holiday greetings

Brent's Christmas Chelsea Buns

We’ve all been trying to recover from our colds and get ready for our increasingly simplified Christmas celebration. My talented-baker-spouse B felt well enough this Christmas Eve morning to be up early and baking. He made these awesome Chelsea buns based on a Paul Hollywood recipe. They are delicious! Bonus: There are so many buns and so few of us that we will have them for Christmas morning, too.

May the light and hope of Hanukkah and the peace and good will of Christmas settle on people of all nations, tongues, and beliefs.

acceptance

On my way to church this morning, I heard a report on NPR about the fiftieth anniversary of the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate” which was a declaration on the relationship of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions. The report also reviewed the horrible treatment that the Catholic church had inflicted on other faiths, especially the Jewish people.

I am very grateful to have been born at a time when I do not remember the church being against other people because of their religious beliefs or lack of belief.  It saddens and upsets me that not all Catholics have accepted this now fifty-year-old teaching. This gives the impression that Catholics are still condemning others for not being Catholic or Christian, even though most of us do not. Rather, we accept all people of good will as together we strive for greater love and peace in the world.

One of my favorite things about Francis is that he shows this attitude to the world. He regularly meets with people of diverse faith traditions, agnostics, and atheists. He often prays in silence in settings that include people of many traditions so that he does not seem to be pushing Catholic prayer onto others. When he spoke in Washington on his recent trip to the United States, he asked the crowd and television viewers to pray for him or, if prayer was not part of their own belief system, to send positive thoughts.

People around the world recognize Francis as a spiritual leader, not just a Catholic leader, because he does care about every person and, as he terms it, “our common home.”  Although he was brought up in the pre-Vatican II church, he fully embraces and lives the council’s messages.

The message is needed now more than ever. There is so much to do to improve the lives of people and the planet. We, all people of good will, need to move forward together.

Re-gaining my bearings

When I last posted, I was feeling overwhelmed by – well – everything.

I’ve been working on finding some hope amid the chaos, with help from many people and their words.

My friend and spiritual companion Yvonne sent words of wisdom from Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Pat, another spiritual sister, posted a prayer from Julia Seymour. Sister Simone Campbell and NETWORK continue their call for peace and care for all people, especially those on the margins or at risk from violence and deprivation. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Professor Robert Reich continued their progressive statements that “promote the general welfare” as the U.S. Constitution states. I started reading Franciscan Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.

Improvement in family situations has helped, too. My parents have made progress in their continuing recovery from health challenges. Our younger daughter completed orientation for grad school with classes beginning on Monday. Our son-in-law completed his PhD comprehensive exams, despite a computer dying at the worst possible time.

This morning, we sang Benedictine Delores Dufner’s  “Sing a New Church” which begins as a call for Christian unity but expands to envision peace and justice among nations and all peoples. It reminded me that, while many of my values come to me through the Catholic Christian tradition, at their core, they parallel those of all people of good will, whether or not they follow a spiritual practice.

The common thread is to concentrate on and uphold goodness, peace, love, and justice. These are much more common, much more the norm than their opposites. The violent, the intolerant, the exploitative are loud and try to control the conversation and other people, but we must not mistake that they are few in number. Obviously, it is not easy for those of good will around the world to subdue those bent on destruction and abuse of power, but we can and must prevail, each doing our part, however small, in our own lives.