As a student of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, St. James’ epistle in the 2nd reading at Mass holds a deep meaning and could even serve as the preface to every technical book ever written on the topic. James the Just, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, inspired people with perfect words of charity. According to tradition, he even prayed for his murderers as they were stoning him to death. When we hear about the constant turmoil in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, the words of St. James give consolation and advice as well as a reminder to pray for peace. There is no need for an analysis, I am simply going to re-post the 2nd reading from the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
This 12th century Chiesa di San Giacamo in Bellagio, Italy appears to depict the scene where St. James the Just was bludgeoned to death in the mosaic above the altar.
A reading from the Letter of St. James
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.
Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
The word of the Lord
Reuters Reports 350,000 Attended Mass with Pope in Lebanon
Calls for reconciliation in Middle East, particularly in Syria.
The body of St. Robert Bellarmine is buried in Rome next to a boy he mentored, St. Luigi Gonzaga.
Often translated as St. Robert Bellarmine in English, Roberto was born in 1542 to a very poor, yet well-connected Italian family in Montepulciano, Siena. He is one of the most famous Jesuits in history and a highly respected reformer of the Catholic Church.
His time came during a difficult and ever-changing period in Church history. He was ordained a Catholic priest in the same year that the Tridentine(what we now call the “traditional Latin Mass”) Rite was approved for use. Robert Bellarmine was made a Cardinal in 1599 and ordained a bishop two years later, a few months before St. Francis DeSales. Calvinism and Lutheranism were thriving in many parts of Europe, only about half a century after those men died. The popular Queen Elizabeth I of England, daughter of Henry VIII, was a driving force of the Anglican Church and economic powers of England. Bellarmine would later draw King James I of England into debates over theological matters that attracted a lot of European philosophers. In his works, St. Bellarmine vigorously and charmingly refuted Calvin’s rejection of the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
A Scar. Although the Catholic Church has historically been a great promoter of science, industrialization, and the establishment of higher education, there are a few scars that the secular world tends to focus on. In 1616, as a judge, he did warn Galileo that the Church was about to summon him for his promotion of heliocentrism (Earth revolves around the Sun). Although there is evidence that Bellarmine was doubtful of which side he favored during the trial, he did ultimately contribute to the pause in Galileo’s work.
Reform! One reform of the Church that St. Bellarmine promoted was the residency requirement of bishops. He argued that bishops must live in his own diocese, a practice that is now required today. As bishop, St. Bellarmine paid close attention to his people and is generally considered to have been an excellent pastor.
He died in 1621, a year before his counter-reformation colleague Bishop Francis DeSales. He is buried in Rome at the Church of St. Ignatius next to his mentee, St. Luigi Gonzaga.
A family member of a new Congressman awaits the swearing-in ceremony from her loved one’s still empty office. January 3, 2010
Sometimes being Catholic feels like having the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. It’s the burden of truth as revealed to us by Christ, and once we hear the beautiful word of God, there is no turning back. “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” – James 1:25
Stop trying to legislate morality! Sometimes that is what anti-Christian politicians say. Well the answer is that it is not possible for morality to be legislated. Morality is the measure of the “most good” that can be done in any particular situation. But if we have the chance to vote morally, how could we not want to vote for the most good?
Reason, don’t rationalize The decision of whom to vote for should not be taken lightly. Our Catholic obligations require us to use reason(intellect), but not to rationalize a choice so that our conscience matches our emotions. To absolve ourselves from these responsibilities, we often like to shutter away from a particular lens and pretend that means we are being objective. “I am voting based on her fiscal record and not her social positions because I do not want to subject others to my views.”
What issues should we look at?
First and foremost, we have to look to the protection of human rights. Rights are fundamental normal conditions that are guaranteed to every human being by merit of being a part of nature – conditions in which no other man has the right to interfere or take away. We believe that nature was created by God; therefore, all rights ultimately derive from God.
- Right to Life. Without this right, no other right can exist. The right to labor is meaningless if another man can justifiably take away your life. As Catholics, we believe this is a non-negotiable issue. To vote for a candidate who supports: abortion, euthanasia, forced employer purchasing of contraception, or stem cell research is a serious private, but firm declaration that rejects the natural rights set by God. To consciously vote for someone (still) supporting those positions is a serious sin and requires absolution to be reunited with God’s grace. Remember that we are called to look at a politician’s stance and much less into his or her personal life. In the case that a pro-choice candidate has made a serious public declaration that he or she is now pro-life, within reason, it may be appropriate to accept the declaration as truth. There are many experiences, maturities, conversions that may lead to this change of heart. **What if both candidates are pro-choice? What if both candidates are pro-life? Then continue to the next issue.
- Next, the Church looks to protect the sanctity of its Sacraments and society. Sacraments are outward signs that God has given us to signify a share in His life. One of these is marriage. Marriage is never a fight over “rights.” Sometimes the word “right” is used to signify something that we want, but that does not make it a “right.” Men and women can perform the natural functions of living independently, meaning they don’t need a relationship with one another in order to walk, think, or digest food. However, in nature, men and women are dependent upon one another in order to produce children. Marriage is a natural and sacramental institution that belongs to one man and one woman. This is unpopular and challenging for many Catholics. In no way does this position condone taunting or uncharitable behavior that would denigrate the dignity of any human being. This is also a non-negotiable issue(Priests For Life).
- The remaining issues that remain close to the hear of the Catholic Church focus on social justice. These are sometimes philosophically murky. These can be issues of education policy, illegal immigration, or health care. The ultimate goal of the church is to seek a greater common good. Voters and politicians have an unyielding responsibility to fiercely advocate for the dignity, protection, and advancement of our neighbors and constituents.