Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent/ Christmas Reflection : 2013



The more I reflect on life, on the coming of CHRIST in history, on the comings of CHRIST in our lives, on Advent, on Christmas, and on the Second Coming of CHRIST at the end of the world, the more I see that as human beings we tend to think that JESUS comes when we are ready, when we are all prepared, and when we have everything just perfect so that He will be pleased, and "Christmas magic" makes everything all right.

But in reality JESUS came into the world, comes to us in our lives and in each day of our lives, Christmas comes, and He will come again when we are in distress, when we recognize that life and the world around us are in a mess, when we least expect Him and are almost ready to give up hope, and when we need Him the most. 

Martha Stewart was nowhere near the First Christmas.  And BABY JESUS' first place to sleep was not a cradle in Nazareth but in a manger at Bethlehem.  Until the angels heralded His coming to some simple shepherds working the midnight shift, the LORD of LIFE slipped in quietly in a lowly stable or cave in Bethlehem while everyone was preoccupied with the census of the oppressive Roman government. 

So let us not lose heart with our imperfections, the imperfection of this world, and the imperfection of our lives.  Let us not drive ourselves crazy with unrealistic expectations.  Let us, instead, acknowledge the messiness in our hearts, our lives, our homes, and the world around us and be truly poor in spirit, which means that we have come to know our need for God and cry out, "COME, LORD JESUS.  WE DESPERATELY NEED YOU!"


© Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller (Arlene Clare Muller, OSF).

Sunday, November 17, 2013


For every human being God has created He gives two great commandments: Love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and Love our neighbors as ourselves. He has endowed every human being with unique personalities, unique temperaments, unique gifts, unique talents, and He calls each to follow the vocation and purpose He has designed for him/her. There is no human life without purpose and there is no human being who is not called to make a positive difference in this world. Part of our life journey is to discover, follow and cultivate our individual vocations, for it is in our vocations and in following the LORD's plan for our lives that each of us will best use what God has given us to fulfill the two greatest commandments and make a positive difference in his world. 
Each vocation is different, and the best vocation for an individual is the vocation to which he/she has been called; to do otherwise would be disobedient. Some of us know our individual vocations early, while others seem to stumble on them and eventually embrace them, since God works in mysterious ways, or learn step by step, like following a trail of breadcrumbs, what the LORD wants us to do. The Catholic Church recognizes priesthood, religious life, marriage and the single vocation as valid, legitimate vocations in which God suits each person to best obey the two greatest commandments and use all that God has given us to make a positive difference in this world, and I believe that it is good whenever faith-filled people in a particular vocation come together to support and encourage one another, because people within the same vocation can uniquely support and encourage those who are walking in similar shoes. 
In a thread of comments in which I was trying to point out how faithful married Catholics--married deacons and lay married couples who have been married for a long time and have faithfully followed Church teaching and survived all the challenges of marriage and family life with unselfish devotion and sacrificial love--can mentor couples preparing for marriage and reinforce Catholic teaching to other married people with authenticity and be perceived as the most credible witnesses because of the testimony of their lives, someone insisted that I "failed at marriage" because I have chosen the celibate single state in which to love and serve God and love and serve people and make a positive difference in my life. 
I have not failed at marriage but I am following my personal choice and what I believe is how God has fashioned me and called me. It is true that some of my reasons for choosing singleness have to do with personal preference and are partially selfish or self-centered, but I believe that I am being faithful in my life of freedom to serve God, the Church and people in this way and that my life is "bearing good fruit". For some "bearing good fruit" is marrying, bearing and raising children who will know, love and serve the LORD. But that is not the only way. 
We need a greater respect for ALL the vocations, and the vocation of singleness, whether by specific choice or accepted and embraced at a later point in one's life journey. No vocation is a failure but a gift of God and a means of grace.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


This is what I posted on the FACEBOOK page of FOCUS ON THE FAMILY in response to a two-part program with a single woman in her 40s who is in charge of their publication BOUNDLESS about being a single woman who desires to be married and is actively seeking and waiting on the LORD for a husband.  I am tired of people whining about being single and the implication that one's life is incomplete without a spouse.  I might be a rare "unicorn", but I am very grateful and relieved that God has allowed me to have the privilege of remaining single.  So my response to FOCUS ON THE FAMILY is as follows:

I listened to most of your two part series about singleness and, although I have a lot more to say I will begin with two words, "STOP WHINING!" I would add "STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE PINING FOR A SPOUSE--FIND YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE--GOD MIGHT VERY WELL BE CALLING YOU TO THE BLESSED PRIVILEGE OF THE SINGLE VOCATION."  How about EMBRACING AND MAKING THE BEST USE OF YOUR TIME AND FREEDOM OF YOUR SINGLE STATE--it might be your vocation, or perhaps God WILL bring that special person into your life and you will marry, BUT MAKE THE BEST, MOST GODLY USE OF THE PRECIOUS TIME IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW!

Although I respect and admire people called to the vocation of marriage who are devoted to the LORD and their spouses and children and are serving God, their families and others well, as my parents have been doing for 63 years and counting, life does not revolve around whether the LORD gives you a spouse or not.  Consider whether God has another purpose for you and don't waste your time!

Perhaps I am somewhat selfish or self-centered, and I am a 60 year old happily celibate single pro-life Catholic Christian feminist who decided even before the feminist movement came into vogue that my life was NOT going to revolve around a man and that my happiness was NOT to depend on having a man in my life, so my perspective is quite different and the LAST thing I would want would be for someone to look for a "match" for me.  I am not anti-men (I respect both men and women and have both male and female friends) or anti-marriage; I believe that marriage between one man and one woman for a lifetime, faithful, committed sacramental union and the bearing, loving, and raising children has been ordained by God and is a SACRAMENT and a VOCATION and a challenging journey requiring a lot of love, commitment, effort, struggle and self-sacrifice.  It is just not a vocation for everyone.  God's will is for SOME to marry but for others to pursue other vocations, and in the Catholic Church we honor celibate priesthood, celibate consecrated religious life in community, marriage, and the celibate single vocation.  YES, I dated somewhat during my life and tried to be open to making the sacrifice of getting married if this was the LORD's will, but in the end I am relieved that the LORD has allowed me to have the blessings and freedom of the celibate single vocation. 

I personally hate housework and believe that if we collected all the time we spend doing it, this time could have been used writing the great American novel or doing something else more significant! So I can live in my "woman cave" with clutter that bothers no one and write my blog or post on FACEBOOK without being responsible for "keeping a nice home".  I am very active in the Church--I am a lector (proclaiming some of the Scriptures at Mass), a Special Minister of Holy Communion (I help distribute Holy Communion at Mass and can bring Holy Communion to people who are unable to get to Mass--currently my 84 year old Mom and 90 year old Dad have had health issues that prevent them from getting there and I can bring them Holy Communion), a choir member and involved in other Catholic music ministries, a professed member of the Secular Franciscan order (the order St. Francis of Assisi founded for lay people), and I have been involved in various prayer groups as well.  Church ministry and community are my LIFEBLOOD and this is where I find joy, fulfillment and purpose.  I have been working with preschoolers with special needs for the past ten years, so I have the privilege of loving and making a positive difference in the lives of young children without the 24/7 responsibility and the mess--I get to go home and go out as I please at the end of the work day.  When the Spirit inspires me I can sit down and write a poem, write a reflection, write a song in my own space, unencumbered and with few, if any, interruptions.  I am also an only child, and now that my parents are aging and starting to need my help and I am doing itinerant speech therapy that allows me to have flexible hours I can be available to spend time with them, cherish them and the time I have left with them, and try to give them some joy and the best quality of life that I can, with God's help.

I know that the majority of people who are single are looking to marry and that I am an exception.  I am rare in that I personally don't find marriage desirable.  But singles need to realize that if we belong to the LORD we do not need a spouse to complete us--we are complete in CHRIST.  And I believe that it was St. Augustine who said that God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  Of course, I am blessed that my parents are still alive and close to me and that I have the blessing of family, friends, Christian community and ministry.  I have found my place and purpose in life primarily through the Church.  I would encourage ALL single people--whether called to remain single or called to marry in God's time--to find happiness in the LORD, in the Church, and in cultivating and using your God-given gifts and talents to serve God and serve others.  I believe that this is where ultimate happiness lives, whether it is in the context of the home, the workplace, or the Church.  For me the single state provides me with the freedom to use my time and energy making use of my God-given gifts unencumbered by the challenges, conflicts, aggravation, mundane chores, and burdens of the vocation of marriage and demanding a lot less sacrifice.  In whatever vocation God calls us, we are called to love and serve Him and love and serve people and to use our God-given gifts for His purpose and His glory.  For many it is in the vocation of marriage, but it is not for everyone.  For me singleness is a vocation to be embraced and not merely a "holding pattern" to be "endured".

Many of your programs about the single state have been about how to find a mate, perhaps "what to do in the meantime", but none, to the best of my knowledge, have been with people who feel blessed to embrace the single state.  Perhaps you should consider this for your future programming.

(c) Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller (Arlene Clare Muller, OSF)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



This weekend I stayed at an inn in North Wales, Pennsylvania where we celebrated a baby shower for my cousin Katie—she and her husband Nick are expecting their first child—a baby girl—in October.  I chose to drive to the inn the day before the shower, stay overnight at this lovely inn, enjoy the accommodations, celebrate the baby shower, and then drive home to Queens, NY.
After a lovely evening meal at an outdoor table, accompanied by piano music (including selections from LES MISERABLES) and a walk around the grounds I went to my room and got settled. The TV didn’t have the INSP network (which I have at home via Verizon Fios), so I couldn’t watch a rerun of THE WALTONS, nor did it have a Catholic or other Christian channel or THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, and the best program I could find was the movie “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” with Julia Roberts (to whom I’d gladly love to donate 10 pounds).  I happened to tune it in when she was enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with a family in Rome, I watched the segment of her time in India, and I turned it off during the segment in Bali, partially because I was tired and needed to sleep and partially because I suspected the film would take a turn that I would not want to see. So this reflective critique is based on the segment of the film I actually watched.
I can understand that the Julia Roberts character (I don’t remember her name—was it Liz?—I remember that a character named Richard in the India segment called her “groceries” since she had a large plate of food in front of her) would experience the joy of eating in Rome, since the reputation of Italian cuisine is well known. But why would she have to leave Rome to go to India to learn to pray? I suspect that this is part of the anti-Catholic and even anti-Christian bias of many in the entertainment industry for which Eastern religions have more appeal.  Here this woman was visiting the headquarters of the Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the place where many martyrs died rather than renounce their faith, and she leaves there to go to India?
I must confess that to a certain extent her character might not learn the secret of prayer in Rome, the bustling city and seat of government of the Church with all its pomp, position, prestige, politics and bureaucracy—hopefully Pope Francis will continue as he started and renew the Church by continuing to rid it of some of its worldly external entrapments and to bring it closer to Gospel simplicity.  But why India?  Why an ashram?  She could have saved herself a lot of travel time and travel cost and gone from Rome, the government head of the Church to the HEART of the Church, which is ASSISI!  There she would have encountered the legacy of St. Francis and St. Clare, who demonstrated the way of love and the way of prayer in the One Who IS the WAY, JESUS CHRIST, and in living the Gospel, and it has been said that the holiness that permeated their lives still permeates the atmosphere of Assisi, where people are still seeking to walk in their footsteps.  Perhaps there she could have found the answer to reviving her struggling marriage in the words of the Peace Prayer attributed to our beloved St. Francis:  “where there is injury, pardon…where there is despair, hope…to understand…to love…it is in giving that we receive…”.
But instead the scene shifts dramatically to her ride in a cab from the airport to an ashram (or whatever) in India to spend time learning to meditate from a guru.  As she rides in her cab, poor beggar children are pawing at her window and she does nothing.  HELLO!  Here this woman is supposedly seeking God or seeking herself or seeking nirvana and she totally disregards JESUS in her midst in His “distressing disguise” of poor children!  One of her first assignments is to scrub the floor.  Believe me; I would not spend my money on airfare to India to scrub floors!!  I pay my CLEANING LADY to scrub my floors!  If she wanted to scrub floors, would it not have made much more sense to find an elderly or infirmed family member, friend or neighbor who needed her floor scrubbed!  At least she would then have been performing an act of charity and humble service for someone who needed her help right where she lived!  And if she really wanted to learn to pray in India, it would have been much better for her to have gone to a convent of the Missionaries of Charity—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s order—because there she could have learned the secret of praying in silence –not to “nothing” but to LOVE INCARNATE, JESUS CHRIST in the Blessed Sacrament, and to encounter Him not only in Eucharistic Adoration but in loving Him by loving service to “the poorest of the poor”. There she could have learned BOTH to PRAY and to LOVE.  And if she was interested in scrubbing floors, I am sure that they would have gladly given her the opportunity! :~ Finding God DOES involve some self-emptying, as those in Eastern religions claim, but what use is self-emptying UNLESS the end result is SELF-GIVING and in being “FILLED with the fullness of God Himself!” (See Ephesians 3:14-21).
Apparently through her prayer exercises and a friendship with a somewhat critical seeker named Richard this woman achieves a certain measure of peace.  She has some flashbacks to her married life—she still loves her husband but sadly concludes “nothing is forever”.  She recognizes the Presence of God within, but although it is good that she realizes that God is within and is not merely Someone requiring performance, she fails to recognize that God only enters where He is invited and welcomed and that God is NOT “us” but One Who lives in us to transform us into the person He created us to become—a unique individual but also a new, unique reflection of JESUS CHRIST.
In her new found peace and happiness she pets an elephant and the scene abruptly switches to Bali, where she meets another kind of teacher who seems to emphasize “balance” and she supposedly learns how to love. Since I had read that she supposedly has an affair in Bali I concluded that this segment was not worth watching.
I still don’t know if the “end result” of the film is that she has “moved on” and will officially end what had been turning into a “loveless marriage”, which would be a likely conclusion of the entertainment industry and too many people in real life—or if she discovers that it is important to invest what she has received from her lessons in eating, praying and loving in giving her marriage a second chance. Since this movie is based on a well-known book which, I believe, is a chronicle of one woman’s life experience, perhaps someday I’ll glance at the final chapter in a local bookstore.  It’s just sad that she did not encounter JESUS CHRIST and help her husband to encounter Him.  If they both had encountered JESUS CHRIST and learned to see Him in each other and put Him in the center of a sacramental marriage, then they could have endured as my parents have been doing for 63 years and counting!

Ultimately the book and film “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” shows me that the world is in desperate need of the Gospel and that we Catholics (as well as other Christians) need to pray and work harder and smarter in the task of evangelization. We already know that "the world" is "off base".  We as Church and as individual Christians are called to evangelize and we see that many people in the world are trying to get their needs--including their SPIRITUAL needs--met in "all the wrong places".  It has been said that "evangelization is one beggar telling/showing another beggar where the bread is." People are spiritually starving without JESUS CHRIST.  We need to find better ways to reach them.  We have to know something about what is going on in their hearts and reach out and give them JESUS.  Obviously we have to do this in a way that never compromises Truth or any of our doctrines or moral principles.  But how do they perceive the Church, Christ and Christians? Do they merely see us as "institution", "rules, regulations and rituals", and "Thou shalt not"?  YES, that
is part of who and what we are, but we are about so much more!  We need to give them JESUS--to show them JESUS--to help them to see JESUS as He really is--LOVE INCARNATE, MERCY INCARNATE, the GOD Who loves us so much that He came to dwell with us and share our lives, to die for our sins, to win victory over sin and death through His cross and resurrection, and the One without Whom our hearts will forever be restless until we find our rest in HIM!

© Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller (Arlene Clare Muller, SFO)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reflections on Pride vs Delight in What God Does Through Us

I believe that we are truly, genuinely, authentically GRATEFUL to God for what He has done and is doing in our lives and through us, and for the gifts He has given us and for the blessings of the opportunity to use these gifts in the Church and make the best use of these opportunities, then it is NOT PRIDE.  The ways to check pride (of which I need to remind myself) include remembering: (1) There is NOTHING that we have that we have not received from God--gifts are just that: GIFTS from God that He is free to give and take away as HE chooses. (2) The GIFTS we have received from the LORD are given to us FOR THE COMMON GOOD (1 Corinthians 12)--NOT FOR OURSELVES. (3) God can use whatever and whomever He chooses to accomplish whatever good He does. He used a donkey to get a message to Balaam.  So we can share how God has used it and is using us, as long as we remember that it is HE Who gets the glory--we are merely instruments and servants.  Since He could use a donkey, He can use us.

JESUS taught us the WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD and that we are to LET OUR LIGHTS SHINE SO THAT PEOPLE WILL SEE THE GOOD WE DO AND GIVE GLORY TO GOD. So aspire to do whatever God calls you to do without false humility. Take delight in the gifts God has given you and use them generously for the sake of the Church and wherever He has called you to use them. Just remember that the END is that people GIVE GLORY TO GOD, NOT TO US.

The temptation of pride is the temptation that leads us to believe that we are somehow better than other people and that cause us to go around pointing fingers at other people and claiming to be better than them.  It's a struggle to avoid that kind of pride.  But that is the snare Satan uses with "religious people".  A check on this temptation to pride is the expression, "THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I."

© Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller (Arlene Clare Muller, OSF).

Monday, August 12, 2013


If we examine the Gospel we will see that OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST disregarded labels and saw the heart of the person, to the consternation of many of the people around Him.  The people living in the place and time that He walked the earth were very quick to judge people by their labels and ignore that these were human beings with their own unique personalities, wounds and sins.  In those souls whom his compatriots condemned He saw human beings created in HIS image and likeness, marred and wounded by sin and "sheep without a shepherd" in dire need of His healing, forgiveness, preaching and teaching. 

The tax collectors were hated traitors who worked for the oppressive Roman rulers and often took a sizable commission that compounded the sin with their own greed and disregard for the plight of the poor, but JESUS looked at Levi, the tax collector, and he immediately left his table, came and followed JESUS, brought some of his friends with him, and became the great apostle/evangelist Matthew.  Many women of His time were caught in prostitution and adultery, but one woman saw in the eyes and heard in the words of JESUS such mercy, compassion, love & forgiveness that she came & washed His feet with her tears, and a woman caught in adultery in danger from stoning by the mob heard JESUS' words, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more."  The Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews because they were the descendants of Jewish people who had intermarried with Gentile pagans (forbidden by the Law)—most likely during the Assyrian captivity of Israel—and whose practice of Judaism was contaminated by pagan practices.  But JESUS stopped at the well and asked a woman of Samaria for a drink of water, gently confronted her sin, and she became the town evangelist saying, “Come see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done; could He not be the Messiah!”  And He told the parable of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate what loving our neighbor really means and that treating people with compassion is more important than a label and that one’s perceived “enemy” could actually be a better person than one’s kinsman.  The Gentiles in JESUS’ time were pagans who worshiped false gods and engaged in immoral practices in their worship, but JESUS delivered the daughter of the Canaanite woman and healed the servant of the Roman centurion. 

Ironically the people who wound up being the enemies of JESUS, the people who sharply criticized Him and were partially responsible for His Crucifixion, and the people for whom JESUS reserved His sharpest criticism, in contrast to His gentle compassion and forgiveness for  those who were obvious “sinners”, were the so-called “religious leaders”.  These “religious leaders” were so angry and so focused on pointing out the evils of their time and the sins of everyone around them and so self-righteous, that they forgot that they, too, were sinners in need of a Savior.  They forgot that when we point the finger at another, the rest of our fingers point in the opposite direction—back at ourselves.  They were so busy and consumed with fighting evil that they didn’t realized that some of that evil had been absorbed into their own character.  They were so caught up in protecting the “purity” of their religion by keeping not only the Law but a lot of human traditions that they made up to “protect” the Law and glorifying those human traditions that they got so angry when JESUS cast the human traditions aside for the sake of healing, mercy and compassion.  So when JESUS “violated the Sabbath” by healing the sick and those with disabilities on the Sabbath and when He ate with tax collectors and sinners not to join in their sin but to draw them back to God—“watch out, JESUS”!  The original intent of the Pharisees was good—they wanted to be holy and wanted to preserve the purity of their Jewish faith—but they got so caught up with the baggage of their human traditions and with attacking evil and pointing out the sinners that their souls became ugly with hatred and their hearts became hardened—so hardened that even the compassionate love and holiness of JESUS couldn’t reach many of them until after His Resurrection, when some were converted. 
There are many causes in our modern world in which we must engage in battle—primarily the fight to protect the unborn and others most vulnerable, the fight to protect the sanctity of marriage as ordained by God as the union of one man with one woman in a faithful, loving and chaste exclusive commitment from various forms of sexual immorality and attempts to redefine marriage to include immoral relationships, and the fight for free exercise of our faith both in worship and in our everyday lives.  But we have to be careful that in focusing so much on fighting evil we do not absorb the evil that we are trying to fight, that we don’t get so absorbed in hating the sin that we allow this to spill over into hatred for the sinner, that we get so “militant” that we fail to grow in the Gospel of peace.

There is an old wives’ tale that women who are pregnant should avoid looking at anything evil, ugly or scary or else that evil, ugliness or scariness will be transmitted to the baby she is carrying.  As Christians we are not to battle in the manner of the world, the flesh or the devil but with spiritual armor and with the power, love and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and we are to overcome evil with GOOD.  There is some truth to the notion that we become what we look upon and the object of our focus.  So if we are always focusing on what is evil and nasty, we, too, can become nasty, angry and evil.  The Pharisees got so enmeshed in preserving their human traditions and criticizing and judging the sins and infractions of those around them that they became angry, ugly, critical, judgmental hypocrites who were unable to recognize God in the flesh, our Messiah, Savior and LORD JESUS CHRIST.
In the letter to the Hebrews we are exhorted to “keep our eyes fixed on JESUS, the Author and Completer of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1).  When we keep our eyes fixed on JESUS as revealed in the Gospel and receive and adore JESUS in the Eucharist we are more inclined to emulate JESUS, to look like JESUS, to let the mind and character of JESUS shape our mind and character, and, with the grace of God received from Him through our ongoing relationship with Him, prayer, Mass and the sacraments, we gradually become conformed into His image and likeness (see Romans 8:29).
Let us, therefore, focus on JESUS and look to the Gospel.  Let the Gospel be our mirror to reveal who we most resemble.  Are we growing more into the likeness of JESUS, Who is full of love, grace, truth, mercy and compassion?  Or are we growing more into the ugliness of the Pharisees, who were so focused on finding evil in those around them and fighting infractions of their tradition that they failed to recognize the only Perfect One and became complicit in crucifying the LORD of glory?  Let us meditate on the Person of JESUS as revealed in the Gospel and commit ourselves to emulating HIS character and His mercy and tender compassion and allowing ourselves to be transformed by the Holy Spirit more and more into the image of JESUS.

© Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller (Arlene Clare Muller, OSF).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Abraham, Lawyers and Tevye

In this weekend’s Liturgy we read the account in Genesis of Abraham’s bargaining with God for the preservation of Sodom, out of love for his kinsman, Lot.  I have enjoyed reading, hearing and proclaiming this Scripture reading countless times, since I’ve been serving as a lector in my home parish since March 1974, when I was a junior at Marymount Manhattan College.
As always, my reaction is “Just gotta love Abraham!”  Although it would be centuries before JESUS, our Messiah, Savior and LORD, true God and true Man, would come to repair the breach between God and human beings and the veil of the temple that represented God as too holy and unapproachable for us to encounter one-on-one would be torn in two, Abraham’s dialogue with the LORD represents the kind of intimacy and confidence with which the LORD desires us to approach the Throne of Grace to receive mercy and favor in time of need—in needs both big and small—in EVERYTHING!  The transcendent God is also immanent, and He desires to walk with us every step of the way.
If you will notice, Abraham is confident, but he is not casual. God is not his “buddy” or “the man upstairs”. There is no doubt that Abraham has not forgotten Who God is and who he is (and we are). God is the LORD of the universe, while we are but dust and ashes.  God is Creator.  Abraham is (and we are) creature.  And still Abraham can speak with Him in his own language, can appeal to Him in his own words, can be fully himself, and can understand that the LORD is a patient listener Who is kind, understanding and compassionate, and even has a sense of humor!  So Abraham’s dialogue with God and his concern, his intercession on behalf of those he loves, and even his bargaining can be a model of how we can confidently (while never disrespectfully, irreverently or casually) come to God with everything—and even more so now that we have our Savior’s own Word for it that God is our Father and we are His beloved children.
I love to read the dialogue: it would make a great one act play!  Although out of respect for the sacred text and sacred Liturgy I refrain from imitating a Jewish accent, I do proclaim it somewhat as I imagine it to me.  As I was listening to the lector proclaim it at this evening’s Mass I could imagine that it could be not unlike one of the memorable scenes of Tevye addressing God in the wonderful musical play FIDDLER ON THE ROOF performed by MAGGIE’S LITLE THEATRE in St. Margaret’s parish last Sunday with a marvelous cast, particularly the actor who made us believe that he WAS Tevye.  And perhaps the responses from God could have come from a voice that resembled Charlton Heston of Biblical epic movie fame.
I perceive Abraham, our father in faith and the father of the Jewish people as the first Jewish lawyer, and Jewish people have excelled in the law profession ever since!  The ability to negotiate seems to be a charism generously bestowed by God on the Jewish people from the very beginning!
Abraham, the first Jewish lawyer, the father of the Jewish people (including “Tevye”), and our father in faith, is a wonderful model for us all in His approach to God in this passage. Ultimately his greatest descendant (in terms of his human origins to which St. Paul refers in his letter to the Romans), would become the greatest Mediator of all Who still serves as Mediator for us at His Father’s throne. For don’t forget that in His human origins, JESUS CHRIST, LORD of heaven and earth, Who came to save all of the human race, Jew and Gentile alike, my LORD and Savior, is Jewish.  After all, as Tevye would say, that’s what “the Good Book says”.
May the words of my lips (and pen and computer) and the meditation of my heart find favor with You, my LORD and Redeemer.  Thank you for allowing us to approach Your throne with confidence and naturalness, as we truly are, to receive mercy and grace in all our needs and the needs of those You have placed upon our hearts.  AMEN.

(c) Copyright 2013 by Arlene B. Muller, OSF.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Plea for Balance and Conversion

I will probably irritate both my friends on the "right" and on the "left", but I am a strongly pro-life, level-headed, hope-filled Catholic Christian American who believes in God, in the Truth of God's words and in our nation's founding principles in the Judaeo-Christian ethic.

Yes, I believe that Americans made a mistake in re-electing Barack Obama, and it is clear I have NEVER been and NEVER WILL BE one of his supporters, because of his extreme pro-abortion agenda, his ties to Planned Parenthood, his threat to our religious freedom, his support for the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, his "tax and spend" economic policies and extravagant personal spending at taxpayer expense that add to our spiraling national debt and perpetuate the cycle of dependence upon government assistance, and his position that it is the role of government to redistribute wealth.

I believe that only God truly knows his heart, his intentions, and all the motives behind his behavior. I do not believe that it is his intention to be a dictator like Hitler or the antichrist, even though I believe that his continuation of his policies could put us further down the slippery slope of the culture of death. I believe that it is more likely that he is guided by political expediency, misguided compassion, and spiritual blindness. He believes in the "quick fix"--hand out money (which has to be done for the short term, but we need more effective long term solutions), promote birth control and abortion (he only sees the need of the woman in a crisis pregnancy but not the humanity of the unborn baby who also is a person in need of protection and he sees fewer births as a solution to poverty and birth control and abortion rather than chastity as the means), and appeasement as a means of reconciliation and peace (we need to avoid violence and war whenever possible, but the solution is NOT to APPEASE TERRORISTS--he forgets what happened when Neville Chamberlain tried to appease Hitler).

I do NOT believe that he is in any way responsible for the acts of deranged human beings in recent shootings except in a very limited, distant way of perpetuating a culture of death--if we de-value human life in any area, it adds to the lack of respect for the sanctity of human life for anyone in our culture. These killings were the acts of troubled, deranged individuals influenced by the power of evil--not by Obama and not by our government. I believe that action to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of criminals and crazed individuals is one of the necessary constructive actions in trying to stop this kind of violence, along with promoting greater respect for ALL human life, providing better diagnosis and treatment and, when necessary, confinement in mental hospitals, for potentially violent mentally ill people for as long as necessary, and a end or at least curbing the violence in all forms of media (film, TV, music, computer games, video games) and that this is Obama's intent--NOT the desire to take over the government and render citizens helpless. I do not believe that an executive order is the way to go--I believe that executive orders can be an abuse of power--but that it should be via an act of Congress not to ban all guns but to enact legislation that would help America to a better job at preventing these tragedies.

I believe that speculation about his citizenship and eligibility is just that--mere speculation--and it is unproductive. Regarding alleged "election fraud"--this has happened before, probably more than we realize, in previous elections. This, too, is speculation and unproductive.

What do we do now? This is America with a two party system, a strong Constitution, and a strong Bill of Rights. This is NOT Nazi Germany. We still have various legitimate forms of legal and political recourse, so we don't need to stockpile guns or consider civil war or secession or other forms of paranoia! So we need to make use of the constructive means available to us to keep America good, strong and free. We are also a nation in which a significant percentage of citizens believe in God, in the Judaeo-Christian ethic, and the power of prayer. We need to keep a close watch of what is going on in our nation and in the world and make use of opportunities to petition and contact our Congressional representatives and use our freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly to make our voices heard. We need to support the legal process in our courts and organizations like American Center for Law and Justice who fight threats to our religious freedom. And we need to pray and repent for our personal sins and the sins of our nation. A morally strong nation centered in God and His Word that worships God rather than the "almighty dollar", that demonstrates compassion for the poor and oppressed and that avoids lust and sloth is a nation that is less likely to be taken over by dictators. A morally weak, self-indulgent nation that forgets God and engages in all sorts of immorality and that fails to respect the sanctity of all human life is a nation that has made its vulnerable. So we need to pray and repent. Each day pray that God will turn us back to Him and the Gospel of life and away from the slippery slope of the culture of death. For better or worse, God allowed the American people--whether rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly--to re-elect Obama, so let us pray fervently for his conversion and let us pray for God's wisdom to help us discern the difference between necessary pragmatic compromise and inexcusable moral compromise. Let us work hard to restore respect for ALL human life, from conception through natural death and reverse the downward spiral toward the culture of death, because a nation with a strong respect for all human life will NOT turn into a nation like Nazi Germany.

We need to trust God and cooperate with HIS work in our lives and in our country and support godly leaders. If we cooperate with God and seek to follow His will, He will never abandon us and He will help us to grow into what we seek to be "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We also need to try to put aside our petty differences and encourage all who believe in the essential values of the Judaeo-Christian ethic, regardless of our denomination, to work together, because as a united front we can defeat the evils of the culture of death, moral relativism, communism and fascism. "United we stand; divided we fall". God bless America!