FR. RONAN’S BLOG

It’s On Us

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This is a wonderful week for our Nation – a week wherein we remember our story as a people and the courage and fierce commitment of our forebears who stood firm in the face of overwhelming odds – for the price of freedom. As young a nation as we are, nevertheless we have accomplished much and realize there is yet much more to be realized for us to achieve our claim as a great nation among the world of nations.
This particular Independence Day finds many of us bewildered and disappointed at the current state of our national government and discourse. No matter one’s politics and/or partisan stance, the lack of civility in the common square has declined, deteriorated to a level we would find unacceptable among children in a schoolyard.
This is not news to any one reading this column and I write about it not to pile on to criticisms of our present administration. I write about it to acknowledge what I see in myself and others in our tendency to respond to incivility by incivility. The decline in the quality of our public and private discourse about our government, various policies and actions has been enabled by those in support of and opposed to either side.
We all have choices to make about how we wish to speak and act in life and especially in our manner of speaking about others. If you and I wish to change the current level of discourse, I think it begins with me and you.
I believe we should hold our elected leaders to a high bar of ethical and moral behavior – and when they fall short, we must replace them. I also believe we must hold ourselves to an equally high standard of ethical and moral behavior and when we fall short, choose to correct ourselves.
Respect for the dignity of each and every person is the bedrock of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The founders of our great nation chiseled this truth into the essential proclamations of our Declaration of Independence.
As a Nation, on this Independence Day, we all have work to do to fulfill the courage of that proclamation.

Fr. Ronan

DADS

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

On this Father’s Day weekend, we all recall and celebrate the gift of our fathers. I remember well the blessing of my Dad who passed away when I was a 20 year old college student. As the years have passed, I continue to cherish his goodness, his teaching by example, his faith and his values. The love of my mother and father for each other and for their children shaped me and my sisters and brothers, in varying ways.
The morning talk shows on TV, the number of magazine articles and overall buzz about raising a family and parenting usually focus on mothers and mothering. Even in an increasingly gender-neutral culture, the role of fathers receives less attention. However that does not mean a father’s role is less important.
For example, it has been shown that when a father plays with his child, the child exhibits different emotions and classic responses, allowing the child to receive a balance in emotional development. The aspect of modeling is ongoing from the earliest age. For boys as well as for girls, an active and engaged father allows both genders to develop appropriate responses; a boy to understanding his normal gender behavior and a girl to formulate a healthy understanding of male behavior. In all instances, active, positive paternal involvement and approval impacts adolescence and shapes children’s social, moral and spiritual behavior in healthy directions.
On a number of occasions, a new Dad has spoken with me about the impact of the birth of his child on him, the adjustments to be made, the desire to be the best Dad for his child, and at times the perplexity of it all. The Charlestown Mothers’ Association (CMA) does wonderful work in supporting new mothers, advocating for the needs of children and families, not to mention their other noble works. Could it be that it is time for the development of a Charlestown Fathers’ Association (CFA) to mentor new Dad’s and be a support for one another?
The focus this Fathers’ Day is really about THE FAMILY – without which there would be no father, mother or children! Although the dynamic of family life has changed in recent times, the beauty of the family remains in the symmetry and the complementarity of the roles, especially that of mother and father. While we do lift up for grateful praise our Fathers on this June 17 as we did our Mothers on May 13, we all recognize we are all God’s children, beloved from before our birth and into eternity.

Fr. Ronan

First Holy Communion

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The second grade religious education class will receive their First Holy Communion at the 10:30am Mass on Sunday, May 20th.

Public Health Threat

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In this morning’s newspaper there was an intriguing article about the threat to one’s health caused by loneliness. Amazing, yet not surprising.

Several years ago Facebook was front page news in papers around the country. The much anticipated IPO of the social media company concluded the first day with an estimated value of $105 billion. The results of this unimaginable event made Facebook the 25th largest company in the United States. The size may seem surprising for many reasons and yet 1 out of every 13 people on Planet Earth use Facebook. The exponential growth in popularity of this company has given rise to many theories and critiques.

In the May, 2008 issue of ATLANTIC, Steven Marche wrote an evocative article; Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? Marche develops the question and places it into the context of this age and culture – recalling the trend of social disintegration that has been documented since before David Riesman’s classic work, The Lonely Crowd. His research points to the age old human longing for connectedness (friendship, intimacy and love) and in the North American culture in particular, to the high value placed on independence, autonomy and self-reliance. It would seem that Facebook offers a marriage of these two longings: the illusion of intimacy along with the illusion of distance.

Stepping into our world 2000 years ago and today, Jesus speaks to these ageless longings of the human heart. The Architect, Engineer and Builder of you and me, knows each of us so very completely. The One who understands our hopes and dreams, our fears and sorrows, comes among us to lead us out of the shadows and darkness of our loneliness. How?

I believe each of us holds within a desire to see and know of God. And when I stop to wonder about my life and everything and everyone around me – looking back through the years – and become amazed at all that is and all that I am and all I yearn to do and become –I recognize it as Gift! Since childhood we have been taught how to receive a gift – with THANK YOU. Gratitude is key – it opens the door to everything.

And most important, gratitude opens the door to love. For once I know this love, in which I am held by God, in gratitude I am compelled to give it away; with family, friends, community and in service to others – my life is transformed by living in this experience of love. The entire life of Jesus, including His teaching and example along with His suffering, death and resurrection, everything points to and underscores the one single command that God has left us: Love one Another as I Have Loved You.

Facebook and any other technology of social media are tools, of which we have many. Like any other tool, their intrinsic value is dependent on how they are used. The gift of our faith is the one “tool” we have been given (in our Baptism) that opens for us a true way to realize intimacy and love as well as complete self-fulfillment. God offers us continual refreshment, forgiveness, nourishment and yes, there is something else. Once we receive these gifts we are to go out and give them away – in a deliberate choice to bring into a world so desperate for authentic intimacy and caught up in intriguing illusion.

Fr. Ronan

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