Recently I read an article from Fr. Ron Rolheiser speaking about anger and how prevalent it is in our society today. He says, “That most of us operate, however unconsciously, out of anger and this shows itself in our constant criticism of others, in our cynicism, in our jealousy of others, in our bitterness, and in our inability to praise others. And unlike most of our other sins, anger is easy to camouflage and rationalize as virtue.” In my experience, anger itself is not the issue but what we choose to do with that anger, if you would, how we channel it warrants consideration.
During the Lenten series Forgiveness: A Journey from Hurt to Freedom, I spoke readily about this reality and how we are called to understand the dynamics of anger and hurt and then “choose” an alternative path of forgiveness. When we choose to forgive, we are not condoning the hurtful or bad behavior but choosing a response that moves us beyond the past and onto a path of freedom. Thus, we do not just give back what we receive and continue a destructive circle of hurt and anger.
With the pandemic lingering on longer than any of us would want and the increased tension in our society on so many social issues, anger seems to have taken a hold of many of us. We all need a renewed effort to choose this alternative path of freedom. It will take real work for us to not fall into a bad habit of operating negatively from that anger. My fear is that some of us believe that our anger is righteous and thus anything that comes from that anger is righteous. That is not true! Righteous anger does not justify judgmentalism, righteousness, or a non-loving response. In fact, it compels a more loving response.
Rolheiser says that, “Anger too often parades itself as Godly virtue, as righteousness, as prophecy, as a healthy, divinely inspired militancy for truth, for cause, for virtue, for God. Then, we define ourselves as ‘holy warriors’ and ‘vigilant defenders of truth,’ taking justification in the popular (though false) conception that prophets are angry people, on passionate fire for God.
There’s an infinite distance between true prophetic anger and the anger that today commonly parades itself as prophecy. Daniel Berrigan, in his criteria for prophecy, submits (and rightly) that a prophet is someone who takes a vow of love, not of alienation. Prophecy is characterized by love aching for reconnection, not anger pushing for separation.”
I believe that we can choose to be people of love and inclusion. I believe this is path for all of us to take, church regulars and non-regulars. We can welcome the dialogue and engage in healthy discussion. We can be people who recognize the goodness in others and offer praise, gratitude, and blessings to all for “the good they do,” all the while trying our hardest to be good ourselves in all we say and do. I believe that as we can come out of this pandemic as a better Church and a better community that welcomes and offers a safe community, where all can feel a sense of true belonging. It is our common work as a community of believers in Christ.
With that path in mind, I want to acknowledge publicly the incredible work done in such a short time with the celebration of 60th anniversary of the school and the 65th anniversary of the parish. Not only was the celebration fun, especially that video of our founding fathers and mothers, but the beautiful Mass with Bishop Oscar was lovely and elegantly simple. Even more so, thank you all for helping us surpass our goal of raising $170,000. Thank you most especially to the co-chairs of the event, Melissa Moody and Angela Schaufler and their team who worked so hard to make this a reality. I offer a huge thank you for your hard work.
Also this weekend, I want to offer our gratitude and blessing to all the families of the children receiving First Communion and their catechists along with Sr. Mary Han and Beth Moeur. It has been a difficult year to continue our ministry, but the team continued to put on lively online classes each week and the children and their families kept showing up. This was an exercise in perseverance as well as passion and tenacity. Congratulations to all the children, their families, and their catechists. To close, I want offer my blessing to the children:
May you always know that God is here
Waiting to be found by you.
May your journey of life be
One of recognizing God,
Always, always present to you
And hiding in plain sight.
May you learn to see God
In your family and in creation
And in You.
May you love life and love God
In the way God loves you.
This we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen
Speaking of dialogue, a number of parishioners have asked for the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass to be restarted. As we start to enter into the County’s yellow tier we expect the COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed and I wanted to open up a conversation about this early Mass. So we are hosting a listening session in the church at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 5 for people interested in having a daily weekday Mass at 6:30am. Please invite all who you believe are interested in this Mass.
Finally, I encourage you to join us on the Wine & Word on Mother’s Day Eve, Saturday, May 8 at 7pm. This is a great way to build community and enjoy each other’s community while we taste wine and talk about the gift of love in our lives. We will reflect on the power of loving forgiveness within the family and how it inspires us today. Come and join us for another session with Christine Moore, Poet and Sommelier, and myself.