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“I don’t care if it rains or freezes as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus ridin’ on the dashboard of my car.” These lyrics, from the song “Plastic Jesus” by Eddie Marrs, are meant to denigrate those who depend upon the outward symbols of faith to get them through tough times. People of faith use these signs not as a rabbit’s foot or lucky charm, but rather as a reminder of someone to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance.
There are certain events, celebrations or occasions in our lives when the good feelings and rightness of actions are intermingled with the powerful interactions of those involved. This presents a situation which is so tangible that one uses the expression, “I wish I could bottle this.” The expression emphasizes that, at some time in the future when things are not so great, we could use a shot of this emotional vitamin to aid us in our sense of dismay.
Last Sunday in Luke’s Gospel, the disciples of Jesus ask Him to teach them how to pray. There was a signature to the prayer that they were seeking. It’s not that the disciples weren’t praying. Rather, it’s that they wanted to pray the way Jesus would direct them. They wanted His mark on their prayer.
Yesterday was the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. I have often said to young women who take the name of St. Mary Magdalene for their confirmation, “Do you know she really loved Jesus?”
There is a saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” A segment on the popular TV show, “The Twilight Zone,” depicted a young woman who was seeking plastic surgery. Interestingly, one might immediately jump to the conclusion that she is horribly disfigured. Throughout the episode, one never sees the faces of the doctors or the nurses. When the bandages are finally removed from the young woman, what is revealed is a stunning beauty, and it is then that the faces of the doctors and nurses surrounding her are uncovered – disclosing hideous individuals whose faces are pig-like and horribly disfigured. What we perceive as “beautiful” may not always be shared by others. This can explain many actions and decisions made by individuals for the pursuit of that elusive pearl of great price. There is another saying that “one man’s treasure is another man’s junk.”
I must admit that when it comes to technology, I am definitely behind the curve. Although my family was one of the first to have a television set in the neighborhood, we were one of the last to have a color TV.
Happy Fourth of July! I love the family picnics, the parades and the patriotic songs. In addition, on the morning of July 4 at 8 a.m. at St. Eugene Parish in Fox Point, I will be celebrating Mass with parishioners. We will be praying in thanksgiving for the gift of this country. We will also remember the sacrifices made by past generations to insure that the Spirit of ’76 continues. We sometimes forget it was the struggles of past generations that produced the benefits of today.
The diocese, clergy and people of Madison are excited about the selection of their new shepherd, as well they should be. Bishop Hying is a proven bishop whose pastoral skills and commitment to the Church are well-known. When a diocese transfers leadership, it is like a new beginning. Former Robert C. Morlino of Madison, who died suddenly, worked tirelessly to form a strong clergy and staff dedicated to the Church, unafraid of the witness to the Church. Bishop Hying inherits competent and skilled individuals who are willing to work with him to take the diocese forward, meeting the challenges and encouraging the faithful to grow in holiness. One can receive an insight into the direction of Bishop Hying’s leadership style in the motto that he chose when becoming a bishop, “Caritas Numquam Excidit” (love never fails). There was a touching moment when he revealed a tender moment of his father and him at the bedside of his dying mother when she asked them, “Did I love you enough?” Of course she did, but that’s the question Bishop Hying was posing to us in the congregation – “Do we love Jesus enough?”
The past celebration of Father’s Day reminds us of the importance of those male role models in our lives. Fathers come in all shapes, sizes and colors – and, of course, all different depths of spirituality.
Ignite, Renew and Energize: These were the three words I used in my Pentecost homily to end the 2014 Synod titled “A New Pentecost.” It’s difficult to assess the total effect of the Synod, but I can tell you it was a tremendous success.