“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”John Lewis, Twitter, 2018
I share three quotations from President Abraham Lincoln on this, the day after his 211th birthday. The first is in his belief that people are inherently good; that if faced with a truth, they will acquit themselves honorably. I still think this is possible. The second is his reliance on faith, and that Right Matters. We may have heard that phrase recently. We are reminded to dare to do our duty, whether militarily, governmentally, or as a citizenry. The third has been referred to subtly in the last two weeks especially in reference to this current Presidency as the President is emboldened even more. If this isn’t wrong, what is? Retaliation against witnesses? Interference in criminal cases and the jury system? Profiteering from the job of president by him and his family. Bribery? Which is less wrong? Which will someone stand up and say, Enough. Here are Lincoln’s words:
- I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.
- Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
- If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.
This is the most important election year of our lives. There is something that each of us can do in addition to voting in November. Find your something.
Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales. He was born in Chateau de Sales to a noble family in 1567. He enjoyed a privileged education, eventually becoming a Bishop and a Doctor of the Church before his death in 1622.
He was canonized in 1665.
His motto in Latin is Non-excidet which translates to He will not fail or He will not give up, either appropriate for his patronage of writers and journalists.
Some of his words of wisdom may be found here, but I include some of my favorites below:
Be who you are and be that well.
Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.
Such simple advice, common sense thoughts, and yet…so much more, so much to contemplate.
Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with him until meeting my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath who is a Salesian Oblate. He is also an artist. This is his most recent offering. Clicking it will direct you to his website where you can see his other works including his books on variety of spiritual/religious topics, saints, and Popes. It is well worth your time.
One of the things I’ve thought about as I’ve witnessed the Republican Party implode and become who many of us already thought their politicians were, proving their cravenness, selfishness, greed and lack of moral character, I’ve wondered how the rest of us, the Democrats, the Progressives, the Resistance, the AMERICANS can continue to have the strength to speak out and to do whatever we can to bring our democracy back for everyone, and this statement from Jon Lovett last week said it perfectly:
“We had to figure out how to love our country enough for them too.”
This is what we’re doing because this is who we are.
The next statement of his that I’m sharing summed up how I, and many more, felt after the 2016 Election:
“I think we’ll look back on this as the moment where we decided that we weren’t participating because we were patriotic; we were patriotic because we were participating.” – Jon Lovett
I start every Saturday morning (whenever that mysterious time is) by listening to Jon Lovett’s Lovett or Leave It podcast from Crooked Media. Oftentimes, he says what I’m thinking. Last week I wasn’t able to listen until Monday morning because of some family obligations, and his last rant on the rant wheel was so profound, so relatable, so needed, that I listened to it twice. Then I posted the link on my Facebook, and added one of the two comments above that really got me in the feels, and I went on.
But I didn’t delete that podcast as I would have normally done. I don’t know why I kept it in my dowloads, but I did, and each time I listened to something else and deleted it, I saw it there, and I thought, in passing, it’s time to delete it, but I didn’t. Even this morning, his new podcast for the week dropped (I haven’t listened to it because I’m on retreat and in a different mindset, but will probably listen tonight because I can only go so long without Jon Lovett’s words of wisdom) and I still have yet to delete last week’s.
I’d recommend listening to the whole thing (and subscribing to hear each one), but I’ve queued this one up to that moment he spoke directly to me, and I think he’ll speak to you as well:
Stephen King is one of the most prolific writers in the world. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never read any of his fiction. Not one. I’ve also never seen the movies except part of Stand by Me. His genre of horror has never been something in my wheelhouse, but I did admire him as a writer and a person. I follow him on Twitter and he wrote a magnificent essay on JK Rowling for Time magazine.
The one book I did manage to acquire and read was his memoir/advice for writers book, On Writing. I found it engaging, brilliantly written and so beautifully in his voice. Writing this reminds me that I should re-read it just because.
Here are a few of his quotes that I feel drawn to:
- The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
- Let me say it again: You must not come lightly to the blank page.
- You go where the story leads you
- If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
- I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.
Stephen King’s Writing Toolbox is a strategy after my own heart. I love the idea of tools and toolboxes to get us through everyday life – that specialized item that is exactly what we need right at that moment in time.
Two Interviews with Stephen King
with The Independent (from 2017)
with The Atlantic (from 2013)
Sister Thea Bowman addressing the USCCB:
Sr. Thea Bowman was born in 1937 on December 29th. This was in Mississippi and her parents named her Bertha. She was the granddaughter of slaves; her parents were a doctor and a teacher. She was raised Methodist, but when she was nine years old, she converted to Roman Catholicism. At 15, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
Over the years, she received a B.A., a M.A., and a PhD in English and then went on to teach. She also received an honorary doctorate in theology from Boston College. She was a poet, a preacher, and a teacher, and she used all of those embodiments to bring a light to her calling that couldn’t help but be infectious to her contemporaries and those of us who have come after and continue to read of her works.
“When we understand our history and culture, then we can develop the ritual, the music and the devotional expression that satisfy us in the Church.”
She said this and it illustrates her impact on the development of a particular worship dedicated to and for Black Catholics. She was invaluable in the 1987 publication of the Catholic Hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me: The Arican-American Catholic Hymnal.
Her essay, The Gift of African-American Sacred Song can be downloaded by clicking on the title.
Her “ministry of joy” led the Diocese of Mississippi to bring her on as a consultant for intercultural awareness. In reading up on Sr. Thea, I really preferred this descriptor of intercultural rather than multi-cultural. It feels more natural to me. A person who knew her called her “the springtime in everyone’s life,” a visual that leaps out in color and light and blue sky.
Imagine what more she could have done and influenced in the past twenty-nine years had she not died at the young age of 52, on today’s date in 1990 of bone cancer.
There are at least twelve institutions named for her from Boston in the east to as far west as Illinois.
The Diocese (of Mississippi) has begun the research into Sr. Thea’s “heroic virtues” after which a cause for canonization can be opened in Rome if warranted.
Two of her written works you could look into for more from Sr. Thea are:
Families, Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference. Commission on Marriage and Family Life, 1985.
Thea Bowman: In My Own Words. Liguori, Mo.: Liguori Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7648-1782-3. index of Bowman’s speeches, writings, and interviews, with a brief biographical sketch and epilogue (with Maurice J. Nutt)
I will leave you with her own words that spoke to me prayerfully earlier this week:
“Maybe I’m not making big changes in the world, but if I have somehow helped or encouraged somebody along the journey, then I’ve done what I’m called to do.
Jorge Mario Bergolio was chosen as the 266th Pope after Pope Benedict XVI resigned his position of Pope in 2013. Jorge was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936 to Mario and Maria Bergolio. He had four siblings: two brothers, and two sisters.
Cardinal Bergolio chose Francis as his papal name after St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his concern for and his commitment to the poor. His focus is towards the poor, and the church meeting its people where they are as well as encouraging mercy by and for Catholics worldwide.
Pope Francis is also a pope of many firsts: he is the first Pope who is a Jesuit; he is the first from the Americas as well as the first from the Southern Hemisphere. He is also the first pope from outside of Europe since the 8th century.
You can find Pope Francis on Twitter and on the Vatican website, where you can read all of his writings (as well as other Popes) and homilies. I’m currently in the middle of reading Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad; an Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness.) The website is a fascinating virtual pilgrimage of its own.
He was inaugurated as Pope in 2013, on March 19. That was nearly exactly one year since I had been visiting and praying at my church.
Make a fresh start each day.
Today is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales. His motto is: “He who preaches with love, preaches effectively.” And I would say that St. Francis did just that, both with love and effectively.
The first two really spoke to me during my weekend retreat. The subject was losing the clutter in order to be closer to G-d. I’ve realized a lot of my mental clutter, and physical, is unintentional procrastination and leaving things aside creates this weariness that is much more than too-little-sleep tiredness. These three quotations give me something to ponder and hopefully begin to break out of the suffocation of clutter, both in my physical world and my mental.
“Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.”
“Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.”
“Fear stops a lot of people. Fear of failure, of the unknown, of risk. And it masks itself as procrastination.”
Love. Love fiercely. Love fully. Love loudly. Love until the pain is insignificant.
[Supernatural’s If I Could Tell You 2018 Calendar.]