Saturday, October 04, 2008

700 Billion Bailout: a Father's Letter

{With the passage of the bailout in the USA and elections looming both in the USA and Canada I share here a letter from a father to his son – perhaps it will inspire/comfort other fathers and sons. – Fr. Arthur Joseph}
Beloved Son,
First even though you are well into adulthood as a Catholic man, husband, and father – and holding your newborn third child, your second son I was once more amazed that Our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to us first as a Child – you are still my Little One and I want to quickly answer your concerns expressed today about the current economic crisis and the stress you are under trying to care for your family.
It is true the US economy is so huge the global impact of the crisis there is felt around the world, even in our own country.
It is true too this crisis is rooted in some very basic human weaknesses: greed and fear.
Politicians in both our countries seem either unwilling or incapable of truth-speaking or courage in this current generation because, I believe, while many, of various religious backgrounds but in particular those who claim to be Christian, talk the talk they seem too weak to walk the walk.
Real men are humble yet courageous, truth speaking servants of their wives, children, and community.
Real men are not perfect but strive to be good and holy, to become saints and the real tragedy which is destroying nations is the failure of men to be saints.
Real women too are humble yet courageous, truth speaking servants of their husbands and children, striving to be saints and to raise saints with their husbands, a critical way of caring for the whole global community.
As a single parent Son this is what I have striven and strive to teach you: Love is greater than fear. Love is God, our Father. Love is God our Saviour Jesus Christ. Love is God the Life-Giving, Sanctifying Holy Spirit.
Love as you know Son is our prime baptismal vocation from which flows all other dimensions of being faithful to the gift of life.
Fear is all the evil one has to offer: fear coated with lies, wrapped in deception, a death-dealing idea which if followed leads to chaos, division, hatred, abortion, war.
Yes Son you are under enormous stress in the midst of the culture of death and greed, a culture whose adherents from the poor to the workers to the stock manipulators to the politicians and even a lot of bishops and priests, religious leaders of all faiths, constantly scream: “What’s in it for me?” . Indeed it can seem only a small remnant of human beings asks: “What can I do for you?”
Nowhere in the Holy Gospel can I find a single occasion where Jesus asked: “What’s in it for me?” but numerous are the passages where one way or another He asks what someone else wants/needs. Indeed most of the time because He is Love we see Him anticipating who needs love, forgiveness, bread, water until the ultimate gift of Himself is given to us without our even asking: Himself in the Holy Eucharist, Himself as the oblation for our redemption!
Yes Son you are under enormous stress with wife and three children to feed and clothe, but especially to love when it seems you have no reserves left, and yes the covenant-sacrament companion of your life, your beloved wife, daughter of my heart, shares this stress with you and sometimes, I am sure, once the children are asleep you both may often be too tired to replenish each other the way you did before children were gifted to you.
So Little One as your Dad I have to love and respect you enough to bear your burden with you but without pretending I or anyone has a quick solution to the global crisis nor your own situation.
Certainly because I am your Father I will continue to love and support you in any way I can but I know from your letter you are not asking for a bailout – you are thankfully not part of the greedy crew from Wall Street or elsewhere – but you are asking for reassurance and hope that all will be well.
I believe for those men and women, those families, who know and trust the gift of life, all will be well – not necessarily easy nor without suffering through some very hard times, even frightening times, to come, but all will be well.
Because love is stronger than anything.
When in my youth I served as a community worker among the rural poor in the great Northern Forest, we would visit homes among the hills and valleys where there was no running water, no plumbing, no electricity, no phones, any doctor was usually hundreds of miles away and even if he had been closer before universal medical care in this country the poor could not have afforded a doctor anyway.
Some of the poor were seriously mentally ill over generations, some were alcoholics over generations, some were violent and abusive, some were just plain angry.
But – and this is crucial – the majority were, [ even in the most horrific of shacks where whole families lived in just one or two rooms ], filled with solid Catholic faith, truly loved and cared for each other as best they could.
Their ingenuity at crafting both things needed and gifts for each other for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, shows that part of love’s strength is love’s imagination.
It is amazing, for example, what the Grandfathers could do crafting a doll out of straw, how the Grandmother’s could make doll’s clothes from a flour sack, how Fathers could paint doll faces and Mother’s find a way to use old paper bags and leftover ribbons to wrap the doll so a child had a wonderful birthday.
You see Son none of those adults was asking: “What’s in it for me?”, they worked as a family to bring joy to the child.
Indeed when the Child was born first and foremost it was the poor who came to Him that night and brought Him joy!
When the ordinary American and Canadian starts asking the right question of self, when we start insisting our leaders be truly holy men and women, when as a culture we return to enhancing and protecting life rather than allowing abortion, when we rediscover life is a gift to be embraced and not a problem to be solved, when my Son we return to spending more time on our knees before God with heads bowed in humble, loving, trust and gratitude, rather than standing tense, angry, frightened looking up towards some stock-ticker or even more idolatrously towards some politician as messiah, then we will return things to their proper order: God first, my neighbour {the most proximate of whom are spouse and children} second and myself coming last.
There is no greater love as Jesus tells us than when we lay down our lives for the other.
This we too often and too narrowly hear as some heroic gesture of self-sacrifice where we embrace a type of martyr’s death to save someone’s life.
We Christians mouth the laying down of one’s life far too easily while avoiding the hard choices which REALLY entail laying down my life: putting God and neighbour first.
I tell you Son all will be well because love has clear vision, love can see both near and far, love can always find away to give bread to the person next to me and get seed to the person far away.
Love of course is absent in a culture which slaughters its unborn because the darkness is so deep blindness is hard as rock.
So, especially during these election periods, we must pray and fast the Light Himself, Love Himself, will shatter the darkness and enlighten our whole world.
Yes Son all will be well because in Pope Benedict we have the voice and guidance to rediscover God who is love, the voice and guidance to re-enact hope; all will be well because you and your wife are the generation formed by Pope John Paul the Great, you are the generation of right order, the generation of the Gospel of Life; all will be well Son because the vast majority of ordinary citizens of our two great nations are rediscovering the Gospel, are rediscovering their voice, are rediscovering life is gift and love is our reason for being alive!
All will be well Son because you are a real Catholic Man, a light of life shining in the darkness of the culture of death.
I love you Son.

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