Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for December 2017: For the Elderly

A people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well has no future! The elderly have wisdom. They are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people. Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.


God vs. Your Financial Planner

As a financial planner, I encourage people to take control of their finances and plan for their future. I often wonder if this contradicts my faith, which teaches us to entrust our lives to God. Matthew 6:26 tells us that our Father will provide for our needs. Jesus Himself calls us to trust: “No one can snatch you out of my Father’s hand.”

When we take control of our finances, we develop a plan for everything –we determine how much we need to set aside in our 401(k) and IRAs so we can retire comfortably, develop a budget so we can save for a house or a vacation, buy insurance to protect our loved ones from unexpected events, etc. Numerous studies have shown that a comprehensive financial plan helps working families build more wealth, reduce debt, and achieve at least one financial goal.

However, Ignatian spirituality teaches us detachment, where we accept whatever life presents. Having a financial plan necessitates we take control, while our spirituality invites us to surrender to the future that God has prepared for us.

Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that these approaches are not contradictory and that they in fact reinforce each other.

God encourages us to work. Proverbs 6: 6-11 commends the ant that stores food in the summer even without an overseer, in contrast with a lazy man who does nothing and comes to poverty. In the parable of the talents, Jesus alludes to God’s appreciation of putting our talents, gifts, and resources to work, so they may grow. Just like we take care of our own health and visit the doctor regularly, we need to take care of our personal finances, so we can be better stewards of our money.

At the same time, Jesus tells us we are not to worry about anything. The Bible is filled with verses reminding us to not be afraid. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD in Jeremiah 29:11:, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This establishes God’s good plan for all of us.

We all have life goals. However, as we seek God in our daily lives, we develop an awareness that we do not need to achieve our life goals in order to be happy. We can be happy now, with the gifts and graces that God has bestowed upon us. We can simply view our life goals as preferences. It would be nice to go on a vacation in Paris, for instance. But if we cling on to them too much and believe that achieving them is necessary for our happiness, then we risk becoming enslaved by them.

When we turn to God to fill the void inside us, our urge to splurge on things we don’t need is reduced. When our hearts are filled with gratitude for the gifts we receive each day, we stop comparing ourselves to our co-workers’ latest car acquisition. When we spend less, it makes it easier to work towards giving 10% of our income to our church or charities. When we live a simple life, it frees up the clutter and helps us focus on the things that matter most.

When we develop a financial plan and organize our financial lives, our energy is redirected from worrying about and scrambling for money to helping others and discerning how God is calling us to serve.

I believe all of us need to take steps to get our finances in order. But, more importantly, we need to lift all our efforts up to God and surrender to the future that He has in store of us.

Alvin Carlos is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Chartered Financial Analyst at District Capital Management. He is a parishioner at Holy Trinity in Washington, DC, a Jesuit parish. He practices Ignatian Spirituality and is currently undertaking the Spiritual Exercises.


Guadalupe’s Legacy, Meaning, and Influence Today

Millennial writer Nichole Flores writes:

As I was growing up in a Mexican-American family, Guadalupe was everywhere, but most notably in the face of my grandmother, María Guadalupe García Flores. A humble woman without much formal education, her faith guided her as she raised 12 children amid immense poverty in rural Nebraska. My grandmother embodied a distinctly Guadalupan presence: prayerful, patient, joyful and strong. Whether nurturing a child, a friendship or a garden, she knew how to help things grow. In her habits of magnifying the Lord and lifting up the lowly, she emulated Guadalupe by illuminating God’s pervasive beauty and good news to the poor. It was my grandmother’s witness to beauty and justice that led to my own fascination with Guadalupe. Beginning with the presentation I made in seventh grade about my family’s history and continuing in my academic research in theology and ethics, I have longed to know more about my grandmother’s namesake and what her symbol means for the church and the world.

Indeed, the world has taken notice of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her image can be found everywhere: at gas stations and train stations, at bars and on border fences, on cars and in cathedrals. For Mexican-Americans, especially, life has long been imbued with her presence, and Mexican people inspired by her ethos. Whether one encounters her image at a bus stop, a chapel or a public monument, Guadalupe is inevitably accompanied by disagreements about the meaning of her symbol. Her image has been emblazoned on protest banners for the United Farm Workers and leveraged as a logo for Banamex, the second largest bank in Mexico. Catholic pro-life groups invoke her as a symbol of their cause, her image prominent on rosary beads and protest signs on the National Mall during the annual March for Life.

Latin American and feminist theologians, artists, and writers have reimagined the sedate and obedient Virgin as an ordinary woman experiencing the joys and challenges of sexuality, work and motherhood as exemplified by Yolanda López’s “Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe.” López portrays Guadalupe as a young woman running, a middle-aged woman working at a sewing machine and an elderly woman in a seated position. Each portrait emphasizes the beauty and particularity of ordinary women while using elements of the Guadalupe image to accentuate a particular dimension of Our Lady. The range of values and visions mapped onto her image reveal her contested meaning for Catholicism, culture and the common good.

And what she means matters, as Guadalupe’s symbolism has urgent significance for the future of the church. Latina and Latino Catholics comprise an increasingly large share of Catholics in the United States, representing a majority of millennial generation Catholics (54 percent, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops). At the same time, the percentage of Latino and Latina Catholics far exceeds the percentage of Latino deacons, priests and bishops. Culturally competent clergy are needed to serve the U.S. church. These demographic realities raise concerns about the church’s capacity to meet the pastoral needs of the Latino faithful. Understanding the power of Guadalupe can help the larger church understand the Latino Catholic population. And an understanding of Guadalupe must be rooted in an understanding of her history….

Many U.S. parishes have welcomed images of Guadalupe into their sanctuaries. Others have welcomed her to sit in their pews. But is the church in the United States ready to let Guadalupe lead? If so, the church stands to benefit from the presence of her comfort, strength, nurture, empowerment, beauty and love of justice. As Guadalupe’s presence continues to proliferate across the United States, she calls upon the church to respond to the presence of Latinas in a unique way. She comes offering not only spiritual comfort but also ecclesial empowerment. She comes not only for prayerful devotion but also for public action. She comes not to orient women to men but to orient women to Jesus Christ. On her feast day, La Virgen de Guadalupe gestures toward the future of the American church, one where women are not passive objects in the pews but empowered leaders whose full range of gifts is cherished by the church.

You can read the full article here.



Quote of the Day

After failing to say ‘Rohingya’ in Burma (despite using the term in the past), today in Bangladesh, Pope Francis said, “The presence of God today is also called Rohingya.” Meeting with Rohingya refugees, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the world’s indifference to their persecution.


Can We Stop Sexual Harassment and Abuse When Most Men Habitually Objectify Women with Pornography?

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the numerous reports of sexual harassment and assault that followed, our nation is engaging in an ongoing conversation about the culture of complicity that allowed such predatory behavior to continue unabated. Over the next few months, we are bound to see (thankfully) many articles describing the pervasive nature of this culture of complicity in other industries (the music industry, service industry, etc.). All of this will hopefully lead to structural changes through enacting laws, policies, rules, and customs specific to those industries. But sexual assault and harassment is a cultural problem, not merely an industry problem, and I fear that focusing on specific industries alone will fail to address the wider culture of complicity, as it exists in society as a whole.

Guilt is an uncomfortable feeling that humans try to avoid, and focusing on sexual harassment in specific industries allows people who are not part of that industry to ignore their own involvement in the wider culture of harassment. Someone who is not in the entertainment industry can easily say, “If I were there, I would have said something. I would not have ignored the obvious predatory behavior,” without recognizing the myriad ways that most people already accept the sexual degradation and harassment of women. In our national conversation surrounding these scandals, although we have sought out hidden contributors to this abusive culture, we have avoided one elephant in the room: porn. Read More


Another Display of Trump’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry and Comfort with Fascism

via Washington Post:

President Trump on Wednesday shared three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos on Twitter posted by a far-right British activist, drawing backlash from across Britain, including a sharp rebuke from the British prime minister’s office.

The videos — whose authenticity could not be independently verified — were first shared by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, which bills itself as a political party but has been widely condemned as an extremist group that targets mosques and Muslims.

Britain First has previously posted a number of misleading videos, and the three Trump shared were provocatively titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” “Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”

Fransen, 31, who lives in a London suburb, was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in November 2016 after abusing a woman wearing a hijab.

Fr. James Martin, SJ responded:

I’m not a political person by nature, but I must say this: It is disgraceful that President Trump has retweeted images of Muslims committing violent acts and desecrating Christian statues. You could just as easily find videos of Christians doing equally reprehensible acts. It is a base attempt to make Muslims into the “other,” which is precisely the tactic taken by Nazis towards the Jews, and by all such regimes that seek to increase division and foment hatred. By making a person or group into the “other” and further dehumanizing them, it makes exclusion of these groups, and violence against them, more “acceptable” since they are gradually seen as not truly “like us” or even truly “human.” It is also deeply unchristian. Because for Jesus there was no “us” and “them.” And there was no one who is considered the “other.” Finally, it is manifestly sinful, because it tramples on the dignity of individuals and groups, increases the misery of minorities and stirs up hatred, violence and, ultimately, leads to death.

Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star reminds us that this is not the first display of Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry, tweeting:

– Trump has been an open anti-Muslim bigot since the beginning of the campaign. He has uttered or shared at least six separate fake stories about Muslims. 1/

– Trump has: – Made up fake story about Muslims not reporting San Bernardino killers – Made up fake story about Pershing massacre with bullets dipped in pig blood – Made up fake stories about refugees being ISIS – Made up fake story about a terror attack “last night in Sweden” 2/

– Falsely claimed botched Manila robbery was terror attack – Now shared fake video of not-Muslim hurting Dutch kid 3/3

Brendan Cox, whose wife, MP Jo Cox, was murdered by someone who shouted “Britain first,” tweeted:

Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.

Jonathan Chait notes the impact on the GOP:

Since he emerged as a national candidate, Donald Trump has collapsed the political and ideological space between the Republican Party and the fascist right. The latest manifestation of this change is Trump’s retweeting a series of snuff videos by Jayda Fransen, leader of the far right Britain First Party….

It would be inaccurate to suggest that the Republican Party is on the main a fascist party. The bulk of Republicans are, as they have been for a generation, primarily dedicated to reducing regulation of business and taxation on the wealthy. Trump has aligned that long-standing orientation with a new openness to fascist and nakedly racist politics.