"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
by Michael Halm
The St. John Passion Play began with a promise by then pastor Fr. Richard Wurth and the parishioners of St. John Church, Cincinnati, in 1917. As then and for every one of the 86 years since, it has been primarily presented as a thanksgiving for what Jesus did and continues to do for us and more particularly for our loved ones at war. As director Don Schlosser notes, "Thatís why this playís just as relevant as ever."
It is the second-oldest continuous passion play in the country, but with the closing of St. John Church in 1969, it almost ended. A charitable nonprofit organization, St. John Passion Play, Inc., was formed to continue the tradition. Since then the play has been performed in numerous locations in the Cincinnati area, Mt. Note Dame High School, Emery auditorium and Westwood Town Hall. Most recently it is being performed at Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian (5950 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH) and St. Angustine (1839 Euclid Avenue, Covington, KY) Churches, beginning this year on Leap Day, Sunday, February 29th.
"Itís a Cincinnati tradition," producer Judy Hughes says. If you saw it with your parents or grandparents, she urges, share it with your own children or grandchildren. "Itís a good preparation for Easter and is never the same Ė we always make it better!"
This yearís production has made an effort to address the needs of the harder-of-hearing. More youth have been encourage to participate as well, since it is not just a tradition to view the play as a family but many players participate in the play as a family.
The cast and crew come from different walks of life with different ways of worship, but all strive to authentically bring alive in a dramatic and moving way John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
The script itself has been changed somewhat from recently years in adding a new beginning to the garden of Gethsemani scene and a better distinguishing between the Seder (Jewish Passover meal) and the Last Supper. All the apostles will now have at least some speaking part.
Many of the actors are veterans, having lovingly participated in the play for many years. Some are moving up to more challenging roles. There will, for example, be a new Pilate this year.
As for Mel Gibsonís film, "The Passion" to be released at nearly the same time on Ash Wednesday, Don Schlosser says he will reserve judgment until he has seen it. He does point out however that there are guidelines for passion plays and that The St. John Passion Play does conform to them. A play is much more up-front-and-personal than a big-screen movie. The post-crucifix epilogue with the whole cast singing "And Can It Be" with the resurrected Jesus will certainly bring tears to the eyes of young and old again this year. The victory over death and evil has already been won!
For reservations or information call 859-746-9065 or visit the website, www.stjohnpassionplay.com To become a contributor call 984-8741.
Pope John Paul II
"My words are addressed to you, the Leaders of the nations, who have the duty of promoting peace!
"To you, Jurists, committed to tracing paths to peaceful agreement, preparing conventions and treaties which strengthen international legality!
"To you, Teachers of the young, who on all continents work tirelessly to form consciences in the ways of understanding and dialogue!
"And to you too, men and women tempted to turn to the unacceptable means of terrorism and thus compromise at its root the very cause for which you are fighting!
"All of you, hear the humble appeal of the Successor of Peter who cries out: today too, at the beginning of the New Year 2004, peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty!
A practical initiative
"1. My first Message for the World Day of Peace, in the beginning of January 1979, was centered on the theme: "to Reach Peace, Teach Peace."
"That New Yearís Message followed in the path traced by Pope Paul VI of venerable memory, who had wished to celebrate on January 1 each year a World Day of Prayer for Peace. I recall the words of the late Pontiff for the New Year 1968: "It would be Our desire, then that this celebration take place each year as a sign of hope and promise, at the beginning of the calendar which measures and guides the journey of human life through time, in order that Peace, with its just and salutary equilibrium, will dominate the unfolding of history yet to come." (1)
"Faithful to the wishes expressed by my venerable Predecessor on the Chair of Peter, each year I have continued this noble tradition by dedicating the first day of the civil year to reflection and to prayer for peace in the world.
"In the twenty-five years of Pontificate which the Lord has thus far granted me, I have not failed to speak out before the Church and the world, inviting believers and all persons of good will to take up the cause of peace and to help bring about his fundamental good, thereby assuring the world a better future, one marked by peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.
"Once more this year I feel bound to invite all men and women, on every continent, to celebrate a new World Day of Peace. Humanity needs now more than ever to rediscover the path of concord, overwhelmed as it is by selfishness and hatred, by the thirst for power and the lust for vengeance.
The science of peace
"2. The eleven Message addressed to the world by Pope Paul VI progressively mapped out the path to be followed in attaining the ideal of peace. Slowly but surely the great Pontiff set forth the various chapters of a true "science of peace." It can be helpful to recall the themes of the Messages bequeathed to us by Pope Paul VI for this occasion. (2) Each of these Messages continues to be timely today. Indeed, before the tragedy of the wars which at the beginning of the Third Millennium are still causing bloodshed throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, they take on at times the tone of prophetic admonishments.
A primer of peace
"3. For my part, throughout these twenty-five years of my Pontificate, I have sought to advance along the path marked out by my venerable Predecessor. At the dawn of each new year I have invited people of good will to reflect, in the light of reason and of faith, on different aspects of an orderly coexistence.
"The result has been a synthesis of teaching about peace which is a king of primer on this fundamental theme: a primer easy to understand by those who are well-disposed, but at the same time quite demanding for anyone concerned for the future of humanity. (3)
"The various colours of the prism of peace have now been amply illustrated. What remains now is to work to ensure that the ideal of a peaceful coexistence, with its specific requirements, will become part of the consciousness of individuals and peoples. We Christians see the commitment to educate ourselves and others to peace as something at the very heart of our religion. For Christians, in fact, to proclaim peace is to announce Christ who is "our peace" (Eph 2:14); it is to announce his Gospel, which is a "Gospel of peace" (Eph 6:15); it is to call all people to the beatitude of being "peacemakers" (cf. Mt 5:9).
"4. In my Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 1979, I made this appeal: To Reach Peace, Teach Peace. Today that appeal is more urgent than ever, because men and women, in the face of the tragedies which continue to afflict humanity, are tempted to yield to fatalism, as if peace were an unattainable ideal.
"The Church, on the other hand, had always taught and continues today to teach a very simple axiom: peace is possible. Indeed, the Church does not tire of repeating that peace is a duty. It must be built on the four pillars indicated by Blessed John XXIII in his Encyclical Pacem In Terris: truth, justice, love and freedom. A duty is thus imposed upon all those who love peace: that of teaching these ideals to new generations, in order to prepare a better future for all mankind.
"5. In this task of teaching peace, there is a particularly urgent need to lead individuals and peoples to respect the international order and to respect the commitments assumed by the Authorities which legitimately represent them. Peace and international law are closely linked to each other: law favors peace.
"From the very dawn of civilization, developing human communities sought to establish agreements and pacts which would avoid the arbitrary use of force and enable them to seek a peaceful solution of any controversies which might arise. Alongside the legal systems to the individual peoples there progressively grew up another set of norms which came to be known as ius gentium (the law of nations). With the passage of time, this body of law gradually expanded and was refined in the light of the historical experiences of the different peoples.
"This process was greatly accelerated with the birth of modern States. From the sixteenth century on, jurists, philosophers and theologians were engaged in developing the various headings of international law and in grounding it in the fundamental postulates of the natural law. This process led with increasing force to the formulation of universal principles which are prior to and superior to the internal law of States, and which take into account the unity and the common vocation of the human family.
"Central among all these is surely the principle that pacta sunt servanda: accords freely signed must be honored. This is the pivotal and exceptionless presuppositions of every relationship between responsible contracting parties. The violation of this principle necessarily leads to a situation of illegality and consequently to friction and disputes which would not fail to have lasting negative repercussions. It is appropriate to recall this fundamental rule, especially at times when there is a temptation to appeal to the law of force rather than to the force of law.
"One of these moments was surely the drama which humanity experienced during the Second World War: an abyss of violence, destruction and death unlike anything previously known.
Respect for law
"6. That war, with the horrors and the appalling violations of human dignity which it occasioned, led to a profound renewal of the international legal order. The defense and promotion of peace were set at the center of a broadly modernized system of norms and institutions. The task of watching over global peace and security and with encouraging the efforts of States to preserve and guarantee these fundamental goods of humanity was entrusted by Governments to an organization established for this purpose Ė the United Nations Organization Ė with a Security Council invested with broad discretionary power. Pivotal to the system was the prohibition of the use of force. This prohibition, according to the well-known Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, makes provision for only two exception. The first confirms the natural right to legitimate defense, to be exercised in specific ways and in the context of the United Nations: and consequently also within the traditional limits of necessity and proportionality.
"The other exception is represented by the system of collective security, which gives the Security Council competence and responsibility for the preservation of peace, with power of decision and ample discretion.
"The system developed with the United Nations Charter was meant "to save succeeding generations form the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind." (4) In the decades which followed, however, the division of the international community into opposing blocs, the cold war in one part of the world, the outbreak of violent conflicts in other areas and the phenomenon of terrorism produced a growing break with the ideas and expectations of the immediate post-war period.
A new international order
"7. It must be acknowledge, however, that the United Nations Organization, even with limitations and delays due in great part to the failures of its members, has made a notable contribution to the promotion of respect for human dignity, the freedom of peoples and the requirements of development, thus preparing the cultural and institutional soil for the building of peace.
"The activity of national Governments will be greatly encourage by the relationship that the ideals of the United Nations have become widely diffused, particularly through the practical gestures of solidarity and peace made by the many individuals also involved in Non-Governmental Organizations and in Movements for human rights.
"This represents a significant incentive for a reform which would enable the United Nations Organization to function effectively for the pursuit of its own stated ends, which remain valid: Ďhumanity today is in a new and more difficult phase of its genuine development. It needs a greater degree of international ordering.í (5) States must consider this objective as a clear moral and political obligation which calls for prudence and determination. Here I would repeat the words of encouragement which I spoke in 1995: "The United Nations Organization needs to rise more and more above the cold status of an administrative institution and to become a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations." (6)
The deadly scourge of terrorism
"8. Today international law is hard pressed to provide solutions to situations of conflict arising from the changed landscape of the contemporary world. These situations of conflict frequently involve agents which are not themselves States but rather entities derived from the collapse of States, or connected to independence movements, or linked to trained criminal organizations. A legal system made up of norms established down the centuries as a means of disciplining relations between sovereign States finds it difficult to deal with conflicts which also involve entities incapable of being considered States in the traditional sense. This is particularly the case with terrorist groups.
"The scourge of terrorism has become more virulent in recent years and has produced brutal massacres which have in turn put even greater obstacles in the way of dialogue and negotiation, increasing tensions and aggravating problems, especially in the Middle East.
"Even so, if it is to be won, the fight against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repressive and punitive operations. It is essential that the use of force, even when necessary, be accompanied by a courageous and lucid analysis of the reasons behind terrorist attacks. The fight against terrorism must be conducted also on the political and educational levels: on the one hand, by eliminating the underlying causes of situations of injustice which frequently drive people to more desperate and violent acts; and on the other h and, b insisting on an education inspired by respect for human life in every situation: the unity of the human race is a more powerful reality than any contingent divisions separating individuals and people.
"In the necessary fight against terrorism, international law is now called to develop legal instruments provided with effective means for the prevention, monitoring and suppression of crime. In any event, democratic government know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law. Political decisions would be unacceptable were they to seek success without consideration for fundamental human rights, since the end never justifies the means.
The contribution of the Church
"9. ĎBlessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of Godí (Mt 5:9). How could this saying, which is a summons to work in the immense field of peace, find such a powerful echo in the human heart if it did not correspond to an irrepressible yearning and hope dwelling within us? And why else would peacemakers be called children of God, if not because God is by nature the God of peace? Precisely for this reason, in the message of salvation which the Church proclaims throughout the world, there are doctrinal elements of fundamental importance for the development of the principles needed for peaceful coexistence between nations.
"History teaches that the building of peace cannot prescind from respect for an ethical and juridical order, in accordance with the ancient adage: "Serva ordinem et ordo servabit te" (preserve order and order will preserve you). International law must ensure that the law of the more powerful does not prevail. Its essential purpose is to replace "the material force of arms with the moral force of law," (7) providing appropriate sanctions for transgressors and adequate reparation for victims. This must also be applicable to those government leaders who violate with impunity human dignity and rights while hiding behind the unacceptable pretext that is a matter of questions internal of their State.
"In an Address which I gave the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on January 13, 1997, I observed that international law is a primary means for pursuing peace: ĎFor a long time international law has been a law of war and peace. I believe that it is called more and more to become exclusively a law of peace, conceived in justice and solidarity. And in this context morality must inspire law; morality can even assume a preparatory role in the making of law, to the extent that it shows the path of what is right and good.í (8)
"Down the centuries, the teaching of the Church, drawing upon the philosophical and theological reflection of many Christian thinkers, has made a significant contribution in direction international law to the common good of the whole human family. Especially in more recent times the Popes have not hesitated to stress the importance of international law as a pledge of peace, in the conviction that "the harvest of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Jas 3:18). This is the path which the Church, employing the means proper to her, is committed to following, in the perennial light of the Gospel and with the indispensable help of prayer.
The civilization of love
"10. At the conclusion of these considerations, I feel it necessary to repeat that, for the establishment of true peace in the world, justice must find its fulfillment in charity. Certainly law is the first road leading to peace, and people need to be taught to respect that law. Yet one does not arrive at the end of this road unless justice is complemented by love. Justice and love sometimes appear to be opposing forces. In fact they are but two faces of a single reality, two dimensions of human life needing to be mutually integrated. Historical experience shows this to be true. It shows how justice is frequently unable to free itself from rancor, hatred, and even cruelty. By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love.
"For this reason I have often reminded Christians and all persons of good will that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples. There is no peace without forgiveness! I say it again here, as my thoughts turn in particular to the continuing crisis in Palestine and the Middle East: a solution to the grave problems which for too long have caused suffering for the peoples of those regions will not be found until a decision is made to transcend the logic of simple justice and to be open also to the logic of forgiveness.
"Christians know that love is the reason for Godís entering into relationship with man. And it is love which he awaits as manís response. Consequently, love is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order. Only a humanity in which there reigns the "civilization of love" will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.
"At the beginning of a New Year I wish to repeat to women and men of every language, religion and culture the ancient maxim: "Omnia vincit amor" (Love conquers all). Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters throughout the world, in the end love will be victorious! Let everyone be committed to hastening this victory. For it is the deepest hope of every human heart.
the Vatican, December 8, 2003
John Paul II
Insegnamenti, V (1967), 620.
(2) 1968: 1 January: World Day of Peace
1969: The Promotion of Human Rights, the Road to Peace
1970: Education for Peace Through Reconciliation
1971: Every Man is My Brother
1972: If You Want Peace, Work for Justice
1973: Peace is Possible
1974: Peace Depends on You Too
1975: Reconciliation, The Way to Peace
1976: The Real Weapons of Peace
1977: If You Want Peace, Defend Life
1978: No to Violence, Yes to Peace
(3) These are the themes of the successive twenty-five World Day of Peace:
1979: To Reach Peace, Teach Peace
1980: Truth, the Power of Peace
1981: To Serve Peace, Respect Freedom
1982: Peace: A Gift of God Entrusted to Us!
1983: Dialogue for Peace, A Challenge for Our Time
1984: From a New Heart, Peace is Born
1985: Peace and Youth Go Forward Together
1986: Peace is a Value with No Frontiers North-South, East-West: Only One Peace
1987: Development and Solidarity: Two Keys to Peace
1988: Religious Freedom, Condition for Peace
1989: To Build Peace, Respect Minorities
1990: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation
1991: If You Want Peace, Respect the Conscience of Every Person
1992: Believers United in Building Peace
1993: If You Want Peace, Reach Out to the Poor
1994: The Family Creates the Peace of the Human Family
1995: Women: Teachers of Peace
1996: Let Us Give Children a Future of Peace
1997: Offer Forgiveness and Receive Peace
1998: From the Justice of Each Comes Peace for All
1999: Respect for Human Rights: The Secret of True Peace
2000: "Peace on Earth To Those Whom God Loves!"
2001: Dialogue Between Cultures for a Civilization of Love and Peace
2002: No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Peace
2003: "Pacem in Terris:" A Permanent Commitment
(5) john Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 43: AAS 80 (1988(, 575.
(6) Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nation, New York (October 5, 1995), 14: Insegnamenti, XVIII/2 (1995(, 741.
(7) benedict xv, Appeal to the Leaders of the Warring Nations, August 1, 1917: AAS 9 (1917), 422.
(8) No 4: Insegnamenti, XX/1 (1997), 97.
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
The Judeo-Christian principles on which our nation was founded have again been undermined by two recent decisions. In the 6-3 US Supreme Court decision, Lawrence vs. Texas, a Texas law banning sodomy was held unconstitutional. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in the 4-3 decision Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, held that state law barring same sex couples from civil marriage violated the Massachusetts Constitution.
These two court decisions expose the ever-growing raw judicial power of the courts, and the attacks on the US and state Constitutions, on the concept of rule of law, on the family, on children and on natural law.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia asserts: "Todayís opinion (Lawrence) dismantles the structure of constitutional law..."
In Goodridge, the dissenting Justice, Francis X. Spina noted: "What is at stake in this case is. . .the power of the legislator to effectuate social change without interference from the courts. . .the power to regulate marriage lies with the legislature, not with the Judiciary. . .in fact the majority on the Massachusetts Court claimed there was an "evolving constitutional standards."
There is no such thing as "evolving constitutional standards." If the courts can amend the constitution by decree, then there really is no constitution.
Rule of Law
Justice Scalia also stated: "Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majorityís belief that certain sexual behavior is Ďimmoral and unacceptableí constitutes a rational basis for regulation."
Justice Scalia argues that if oneís personal behavior is a matter of individual choice, there can be no rule of law.
All laws are to restrict or to encourage certain types of behavior. If the state does not have the right to decide what behavior is immoral or unacceptable, why is homicide a crime?
Many commentators, who criticized these two legal decisions, also error when they claim it is a legislative, not judicial, right to define marriage.
It is God who instituted marriage Ė "two become one." Whether written by judges or legislators, no definition of marriage can change reality. It is God who made man and women and instructed them to increase and multiply.
No matter what the law states, two men or two women cannot really enter into a marriage, any more than three men, two men and a women, a man and his dog, or two animals. Are all absurdities, disclosing the arrogance of those who think they can create reality.
"The definition of marriage is not created by politicians and judges, and it cannot be changed by them. It is rooted in our history, in our laws, our deepest moral and religious convictions, and our nature as human beings. It is the union of one man and one woman. This fact can be respected or resented, but it canít be altered," states Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).
As James E. Phelan, Psy.D., a psychiatrist at the Keesler Air Force Medical Center in Mississippi, writes in Social Justice Review (May/June 2003).
"Homosexual couples are not able to provide children the proper dichotomy of mother and father, and therefore are unlikely candidates to rear children effectively. Additionally, homosexuals are more likely to suffer from gender identify confusion themselves; this in and of itself is reason to say they are not in a position properly to model appropriate behaviors required for children to become emotionally balanced and psychologically sound."
Society does have a compelling interest in marriage since it is in marriage where children are properly conceived and born and then are educated and loved and are taught civic responsibilities.
Although circumstances in life may deny some children of one or both of their parents, a child has a right to have a mother and father. Intentionally arranging otherwise makes the desires of the adult outweigh the right of the child.
The most basic issue in these two recent decisions, as with Roe vs. Wade, involves the basic question of who decides what is in fact morally acceptable, which in turn becomes the foundations for civil law.
Is God the source of the standard by which all men should live, or is it up to each group of people, through their form of government, to decide what is right and wrong. By their decision, do they in fact make certain behavior right or wrong?
Not only do these two recent decisions expose how the Judiciary has disregarded the "separation of powers," but also shows the growing disrespect for the limits of law. Human law cannot supercede Godís law, natural law.
As St. Thomas Aquinas taught, civil law was to promote common good, helping men to live virtuous lives.
If we as a nation have decided that there are no God-given obligations, to which we are bound to obey, on what basis can we claim that there are God-given rights, which cannot be taken from us by those in control of the government. As the Judeo-Christian principles of morality are abandoned, the freedoms that Americans have come to take for granted will erode.
I attended a class which was designed to enhance my awareness of the diversity in our society. I came away with some of my beliefs changed forever but others are just as entrenched as before the class began.
Diversity is defined as being different or distinct in kind or having variety. Not keeping your eggs all in one basket is diversity in the financial field. Reading novels, self-help books and biographies is also being diverse. If your ancestors came from Ireland and you live in Winton Terrace, youíre diverse. By virtue of the color of your skin, you would be different from most of your neighbors.
Different is being partly or totally unlike in nature, form or quality. Having an element that separates or distinguishes is also being different. Markedly distinct in quality or character. A fruit cake is nothing like a piece of steel (unless of course you use it for a door stop!) because steel is made up of completely different elements. Someone who was born on an Indian Reservation is probably going to look and act differently from someone who was born in Boston.
Difference and diversity are sometimes cultural in nature. We are different from our fellow workers in many things. Unfortunately, most people choose to distinguish people by what they can see. Color, size, gender. Diversity is most readily recognized by heritage, of course. But just because someoneís parents were born in a different part of the world doesnít make them completely different from you.
I was born on Wells Street in the heart of Price Hill. Most of the houses surrounding our home looked pretty much the same. Most of the people living on Wells looked pretty much the same. The kids on the street acted just like kids; they rode bikes and played hopscotch. But for my siblings and me, the similarities ended there. We were Catholic and with the exception of one or two families, no one else on the street went to church. In this sense of the word then, my family was different.
Were we better? No, we got into as much trouble as anyone. Were we richer? No, there wasnít much money to be found anywhere on Priceís Mountain. Were we worse? No, just a normal family trying to get by on what we had. Were we different? You bet! And we felt it every Sunday morning when we would dress up and go to church. Because no one else on the street would be walking with us.
The Grothaus children all went to Western Hills High School. We went from a school filled with kids just like us to what seemed like a college campus. My eighth grade graduating class had 125 students. That was big for a Catholic grade school. My high school graduating class had over 700 students! One hundred twenty-five Catholics for the first eight years and probably 25 Catholics for the next four years. Can you guess if I felt different?
But you know what? I still had to go to school. It didnít matter that I rarely had anyone in my classes whom I could speak with about church. It wasnít that big of a deal. When youíre in a situation over which you have no control, you have to handle it or youíll go nuts. Sure itís nice to be around people who have common interests and backgrounds. But I canít tell you how much I learned about society by going to West Hi. I wouldnít trade that experience for the world.
In our class, we defined diversity as being cultural. Cultural meant race, national origin and religion. But it also meant locality and gender. We have Caucasian, Negro, Indian, Native American and Mexican. The man from India believed that his national origin had more to do with how he became the man he is than did his religion or race. The Mexican considered himself as much a Native American as anybody else because he was raised near a Reservation. One Negro woman felt strongly that her locale and the food she ate defined her being.
The point is, weíre all different no matter where we live or where we worship or what we eat. And being different is Fantastic. This world would be a boring place if everyone was the same. Our struggle these days is to accept other peoplesí diversity. No one should exclude anyone else on the basis of color or religion or nationality. Give others a chance. Now thatís not to say weíre going to like everyone we meet. But donít shun them just because theyíre different. Youíre different too!
If we discard someone solely because theyíre Black or Jewish, thatís discrimination. If you are renting an apartment to someone, dig deep to find out if they have the resources to pay the rent; donít pass judgment without checking. One of our classmates told a story of a former boss of his who was a millionaire but wore jeans with holes in the knees. You canít always tell a book by itís cover. How many sales are lost daily because sales clerks judge people as soon as they walk in the door?
Embrace diversity. Discover other cultures, religions, customs. What would life be like without Chinese food? Attend a religious service from another faith, it will really open your eyes. Treat people fairly regardless of their color. Donít knock other people, youíre only hurting your own hand. Just a few thoughts.
by Susan Seta
"So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come." ó 2 Cor 5:17
Monsignor Beiting devoted over fifty years serving the poor in Appalachia following is a letter he sent to those who support him. Itís a beautiful testament of a day in the life of this amazing servant of God.
Dear Kin Folks,
I send you my Thanksgiving prayers and gratitude from the mountains of Eastern Kentuckyís Appalachia area. Iíve just returned from my evening mass in Martin County. As I drove into my yard it was beginning to snow. I was 20 degrees.
I am sure many of you thought I passed away since you havenít received a letter from me in such a long time. I am still alive and have never been as busy as I have ever this past year. I have started three letters of before this one only to run out of time and then never get back to finish the letter. Tonight I am going to finish no matter what.
Let me tell you about Thanksgiving and today. I started Thanksgiving Day by going to St. Jude at 7:00 a.m. to make my Holy Hour for the day. I had the first to my two masses at 8:30. I want you all to know that you together with my family were the special people I asked God to bless in reward for your countless acts of generosity to me and my poor.
I then drove 35 miles deeper into the hills for my second mass at St. John Neumann, in Hode. Once again with a dozen of the faithful there we gave thanks to God and to those special people like yourself.
I then went to one of our sick parishioners in her house, in Beauty, Kentucky. She is 87 years old and is a member of the original Hungarian families that came to work one of the coal mines. She never married and has only a young brother to care for her. He is 80. I had a crew working on their bathroom. The floor had sunken and termites had worked on the rest of the wood in the walls. After visit and prayers for her, I received her and her brotherís thanks for making the bathroom work.
I got back to my Rectory a little after 12 noon. A couple of eggs and toast, plus a banana was Thanksgiving dinner.
After a short rest I got in my car and to visit another sick parishioner who lives in West Virginia. She was only 10 miles away. She is doing some what better after I anointed her and brought her communion. She is suffering depression and heart problems. Please pray for her.
Next I went to Flatwoods, Kentucky, outside of Ashland, about another 30 miles away. I went to a nursing home there to visit one of our sick priests. A couple of years ago he suffered a stroke and is only able to be moved in a wheelchair. He was so grateful for my visit. It made the trip worthwhile. It is now about 5:00 p.m., and I thought, "What the heck, I am going to get a real meal before the day is over."
I went to three restaurants that I was sure would be open. Well, I found out that two of them closed at 5:00 p.m. I finally found the last one that was open. They had a buffet and at 7:00 p.m., I got my Thanksgiving dinner. I got home about 9:00 p.m. As I entered the house the phone was ringing. As I answered it, a lady was on the other end of the line. He house had been flooded earlier in the week. This was the second flood we had had in three weeks.
She had no where to go. She was an only child and she was caring for her 73-year-old father who was dying of cancer of the liver. She needed a place to car for him the next day. Could I help her and her father? I explained I already had two men in my home for the homeless. I did have a volunteer center where I could possibly house them. "How long before they could find a permanent house?"
"We only need it for a month," she said.
"I am expecting volunteers in to help me with our Christmas basket program." I told her meet me at 8:00 a.m., at my house and I would help. "God, I donít know where to put the volunteers. I hope you are listening."
I sat down to finish praying by breviary. It is now after 10:00 p.m. The phone rings again. Itís a contractor that I had hired to put an addition on a trailer that I had given to a burnout victim. He couldnít finish the job. I would have to get someone else. The burnout family is desperate.
It is raining and turning colder by the hour. I called one of my regular helpers. He could not get to the job until Monday. He had family in for the Thanksgiving holiday. "Please go then, I will let the family know help will come Monday."
It is now 10:30 p.m., and I have begun to feel sorry for myself. I missed being with my family in Northern Kentucky, 170 miles away. I didnít get anytime for myself. The problems and worries were more than I could figure out. It was then, I looked at the statue of my Blessed Mother on my desk. I was tempted to complain to her and then I sensed she said to me, "Rejoice and be glad my son has allowed you to help him carry his cross. You have helped him. He wonít forget."
I felt ashamed and asked God for forgiveness. I took out the book on the early martyrs of the Church I have been reading. Page after page was so full of love and devotion they had for Christ. What an easy day I had. Eleven-thirty p.m., I said goodnight to my king and queen.
It is now Friday, 6:45 a.m., I leave for St. Judeís and my Holy Hour. I get back to the Rectory. It is 7:50. At 8:00 a.m., sharp the lady is there for housing. With the assistance of one of my helpers, I took her down to the old Church of God. I purchased and turned into a home for the homeless and volunteer center. She was so impressed with the facility. She cried and took my hand, "You donít know what this means to my father."
I left her to go back to the church. Advent was to begin the next day. I had to get the purple colors up, the advent wreath and the other decorations. A ladder helped me hang the banners.
While I was still working, two men came in and wanted to talk to me. They had been helping set up computer classes and training people in their use. They wanted to start two new centers, on in Ft. Gay, West Virginia, the second in Yeager, West Virginia. They also were going to resume classes in Martin County. Could I furnish a volunteer to help bring all this about? I need to furnish a truck and about 50 computers. I listened to their story and how abut a dozen young teenagers who would work with them to repair the computers and help teach. I guess I was getting a little silly so I said to them, "Okay, I will help, but let me get through my Christmas basket program for 500 families first."
They leave and the work at the church gets finished. I was about to leave when the phone rings. It is a young married man who is out of work and needed a job. Could I please hire him so they can have something for Christmas? I will meet with him after 8:00 a.m., mass tomorrow at church.
At last I am back at the Rectory. Phone rings again. Another lady and her 3 children have no place to stay. I will meet with her Monday morning. I fix lunch and am trying to get a few minutes rest. The door knocks and in comes one of my work helpers. The country is in need. They need economic help. Could I help them get tourism help? Next I know one of the county magistrates I know comes to make the same appeal. Yes, I will go to the County Council meeting a week from Tuesday.
It is now 2:45 and I have to be at church in Hode, 35 miles away at 3:30. I put a cooler of diet cokes in my car, headed out in the driving rain. Three-thirty, I am at Hode and two ladies are waiting for me. Could I help them to start a food bank on the other side of the mountain, in Martin County. There in nothing in this area to help the poor. They know of no building available. Could I help? A couple of year ago I built a small building adjacent to our church in Hode. I took them out there. "Would this be big enough?"
"Oh, yes," they said, "all we need are a lot of shelves, a refrigerator and a deep freezer."
Besides this I would have to put in a heating system. I also promised the use of our parish hall: it is part of a trailer, so they can give classes on cooking, budgeting and parenting. Could I help them get some food as well?
It is now 4:30 and time for my mass at St. John Neumann. They leave and after mass Sr. Jeannette, who was in the meeting with me, "They went away excited. That Fr. Beiting is really okay," they said. Mass is over and once again in the raid I drive home 35 miles away.
I get back to Louisa and my driver says, "There is nothing to eat at the house. Would you mind going to Kentucky Fried Chicken?" The Colonel and I have been friends for many years so I say, "Alright." After the meal a stop was made at the grocery store and I am back home. I finished my evening prayers and began this letter.
Thanks be to God, the phone has only rang once. It was parishioner in Inez. He wants to his marriage outside of Church blessed. Can I meet him at Inez at noon tomorrow? Yes, I will be there.
I didnít have time to tell of my three falls this fall and my bad right shoulder, nor of the infection on the toe neck to my big toe on the right foot. Donít worry the doctor cut off the infected toe and assured me I would never have trouble with that toe again.
Please pray for two of my nephews. Steve had a terrible fall and is severely paralyzed. Robbie has had a cancerous brain tumor removed, but they could not get it all. He is under medication. Monday of this coming week my brother, Jerry, will be operated on to replace his hip. My brother, Donald, will be operated on for a bad hernia. He also has an aneurysm and heart problems. Please pray for them. They mean so much to me.
I may not get a chance to write to you again before January 1st. Would you please pray for me? I shall be 80-years-old that day and I hope to keep going well into the future. I am sure God will give me more years. I have so much to make up for.
It is now after 9:00 p.m., and I have to write the out our Sunday bulletin so I better stop.
To me your are so special. You give a luster to Godís creation. Please continue to support me. At 80 years of age, Iím pretty pitiful. I really need your help.
Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor Ralph W. Beiting
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com