Not Me!

Watching television today leads me to believe that all I have to do to be happy is to buy the right car, live in the right neighborhood, eat the right food or take a particular pill–the list goes on ad infinitum. I don’t think so, in fact I truly doubt that any of that will make me happy. I believe that grappling with life’s struggles, even when I feel completely helpless and abandoned, rewards me and all of us with life.

That seems to be the theme of  Andrew Solomon’s new movie “Far From the Tree”. With this movie Solomon examines life as lived through the lives of five main characters, none of which claim to have any of the above.  I watched, I laughed, I cried and I left the theatre understanding a little better what it means to truly live and not run away, my first choice of action when confronted with a challenge.

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

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Making Peace

Zack Beauchamp in hisYouTube video, Three big reasons war is going away, admits that there are many reasons but then gives us just three as to why we are living in the most peaceful time in history*:

  1. The Democratic Peace
  2. Nuclear Deterrence
  3. Sovereignty

I suspect Mr. Beauchamp is onto something here, but I think there is another, and I would add, much more significant reason. I think we are living in the most peaceful time in history of the world because of people like Mahatma Gandhi, (1869 – 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) who taught us how to respond to violence, marginalization and oppression with love and service. Also, people like Ethel Percy Andrus, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day and a whole host of others who may not have had the experience of marginalization or oppression, chose a life of love and service as well. Thanks to people like these and oh yes, Jesus (c 0 – 33). They taught us not only by their words, but more especially by their actions, how to make peace.

P.S. Happy Feast Day to all my Passionists friends around the world and all those celebrating the joyful memorial of the Passion of Jesus tomorrow, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

*Mr. Beauchamp is not the only one who thinks this. The Human Security Report “…an independent research centre affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada.” gives a similar assessment.

The Secret to a Happy Life

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Some people need no introduction. Mother Teresa is one of them. Her message to the world, though thousands of years old, strikes me as new and earth shattering and more refreshing today than a hot loaf of bread just out of the oven. Thank you Mother, now Saint Mother Teresa for pointing the way. I will try to follow.

 

Twice, I Cried Tears of Joy

From "Now You Know Events"
Picture From “Now You Know Events”

I don’t ever remember crying tears of joy in church except for this past Sunday’s AGLO liturgy and the previous week’s as well. This comes from a guy who doesn’t miss Sunday Mass, one who in fact was a daily mass attendee for many of the last 71 years.

At the end of Mass this Sunday, the 47th Annual Pride Sunday here in Chicago, Fr. Bob announced that Pope Francis today said the Church should ask forgiveness for their marginalizing of gays and of women. There followed a thunderous round of applause and I cried for the second week in a row. As soon as I got home I searched Twitter to confirm Fr. Bob’s announcement. Sure enough, there it was all over Twitter. The Catholic News Service wrote quoting Pope Francis in part:

Catholics and other Christians not only must apologize to the gay community, they must ask forgiveness of God for ways they have discriminated against homosexual persons or fostered hostility toward them, Pope Francis said.

I said this was the second week in a row, I cried tears of Joy. On the evening of the Pause Night Club tragedy I cried my first tears of joy. After Mass, Fr. Dennis, the celebrant, read a letter from Chicago’s Archbishop Blasé Cupich. It read in part:

“…For you here today [I took that to mean us assembled at AGLO] and throughout the whole lesbian and gay community, who are particularly touched by the heinous crimes committed in Orland, motivated by hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture of violence, know this: the Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand with you.”

I truly didn’t know that, i.e. that the Archdiocese of Chicago, that Archbishop Blasé stands with us. I cried tears of joy the first time. Two weeks in a row, I’ve heard from people representing the institutional church that has been very good to me and that I have loved in return, that they love me and stand with me. Wow!

Yes, I know, it’s not all about me and it’s not even just about the gay community or the tragedy of the Pulse Night Club. It’s about all of us. We are one people despite all our many differences. When I send love to anyone, I sent it to all, but it sure is nice to be a recipient of that love and hear my name. It’s made me cry, twice now.

If you are wondering where the Church can go with this you might enjoy Bondings 2.0’s response written by Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry. I was especially impressed with Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, thoughts which sounded like they came right out of the catechism I studied when I made my first confession, 1952:

“In order to bring about the full healing of the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT people, the Church must not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but take concrete actions that demonstrate its commitment to treating LGBT people justly from now on.  For example, Catholic institutions must stop firing LGBT people simply because their sexual orientation or marital status becomes known.  The Church must stop conducting public campaigns that seek the right to discriminate unjustly against LGBT people in the civil arena on the specious grounds of ‘religious liberty.’  It must cease campaigns against same-sex civil marriage and LGBT civil rights protections around the globe.  And it must speak out strongly and clearly against the horrific violence and discrimination that is often directed against LGBT people in countries around the world, including our own, many with substantial or majority Catholic populations.”

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Relating to Each Other

Every time I saw Mike, a wise old man, he would share the same time-worn testimony: “Don’t waste time seeing how you are different, but take the risk and time to see how you are alike.” That was in the 80’s. Mike is dead now and I wish I could tell him how much I appreciate that sage advice, and what a difference following it has made in my life.

My Dad’s mother and father were betrothed to different people when they asked their priest uncle to marry them and then tell their parents after they had time to elope. Leaving family and friends in Ireland they dared to follow their dream. They ended up in Chicago around 1909. Today, they have passed on leaving me with six fantastic siblings, 45 beautiful first cousins on my Dad’s side and god knows how many great cousins. Just today on Facebook, I read of another being born.

Thanks to Global Citizens for the above great YouTube video of couples willing to share their love no matter what their families or others may think.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believe transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Danny & Annie

Every once in a while, albeit, not very often, I hear or see something that leaves me speechless. “Danny & Annie” is that something. I thank Troy from the Chicago Center on Halsted for introducing me to this five-minute video, which I will never forget and wish to share with you.

This video comes from Story Corps founded by Dave Isay, (the recipient of the 2015 TED Prize) in October of 2003. It’s mission is to:

…preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell 2015 survey of 600 National Public Radio (NPR) listeners, reported that they were better able to understand people with different backgrounds,  people with disabilities or serious illness. Thank you Dave Isay and all of your membership as well as your donors and storytellers for bringing the world a much-needed tool for creating understanding.

 

In a 2015 survey of 600 National Public Radio (NPR) listeners, 88% reported that they were better able to understand people with different backgrounds, and 96% reported they were better able to understand people with disabilities or serious illness.

To find out how you can get involved telling your story or interviewing a friend or family member click here. Thank you Dave Isay and all of your membership as well as your donors and storytellers for bringing the world a much-needed tool for creating understanding.

 

 

Mother, Mother Earth, Space and the Sacred

Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.Mothers Day is a special day on the American calendar, joining Thanksgiving Day and Christmas and maybe the 4th of July as similarly important days. Not far behind is Fathers Day, the birth of one’s first child, the marriage anniversary, and then other special days, cherished by us for their significance to us.

Mothers Day: might we regard it as a holy day? Like a holy day of obligation, on the Catholic calendar? Well, maybe yes, or possibly so. It’s a holy day because it concerns one of the truly sacred things near and dear to our hearts: our own life, and that special person who, in conjunction with God Himself, has brought us into life, and nurtured us to the point where we can provide for ourselves.

There may have been a time when we took life for granted, primarily because we had not reached the point where we could step back from life and look at it from some distance away. In our early years we were engulfed and swallowed up in our life, with no way of disengaging our self from our dependence on our family. It was like being on a ship on the high seas, living our entire existence on that vessel, unable to distance ourselves from that ship so as to think of our life apart from it. Of course, it was a pleasant and comfortable life, from the early phase within our mother’s womb to the later frightening experience of stepping out of our front door and walking through the entrance to kindergarten. Till then our family, and especially our mother, was like a ship on the high seas of life where we found security, care and comfort, day in and out. Those on shore could observe us at a distance, sailing by, with our mother at the helm.

earth

An even more graphic example of this sense of being enveloped by our mother has been the development of space exploration and the manufacture of space craft to traverse outer space, from where we can look back safely at earth and see for the first time what the world out there looks like, from our vantage point within the space capsule. Though we would soon join our earth home, for the present we can watch the world go by, having all we need for a comfortable life.

These examples are how it is with our mother. Early on we were so embedded within the folds of our mother, first, within the womb, then outside of it, that we had no sense of living our own distinct life.   She was our ship on the seas of life, and our space capsule, within which all our needs were handled.

But once the first sensation arrived of having a life distinct from hers, I became able to focus on this person who was a mother to me, and develop a sense, as I grew in age, that I was my own person, so much so that I forgot the early sensation of being one with her. Life then entered a new stage where very personal adventures occurred for me as I began to live a life separately from hers, but never to the point where I dismissed her from my self-awareness completely. That early bonding between us never disappeared, forming a linkage unlike any other in our experience, regardless of the geographical distance I put between her and myself.

This is what we celebrate on Mothers Day—an experience of life in which she was intimately involved, so that I can look back on it, as if from outer space, and marvel at the wonder of what I now see, which I could not see earlier on. It is a profound feeling that borders on our sense of the sacred. And as sacred, it is holy, and for this reason is aptly regarded as a holy day. Corresponding to Mothers Day is my birthday when for the first time I can reach land and look back at the ship on which I have spent my life, to this point. Or similarly, my birthday lays out the possibility of appreciating Mothers Day like the opportunity provided the first astronauts of looking out the porthole of their space craft, back at the earth from which they just separated themselves, and for the first time fully observe it teeming with the white cloud cover, the blue seas, the dark-hued earth, and can fully appreciate it as mother earth, where life unfolded and blossomed.

This is why we should regard Mothers Day as a holy day on our Catholic calendar. We can look at it as a day of appreciating my dependency on the nurturing elements of life I earlier relied on, and can begin to feed myself, as with the eucharist. It’s a day when the factors comprising our traditional holy days, such as the sense of awe before the mystery of the sacred, converge into sentiments of reverence and respect before a sense of something religious. For life is sacred and to be revered as Godlike. Life is how Jesus identified God in His dealings with the Sadducees: “He is not God of the dead but of the living”. (Mk 12.27)