless foe.

They cannot do it alone.

It will be our turn to step up…

Prepare now, Warriors, you Know What’s Coming

RIGHT NOW, They are emptying themselves on the battlefield and will come off wounded and in need of “filling back up.”…

Let us pray for them now…and ready ourselves with ideas and plans.

When they come home, their families who might think…oh, Great Mom/Dad is home, let’s get back to the way it was…NOW! Like the soldier’s spouse after war, the police officer’s spouse after a school shooting, you expect certain things but no one is prepared for the real, long term effect that such events bring. The “new normal” is in many ways tougher than the separation.

That’s going to be too much demand on the already exhausted, spent person.

So let’s bring those casseroles, church ladies.

Let’s help with those kids so there can be a “date night” or even alone time, or time to go to therapy.

Let’s drop off some groceries, or send anonymous gift certificates to restaurants.[ to help those local businesses too.]

Let’s make sure there is money and opportunity for them [and their families] to get the emotional, spiritual and psychiatric support.

[Imagine a life-saving oriented person who has to decide between two patients who gets the one remaining ventilator? imagine that over and over? What that does to a human soul].

Getting back to “normal” will be getting back to a traumatized world…the whole world has been traumatized and we WHO WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO STAY HOME AND SURVIVE are now going to be deployed to help heal a hurting world.

This is often a quote used to commend the ground-breaking, glass ceiling shattering and first achievers opening a door for African Americans but I will use it here with regard to the medical workers sacrifice

“We can, Because they did”

Because they sacrificed themselves…all those who kept working throughout the pandemic…WE COULD stay home, safe, fed and SURVIVE.

It will be our turn soon, get ready.

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

Holy Week: One Death among so many

I’ve been giving some thought about what to do “with” Holy Week in the face of this pandemic, with the Shelter in Place order, with congregating out of the question. Customarily, most of us would be in church almost daily, doing the same ol’ same ol’ yet always cherishing the sobering and comforting routine that culminates in the Easter vigil….when this year I celebrate the 27th anniversary of my initiation into the Catholic faith and Christianity and then the next day Easter!

Easter, when we shout to the rafters: “He is Risen”  

But for Jesus, I imagine it was more like the film… Dead Man Walking.

Certainly, by Palm Sunday, Jesus knew the end was near and that there was a strong likelihood He would not survive—on earth–what was coming next.  Those of us over 60 with underlying health conditions amid this pandemic are acutely aware that we, too, are walking the same path that Jesus did…toward almost certain death. In this pandemic we are all dead men walking.

By Gethsemane, Jesus had no doubt.

Jesus Christ In Gethsemane Detail Painting by Carl Bloch

As Christians, we routinely unite our suffering with Christ’s…emphasis: OUR suffering.

Instead, this Holy Week I’m going to walk Christ’s path toward death WITH HIM as His companion.

How?

I’m going to prepare to die…WITH HIM

Given the realities of the pandemic and the odds against my surviving, given my 5 out of 5 risk factors should I become infected with Covid 19, I, like many people, am keeping busy cleaning and organizing my house…yes, getting my literal “house” in order.

But this coming week, I’m also going to buy my funeral urn, finalize my funeral arrangements [that I openly hope won’t be needed until a more distant future], all the while acknowledging that massive pandemics often result in mass graves.

My preparations will include my list of preferred Hymns, a special provision, by my priest for my Jewish children to be able to say the Mourner’s Kaddish*** and even the Celebrant for the funeral Mass, if possible—a priest friend and alum from Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

All this is “just in case” but for Holy Week, I’m going to prepare like I would if I knew I only had a few days left—as has been happening daily with people my age.  The wave of family as they tearfully put you in the ambulance, is the last you or they will ever see each other. The reality is that, like Jesus and Holy week, it would only take me a few days to meet my death.  

So I’m going to write that will, [that I’ve been putting off] that now, almost-moot living will given overrun hospitals and too few ventilators. The only comfort in that is that my children will never have to be the ones to make that difficult decision.  

Most important, are letters to my children and grandchildren “Just in case” like many of the healthcare workers are doing right now.

I’m also doing this “funeral prep” because I don’t want the last thing I do for my children to be to leave them a huge mess…physical, financial, or administrative to clean up.

I’m going to tell people all the things I love about them as if I, too, will certainly die on Good Friday and this week is my last chance.  And I can do it all from home.

I will do a thorough, Ignatian, self-examination and ask God directly for forgiveness.

Even if I escape COVID 19, I will die someday and at 67 I know too well, that no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

In spite of all the death around me as numbers climb, I  do have hope, I hope enough people stay home to reduce the risk, flatten the curve and make it possible for all those who need help can get it [ventilators] and people like me can not get sick.

I hope to emerge from the pandemic quarantine like Christ did the tomb— spiritually a new being, sanctified and with a resurrected soul.

And if I survive this…I’ll work on finishing off my bucket list.

 “To die owing no man a farthing, nor God an Apology”

Happy Easter, Keep the Faith but Wash Your Hands.

Your Sister in Christ,

Thora

P.S. In the spirit of saying what needs to be said, I want to thank the people who read my blog and those who give me feedback, and forgive my cyber clumsiness. Thank you for letting me share a bit of my life, love of Christ and His Catholic Church, and my spiritual journey.  And thanks for Staying Home.

*** The Mourner’s Kaddish *** FYI …

and certainly appropriate amidst all this death.

“The Kaddish is a hymn of praises to God found in Jewish prayer services. The oldest version of the Kaddish is found in the Siddur of Rab Amram Gaon, c. 900. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name.”

“Mourner’s Kaddish” is said at all prayer services and certain other occasions. It is written in Aramaic. It takes the form of Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba, and is traditionally recited several times, most prominently at or towards the end of the service.”

“Customs for reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish vary among the different communities, though most congregations have all the mourners stand and chant the Kaddish together. Reciting the Kaddish together is sometimes said to be for those victims of the Holocaust who have no one left to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish on their behalf.

“It is important to note that the Mourner’s Kaddish does not mention death at all, but instead praises God. Though the Kaddish is often referred to as the “Jewish Prayer for the Dead.” However that more accurately describes the prayer called “El Malei Rachamim”, which specifically prays for the soul of the deceased.”

“This version of the Kaddish is recited at graveside, immediately following the burial.”