On this episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan will be speaking with Fred Parrella, Professor of Theology in the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University in California, and Mehnaz Afridi, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College in the Bronx.
Msgr. Sullivan and Prof. Parrella – who has been teaching at the Jesuit university based in Silicon Valley for 40 years – will be discussing the religious faith and practice of today’s college students, and what their often self-description as “spiritual, but not religious” bodes for the future, and what – if anything – can be done to counter this trend.
Prof. Afridi – who is also the Director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College will be discussing the practices of fasting, charity/service, and prayer in the Islamic Tradition as a continuation of our Lenten conversations on “Making Lent Great Again 2017!”
It was perfect in the Garden of Eden – not so much since then. If you want to blame it on Adam & Eve and the apple, fine with me. In any case we live in a world that is not perfect and very unfair at times. It’s more unfair to some than others, but we all experience times when we are confronted with injustices, small or big, not of our own faults. We need to react to them in a way that remains faithful to the values that guide us – disciples of Jesus. Another’s unfairness to us does not give us liberty to be unfair to others. Let’s be clear we do not seek to be treated unjustly and we need to try to fix them. There is no value in “playing the victim.” But try as we might, we will not remedy every injustice for ourselves and others. We need to maintain the discipline to live faithfully in these circumstances.
Sometimes God lets his anger out and let’s us know he’s fed up with us not listening to His commands. If we examine ourselves we know it’s true. And sometimes we concentrate so hard on avoiding what God tells us not to do that we forget that he bulk of his commands have to do with treating each other well, especially when someone is in need (e.g. the Good Samaritan). God is merciful, but He’s still annoyed when we do not love each other and help each other out – even when it’s inconvenient and requires some sacrifice.
Sometimes human analogies are helpful in thinking about our relationship with God. I recently heard someone say the most important thing she valued in a relationship was time spent with the other person. Put negatively, she was not interested in having a relationship with someone unwilling to spend time with her. Gifts, money, pedigree, etc. all came in a distant second to “spending time.” God has so much to offer, but it’s hard to take it in if we don’t hang out with God and allowing his presence to be with us. As with human friends we don’t always have to have a plan, a topic or an agenda. Sometimes we should just “hang out with God” and let it be.
Our words are not as powerful and miraculous as Jesus telling a man to pick up his mat and walk, but let’s not underestimate the healing power of solidarity with someone who is ill and suffering. Emotional or psychological isolation and separation are added burdens to many who are struggling with serious illnesses.
Periodically it’s worth taking time off from complaining about trials and tribulations, worrying about problems and asking for things we think we need. God gets tired and so do we. Both God and we need a break. Now mind you, complaining, worrying and asking are legit – and we better do them a lot, but not incessantly. Reflect on one or two good things that have happened to you recently – even if you are generally going through a bad time. Say a simple thank you God and praise his name. It will make you feel better.
What’s the Lenten practice this year that’s the hardest for you: Hanging with God, Discipline or Helping Others? Don’t worry about it today. Today, you can take a break from it. It will give you renewed incentive to begin again tomorrow for the second half of Lent.
Think of somebody in a difficult situation – maybe a neighbor, maybe a relative, maybe a stranger whom you pass on the sidewalk or by the side of the road. Don’t just walk by today or put off reaching out until tomorrow. Reach out as you would like to be helped if you were in that difficulty situation.
We religious people, many times, make religion too complicated. It’s good that God bursts through and calls us back to basics: Love God a whole lot and love each other as we want to be loved. Sometimes, I don’t exactly know what it means to love God. I’m not sure if I should buy Jesus a birthday present on Christmas. Should I send God a Valentine’s Day card? So I’m still figuring that out. I do know what it means to love others, so I’ll concentrate on that. Because even though I know what it means – most of the time, it still isn’t easy and I don’t always get it right. But as I keep trying, I realize again this is part of the way that I actually keep the first commandment of loving God. God doesn’t expect a Christmas birthday present, but does expect us to love one another. We can do this year round, but Lent is a great time to get this on the right track.
On this week’s JustLove episode, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaks with Katie Driscoll, Founder of Changing the Face of Beauty and Kristy Chau, Education Director of the Kennedy Child Study Center, a Catholic Charities affiliated agency.
On the show, Katie Driscoll discusses with Monsignor her founding of Changing the Face of Beauty, its successes so far, and what her hopes are for the future of including people with differing abilities in all facets of the mainstream media.
Msgr. Sullivan and Kristy will be discussing her work at the Kennedy Child Study Center, where she directs all activities at 16 classrooms serving the developmentally disabled, ensuring that each student receives an education that is appropriate for his or her educational, socio-emotional, and physical needs.
Take 15 minutes to read the Bible today. In the first 5 minutes read both Jeremiah 7:23-28 and Luke 11:14-23. In the next 5 minutes pick one verse that strikes you and think about it the last 5 minutes to figure out one concrete way you will follow up on that verse.
Thanks to the printing press the Bible became the all-time bestseller. I haven’t yet seen the comps on the e-version or social media fronts. It’s o.k. that the Bible doesn’t top Beyonce’s prego announcement breaking the one-day Instagram record. I’m betting on the Bible’s staying power long after Bey’s kids are grown. (No offense meant to Bey or her kids.) Despite its popularity, getting at the Bible’s meaning takes effort. You can’t put it under your pillow and get the message through osmosis. You need to open the book, or download the file and READ or LISTEN to it. There is no other way. Sorry. And because it was written a long time ago some of it is hard to decipher – and not to mention it’s a long book. O.k. all this is true, but the Bible is life-giving, so it’s worth the discipline of reading and listening to it. What I don’t get, I’ll let God fill in the blanks. It’s worth the discipline.