Why the Cross

Christ leading the Way - Christus Garden at the Grotto Portland, Oregon Photo (c) 2016 John M. Kingery

Christ leading the Way – Christus Garden at the Grotto Portland, Oregon
Photo (c) 2016 John M. Kingery

When I was in Chicago Social Action Summer Institute in July 2016, I met Deacon Randy Clement from St. John – The Evangelist Catholic Church in Prairieville, Louisiana.   He is member of the cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love and mercy in this world.   Randy graciously gave me permission to share the following reflection – Why the Cross?

When I was in Chicago Social Action Summer Institute in July 2016, I met Deacon Randy Clement from St. John – The Evangelist Catholic Church in Prairieville, Louisiana.   He is member of the cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love and mercy in this world.   Randy graciously gave me permission to share the following reflection – Why the Cross?

WHY THE CROSS?

My mind keeps struggling

with a question

that has my heart

in a quandary.

Did Jesus have to die on the cross?

I have been taught that he did

to appease a god

who was blood thirsty.

I don’t know if I want to worship

a god who sent his Son

to be a perfect sacrifice

by hanging him on a tree.

Atonement

has always been hard to swallow

and even harder to chew upon

not liking the taste at all.

Jesus reveals a loving God

not a god who needs

the blood of his Son

to forgive us his creatures.

My heart flows and beats easier

when Christ becomes

the Way to live

and the Way to treat all.

I do think Jesus had to die

but not for atonement

but because he was true

to who he was.

Love can not hate

Love can not strike

Love can not smite

Love can only LOVE.

The Cross wasn’t for atonement

of sins so deep and wide

the Cross was for victory

when we trust love and not hate.

So as I continue

to follow the best I can

I hope that each day

I will love more and more like Him.

When I am in the midst of violence

directed toward me or friend or foe

I hope I too can die

instead of begetting more of the same.

If Jesus died just for my sins

then why did he walk the dirty roads

and eat with sinners like me?

Love not hate LIBERATES!

Deacon Randy Clement

 

 

 

 

 

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Journey to Peace

Mercy Like the Father - Chapel of Mary, The Grotto Portland, Oregon Photo (c) 2016 John M. Kingery

Mercy Like the Father – Chapel of Mary, The Grotto Portland, Oregon
Photo (c) 2016 John M. Kingery

When I was in Chicago for the 30th Social Action Summer Institute in July 2016, I met Deacon Randy Clement from St. John – The Evangelist Catholic Church in Prairieville, Louisiana.   He is a member of the cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love and mercy in this world.   Randy shared the following at SASI and  has given me permission to share it here.

“The Journey to Peace is about my journey that started on my senior trip. I was with my classmates from Cathedral Prep when I got the news my Uncle Alcide a priest was killed. Then my godchild (also my niece) years later was killed by her husband and then Jeremy my nephew was killed in a drug bust (he was a sheriff deputy). It is my reflection of how God has been with me helping me to become a nonviolent person.”  Randy Clement, August 2016

Journey to Peace

Looking back I see the work of God in me

I see the Embrace of love in the midst of pain

I see the love of my friends a sacrament of Love

I see how this has become a journey of Peace.

 

I was hurting like I had never hurt before

May 7th, 1975 will always be etched in my soul

Once in my mind as the saddest day

Now in my soul as the onset of my journey to Peace.

 

The journey had me walk to see mercy from all sides

I saw the mercy of God reach into my soul

Praying a prayer that I didn’t start

A prayer that still resonates from by being.

 

Once again on June 11th, 2003 the pain appeared again

Mercy did too at the most inappropriate time

Reminding me it isn’t just for me

Calling me once again to pray for it’s grace.

 

It showed me the journey hadn’t ended

There was still more for me to do

The bleak sadness would become Joy

The Resurrection will flow as I spread the Gift of Mercy.

 

Then on the day of ashes it happened again

March 1, 2006 evil raised again its ugly head

Anger spewed from me in a moment of honest prayer

Mercy was nowhere to be found or so it appeared to me.

 

I prayed at the lifeless body of my flesh and blood

For Resurrection to manifest and save my sister from the pain

If nothing else give me some of her pain

Why oh why God have you allowed this again.

 

In my hermitage in silence I heard Jesus from the Cross

Enough is enough learn from me

Violence isn’t the way so pledge your life to my way

Forgive those who hurt you and let Mercy flow.

 

Oh this journey that I’m still on

Has taught me and moved me

To become a better person

To become an instrument of mercy and of love that wins.

 

I know I have work to do to become who I am called to be

I know now more than ever that forgiveness is the key

For holding on to hate and grudges only delays my movement

The steps away from the world into the Kingdom of Love.

 

Deacon Randy Clement

 

 

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Tears and Clouds

Tears and Clouds

Pieta in the Mediation Chapel at The Grotto is a National Catholic Shrine dedicated to Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother, which is a ministry of The Servite Friars – Order of Friar Servants of Mary. Photo (c) 2016 all rights reserved John M.Kingery

Pieta in the Mediation Chapel at The Grotto is a National Catholic Shrine dedicated to Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother, which is a ministry of The Servite Friars – Order of Friar Servants of Mary.
Photo (c) 2016 all rights reserved John M.Kingery

I am weeping, my wife weeps, and our nation weeps at the murders in Baton Rouge, St. Anthony and Dallas.  God is gathering those tears and those tears will return.

“For there will be a sowing of peace.  Do not be fear; let your hands be strong.”  Zechariah 12:12-13

Out of Darkness (c) 2016 all rights John M. Kinger

Out of Darkness (c) 2016 all rights John M. Kingery

Wear black today.  Know that peace will return.  We are called to sow peace with love, truth, justice and freedom.  Help me this day to show love.  Reach out to someone.  Through the darkness, we will pass.

Cloud of Witnesses (dog wood tree) - (c) 2016 all rights John M. Kingery

Cloud of Witnesses (dog wood tree) – (c) 2016 all rights John M. Kingery

Let us be a cloud of witnesses to peace!

Amen

John

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Where is the vision?

 

Without a vision the people lose restraint, but happy the one who follow instruction. Proverbs 28:19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

The footnotes state “Vision” and “instruction” mean authoritative guidance for the community. People are demoralized without credible leadership.

As of this Monday, there have been 252 shootings resulting in 98 deaths and 197 injuries.   Two years ago, in the United States 51,819 shootings took place with 12,590 were killed and 23,025 injured.  Last year, 53,301 shootings took place, 13,433 died and 27,016 were injured.

www.gunviolencearchive.org/last-72-hours

These are not merely numbers; they are parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers.  Thru out our country, people are being injured and dying as the result of gun violence.   What voices were heard last week, year and over 2,000 years ago?

John Lewis, Georgia 5th District (c) 2016, John M. Kiingery

John Lewis, Georgia 5th District
(c) 2016, John M. Kiingery

A notable voice was Rep. John Lewis, Georgia 5th district he began the protest in the House of Representatives –

“We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence, tiny little children, babies, students and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence, tiny little children, babies, students and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors . And what has this body done?  Mr. Speaker, nothing. Not one thing. We have turned a deaf ear. We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and the concern of our nation.” 

Full speech video –

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin 1st District (c) 2016, John M.Kingery

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin 1st District
(c) 2016, John M.Kingery

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin 1st district and speaker of the House, was one of many voices in opposition.  “This is nothing more than a publicity stunt.”  He shut off cameras and then called the House back into session at 2:45 am on Thursday morning.  Speaker Ryan dressed in opened the session, but did not remain, instead he left the chamber.  Then Steve Womack, Arkansas 3rd district, serving as speaker pro tempore dressed in white eventually closed ended the session.  Night had become day; black had become white.

Steve Womack, Arkansas 3rd district (c) 2016, John M. Kingery

Steve Womack, Arkansas 3rd district
(c) 2016, John M. Kingery

PopeFrancisAddressCongressNine months earlier, another individual dressed in white was speaking from the rostrum of the House.  That individual was Pope Francis.  Speaking to the joint session of Congress, he asked a question and gave an honest answer about the selling of deadly weapons.  There is a global arms trade, but also a national arms trade.

Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”  Pope Francis, Address to the Joint Session, September 23, 2015.

As believers and people of good will, we can no longer be indifferent. Indifference and lack of commitment constitute a grave dereliction of the duty whereby each of us must work in accordance with our abilities and our role in society for the promotion of the common good, and in particular for peace, which is one of mankind’s most precious goods.”  Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2016

Christ Hands Outstretched - St. Pius X (c) John M. Kingery 2015 All Rights Reserved

Christ Hands Outstretched – St. Pius X
(c) John M. Kingery 2015 All Rights Reserved

When Jesus was being arrested in the garden, what did He say?  Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

Contact your elected officials, religious leaders to provide leadership.  Talk to family, friends and neighbor about heeding the call to put the swords (guns) away.  We need common sense responses, not fear and hate driven stockpiling of arms!

Peace,

John Kingery

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Mission and Mercy

Mission and Mercy

On June 16, I participated in a webinar How A Church On the Move Engages the World: Putting Mission and Mercy in Action featuring Joe Paprocki, DMin, National Consultant for Faith Formation for Loyola Press, a Jesuit Ministry in Chicago

This is an important topic in parishes, community, nation and the world today. Christ was on the move during his ministry, and Pope Francis has called the People of God to go out to the margins. That example and call is for all, especially at the parish level.

You can find the full recording of the webinar at the Roundtable of Diocesan Catholic Social Action Directors www.catholicroundtable.org website.

Introduction: We are one family

Our church is in crises and dealing with the consequences of the sexual abuse scandals and in a sense political crises.   How does the Church engage the world again or more effectively and authentically?  That engagement and going out will take place at parish level.   Joe described parishes as the “ground level place for mercy to move out.”

At the parish level, we are one family that is always reaching out. We are called to invite others to our family and banquet. They all have place at the table.  As the song says, “All are welcome in this place.”  We may have differences and disagreement, yet we are united by the love of God.

Mercy is always extended. Thomas S. Rains in “Autopsy of a deceased Church” notes Jesus’ ministry was one of gathering and sending out.  All dead churches are inward instead outward focused.  Bringing the Good News and the Kingdom of God to the marginalized is forgotten; replaced by minutia and fear of reaching out.

How does the Church especially at the parish level be relevant and focus upon bringing Jesus to the people?

Develop a sense of urgency and engagement

Know the people in our parish and community through building relationships. Know who is suffering and their pain.  Reach out to them with a sense of urgency.  As a parish, we are called to be on fire.   We should review our media content – bulletin, website and social media.  Is it a means of reaching to the parish and wider community?  Does it reflect that reaching out?

Acknowledge our brokenness

We are not perfect, but we are broken. Our lives are not spent looking down, but lifting up and healing. Scrap generic and stale mission statements.  Replace them with following – We recognize our brokenness. We have found healing in Jesus.  We invite you to join us and do the same.  We go out into the world.

Be full of joy

We are free because we are healed. God’s mercy is so great and as source of our joy!  Our work in Social Action and Social Justice should be fueled by joy and not merely righteous anger.  Anger cannot sustain a positive attitude.  The journey has its trials.

I received a parting gift at the end of lay ministry retreat in May at the Griffin Center.   Attached was slip of paper –

Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow…  Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel. #10

                Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Phil 4:4-5

For hymns of joy and music go to www.cathechistsjourney.loyalpress.com

Always inviting

Break down the barriers. Do not presume to know who is coming. Are we getting the word out?  Remember that mercy is always welcoming.

Commitment is required

What are you going to do and how can you help? Parishes have pledge cards – time, treasure and talent.  Consider discipleship cards – what will individuals do to spread the Good News and build the kingdom of God. “Pay, pray and obey”  is no longer is sufficient.

Mercy is our lived out belief. My thoughts – Eucharist is the gathering of the People of God to receive God’s mercy, love and strength.  Pope Francis suggests examining the Eucharist with three questions. How does that impact our lives?  How do we look at others?  Do we experience the grace of forgiveness and are we ready to forgive?  How is our community affected? 

Integrate and not indoctrinate

Get involved in with faith formation. Our faith is the way of love manifested in the sacraments lived out in the world.  Help our young people to learn, lead and do the work of Kingdom. Faith formation is more than memorization.  It is sharing the knowledge and acting upon it.

Focus on the Poor

Identify and meet the needs of the poor at St. Juan Diego and beyond.

Choose Life

Promote a consistent ethic of life through all stages of life – conception, birth, childhood, adulthood and end of life.   It does not mean all are equivalent, but we are called to address them consistently.

Peace, John M. Kingery

 

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Wear A Black Tie

Wear A Black Tie (c) John M. Kingery All Rights Reserved

Wear A Black Tie
(c) John M. Kingery
All Rights Reserved

They came to dance and have fun.

Life cut short from the barrel of a gun.

Why did they have to die?

Their mothers, fathers, family and friends cry.

God looks down, “What have you done?”

These and you are all my creation.

See the dove, we must replace our hate

With love before it is too late.

To honor those who die,

This Tuesday wear a black tie.

John M. Kingery

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Morning Poem

POLITICS    May 24, 2016
Amazing
Ignoring the past
Coming back to haunt the USA
Slavery/ genocide/civil war
The devil is in the details
The earth cries
The sound is deafening

Geo Kendall

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Where Were You On Mother’s Day

Where were you on Mother’s Day?  I was eating brunch at the Muslim Educational Trust.  There I met Karim from Yemen and Noel from Jerusalem.  The food was excellent and the conversation was life giving.   Karim had lost his mother.   My mother died on Mother’s Day in 2013.  Noel has some of the same health issues I do.   We shared our human frailty, need for prayer and belief in a merciful God.

You might say we celebrated being brothers and sisters in the Creator’s family.  In the cafeteria where I ate, there was a plaque about family on the wall.  The kind of plaque you would find at craft store.

Our Family

Laughs and Learns

Argues and Apologizes

Plays and Protects

Gives and Grows

Chaotic and Close

United and Unselfish

Loves and Lives

Happily Ever After

Isn’t that what we all want?  Isn’t that what God wants for us?  We should all be crafted into a family.

Peace,

John

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What Should We Do? How Should We Behave?

I am just finishing Pope Francis’ newest book – “The Name of God is Mercy”.  In the final chapter on Living the Holy Year of Mercy, he poses the following questions –

A place to sleep. (c) John M. Kingery All rights reserved

A place to sleep.
(c) John M. Kingery
All rights reserved

What should we do for the homeless man camped in front of our house?

What should we do for the poor man who has nothing to eat?

What should we do for the neighboring family who cannot make it to the end of the month due to the recession, because the husband lost his job?

How should we behave with the immigrants who survive the crossing and who land on our shores?

What should we do for the elderly who are alone, abandoned, and who have no one?

Journey With Us (c) John M. Kingery All rights reserved

Journey With Us
(c) John M. Kingery
All rights reserved

Pope Francis answers and calls us to respond.   Reach out, know how to listen, advise them, and teach them through our own experience.   By welcoming a marginalized person whose body is wounded and by welcoming a sinner who soul is wounded, we put our credibility as Christians on the line.

Over today and over the next week, pray on how you would respond to the questions Pope Francis poses and how you can be more welcoming.   After you have prayed, then each day try live out those responses aided by the Holy Spirit.

About a month ago, I met Tyner who is in the picture.  He had been sleeping on the door step at work. Our office was opening up.  I work him and noticed he had Boston Red Sox cap.  We talked about his situation.  He worked in Boston during the record setting blizzard a few years ago.  For the last three years, he has had no home.  Tyner indicated he had been told he was “housing challenged”.  A few days later he was getting into transitional housing.   I helped gather his belongings, shook his hand and we smiled as we said good bye.   I have not seen him since.  My prayer is he has found housing.

My friend Tyner. (c) John M. Kingery All Rights reserved

My friend Tyner.
(c) John M. Kingery All Rights reserved

I could not provide him housing, but I could recognize him as a human being.   Today, recognize the humanity in the marginalized in your community and reach out your hand and heart.

Peace,

John

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Flags of honor and solidarity

Flags of honor and solidarity.  (c) 2016 John M. Kingery - all rights reserved.

Flags of honor and solidarity. (c) 2016 John M. Kingery – all rights reserved.

We all aware of the tragedies that have taken place over the past 6 months in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels.   Lives have been lost and forever scarred.   We can respond with despair or resolve.

A few weeks ago after the events in Brussels, flags of state, county and city offices were taken to half mast.   I thought to myself, is there something more that could be done to honor and be in solidarity with the victims?   If government offices lower their flags, why don’t businesses and places of worship do the same?

On my lunch hour, I went to various hotels and banks in downtown Portland to see what they are doing.  Some of the establishments did have their flags at half-mast and some did not.   I am only on a single person with only so much time.

As the apostle Paul wrote – “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

Sixteen years ago, over 230 religious leaders gathered in Assisi to pray for peace.  The result was a pledge for peace.  The first declaration is:

“We commit ourselves to proclaiming our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic spirit of religion, and, as we condemn every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or of religion, we commit ourselves to doing everything possible to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.”

http://www.justiceatthetable.com/social-justice-principles/solidarity/assisi-pledge-for-peace/

Consider sponsoring 3 Days in May for flags of honor and solidarity in your communities.  The lowering of flags to half mast would take place at houses of worship, businesses and neighborhoods.   Violence affects us all.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Peace, justice, mercy and love to all,

John

 

 

 

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