The diocesan synod is soon for Reno

This Pentecost Sunday of 2013, we read a letter from Bishop Calvo in our bulletin. It stated that our diocese needs a synod to to gather and pray together, to reflect and discern what the Holy Spirit calls and directs us to be and to do to fulfill our mission in our particular place and time.

Our Blessed recent Pope Benedict wrote:

Statue of liberty lighning strikeIndeed, according to the Fathers, ontologically, the Church-mystery, the Church that is one and unique, precedes creation, and gives birth to the particular Churches as her daughters. She expresses herself in them; she is the mother and not the product of the particular Churches. Furthermore, the Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve Apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church and the founders-to-be of the local Churches, who have a mission directed to the world: from the first the Church speaks all languages.

This brings to mind the question once raised at 9:30 Mass, “What time is it?” Dwelling on several people venturing guesses between 10:00 and 10:05, the proper answer comes. Bernard Lonergan writes:

On the Ptolemaic system there did exist a single standard time for the universe, since the outmost of the celestial spheres, the primum mobile, contained the material universe and was the first source of all local movement. With the acceptance of the Copernican theory, there vanished the primum mobile, but there remained a single standard time, a survival Newton explained by distinguishing true and apparent motion and by conceiving true motion as relative to absolute space and absolute time. Finally, with Einstein, Newton’s absolute time vanished, and there emerged as many standard times as there are inertial reference frames that are in relative motion.[1]

Deuteronomy 5 writes:

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

The interesting thing about customs and judicial precedents is that they develop over time. By definition, they could not have come directly to Moses at Horeb. How does Torah say this? All the customs and judicial precedents, which came over time, are to be viewed as if they came at Horeb. This is because, as the Jewish people relive their salvation at Passover, and we relive ours in the Eucharist, we relive the Passover, the Passion event, again, for the first time, each time. Einstein was Jewish and his understanding of time was Jewish.


It is like a big wormhole that connects each time we celebrate Passover and Eucharist. It makes no sense to discuss if the universal church is prior to the particular churches. Through Passover and Eucharist, we leave time. When there is no time, there is no before and after.

We notice from our Blessed recent Pope Benedict, “The Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve Apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church…” Those acquainted with Jewish tradition know of the men of the Great Assembly, the men who codified Torah, as we know it, and the Jewish liturgy, which is the foundation of our Catholic Mass.

Like the 120 who were present at the founding of the Catholic Church at Pentecost, the Great Assembly had 120 men. Those present at Pentecost were well aware of the tradition of the 120 men of the Great Assembly. They got the connection. Mary and the apostles are the men of the Great Assembly, formed, for the first time, this time, at Pentecost.

Our recent Pope argued with Cardinal Walter Jasper, before he became Pope. Then Cardinal Ratzinger argued that authority springs from before, and through the 120 men,  presently the Roman curia. Cardinal Walter Jasper argues with our Declaration of Independence, that authority comes from below:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Given the new, Jewish definition of time, we see that both men are incorrect. Through the sacrament of Holy Communion, we exit time. Time becomes irrelevant. With Pope Benedict, we believe that all custom and correct judicial precedent is to be viewed as if it came from Moses at Horeb.

On the other hand, we receive truth through our experience of Eucharist and Passover, which we relive for the first time, each time we celebrate Eucharist. True authority comes from this experience of salvation. If we have not suffered, and been rescued, judicial precedent, no matter how authoritative and correct, seems meaningless. For those who have experienced death and resurrection, no proof is required. For those who have not, no proof is sufficient. This is the very point Pope Benedict tries to make in his letter to the bishops on “Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion.”


The Jewish nation reforms, makes itself new, again, just as it did at Horeb, and just as it did with the Great Assembly, at Pentecost. In our upcoming synod, we reform again, looking back to the basics. We do not need to look far to find our basics:

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name cut a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day.

Doing all you can

Remember, “I am the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” You will remember what it was like to be there, and you will remember your rescue.”

When your son asks, “What do these traditions, customs and correct judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name our Almighty Judge, enjoins on you, you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s servants in Egypt. The Personal Name removed us from Egypt/ Oppression with a strong hand and wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt/Oppression and against Pharaoh, the oppressor and his whole house. He brought us from there to give us the land he had promised on oath to our fathers. Deuteronomy 6:20-23

Pope Benedict wrote:

The concept of communion lies ‘at the heart of the Church’s self-understanding’(4), insofar as it is the Mystery of the personal union of each human being with the divine Trinity and with the rest of mankind…”[2]

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Synagogue of Magdala

If the concept of communion, which is not a univocal concept, is to serve as ecclesiology key, it has to be understood within the teaching of the Bible and the patristic tradition, in which communion always involves a double dimension: the vertical (communion with God) and the horizontal (communion among men).

The new relationship between man and God, established in Christ and is communicated through the sacraments, also extends to a new relationship among human beings. As a result, the concept of communion should be such as to express both the sacramental nature of the Church while “we are away from the Lord”), and also the particular unity which makes the faithful into members of one and the same Body, the Mystical Body of Christ, an organically structured community.

We need to understand our faith as coming from the Bible itself, from Horeb, and through the customs and correct judicial precedents, which come from Horeb. There is the double dimension in our transfiguration. Mark 9:2-8. God reaches down to us as we reach up to him. We then descend from that mountain and meet the epileptic at the bottom of the hill.

The key sentence in Mark’s account is when Jesus tells his followers, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” Mark 9:29. There is only one prayer in the entire exchange, “The boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!” Through the Eucharist we cry out to God, “Help my unbelief.” “Help me to see you in the Eucharist, to relive the Eucharist every day of my life.” “Help me to heal my son, in my direct offspring,” and in the sons and daughters of all mankind.” “Help me to be an instrument in removing all suffering in the world. Help me to end disasters like happened twice in Bangladesh in the past year.”

“The new relationship between man and God, established in Christ and is communicated through the sacraments, also extends to a new relationship among human beings,” as Pope Benedict tells us. We relive the exodus event, each time and for the first time we celebrate Eucharist.” We die with Jesus on the Cross, and we rise with him to new life. This is a very literal death and rebirth. We remember what it was like to be there, and when we see others suffering, it brings back the bad memory, and we do something.

Courtesy Holy Land Pilgrimage Sea of Galilee 4

“A Voice of Their Own,” quoting Cardinal Jasper, speaks of the great perichoretic formula. Perichoresis comes from a fancy Greek word meaning a dancing around. Just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dance around each other, we join the dance with all of mankind. We become one with the Trinity. We notice how Pentecost begins with tongues of fire. The Hebrew word for fire, also means Mensch, or “Men.” The tongues of fire intermingle within us and make us men in the grandest sense of the term, people who care for other people. That needs to be the great message of our synod.

[1] Lonergan, Bernard (2012-05-23). Method in Theology: Volume 14 (Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan) (Kindle Locations 2718-2723). University of Toronto Press. Kindle Edition.


The Conservatives are at it again with SB 192

In Carson City Nevada the Conservatives are pushing a bill, SB 192, entitled, “The Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.” This act states:

The Barking Army courtesy of“Exercise of Religion’ means the ability to act or to refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

“A government entity shall not substantially burden the exercise of religion of a person regardless of whether the burden is the result of a rule of general applicability.”

“A government entity may substantially burden the exercise of religion only if the government entity demonstrates that the burden as applied to persons: Furthers a compelling government interest, and is the least restrictive means of furthering that government interest.”

The bill is clear. All a person has to do in this act is claim that his actions are motivated by religion as he understands it. It does not have to be motivated by “A larger system of religious belief.”

581398_356529854436705_624617725_nIn the case of Peyote, Native Americans could use this bill to argue they have the right to smoke the stuff. Also, in the case of marijuana, all a person would have to do is argue that his smoking the stuff has religious motivation. He does not have to point to “a larger system of religious belief.” The same could be used in the case of any hallucinatory drugs.

In the ‘60s, conservative southern states used bills such as SB 192 to justify business interests to not serve people of African American Heritage at their establishments. Their system of religious beliefs justified government non-intervention.

We see the same type of thing in relation to SB 192. If an employer wanted to prevent its employees from having children, nothing in this law would prevent them from requiring employees to use contraception, use morning after pills or have abortions. If their employees had no children, they would have less reason to use sick days, to care for sick children, there would be no need for FMLA leave to have children in the first place, and so on. Employers do have a reason to do this. This bill is for protecting the rights of established people, not the masses.

The main purpose of this bill is to preserve conservative business interests, in particular as it relates to the abortion and birth control issues. The question is, does it?   The bill must compel a government interest. What is the government interest?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

They key question in the great abortion debate is the definition of life.

The same must be said of life. The name is given from a certain external appearance, namely, self-movement, yet not precisely to signify this, but rather a substance to which self-movement and the application of itself to any kind of operation, belong naturally. To live, accordingly, is nothing else than to exist in this or that nature. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 2

Working Poor Invisible in America David K. Shipler Pulitzer Prize WinnerThe Philosopher, Aristotle, in De Anima ii, 13), distinguishes four kinds of life, namely, nourishment, sensation, local movement and understanding. Arisotle says (Ethic. ix, 9) that to live is to sense or to understand, in other words, to have a nature capable of sensation or understanding. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 2

The more perfect is their sense, the more perfect is their self-movement power. Such animals as move themselves in respect to an end they themselves propose are superior to these. This is only done by reason & intellect; whose province it is to know the proportion between the end & the means to that end, & duly coordinate them. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 3

Life means two things in the great birth control, abortion debate. First, it means life at its most basic, self-movement, life in the womb. It also means life in the sense Aristotle argues for human life, life lived in its fullest, to sense, to understand, to live in the grander sense of the word “living, to smell the roses, to savor a nice meal, to see the world, to hear the vibrant sounds of the world around us.”

The government interest is promoting life, and this is where liberals separate from conservatives. The government could, and would, argue it is promoting life for the mother, through what liberals would argue is the push for reasonable access to birth control. In this sense, SB 192 does not accomplish what it sets out to do. In the name of promoting business interests, which is the only real goal of this bill, it allows for rampant drug use and opens the Pandora’s box of who knows what ills.

declaration-of-independenceAgain, the purpose of government is: To form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

What we need is a bill that addresses exactly what we mean by life, in conformity with the founding documents of our nation, including the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to our Constitution. We need to form a more perfect union/communion.

We need to address for the first time in my nearly 60 year lifetime, that both conservatives and liberals are Americans. We are a nation, a people born together, by common heritage, if not race, color, creed, national origin, et cetera.

We need to foster bills that promote life, not allow for the established groups to deprive others of life under the cloak of religious conviction.   We need to insure domestic tranquility, and that means listening to the real needs and concerns of the other side, for the first time in over 60 years.

We need to promote the general welfare, not the welfare of the established people, which is what SB 192 is all about. We need to secure the blessings of liberty for all Americans, not just the established business owners. The proponents of SB 192 need to go back to the drawing board and start over; this bill is not the right bill.

There are more important languages to learn than Latin

This past Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter of 2013 saw a debate between an orthodox conservative and an avowed liberal. The conservative discussed a fellow parishioner who had kneeled while taking the blood of Christ, and had asked for the blessed chalice before in a complete kneeling state.

Lake Tahoe     This did not seem to upset the liberal in any way. The orthodox conservative next presented the view that Latin is the official language of the church and should be the preferred language to learn. The liberal argued for other languages to be the preferred language to learn.

Unlike Protestants, who believe in Solo Scriptura, Catholics and Semitic people have a strong preference for reading the divine writings in light of tradition. They receive this idea from the Ten Commandments, which begins:

Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your ear, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day. Deuteronomy 5:1-7

In the Summa Theologica, The Second Part of the Second Part, Question 81 noted how our word, “religion,” relates to the Latin understanding of the concept.

Religion may be derived from “religare” [to bind together], wherefore Augustine says (De Vera Relig. 55): “May religion bind us to the one Almighty God.” In addition to the founding of Rome itself, the Roman sense of authority comes from the sanctity of house and hearth. The Romans understood how the gods had Shekinah, (presence) lived among the Romans, so was re-ligatus, bond together in present time, through all time, with the people.

Scene from GalileeThe interesting things about customs, “הַחֻקִּים” and correct judicial precedents, “מִּשְׁפָּטִים,” is that they develop over time. They do not develop over night, and are therefore not the kinds of things Moses could have received at Mt. Sword. The Jewish tradition is that all the rulings that have come since are the customs and correct judicial precedents, which we are to view as if they came from Moses at Mt. Sword. Catholic and Easter Orthodox teachings mirror this ancient Semitic understanding.

The Ten Commandments begins by telling us, “Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day.” To argue that the Roman Rite is somehow different from any other rite is to argue that it does not link back, tie back to Mt. Sword in present time. It is to cut the church off from its roots, both the roots of Sinai, and the roots of the cross.

This brings us to the idea of home and hearth. Revelations 12:17 tells us how the great sea serpent went off to wage war with the woman and her offspring, those who keep faith with the witness and the Mitzvah of God. Revelations 12:5 tells us how this woman gave birth to a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

This child is clearly Jesus, so the woman must be our Blessed Virgin. We, alive, here, this day, are the offspring of Our Blessed Virgin, in present time, as are all those who lived from the time of Our Blessed Virgin until today. To argue for Latin, the Roman Rite in Latin is to cut ourselves off from this woman, Our Blessed Virgin, who almost certainly did not speak Latin.

The orthodox Catholic is correct in understanding that it is important for the blood of Christ not to fall on the floor. The liberal thinker was also correct in understanding that there is something more at issue here than wine, the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Through the Eucharist, we relive the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. We also relive the events of Mt. Sword, our rescue from oppression. We undergo a religious transformation from death to new life.

IsraelSt. Paul tells us in Romans 5 and Galatians 2, “We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not justified by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of Tarsus, Turkey. The native language of the first century for that town was Koine Greek. On the other hand, St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of that town. We need to think of the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century Brooklyn Jewish neighborhood. The people of Brooklyn spoke English.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoeThe Brooklyn neighborhoods, on the other hand, spoke the languages of the immigrants who lived there. The people of the Jewish quarter spoke Yiddish. When the more religious of that neighborhood went to college, they went to Yeshiva, most likely in Jerusalem. Likewise, St. Paul learned the Yiddish of his time, Aramaic. As a religious, he went off to Yeshiva in Jerusalem, the Academy of Shammai. There he learned Hebrew.

Thinking in Hebrew, St. Paul would have meant, using the Hebrew and Aramaic word for Justice, Tzaddic, We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not Tzaddic/made charitable by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be Tzaddic/made charitable by faith in Christ and not by works of Torah, because by works of Torah no one will be made charitable.”

Elsewhere, St. Paul tells us, “Put on the new self, created in God’s way in Tzaddic and dedication of truth.” The rest of the chapter, of which Ephesians 4:24, resides describes this Tzaddic as God means for us to live out our everyday life.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 tells us what St. Paul meant by Tzaddic as well:

Incline Village homeWhen your son asks, “What do these witness statements customs and correct judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, enjoined on you, you shall tell your son, “We were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Personal Name brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and his whole house.

He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our fathers. The Personal Name commanded us guard all these customs in fear of the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, that we may always have as good a life as we have today. This is our justice/Tzaddic.

In our transformation, we no longer worry about the little things. Our neighbor in Christ is far more important than even the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Christ will protect his precious blood. During the Passion, far more blood that is precious fell on the floor, the Via Delarosa, than the few drops that might fall if the chalice spills. Yes, we do need to be careful with the precious blood, but the precious blood points to something even more important, human life as life lived in the image of God.

Meadow in IsraelThis brings us to the importance of Latin in Mass. For doctoral seminary, Latin might be an important language to learn, in order to read the Summa, the City of God, the Moralia, and other writings of the church fathers. If we plan to discuss theology with the church doctors at the Vatican, Latin could come in handy. For the rest of us, Latin is a great language of nostalgia, to help us remember the Tridentine Mass of Pre-Vatican II.

Presenting this view, brought the discussion of whether Jesus knew Latin. Interesting it was, that the liberal presented the view that Lake Galilee, where Jesus and the apostles did their preaching and fishing, is so much like Lake Tahoe. So interesting it is how the orthodox Catholic opposed this view. They are the same, inland, crystal blue lakes. They are lakes famed for being resort hot spots where celebrities and other rich folk lived out their lives. As such, to live in these areas, one almost has to be multilingual.

The “Church Language” of the first century was Hebrew. The language of the masses was Aramaic, which people of the time mistakenly referred to as Hebrew. As a rabbi, Jesus would have known both Hebrew and Aramaic. To be a fish trader on Lake Galilee one would almost certainly have had to know the language of trade, Koine Greek. St. Peter shows an understanding of this language in the two letters he wrote, and which are in our New Testament. James also shows fluency in Greek, in his New Testament letter, as does St. Paul, in his letters.

The question is about Latin. The Latin people had the ethnocentric trait Americans have. They sent their soldiers and state department officials to countries with no training in the languages or cultures of their conquests. If Jesus talked with soldiers as he did in Luke 7:1-10, it was almost certainly in Latin.

Further, in John 18:28-40 Jesus has a discussion with Pilate. If Pilate did not speak any language other than Latin, the discussion must have been in Latin. St. Mark calls the crazy man Jesus heals, Legion, a Latin name.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II states:

God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts, which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse.

This means, the question is not, whether Jesus, or anyone else could have had an intelligent discussion in Latin, but in what language Jesus and the apostles thought, and that language was Aramaic. In the case of Torah, Navy, and Writings, that language is Hebrew. Because the oldest extant writings are in Koine Greek, Koine Greek has a claim for study.

It is important to notice how Greek, Latin, and the Semitic languages used the present tense. From our pre-Vatican II days, we use to interpret Matthew 3:1-2, “In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, “Do Penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” English has what grammarians call the “dandy do.” The original word in Greek, Latin, or the Semitic languages can be interpreted as, “Repent,” “Be Penitent,” or “Do Penance.” In church language, “Do Penance” means going to confession and doing as the priest asks as one’s “Sign of contrition.” Those not knowing ancient languages were confused by this ambiguity.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II tells us that we need to read the text in light of how the original writers understood the text. Our “Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels,” tell us, “The sacred writers when composing them followed the way of thinking and of writing current amongst their contemporaries.” John the Baptist wrote long before confession, as we know it today, so could not have had this in mind as he preached. Contemporary translations correctly translate the text as “Repent,” and not, “Do Penance.” Learning Latin would help us understand the ambiguity of Pre-Vatican II history, but not help us much in understanding current translations of the Bible.

This brings the questions of which languages would be important to learn, for the serious Bible scholar. Clearly, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek make this list. Where does Latin fit in? Jesus probably spoke Latin, but “Legion,” is one of the very few Latin words used in any of the Gospels, and the New Testament never uses Latin in the context of explaining Christian doctrine.

The church fathers used Latin, but most of the Scholastic teaching is being replaced by German existentialist teaching through the writings of Johann Mohler, Karl Rahner, Richard Rohr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bernard Lonergan. Learning German would be far more beneficial in the academic setting than Latin.

The goal of reading any ancient language is being able to present what we learn to the masses. That means learning French, German, Polish, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, and with the rapidly growing African church, the African languages. Latin is way down the list.

We need to understand what is going on at Mass. We need to understand how we are not just taking in bread and wine. We are taking in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That means know who Jesus Christ the first century Jew, and the Son of God is. That means enmeshing ourselves in the Semitic culture.

“Jesus is the same, Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” Hebrews 13:8. “At the beginning, Personal Name, you established the earth, you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12.  The word of God did not change as the church moved from a Semitic group to the Latin church, as those who emphasis the Latin Rite would have us believe.

The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished. It cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of. Spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confessions 7.  Third Part of the Summa Question 73 Article 3

I found myself to be far from You, in the region of dissimilarity: I am the food of strong men; grow, and you will feed upon me; nor will you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me. Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 10

Jesus was the great healer and forgiver. If we are to get into him, who is what we are to become, we need to become healers and forgivers.

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 5

On the left of our mural are the two cohenim/priests holding the Tabernacle. The two children on the right, part of the modern working class family counterbalance these two priests. Great men, powerful political and religious leaders do not hold up the tabernacle. The pious common people who live their lives every day as humble children of God hold up the Agnus Dei and the four rivers of life.

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Working class familyInside this tabernacle was the Ten Commandments. In Mark 10:19 Jesus gives his understanding of the last six of the Ten Commandments. He combines St. Augustine’s last two from his book on the Exodus. This means Jesus’ first commandment is the same as the modern Jewish count:

Hear! you who struggle with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents I proclaim in your ear, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…

I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor.” You will remember your oppression, what it was like to be there, in present time; you will remember your rescue, and when you see others suffering, do something.

My rescue was from Senior Chief Theodore, (gift of God) Bronson. I very much remember what it was like to be there. I have flashbacks all the time. In our Mass, and in our Baptism, we die with Christ, and we rise with Christ. Romans 6:3-4. We remember what it was like to be there, at Jesus’ scourging, on the Via Delarosa, on the cross with Jesus, and we remember our rescue. Our Mass is based upon Passover.

How could we feel gratitude for our rescue, and then take the name of our rescuer in vain? How could we not insist on taking one day off each week to remember our rescue? We would be too busy helping our neighbor to harm him, much less kill him, take his property, abuse his spouse, or use our lips to harm him in slander. We would not abuse subordinates’ as Senior Chief Bronson did. We would not desire what is our neighbor’s, or try to defraud him.

Is this not all of the Ten Commandments? If we all did this, would we not be creating the ideal state, a republic where all live in harmony? Is this not the prime non-negotiable?

Pope Pious X counterbalances John the Baptist at the top of the mural. If we look, we notice how they both dress in clothing of gold. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “The faith as such is always the same. The Catechism of Saint Pius X always preserves its value.” Pope Pious X, speaks loudly about the Call to Catholic Action for social justice, including involvement in our government.

In IL FERMO PROPOSITO:Pope Pious X speaks strongly in favor of Catholic Action. “We take to heart the interests of the people, especially those of the working and agricultural classes by endeavoring to dry their tears, alleviate their sufferings, and to improve their economic condition by wise measures. We strive, to make public laws conformable to justice. Section 7 All these works… constitute what is known by “Catholic Action.” Section 8

All Catholics must prepare themselves prudently and seriously for political life in case they may be called. It is of the utmost importance that the same activity be extended to a suitable preparation and organization for political life. Section 19

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 4

To our right, we see St. Clair as she holds up the Sacred Host, against the Saracen invaders. First, we notice that St. Clair is not inside, but outside of the Abbey. Second, notice the shape of the monstrance. It contains an equilateral triangle with the Blessed Host inside. It symbolizes the omnipresent and omniscient God, who watches over all things, the Trinity. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used in Courts of Justice to remind judges of their responsibilities. It reminds us of our responsibilities, as it is under Pope Pious X, to bring justice into our world.

Behind her, we note the abbey she was defending. The left side of our mural balances this with the portrait of Ruth, grandmother of King David who holds wheat for our Sacred Host. Behind her is the tabernacle where the Hebrew people stored the Ten Words of God to balance the abbey on the right side of the mural.

Edith and Isabel next present us with church officials, “Cohen” in Hebrew, “Episcopus,” in Latin and Greek, or Bishops in English. On the right side stand St. Charles Borromeo with St. Pascal Baylon the patron of the Children’s Eucharist. St. Charles Borromeo was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church, including the founding of seminaries for the education of priests.

Should we not follow their example and support the education of our children and the higher education of our young adults. Should we not emphasis being Catholic, being community, over being rugged individualists, followers of the Protestant work ethic?

St. Charles Borromeo facilitated the final Council of Trent deliberations. St. Charles Borromeo took a large share in the creation of the Tridentine Catechism:

“That the faithful may approach the Sacraments with greater reverence and devotion, the Holy Synod charges all the bishops about to administer them to explain their operation and use in a way adapted to the understanding of the people…

The bishops will have these instructions carefully translated into the vulgar tongue and explained by all parish priests to their flocks . . .” It is divided into four parts: The Apostles’ Creed; The Sacraments; The Decalogue; and Prayer.

In 1564, St. Pascal Baylon joined the Reformed Franciscan Order as a lay brother. We are a Franciscan Parish, emphasizing Penance and living the Gospel life. He chose to live in poor monasteries because, he said, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”

He lived a life of poverty and prayer, even praying while working, for the rest of his life. He is noted for his devotion to the Eucharist and the patron of the Children’s Eucharist. Should we not be also?

King David at the Cathedral Words of Institution St. Clair of Assissi with host of Saracen invaders with St. Charles  BorromeoOn the left side of the altar stand leaders from the Old Testament, King David, and the prophet Nathan. Nathan is famous for telling King David the parable of the rich man who had many sheep and the poor man had only one. Nathan complained to King David about how the rich man killed the poor man’s lamb instead of taking from his own.

When King David ordered the rich man punished, Nathan complained, “But the rich man is you as you killed Uriah the Hittite so you could take his wife, Bathsheba.” We see in the placement of these two men, the importance of the rich to care for the poor, and not exploit them as we all too often see in America, in particular in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 3

No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, Ben Adam. Just as Moses lifted up the Taanah in the desert, so must Ben Adam be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada

Mountain Scene spray 100_1804 100_1808 In the beginning there was the blizzard 581398_356529854436705_624617725_nAs we look toward the center of the mural, we see to the center right, Jesus with the apostles St. Peter and St. John. Behind Jesus is St. Paul with a sword. St. Paul is never depicted with a sword. We wonder about the meaning of the sword. The Hebrew word for sword is Horeb. In Deuteronomy, the mountain of God where Moses receives the Ten Commandments, is Horeb.

We look to the left of the mural and again find a sword, held by Abraham as he prepares to sacrifice Isaac, whose name means, “Laughter,” which sounds like, “Crying out,” in Hebrew.

The Talmudic sages teach that Isaac was thirty-seven, likely based on the next biblical story, which is of Sarah’s death at 127, being 90 when Isaac was born. On the right side of the altar, is the Omer, the Word, the Lamb of God, who we sacrifice in the Mass. On the left is the one who cries out, Isaac, the sacrifice who is replaced by a ram.

If we follow the dating of Jesus birth in St. Matthew and St. Mark, Jesus was also around 37 years old at the start of his ministry. Most scholars date the star of St. Matthew as a conjunction of planets, which occurred in the spring and fall of 7 B.C. Jesus crucifixion is firmly established as 6 April, 33 A.D. In the temptation of Jesus, Jesus was tempted 40 days and 40 nights. The Great accuser left Jesus. The living beings, in Aramaic, Chai, came and ministered to him. This is where we would expect to find the thesis statement in St. Matthew and St. Mark.

Each day is one year for each year of Jesus’ life. The Chai are Jesus’ followers, and the messengers are the apostles. If we follow a three-year ministry for Jesus, Jesus is 37, the same age as Isaac at his binding, when he begins his ministry. Our Jewish brothers commemorate this main event in the life of Isaac in the reading of the Acheidah, the binding, Genesis 22:15.

The right side of our mural represents Isaac through the person of St. Tarsicius the first martyr of the Sacrament. A rabble attacked Tarsicius, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, and he suffered death rather “than surrender the Sacred Body,” as New Advent quotes Pope Damasus.

A sixth-century legend makes Tarsicius, an acolyte. The death of this martyr occurred in one of the persecutions that occurred between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth, around the time of St. Augustine. No matter how unimportant we think we are, even a low acolyte, through dedication to the Blessed host, we can find ourselves represented on our great mural.

On the right center of our mural, in downtown Reno Nevada, Jesus holds the elements of our Eucharist, the Bread and the wine. Melchizadek, on the left side of the mural, counterbalances Jesus. Jesus is Melchizadek, or Melchi, Hebrew for “My King,” or “My Messenger is Charitable.” Melchizadek is the charitable king who greeted Abraham at Salem, which becomes, “City of Salem” or “City of Peace,” in Hebrew, Jerusalem.

We notice that people looking for freedom from oppression in Egypt come to Jerusalem, the City of Peace. All people looking for true freedom come to cities of peace. People looking for true peace do not go looking for freedom. True freedom only comes when there is true peace between man and his brother.

Two Israelite men kneel on the left side of our mural. They represent the Jewish people as they find the manna in the desert. Why choose two unknown men to represent the manna? To the right, are St. Peter and St. John. Even the city, the capital of the nation can seem like the desert when there is suffering. The men on the mural’s left look for manna in the desert. We look for the manna, the bread of life in the person of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

One Latin word for God is Dominus, from which we get our word, “Dominate,” and more important, our word, “Domicile,” our home. The Greek word is Oikos, from which we derive our word, “Economy.” God is the great provider of our house, our economy. The Hebrew word for head of the house is “Baal”; God is the Husband of our home, the only economic force we look to for spiritual and physical subsistence in our economy, our home.

This is part three, please click here for part 2

Please click here for part 1



Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 2

In our mural in Reno Nevada, we see St. Joseph the worker, whose feast is May 1, of each year, Labor Day in most of the world. Above the statue, again, is a depiction of the Holy Family. St. Joseph is central. This is the moment of his death. Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin hover next to him, symbolizing how the Lamb of God and Holy Mother Church are with us from our birth to the moment of our death. “Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, now and at the moment of our deaths.”

Isabel Piczek
Isabel Piczek
Our mural in Reno Nevada
Our mural in Reno Nevada
Lambs of God
Lambs of God

Our Lady Seder plate small Our Cathedral in Panarama

Shalom means much more than Peace.
Shalom means much more than Peace.
Great scholars like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Locke have discussed Justice, giving us an idea of what "Holy," might mean.
Great scholars like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Locke have discussed Justice, giving us an idea of what “Holy,” might mean.

Over the past 32 years many of us have ceased being manual laborers, and no longer identify as workers. As bankers, lawyers, salespersons, and yes, even retired or unemployed, we are still workers. “White collar, unemployed and retired” are still just adjectives modifying, “Worker.”

In English, we have two key words, “Vocation,” and “Profession.” “Vocation” is but a fancy Latin word meaning our calling, as in our calling from God. “Profession,” comes from the root meaning to profess, whether we like it or know it, or not. We profess our faith, and fulfill our vocation, our calling from God, through what we do as professional bankers, lawyers, and salesmen. This statue of St. Joseph constantly serves to remind us that we are all one community, a community of workers in service to God.

Our mural in Reno Nevada is the opus of renowned artists, Edith and Isabel Piczek. Edith died this past year. She referred often to her lifetime vocation of “visualizing God’s Word and His creation. It takes constant studying of Scripture and theology to find the images, shapes, and forms to translate God’s beauty.”

The artist is creating visual representation … to see the sacred in each of us, to show the love of God through art for the Church.” Edith told The Tidings in 2000. “We came to bring God closer to people and people closer to God, through the work we do. We are not rich, but we have more happiness, more fulfillment, more satisfaction, through the kind of work we do, serving God, and through God serving his people.”

Edith and Isabel named our mural, “The Adoration of the Lamb of God, our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist.” A work of art, it has incredible balance, with exactly 16 people representing each the Torah, and the New Testament. For each person representing Torah, there is a corresponding person representing the New Testament, and vice versa.

As we look at our mural, we first notice that this is a Thomistic mural. We see Franciscans in the mural and St. Augustine, no Thomas Aquinas. Still, the mural is full of Thomistic images if we know where to find them. The Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God at the top of the mural. We also notice to the bottom left of the mural, Abel, whose name means “Mist,” holding a lamb. To the right, we again notice, the Lamb of God, in Aramaic, the Omer Elohim, in the person of the infant Jesus. The Aramaic word for lamb, “Omer” also means “Word.” St. John tells us:

In the beginning was the Omer/Word/Lamb. The Omer/Word/Lamb was with God; the Omer/Word/Lamb was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Soon afterward St. John tells us, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, “Behold, the Omer/Word/Lamb of God, who takes away the failure of the cosmos. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.”

We notice the triangle, the lamb which Abel holds, the lamb which Our Blessed Virgin holds, and the lamb atop the mural. The characters in our mural form a triangle, with the Lamb of God atop the mural. The three points of the triangle represent the theological virtues, Amen, Hatikva, and Ahabbah.

Amen is faith. Hatikva is hope, and is Israel’s national anthem, the hope for the coming of God. Ahabbah comes from Haba, the one who is to come, the Paraclete, the Lamb of God, and the Father, Abba. We notice the four rivers of life atop the mural.

This house stands by four corners for this reason, the firm fabric of our mind is upheld by Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice. This house is grounded on four corners. The whole structure of good practice is raised in these four virtues. Four rivers of Paradise water the earth. Sometimes self-love invades the mind, makes it swerve by a secret declension from the straight line of justice: and in the degree that it refuses to refer itself wholly to its Maker, it goes contrary to the claims of justice.

‘A strong wind strikes the four corners of the house,’ in that strong temptation, by hidden impulses, shakes the four virtues; and the corners are struck, the house is uprooted, when the virtues are beaten, the conscience is brought to trouble. Gregory the Great, Moralia, Book 2

We notice seven groupings of people in our mural. On the right and the left, each represents what had been the focus of Catholic moral teaching until some thirty years ago. On the right Abel, we clothe the naked; Melchizadek, we give the thirsty something to drink: Moses, We ransom the captive; the manna we feed the hungry; Ruth, We harbor the harbor-less; John the Baptist, we visit the sick; Abraham, we bury the dead.

On the right are also seven groupings: Our Holy family comforts the afflicted; St. Augustine instructs the ignorant; St. Clair counsel the doubtful; St. Tarsicius bears wrongs patiently; Jesus, forgives offences willingly; St. Charles Borromeo, admonishes sinners; Pope Pious X prays for the living and the dead.

The lamb Abel/Mist holds, foreshadows the lamb our Blessed Virgin holds on the right side of our mural. Both of these lambs point to the lamb at the head of our mural, the Lamb of God who stands over the four rivers of life.

Cain represents those who raise themselves above their brothers, thinking they are owed more, because, and then give a reason. Abel stands alone with his lamb, symbolizing how short and brutish life is when we face the wrath of Cain, without the help of our neighbor. Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” All the angels in heaven respond, “Now that you mention it…” In the original Hebrew God tells Cain, “My blood of your brother calls to me from Adam.” “My blood,” for God this is personal. God’s blood calls from Adam, the first man. We are all related.

The lamb to the right of the altar symbolizes the Divine family and the benefits of the grander community. Our Blessed Virgin is the mother of us all. As Eve and Cain bring death into the world, Jesus and Our Blessed Virgin bring life into the world, and not just life, but as St. John tells us in John 10:10, life lived to its fullest, for all people. This bringing of life into our world is the hallmark of our faith.

On the other side of our mural stands Moses. The mural tempts us to believe that the natural pair for Moses is St. Augustine who appears opposite Moses in the mural. This is not correct. Moses does not appear in the traditional pose, holding the Ten Commandments.

It is no accident that Moses holds the bronze serpents. If we look to the right, we see St. Joseph in an interesting pose as he places his robe, the same color as the bronze serpents, around our Blessed Virgin, and by extension, Jesus. The robe causes us to look up to our New Moses and to Jesus’ death.

This is part 2 of the series. For part 1 please click here.

Of the creed and creation

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων·

We believe in One God, the father, All-powerful, maker of heaven and earth.

In the beginning there was the blizzard      In the beginning, the Almighty Judge created the heaven and the earth. The earth was a great blizzard, with biting wind and stinging snow. Darkness was upon the face of the blizzard as the snow was deep. High above, in the howling wind, a great spirit hovered upon the blow snow as an eagle hovers over its brood, brooding over its young in the chaotic howling winds below.

The Almighty Judge said, “Light be!” Is light.

Suddenly, the overpowering darkness of white was replaced by the radiant colors of red, green, and blue, orange, purple, and yellow. Dead and lifeless snow was replaced by birds, flowers, trees, effervescent, vital, and vivacious life. First among these was an Omer, a lamb, the word of God, incarnate among us. What appeared were the ὁρατῶν, the formed, and the ἀοράτων, the unformed, the educated and the wise, the simple and the foolish. What appeared were the quarks, the microscopic reality generating all life, and the huge gas giants of the heavens/stars, some visible, and some billions of light years away, and invisible.

What appeared was the visible, starting with my beautiful wife sitting with us, and each of us, and visible and vibrant before us. What also appeared were the invisible, the man on the street corner begging for food, the dead and the pre-dead, waiting to die from a lack of food, on Neal Road and Montello, on Second Street and Arlington, in Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. What appeared were the vibrant, visible soldiers ready for war and the invisible Veterans with PTSD begging for shoes.

We believe in one Kyrie, Jesus Christ, the only generated son of the Father, Jesus Christ, generated before all eons. He is Light from Light, True God from True God.

He is light as light lived, incarnate among us, Luke 4

“The Breath of Kyrie is upon me; he anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,  and to proclaim a year acceptable to Kyrie.”

He is True God from True God: Psalm 82

God takes a stand in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods.

“Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy.

Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the Russia, those who think themselves first.”

He gives light to those who are not gods, “Yet like any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall.” He gives warning to the shepherds who are not shepherds:

Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before are thieves and robbers. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. He works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. John 10

γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί

He was generated not made, one in Being to the Father.
δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο· Through him all things are generated. There is only one Great Provider, one head of the house. There is only one Baal, one husband to the divine economy: It is not Baal, or Hermes, or Mercury, some market or invisible hand. God is Almighty and God is one.

τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν who for us men and for our salvation/Jesus/.ישועתנו Yes, the Hebrew word for Salvation is Jesus, and yes Jesus and Salvation are One.

κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα. Descended from the great flow of the sky, he took on flesh from the Dedicated Spirit and our Blessed Virgin Mary, and became man.

σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου καὶ παθόντα καὶ ταφέντα. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered, died, and was buried.

καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανοὺς. He arose on the third day, according to the writings, and ascended into heaven.

καὶ καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Πατρὸς. He sits upon the right hand of the Father.

καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς . He will come again with doxology/good thoughts, to judge the living and the dead.

οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος. His kingdom will have no end.

καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον τὸ Κύριον καὶ Ζωοποιόν. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Kyrie and maker of life.

τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον. He proceeds from the Father and the Son and with them we bow down and give doxology.

τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν.  As spoken through the Navy, the prophets.

εἰς μίαν ἁγίαν καθολικὴν καὶ ἀποστολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν. We believe in one Holy Catholic and apostolic called out community.

ὁμολογοῦμεν ἓν βάπτισμα εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν· We acknowledge one baptism for the freedom from our failures.

προσδοκῶμεν ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν καὶ ζωὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος.  We look for the rising from the dead and the life of the coming eons.


The Feast of Christ the King and the five non-negotiables

In the great Cathedral debate in Reno Nevada of 7 November of this year, affirmative stated:

“Those opposed to Catholic Action, as a nation, support a culture of death. Voting for someone opposed to Catholic Action is a grave matter, willingly agreed to and with full knowledge. Pope Pious X censors those who argue Mother Church should change her teaching to conform to the spirit of the age.’ He wrote this in 18…99, in address to Modernist Conservatives of his time.”

The negative argued, “Modernism refers to liberal doctrine.” The liberal doctrines to which he refers did not exist when Pope Pious X wrote in 18…99. The affirmative continued, “New opinions are new opinions, coming from Modernist Conservatives or Liberals of today.” He also noted, George Gallup reports on his website:

The percentage of Americans identifying as Roman Catholic stayed within 20% and 30% over the last 60 years. Catholics were 22% of the U.S. adult population in 1948. That percentage rose reaching its high point in the 1970s, when the U.S. population was nearly 30% Catholic. In the last several years, Gallup’s estimate has been Catholic 22% to 23%.”

He also may have noted, CNN ran an article on the church’s decline, and four of their top seven reasons for Catholics leaving the church tie to conservative politics. A person in the audience asked the affirmative speaker, “What do you refer to when you accuse conservatives of being modernists?” The affirmative responded, “The five non-negotiables.”

The conservatives in the room howled, “This is official doctrine!”

“The five non-negotiables,” as five rules set apart from the rest are not official doctrine. This Sunday is The Solemnity of Christ the King and it highlights what is wrong with The Five non-negotiables as doctrine. God is not in it.

Before stating his position on modernist conservatism, affirmative stated, “Our understanding of right and wrong is what re-orients us in a time of crisis, when the world is surreal and the rules do not seem to apply. It must be simple, allowing no exceptions. It must focus upon God first, and his property second, in particular what he made in his image, each other. It must focus upon life as lived in the image of God.”

The readings for the Sunday before the debate relate Jesus’ words when asked to define basic right and wrong. “Hear you who struggle with God, God is Almighty, God is One; Love God with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all of your measure.” “How do we love someone who already has everything?” “By respecting what is his, in particular what he made in his image. This is the true non-negotiable.” This, and not some conservative five- non-negotiables is the solid base upon which to build Catholic morality.

This Sunday is The Solemnity of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI established the feast in 1925 to address secularism, which leaves God out of man’s thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. This is the modernism, which affirmative attacked in the debate. The feast proclaims Christ’s rule over individuals, families, nations, and governments.

If we follow this Shema, Mark 12: 29, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and the Ten Commandments, as Jesus understood them, with Deuteronomy 5:1-7 as the First Commandment, we have that foundation of right and wrong we are looking for.

“The Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our ancestors did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, all of us, alive, here, this day…” Remember, “I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of menial labor.” Remember your oppression, and remember your rescue. When you see others suffering, do something.

This understanding re-orients those in a time of crisis, when the world is surreal and the rules do not seem to apply. Escapees from oppression in Europe originally stood at Mt. Sword the first time. The focus is upon the mountain and God who speaks from that mountain. From that remembrance of escape from oppression comes all that follows.

As affirmative related, our understanding of the Physical Presence in the Eucharist comes from this understanding of Deuteronomy 5. There is no room for secluding five rules from the others, and apart from Mt. Sinai and setting them as more important from all the others. The issue is not about whether these five rules still apply. They do! It is one of focus. If we correct the focus, we will follow these rules the conservatives want as source and summit, but God, and his rescue of us will be source and summit, and this necessitated the debate in the first place.

When will we learn to listen?

In our Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge to defend the republic. St. Augustine defines “Republic” in terms of an orchestra. Professional singers have a way of cupping their hands as they sing, so they can hear the other singers. Otherwise, they do not blend their voices and the work suffers. We must listen to the other side, not to their solution, but to their cry. Father Ron Olsen is famous for that gift. The conductor decides the tune.

The Trinity is the conductor of our orchestra and he sets the example by listening. We find examples of this in many places, two of which stand out. The first is the story of the Good Samaritan.

St. John, relates in the story of the Good Samaritan how Jesus is tired from his journey, when he meets a Samaritan woman at a well. Jesus has no compelling reason for talking with this woman. She is not Jewish and the Jewish people at the time were very ethnocentric. In Mark 7:25 we have the story of the Syrophoenician woman who Jesus does not want to talk with because she is not Jewish, and she is a she. Jewish men at the time did not converse with women either.

If the story happened today, we would expect the story to occur at some bar in some rusty old town, or in some inner city ghetto. The poor woman would be “Poor White Trash,” or “Poor Trash,” of some other ethnic group.

Another term is “Trailer Trash.” Good people do not converse with this kind. Jesus sets a new example. He does talk with her. As the story progresses, we find Jesus knows what type of woman she is. She is the poor trash who marries, has children, kicks her husband out, then goes out, and gets another. She lives off the largess of the community.

Unlike the conservatives of the time, and our day, Jesus sees in this woman’s behavior a person who is searching for something and not finding it. Jesus also notices how this woman is well schooled in her religious faith. We notice how Jesus never quotes Torah with its rules to this woman. She already knows the rules.

In the November 7 debate at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, the affirmative speaker made the comment: We sacrifice life and other’s salvation, and for what? Over the past 32 years, I have tried to find the conservative understanding of basic right and wrong, without success. There are more exceptions than cases where the rule applies. Our basic understanding of right and wrong is what re-orients us in a time of crisis, when the world is surreal and the rules do not apply.

The Samaritan woman lives in a time of crisis, when the world is surreal and the rules do not seem to apply. To fill the void she feels in her heart, she looks outside of the rules. The conservative leadership of her day, and ours, insists upon pointing to the rules, then getting frustrated when the poor do not listen. Jesus comes with another way.

If the discussion occurred today, conservatives would correct Jesus for not mentioning the HHS Mandate. Instead, Jesus first, talks with her about who she is as a human being. Then, as soon as he confronts her on her lifestyle, he immediately returns to discussing the common ground in their faith traditions.

We see a similar discussion in the healing of the paralytic. A group of four drops a paralytic down from a roof. Jesus retorts, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” In no place does St. Mark tell us what the “Sin” is, or even if he really has one. This child could be a victim of child abuse, no more guilty of any crime than the rest of us. Jesus asks, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? Which is easier to say? Both choices have exactly seven syllables, and neither is a tongue twister. There is no need do mention an HHS Mandate.

The answer is in the attitude of the speaker. Jesus’ choice is empowerment. Forgiveness causes gratitude, which gives the direction for this child to move so he can go on to live a happy and productive life. Not so, the conservative’s choice. He picks up his mat, and walks, to where, and then what? This requires more direction and more words. The conservative choice leaves them in control, and requires more words; their choice does not stop at seven syllables.

If this child is a victim of child abuse, he requires changes in his world for him to walk again. He needs o understand that his efforts in the past, which did not bear fruit, will bear fruit now. This is not something Jesus can do. This is for the community to do. This is where conservative leadership fails, then and today.

The conservative solution is where, as the affirmative in the 7 November debate at our Cathedral relates; the US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. The conservatives created a world where 5% of the population accounts for 50% of the healthcare costs, and most of these costs are from the poor.

The conservatives grumble about the HHS Mandate. If they had been listening for the past 32 years, they would have learned about the unnecessary suffering of the poor for those past 32 years. They would have looked for solutions, which include making sure all employers, pay a living wage, in this country and overseas. With a living wage, the poor could have purchased their own health insurance and there would be no need for the silly mandate. There would be no need for the large and growing prison industry with all of its costs.

In the debate of 7 November, the conservatives presented some so-called five non-negotiables as if they were Catholic doctrine. They are not. In “The Sanctity of Human Life from Conception to Natural Death, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila does his very best to defend the doctrine.  He does not quote any such encyclical. He does quote EVANGELIUM VITAE and he does quote our Catechism, both of which argue mankind in made in the image of God and therefore is entitled to respect. His quotes do not support some five non-negotiable, which state some lives are more important than others, because they are not born yet.

The affirmative in the debate was right in asking, “When will we learn to listen.”