Racism can often be found in our hearts – in many cases placed there unwillingly or unknowingly by our upbringing and culture. As such, it can lead to thoughts and actions that we do not even see as racist, but nonetheless flow from the same prejudicial root… Racism can also be institutional, when practices or traditions are upheld that treat certain groups of people unjustly. The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that makes us all accomplices in racism.
With the positive changes that arose from the civil rights movement and related civil rights legislation, some may believe that racism is no longer a major affliction of our society – that it is only found in the hearts of individuals who can be dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened. But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts. The persistence of the evil of racism is why we (the US Bishops) are writing this letter now. People are still being harmed, so action is still needed.
(to be continued)
St. Luke recounts one of the parables of Jesus which begins “Two people went up to the temple area to pray…”
We are all different in the ways that we pray – some praise God for their blessings, some ask God to grant their petitions, some ask God for guidance, and some even tell God what they want Him to do. Praying can be difficult in our busy world full of distractions. The point to today’s Gospel is to pray from the heart, knowing who we are before God and that we are all sons and daughters of the One God. There is no “put down” of anyone or bragging about one’s “generosity.” The conclusion of the Gospel speaks about humility and that there is something positive about being humble.
I have found that the Wills Seminars that we have here at St. Francis are always helpful and well attended. I am surprised to learn how many people do not have a will or that they never had their will updated. So many problems are created when a person dies and there is no will or an outdated one. I have seen families torn apart because of this. Also, many do not think about leaving something to the church. We have been blessed over the years to have received financial support through the estates of people who have come to St. Francis while they worked or lived in Manhattan. I am grateful that lawyers offer their services FREE at these Wills Seminars. It provides an opportunity to clarify questions that a person may have. If you missed Saturday’s seminar, we will have another one soon.
Don’t forget the All Saints Holy Day on November 1.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that, because all humans share a common origin, they are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. When this truth is ignored, the consequence is prejudice and fear of the other, and – all too often – hatred.
Racism comes in many forms. It can be deliberate, sinful acts. In recent times, we have seen bold expressions of racism by groups as well as individuals. The re-appearance of symbols of hatred, such as nooses and swastikas in public spaces, is a tragic indicator of rising racism and ethnic animus. All too often, Hispanics and African Americans, for example, face discrimination in hiring, housing, educational opportunities, and incarceration. Racial profiling frequently targets Hispanics for selective immigration enforcement practices and African Americans, for suspected criminal activity. There is also the growing fear and harassment of persons from majority Muslim countries. Extreme nationalist ideologies are feeding the American public discourse with xenophobic rhetoric that instigates fear among foreigners, immigrants and refugees. Finally, too often racism comes in the form of the sin of omission, when (many) remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered.
Today’s Gospel is the interesting account of the persistent widow and the dishonest judge. She is the victor in spite of how she is treated. This is a victory for what a woman in her position in society could do. This is encouraging for those who may be hesitant to stand up for what they know is right. Jesus uses the example of ordinary people to show heroic action in difficult circumstances. He joins his life to ours and encourages us to act the same.
Several activities are coming up soon: next Saturday, October 26, there is a Wills Seminar after the 4 PM Mass in the Clare Room. This is a great opportunity to ask questions that you may have and to hear about ways to plan for the future. It is free and will begin about 5 PM.
Also on Saturday, October 26, the Filipino Community is sponsoring a Costume Party with food and music. It is always interesting to see how people will come dressed to this event. This promises to be a fun evening.
Commemorative Journals are available at the reception desk. This beautiful book celebrates St. Francis Church’s 175 Years of presence in midtown Manhattan. Some history, our ministries, photos and sponsors make up this Journal. Stop by and take a look at it.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
If you would like to remember a deceased friend or loved one on All Souls Day, we a have special card available at the reception desk for an offering of $5.00 each.
You can also purchase a card and choose your own donation amount online here: https://stfrancisnyc.org/product/all-souls-day-card/
The cover of the card features a photo of the Angel of Redemption from the Sorrowful Mother Shrine.
The inside message reads:
A Spiritual Gift in Loving Memory of
will share in a special remembrance in the prayers and Masses
celebrated by the Franciscan Friars at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on All Souls Day.
Below is a table comparing September 2018 collections to our current September 2019 collections.
As you can see our collections have gone down and we are not making our budget.
We need everyone to do their part to keep St. Francis on firm financial ground. The best way to use this is to make your offering using our online giving system.
We ask all of our members and visitors to offer the equivalent of ONE HOUR of their weekly salary per week to support the mission of the church. This comes to a tithe of 2.5%
Thank you to all of you who are already doing your part.
A very strong corrupting factor in cultures throughout history is the presence of racism. We just have to take a quick look through history to see its destructive power. In 2018 the US Bishops’ Conference responded to the power of racism by writing and publishing a pastoral letter against this “persistent form of evil”: Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love. The letter opens with the Scripture from St. John that says: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” The letter continues to address: What Is racism?
Racism arises when – either consciously or unconsciously – a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful. Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of persons offended. To recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt. 22,39).
The Gospel today is about Jesus curing ten lepers. What a horrible disease and what a horrible life for those who had it. You have to admire these lepers for encountering Jesus and for Jesus paying attention to them and eventually curing them. Lepers were not allowed to make contact with people outside the leper colony. They must have been shocked when they realized they were cured, so shocked that all but one went back to thank Jesus. Even in our day to day life, we take things for granted and may not pause to give thanks to God for minor or major miracles. They do happen. What was the last miracle that you experienced?
This week we begin a series of excerpts from the United States Bishops’ Letter: Open Wide Our Hearts on racism. Racism is a destructive and powerful force, and their Pastoral Letter has much to say about this evil. There is some racism in each person and to recognize it gives a person the opportunity to chose a different course in life and to embrace more strongly and fervently the val- ues of Jesus. As a church we need to stress that we are all “children of God” and that we are “sisters and brothers in Christ” and temples of the Holy Spirit. I hope that the weekly excerpts will help us lessen the power of this evil.
Our 175th Commemorative Journal is a great testament to the long history of St. Francis Church. The Journal contains history and photographs and much to enjoy. Copies are available at the reception desk of the Parish House.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
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