Thursday, March 16, 2017

THE UNEXPECTED JOURNEY


                                               

Yesterday, during the prayers for the dead, a section of each Holy Mass before the Our Father, a beloved-priest monk, deceased some years ago, a dear friend, retreat-master and someone with whom I often exchanged letters filled with spiritual richness – from him I stress – came powerfully anew to my heart and I reflected with come confidence that he is face to face with the Beloved of his life.

After Mass, however I realized I am now deep into, perhaps further along than I suspect, an unexpected journey.

About to face, sometime in the future, as yet totally unknown to me, of not just the journey’s end, but the final stage of a battle I have been engaged in for over seventy years!

In many ways the entire journey through life, what is actually a pilgrimage to the Absolute, is, if not purely an unexpected journey, certainly a journey filled with, sometime fraught with, the unexpected.

From the moment in chronological time the Holy Trinity breathes life into us, with the cooperative love of a man and a woman, who co-create new life with the Trinity, we have begun the journey.

The first door we pass through, the first complete stage of the journey is through the door from within our mother’s heart and womb out into the birth-reality from the, as it were, enclosed universe within her, into the ever-expanding universe from life at home, to life away from home, on a planet itself but one place within an even greater universe.

Change, movement, experience, growth, aging, joys, tears, success, failure, love, love lost, hopefully found again, the ebb and flow of friendships and perhaps encounters with enemies – yes the journey is one of constant discovery, of learning, of choosing.

For we human beings created in the image and likeness of God with the immortal soul breathed into us, our body, with its senses, mind, will, imagination, emotions, is not the sum of being:  being is who we are, mindful the soul gives form to the body and the body itself is a temporary abode.

We are in a sense nomads on the journey carrying the ‘tent’ of our bodies wherever we go.

For us then death is but the final and greatest doorway which when passed through allows us to step into the reality of true being, into an immensity greater than the entire created universe, a place of no more tears, neediness, nor lack of love and beauty because it is our true home, which is the place of everlasting communion of love with the Holy Trinity: the real purpose of our being.

That said these more than seventy years death and I have been in a battle wherein mostly I have used my wits and energies, and since ordained, my priestly power to frustrate death at every turn.

I realize now that death at some point, I know not when exactly, will turn and no longer flee from me the pursuer but will come towards me and this time – though I admit as yet I lack enough faith and trust to do so – I will stop, stand, wait and, if granted the grace of absolute faith and trust, surrender to death’s embrace, confident the embrace is not my being overcome or destroyed, rather death’s embrace is actually the door being flung open!

Two passages come to mind at this juncture. The first from the Holy Gospel:

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? [cf. Mt.16:24-26]

And from St. Paul:

Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. [2 Tim. 1:8-10]

There sure are lots of ‘heroic’ ways to deny ourselves and some are called to do so, such as those who voluntarily give up all the security of marriage, family etc., to embrace the monastic, religious, priestly life.

However, I would argue the true heroic way is to embrace what Jesus is asking by being faithful to the duty of the moment, as moms do when their baby needs to be fed at two in the morning, as dad’s do when going to work each day, what they both do at day’s end by giving the children all the attention they need during supper and bedtime rituals. THAT is self-denial in spades!

Self-gift to other, in marriage, parenthood, priesthood, in military service, policing, teaching, shelf-stocking in a grocery store, etc., etc. – the fullness of what Christ asks is not to be found in any particular vocation or profession, rather it is within our vocation/profession living out the simple principle: God first, the other second and I am third.

This is also how we live out what St. Paul is asking through the strength we get from God: when it seems we are just way too fried to carry on, way too ‘giving’ empty to spare another drop, we can draw upon the strength of the very grace Jesus asked for in the Garden: “Not my will but Yours be done”, the grace of strength is the very grace we ask in the Our Father: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Again, it has taken more than seventy years of the unexpected journey for me to barely begin to embrace the above, much less live it out!

Death, in my experience through most of my life, is a sneak, a thief, arbitrary, sometimes cruel, occasionally as unexpectedly quick with the speed of a striking snake, at other times lingers for no apparent reason, and throughout human history is often in league with pandemics, warmongers and terrorists and not infrequently a co-conspirator with people who hate.

That said my first experience of this sneakiness of death was when I was a small child just after the war, during family supper when suddenly my Grandmother moaned, clutched her chest and fell to the floor.

She was dead.

In those days, deceased family were waked in the home and so within hours there she was in the open casket, cold, stiff to the touch and my battle with death had begun – death the sneak, death the quick, death the thief.

Within seemingly quick succession over the next couple of years my Great Uncle, who in many respects was dead in body and spirit from his First World War wounds, was gone, quickly at the end, and then my Grandfather, with him death lingered cruelly and his death filled me with both anger and a grief, I admit, which sometimes these sixty plus years later still pains.

First in the newspapers, then in magazines, and books, in the years immediately after the Second World War, pictures of the concentration camps, and the victims of death’s abode piled like tossed debris, as well as pictures of emaciated survivors, men, women, children, were rather common both because of the Nuremburg trials, and because everyone was trying to do the impossible: understand how this could have happened.

I remember my first perusal of a book about the camps, likely I was by then five or six and already possessed with a mind of keen observation, analysis and memory. I asked the Aunt whose home I was visiting: why the people were naked, that it was wrong for people to have their picture taken when they had no clothes on.

She gently re-opened the book which I had slammed shut in disgust and explained things to me.

This did two things within me: made me from then on fiercely opposed to war, discrimination, hatred and made me see death even more as the enemy.

Some years later death as the cruel co-conspirator with disease was brought home to me and seared me deeply emotionally during the polio epidemic.

Many children, including classmates, died, and an awful lot of those afflicted ended up in what were called iron lungs.

I remember when we were given the polio vaccine after the epidemic sensing this battle death had now lost!

When I was sixteen the seductive sneakiness of death tried to overpower me.

I was working, having left home two years before, high in the rafters of a barn replacing the rotted boards of a catwalk and could look down from my perch, through the immense and empty hayloft, it was the beginning of summer and the cattle were on pasture, down all the way to the cement floor and this idea took hold, telling me how easy it would be just to let myself fall and then all the adolescent angst, the pain, the confusion, the disenchantment with life would be over.

At the time, when eventually I completed the job and got down to the barn floor the normal way, by the ladders, I had no idea why I did not let myself fall, did not surrender to death.

Today I know it was grace.

Not a grace I was consciously aware of or said a clear yes to at the time, but a grace nonetheless.

The grace of the power of the constitutive passion to live placed in all of us at our creation.

In life each moment of each day is preparation for life forever with Him, if in each moment, no matter the particular pain or darkness, we choose life!

As we know the repercussions of WWII rippled throughout the remainder of the 20th century with a seemingly endless series of civil wars and revolutions from China to Iran, extending even into the 21st century, as well what became known as proxy wars extended from Korea to  Vietnam to Afghanistan; civil rights movements and other struggles, sometimes indirectly, sometimes deliberately, increased assassinations of political and civil rights leaders, opponents of oppressive regimes; plagues from AIDS to Zika unfolded along with terrorism from the Red Brigades to Al Qaeda to ISIS, while even today famine is death’s chariot to move among whole nations.

Within such chaos comes another type of death: that of rational morality, common sense and social cohesion unravels.

There are today, since the end of the 20th century fewer democratic governments around the world, a growing gap between rich and poor, an angry clamoring for ‘rights’, without an equal voice for personal responsibility, and finally people who actually believe and practice, for example their Catholic faith, are becoming a remnant, while others gather on the edges as either extreme fundamentalists or as cafeteria Catholics.

In religions without a solid base of central wisdom and guidance, such as Catholics have in the person of the Pope, extremists misuse sacred texts to justify their death-dealing angry illusions.

Our greatest concern should not be the debated impact on climate by human activity, rather it should be the persistent de-humanizing of the human family, a far greater and more immediate unfolding of death with the spread of abortion, euthanasia, the dismantling of the family as a sacred relationship between a man and woman and the children issued from their love.

I will admit I went through a period overly influenced by the above matters and did not lose but decidedly rejected and walked away from Catholic faith and praxis.

It was in the midst of those dark years, before my conversion  of return to Catholic faith and practice, that death showed me its cruelty and claim to power in the work I was doing, always I might add on the graveyard shift.

No irony there!

One night the homicide detectives asked everyone on that shift to find time to go to the morgue and see if we could recognize, as a person with a name, a body dragged out of the river.

Since my own duty required me, while on patrol, to answer calls across the whole city it was not until two in the morning that I had time to respond.

There in the morgue was the body of a young man, perhaps in his mid-twenties, who had been severely tortured before being executed.

I stood there, not able to make an identification, but lingering, wondering if a mother or father, a wife or children, a lover or friend was wondering where he was, what had happened to him?

It seemed to me, as anger welled within me about the way humans cooperate with death in the brutal way this man’s life had been taken, that maybe death was too powerful, maybe I should stop trying to beat death.

Then, inside of my mind or heart or…….somehow I heard yet not hearing as in when someone else is speaking, but heard in a depth of my being I’d been ignoring for decades: “You will remember him in your first Mass and pray for his soul and he will be granted peace.”

Terrified, I fled the morgue.

Fifteen years later during my ordination Mass I remembered him, prayed for him, and continue do so each anniversary of my ordination for more than thirty years already.

During my years serving as a parish priest, as is true for all priests, death and I met often: in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, family homes, at scenes of highway accidents.

The prescribed prayers of the Church within the Sacrament of the Sick administered to the dying make it clear death’s victory is illusory for Christ is greater, the same within the prayers for the deceased during the wake and funeral Mass where the emphasis is that life has not ended but changed, changed because Christ IS risen!

While intellectually I believed all the truth Jesus and the Church teach about the resurrection of the body and life forever in communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity, deep within my being there remained doubt.

Until one year when I was on sabbatical I was able to participate in a Byzantine liturgy commemorating the burial of Christ.

 
Known in Greek as the Epitaphios this, and similar, cloth icons are very sacred and used throughout the extended Vespers of Good Friday.

At the end of Vespers, as I experienced it almost twenty years ago, four acolytes held the icon high enough that, led by the bishop and priests, followed by the congregation, we processed under it, having to bend low, as if to enter the tomb in which Christ was buried.

But unlike the enclosed tomb, we came out on the other side!

My entire being experienced, finally without doubt or hesitation, the truth of entering death with, in, through Christ as the unexpected final steps of the journey.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" [1 Cor. 5:55]

In the late 90’s Jean Vanier gave the lectures in the CBC Massey Lectures Series, which talks were eventually published in a book called BECOMING HUMAN: “We human beings are all fundamentally the same. We all belong to a common, broken humanity. We all have wounded, vulnerable hearts. Each one of us needs to feel appreciated and understood; we all need help.”

That word from Jean Vanier serves me as a reminder this unexpected journey will someday be not the symbolic bending, entering, emerging from a liturgical gesture of death, burial, resurrection, but the actual entering and emerging.

Therefore I, and all the elderly, must embrace a humble willingness to risk others, the younger, stronger in particular, seeing our brokenness, woundedness, vulnerability, neediness and reach out for any help needed.

It also means, in union with the often rejected and lonely Christ, peacefully accepting the response to our need may not be instantaneous.

If we love those we need, then we will trust their love in return and be patient.

Jesus tells us: Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…….So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. [cf. Mt.24:42&44]

However, there is no need to fear the last footsteps of the journey for Jesus promises us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [cf.Jn.14-16]

At journey’s end, in the most unexpected moment, we will not be alone, He will be with us.











 



                                               

Monday, February 20, 2017

NOT MY PRESIDENT!


                                                           

In my plus seventy years of life I have lived under 7 Popes, 2 Monarchs, 11 Governor Generals, 14 Prime Ministers and during the same period the United States has had 14 Presidents.

Except for the Popes, the Monarchs, the Governor Generals, [the Popes we believe and trust are chosen by the Holy Spirit, the Monarchs are hereditary, the Governor Generals appointees of the reigning monarch, and like the monarch herself forbidden constitutionally to meddle in politics or be partisan], Prime Ministers and Presidents are creatures of the people.

In other words, democratically elected, of differing political persuasions and thus vulnerable in a radically different way to public opinion than those others mentioned such as popes.

When it comes to Prime Ministers of Canada I am batting 50/50 so half the time my choice has been elected and mostly I have been pleased by how they have governed the country. With the ones, I did not vote for, including the current office holder, I have been/am, decidedly disappointed.

However, it has never occurred to me to go around and declare that the duly elected prime minister is not mine, nor have I ever experienced tens of thousands of Canadians, from the very night of the election and continuing virtually unabated post-election, filling the streets and declaring: NOT MY PRIME MINISTER!

Feelings can/do run deep in this country when it comes to political parties, of which we have usually at least four in parliament, but there is also a deep sense that, if you will, ‘this too shall pass’, because there is always another election.

What I, and people around the world, are observing happening in the United States is not only dangerous for the future of the republic but allows authoritarian regimes around the world, and worse terror groups, to point to the chaos and argue it reveals a fundamental weakness in democratic countries, namely that when push comes to shove the people who see themselves as on the losing side neither respect the results nor the new head of government, actually in the USA, the new head of state since both aspects are in the one presidential office.

The Second Vatican Council in its document on the Church In The Modern World stresses the need for community, participation in same, and the development of what is commonly called politics noting that the political community exists for the common good, stressing then that the resulting state/government which results itself must be directed towards the common good and that we as citizens must obey – so long as the government does not abuse its authority. [cf. op. cit. para 74]

The latter of course – abuse of authority – unless as blatant as happens in non-democratic societies – can be very subjective, hence the importance of transparency in government and of a free press and the absolute protection of freedom of speech.

Pope Francis stressed in his speech to congress during his visit to the United States that everyone in every country has a mission which is both personal and social and stressed that “A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all is members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people.” [Sep.24.15]

In many countries citizens and even legislative assemblies ever since the recent American election have been extremely vocal in their attitude towards the current President – leaving one to wonder how those people and governments would feel if Americans were trashing their head of state or government?

Human history is a long and not yet completed journey from the autocracy of tribal leaders, to kings, until finally, starting with the Magna Carter, little by little the difficult, and at times very bloody, process of representative government began to take root and still we have not achieved its full, and necessary, potential.

Unless we learn anew some basic principles of democracy and communal living we will regress, perhaps so far back truly democratic societies will if not disappear, certainly be in extreme peril.

I will note the first principle last.

The second principle is to honour the fact everyone else has the same right to choose for whom they vote, for which party, as I do and the Golden Rule applies here. IF there are legitimate, objective concerns post an election about the way the elected are leading the country or legislating then the right to protest, sacrosanct as it is, MUST be exercised with peaceful respect and avoiding words and actions which divide rather than unite.

The third principle is to temper extremism when it comes to freedom of speech. When, be they university students or members of a political action group, make it impossible by shouting or rioting for someone or some group to speak because their ideology is objected too then those shutting down that speech are, frankly, liars when they assert belief in free speech – in truth what they mean is ‘my speech’ alone is allowed.

Such antics increase the angry division-wounds in democratic societies and if the current trend continues we will be walking ever closer to increased totalitarianism, perhaps not immediately, but inevitably, of government or certain segments of the population who are no different than those historical groups of the past who marauded by night wearing white sheets.

Here, most critically the American media, also that of other countries, not to mention the so-called social media, which as a blogger I am a tiny part of – all who use modern forms of communication need to temper adjectives and rash ad hominem statements.

Classic media – newspapers, radio, television – seem to spend less time reporting factual events and more time rounding up panels of so-called experts to blather on about the foibles and outrages of the current President, thereby exacerbating the ever deepening, and dangerous, divisions within the society which has not yet truly healed from their civil war of more than a century ago.

Those of us who use social media likewise have a common-good responsibility to fact check what we write and to assure while exercising the free speech right of dissent to do so in language that is tempered by charity.

Now the first principle: Then Jesus said to them, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." [Mk. 12: 17]

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honour to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. [1Pt.2:13-17]

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. [Rm. 13:1,2]








Saturday, February 04, 2017

HATE MUCH?


                                                                  

Several years ago news came out about the discovery of human remains at the bottom of a deep rock shaft in Spain.

Some thirty skeletons were found, with clear indications of murder.

The remains have been dated as being some 400,000 years old.

In his book, HOMO DEUS, Yuval Hararai notes that: “From the Stone Age to the age of steam, and from the Arctic to the Sahara, every person on earth knew that at any moment their neighbours might invade their territory, defeat their army, slaughter their people and occupy their land.”

Perhaps those thirty human beings, whose remains were found in Spain, died in such an invasive battle, or perhaps they simply belonged to the wrong tribe or clan or worshipped some deity not accepted by their killers.

While certainly in the 20th century we experienced wars on a massive scale, of the type Hararai speaks of, within those wars the greatest acts of hatred-murder were committed by the Nazis in the death camps, and only since the Second World War have we discovered irrefutable evidence of other mass murders such as throughout the gulag and even more recently have we been confronted with 9/11 and every terrorist act since then.

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman once noted that: “Prejudice, after all, is superior to facts, and lives in a world of its own.”

In the 4th chapter of Genesis, the story of Cain and Abel, we are confronted with the first recorded instances of self-pity, jealously, rage, fratricide, murder in Sacred Scripture.

Since God alone sees the truth within every human heart, thus the Sacred text points clearly to Cain’s heart being deeply infected with self-centered-self-pity, jealous rejection of his brother Abel.

Thus within Cain an infection spreads from the heart to the mind to angry, hate-filled murder.

Cain’s sarcastic lie, when challenged by God after the murder, about having no idea where his brother is and rejecting his responsibility as the elder brother to lovingly, protectively care for his sibling, is summarily dealt with by God who informs Can that Abel’s blood cries out from the very earth.

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.” [1Jn.3:10-12]

Recent elections, notably in the United States, but elsewhere in the world, have been marked by profound anger, divisions, violent protests and we are witnessing around the world, in democratic countries in particular, increased anger and extremism and acts of hatred against those deemed for a plethora of reasons to be, if not outright enemies, at least a threat because their economic status, colour, political position, gender, sexual orientation, religion are rejected because they are not ‘ours’!

Hate is the most insidious of diseases of the heart and like all fatal infections has two definitive aspects: 1] ultimately it kills the host and 2] is in a sense an air-borne disease spread by word of mouth.

ISIS is nothing less than an epidemic of hate, but alt-right and alt-leftist Christians, Jews, peoples of any religion, likewise are spreaders of this same pandemic which is sickening the whole human family, weakening democracies, and may well lead to a third, and given modern weapons of mass destruction, unwinnable world war, except perhaps by the very machines, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons which will destroy us.

Words have intrinsic and extrinsic power.

Genesis repeats throughout each stage of creation, including the creation of the human person: “God said....”.

Each spoken ‘word’ results in the ‘and there was’.

 The Holy Gospel, according to St. John, reminds us that in the very beginning was ‘the Word’.

The interior dialogue which stirs darkness in the human heart itself reveals the power of words.

Eventually the words spoken interiorly, churning within the ever-destructive poison of prejudice, rejection, hatred, become the emotions of anger, even murderous rage.

It matters not a whit to the innocent victims of the murderous hate to which extremist group, or the lone-wolf, hate-filled murder[s] belongs: for they are dead, just like those found in that pit in Spain or in the mountainous debris of 9/11.

However, it does matter much to those who survive a hate-filled attack, such as occurs all too frequently, sometimes by Islamic extremists, such as in Europe, or by rightist/leftist extremists such as occurred in the lone-wolf terrorist attack in Quebec City where Muslim men at prayer were murdered and wounded.

The interior dialogue of people who hate begins with words of self-hatred, self-rejection.

Sometimes this so poisons the heart that the person takes their own life, for the poison has so permeated their minds, souls, they can no longer stand the darkness and pain.

Other times the impact of the interior poisoning morphs into an extended dialogue of blaming, such as Can did of Abel, and the process begins of refusing to see other as one like myself, a human being, and constructing a list of reasons as to why they cannot possibly be one like myself, an acting person, and therefore must be a thing, an object.

Like the boiling cauldron of Shakespeare’s witches anger heats to the point of hate-filled rage and we have a 9/11, a Charlie-Hebdo, a Quebec City massacre.

Words have power.

Words are active, never passive.

Words can shred another’s dignity, hurt and shame them, reject them.

More powerful are words which affirm, welcome, accept, love, forgive, reveal mercy and compassion.

There was a story repeated often years ago after a pastoral visit by St. John Paul II to a country suffering under a military dictatorship which, admittedly I have not been able to verify, yet is, true or not, illustrative: The Pope was celebrating Holy Mass before tens of thousands of people in a stadium when into the crowd came soldiers, agents of the dictatorship, who began assaulting people and panic started.

The Holy Father stopped the Mass and repeated over and over in an ever-firmer voice: “Love is stronger! Love is stronger!”, until the bishops and priests, then the assembled choir joined him in repeating “Love is stronger!” Little by little those powerful three words moved through the crowd until it was the spoken word of everyone and the soldiers slinked away.

In Auschwitz in 1941 the Nazis choose a group of men for execution by starvation when one of the men, rather young, pleaded for his life for he was a husband and father. Before the Nazis could react, a priest stepped forward and offered himself, his life, in exchange.

Miraculously his offer was accepted.

That priest is known throughout the world as St. Maxmilian Kolbe and the young man did survive that day and the longs days after until he was among the liberated survivors.

Love IS stronger.

Each of us can, must, choose which words we speak to ourselves, and if we find we are speaking dark and hurtful words to ourselves then before the infection becomes fatal we must use our words with someone we trust – spouse, friend, priest, doctor – who can help us change the interior dialogue.

Each of us can, must, choose which words we speak to others, starting with those closest to us and extending outward to our neighbours and to strangers. If an understandable thing such as shyness makes it difficult for us to speak with strangers we can always use the non-verbal words of our eyes, so powerfully expressive and our smiles. Smiles, though in a sense wordless, nonetheless speak volumes of recognition that the one passing by upon whom I smile is a person like myself.

Constitutive of our humanity is the reality we are endowed with emotions/passions, which in and of themselves are neutral.

It is the choice we make in response to their movement within us which differentiates between a choice for good or evil, virtue or vice.

Thus, an act of terrorism may well trigger intense emotions of anger, rejection towards the person[s] who commit the act.

If we allow those emotions to remain unchecked we may well become a hater of not only the terrorist but holus-bolus of the very group, culture, religion they belong to.

That is to choose evil, indeed to become a type of emotional terrorist ourselves.

If we choose not to allow the emotion to master us, but embracing the pain and sorrow over lives lost, persons wounded, communities in upheaval, and choose to embrace, to live out the teachings of Christ then we are acting virtuously, righteously.

We all know some, like ISIS, but also Christian and Jewish extremists, seek to justify their hatred and violence by appealing to their interpretation of sacred texts.

This is obscene, disingenuous, insults God, and indeed rather than receive some illusory blessing here or in the hereafter, when such murderous-haters do appear before the awesome judgement seat of God, as He asked of Cain, so shall be asked of them: “Where is your brother?”

While it should be equally self-evident for adherents of all religions, it is constitutive of Christianity, that we the baptized are not simply expected, but commanded by God, in the words of the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, to love and not to hate.

 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” [Mt.5:22] “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” [5:44-45]