Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Family Album - Dec 27, 2009

During this season we receive cards from family members that so often include photos. Recent pictures of newborn babies, married couples, family reunions, summer days at the beach. In our liturgy the Church gives us a family album that includes shepherds, angels, magi, an infant, Mary and Joseph. If we look a bit deeper the season also includes the martyrdom of Stephen and Thomas Becket and the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. No wonder red is one of the Christmas colors. The question then becomes if embrace the Christ child it will cost us. Embrace a spouse, a ministry, a cause or a country and it will cost us. Simeon reminds Mary that her soul will be pierced with a sword. So during this joyful season our liturgy asks us how much blood have we spilt for Jesus? Do our choices and decisions make it obvious that Jesus is our Lord and savior? Are we in God’s family album?

At this sacred time I thank all of you for the many ways you live stewardship here at St. Luke’s. In this awful economy with job loss somehow we continue to reach out to others. In this past year the young have been educated, the bereaved comforted, the sick visited, the hungry fed. Day in and day out the Gospel is lived. For this I am thankful.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Monday, December 21, 2009

A view from the pew -- Dec. 21, 2009

What would Christ do?
Particularly in this Year of Evangelization, would Christ be dogmatic or tolerant? Everything we know about Christ would suggest the latter. Would he disown someone who led a good life but did not agree with Him on a particular issue? Would He want his religion to be “take it all or get out” or one that would celebrate event the smallest positive influence? Would He respect only the lives of just those who agree with Him or would He respect the lives of all sincere people?

The Lord gave individuals free will. The Catholic Church should give people the faith the moral foundation for exercising it. Free will cannot be exercised in a vacuum. Individuals have the responsibility to study moral issues, understand various points of view and make decisions consistent with their conscience. They should be steadfast in their beliefs, but tolerant of other responsible people who have different beliefs.

If St. Luke’s Church banned those who do not agree with every single Catholic rule, it would be a very small parish with very little impact. Thankfully it does not take that position and is a positive influence on many people’s lives. St. Luke’s should continue to promote forums where people can engage in a respectful dialog about complex moral issues. Tolerance will bring more people into the church; dogmatism will drive them away.

Peter & Adelaide Clifford

A view from the pew -- Dec. 21, 2009

I was present when Father Collins addressed the congregation a few weeks ago to acknowledge the public controversy between Bishop Tobin and Patrick Kennedy and I feel his remarks have been largely misinterpreted, and in some cases misrepresented. The purpose of his remarks was not to undermine the Church’s view on abortion. In fact Father Collins was perfectly clear that he fully supported the Church’s view on abortion, having stated so several times. Instead, I believe he offered his comments to contribute to the discussions he presumed (hoped?) Catholics would be having in reaction to the prominent media attention the Bishop Tobin and Patrick Kennedy exchange was receiving. As a professor and scholar, his experiences and perspective are certainly different than that of a parish priest, as is his style of communication. Regardless of where one ultimately comes out, his comments were relevant, honest, and rooted in Catholic teaching. In light of his many years of devotion and sacrifice, he was undeserving of the disrespect that was shown to him.

I appreciated Father Collins’ comments because they acknowledged, at least indirectly, that the issue of health care reform is not black and white for all of us. In my mind, the current debate involves competing moral principles. On the one hand, we have, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” On the other, “Thou shalt not kill.” If one truly believes that health care reform, even with an abortion provision, is critical for the least among us, is it necessarily inconsistent with Church teachings? Obviously, reform that excludes abortions would be preferable, but since that option is not presented, which principle prevails? More importantly, why?

In this year of evangelization, the reaction to Father Collins’ remarks causes me concern. Are questions welcome? Is there room for dialogue in search of the truth of Jesus’ teachings? Is the Church bigger than abortion, or any single issue for that matter?

Lynn Barry Dolan

A view from the pew - Dec 21, 2009

Dear Fr. Bob,
Thank you for your “Pondering” in the December 6 bulletin. I applaud Bishop Tobin’s constructive engagement with Congressman Kennedy. In other diocese and faiths, the congressman may have been expelled, excommunicated or shunned for promoting a practice so contrary to church doctrine. In my view, the public debate only served to strengthen support for the Bishop and weaken support for the Congressman.

On the matter of the Providence Journal, I can understand that you must read the paper to know what your parishioners are reading, however I have cancelled my subscription.
Alan Neff

A view from the pew - Dec 21, 2009

For some pro-life Catholics the only thing they get passionate and judgmental about is abortion. A full-developed ‘respect for life” position embodies Christ’s words (Matt 25) about what we must do to enter the kingdom:: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

Make no mistake abortion is a serious moral failure. But not all people believe that. They don’t believe that abortion is wrong. In this pluralistic society we should not impose our moral views through legislation. That is the conundrum faced by Catholic legislators. But we can enact programs that provide financial aid and help to pregnant women in order to cut down on the staggering number of abortions.

Bishops who try to deny the Eucharist to Catholic legislators not in lockstep with Church teaching are taking a path they will regret. In fact their efforts are counterproductive. They should heed the advice of Archbishop John Quinn: bishops “confront the admittedly difficult task of balancing the need to uphold the sanctity of life while avoiding the enormously destructive consequences of the strategy of sanction and condemnation.”

The minds of abortion activists will never be changed by screaming and calling them “baby-killers.” We need dialogue and civility in the discourse. We need engagement rather than confrontation. As Pope John Paul II put it, “The goal of the Church is to make of the adversary a brother.”

Jim Marshall

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent watching and waiting for Jesus - Dec 19, 2009

Advent is a time for watching and waiting for Jesus to be born in our world. Mary was one who waited within and without. She listened deeply to the message of God sent to her by Gabriel. Her response was “Let it be done to me according to your word. Mary is the one who pondered and treasured the word of God spoken to her heart. But Mary also waited “without” as she “proceeds in haste to the hill country” to be with her kinswoman Elizabeth. Her listening led her to be of service to others. Whom do we have to “proceed in haste” to during this season? Is it to a person grieving over the loss of a loved one? Is it to a family dealing with a love one who is presently close to death? Is it to some neighbor whose house is close to foreclosure? Is it to a family
whose loved one has recently been deployed to Afghanistan? Human suffering has taken on unique forms during this sacred season. Right in the middle of Mary’s service to Elizabeth she feels “the infant leaping in her womb.” Yes our God comes between people as Martin Briber reminds us. During this season be attentive to your relationships. For it is there that “word becomes flesh and dwells among us.” Just a few quick notes about the upcoming week. Please notice Walter Fitzhugh’s “View from the Pew”. Father Luke and I will be available December 23 (Wednesday) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for confessions. Think about stopping in on your way home from work or after running errands. Also notice the late evening mass for Christmas is a bit earlier now (10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.)

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Year of Evangelization has begun - Dec 12, 2009

The Year of Evangelization is off to a rousing start. Tonight (Tuesday) the core group will meet to implement several outreach efforts to attract more people to the parish. One new program that will start in the new year will be “Families Helping Families”. Our hope is to create a parish service directory where people could offer their services to the parishioners of St. Luke’s. These services will be either pro bono or a fee for service. As we are all aware, Rhode Island has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. This program will hopefully put our plumbers, electricians, carpenters, accountants, etc. to work. St. Luke’s is a community that attempts to reach out. These indeed are stressful times as people have lost jobs, investment income and, even in some cases, their homes to foreclosure. As you can see, this will potentially be another pro-life activity here in our parish.

Fr. Bob Hawkins