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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
February 24, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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February 24, 1991

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PAGE Z ARKANSAS CATHOLIC FEBRUARY 24, 1991 This week, weql hear the Scripture story of Abraham's trust in God. That Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son simply because God requested it is beyond my capacity to imagine. If God were to command me tomorrow to slaughter one of my children, I could not do it. I do not have that kind of trust. But we don't view the concept of "sacri- rice" the way Abraham did. We would doubtless recoil in horror at the sight of a slain animal on the altar. Our idea of sacrifice follows Jesus' greatest commandment, which is perhaps our greatest sacrifice - to love one another. But what does 'love one another" mean? As Christians, how do we love Saddam Hussein at the same time our nation is abuzz with notions of his assassination? How do we love Tony Alamo, whose wholesale slander of the Catholic Church haunts us year after year? I have a hard time loving rock-singer Madonna, who wears a big cross but little else as she makes love to statues of saints. Abraham trusted. If we truly trust, we believe that God has a plan for us all - Saddam Hussein, Tony Alamo and Ma- donna induded. Abraham was willing to let Cod carry out that plan, as painful as it was. And when the ram appeared in the thicket, Abraham named the place Yahu~y/reh, God will see to it, God will provide. During Lent, during war, it takes persis- tence to remember that God will provide. But Genesis 22:10-14 is a startling reminder of what trust can do. DKH ARKANSAS CATHOLIC is I:>~sl~d 48 tirrle~ a year. for $15 I~r year, by the Catholic Dioc~e of Ltnle Rock, ~ Catholic, Inc., P.O. Box 7417. 2500 N. Ty~r St., Liffio Rock. AR 72217, {501) 664-0340 [FAX ~4.goTs]. PUBUSHER Most Rev: Andrew J. McDonald, Bishop MANAGING EDITOR _ Rey. Albert j. Schneider - , i~"V --J~P: CIRCULATION MmAc~r ~e~.~I ...... " . .AgnesKnittig " " " .... -ADVERTISING ~: .MARKETING MANAGER ~: . RonM. Ha, PROOUCTION MANAGER Rev. JamesM. ,Schr~z .... ~ .... ...... : i :::.: :.::~JoMade Smith Days and ~ h01dWs.Offl~.,.m. Ioca~d In Uor~ Hal. St, ~ Cerde, 2500 N. Tyler I~.; Little .Rod~ AR 72207, To sulmcrlbo, ~ $15 with your m,:addrm VI]I~ ,. . - ....,~ .l::e:~dtaPb~]iY;ro~ma2 inn:g.gral Pea~t,te ]i~ Peggy Coster to admit to ourselves or anyone else th~ - or a man of faith, a high priest cho- sen to offer the most important sacrifice of the year (a big man at Temple), Zechariah was a dud when it came to real belief. He could mouth words and perform ritual, but just let an angel stare him in the facel The~ angel who appeared to Zechariah announced one of the most important births in history. John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah, who was the answer to the prayers of coundess Israel- ites throughout history. The nation had been hoping for this event so long that perhaps its reality had become more myth than promise. The hope for the Messiah was life sustaining, but to actually expect Him, well... Living with hope that never quite happens becomes agony: John the Baptist was also a son for Zechariah. Posterity meant life beyond death. Zechariah and Elizabeth had prob- ably desired children for many years be- fore putting all hope aside. Is it unrealistic to think the pain involved in the slow death of his dream made Zechariah unwilling to hope anew? That his negative response to the angel's message was more emotional than rational? His hope for a son had probably died thought by thought, prayer by prayer, each passing day bringing a new promise of maybe, until one day he ac- cepted God's apparent "no." Could it be Zechariah's story offers hope for the hopeless us? Hopes and imagina- tions of "someday" make today's troubles bearable. It's easier to live for the future or in the past. Deep inside, our Alpha and Omega become the secret unspoken longings we protect by simply never men- tioning them. Eventually, living with hope that never quite: happens be- comes agony. It dies slowly, broken dream by broken dream The person we imagined would love us forever leaves. People we imagine living out our dreams have ideas and dreams that differ. Perfect situations have flaws. Living for those dreams is not necessar- ily bad. Dreams are an integral part of hope and inspiration. We need them, even those unrealistic dreams that have begun control- ling our lives. When "reality" threatens to overwhelm our little boats, dreams are life sustaining. Hope for attainment of those dreams must die slowly and very painfully - when our will to live depends on their real- ization. But die they must. When our thoughts and feelings about how life should be keep us from creating goodness and joy where we are, when we cannot "bloom where we are planted," when discontent gnaws at our peace from within, we lose our ability to follow Christ's command to love our neigh- bor. It is impossible to reach out to another if we spend most of our energy keeping unrealistic hope afloat. Worst of all, these Iongings deaden prayer. Many people have never seen an we have never seen answered prayer. fear to bring Him the hopes and which emotionally sustain us. It is possible we never bothered God's will, presuming God's will was same as ours. Then, when we didn't ceive the expected answers, we lowered expectations of answered prayer, our prayer and faith to lose vitality. began to rely on the intercession of sain for the wrong reasons. I clearly recall day an inner voice asked me why I prayed to Jesus, as I lit yet another to St. Anthony. My response was ate and unhesitant: "Because Jesus does anythingl Neither did the saints, but the number of them seemed to offer an less possibility of just one yes. and each candle offered a little hope forj little while. What we hear we begin to ponder our hearts. That can lead to faith, but if we cannot outshout it. If problem was loss of expectant unwillingness to hope again, his silence was one of God's greatest gifts him. Recurring thoughts, thoughts grew into wonder that the expected siah was indeed going to themselves in his song of praise as named John. The prayers and longings 0 Israel were heard and answered. And and Elizabeth would receive a son would prepare the way of the Messiah long dreamed of, but so little When God fulfills our deepest His gifts are so much better than we ask. (Peggy Coster writes from San Francisco, & lnFuV Ln 2 Dolores Cmrrm-t frequently get letters from readers questioning why I've wriuen on a particular subject. "What in God's name does a discussion on celibacy have to do with family?" one asked. Well, friends, it ; , has a lot to do with family if that family's parish doses because of a dergy shortage. As one Kansan wrote, "Yes, we'll drive 40 miles for Sunday Mass but we won't drive 40 miles two or three times a week for parish events. We've ef- fectively lost our parish community." I admit the line between my topic and family is sometimes tenuous and sometimes absent. Call it literary license but occasionally I cannot resist the temptation to write on a topic totally unrelated to family. Mea cu/pa. Harder to answer is the question, "Why haven't you written about... ?" A sampling the past three months indudes AIDS, suk dde, abortion, Church finance,, Cemetery upkeep, holy cards, the Shroud of Turin and Medjugorje. I don't believe a columnist should have to defend omissions as well as commission If we commit ourselves to a point of view, readers have a right to disagree but the general tone of letters charging omission of certain subjects implies there's an overt reason for my negligence in addressing these. So, to dear the air, let me say the reasons vary. I haven't written on AIDS because I don't know enough about it. I have written I don't believe a columnist should have to defend omissiom as well as com- missions. on suidde and abortion. I don't have the foggiest idea of Church finances and neither does anyone else. Cemetery upkeep doesn't grab my fancy. I-Iol~ cards are nice and that's all I can think of to say about them. The Shroud of Turin and Medjugorje are both being studied by those wiser titan I so I will not presume to pass judgment. How do I decide on topics to cover weekly? My most common impetus comes from questions I'm asked or issues discussed frequently enough to tell me there's a general interest out there. I am a lay family - oriented columnist so I am apt to hear more daily life than technological ones. issues come up, I either turn them over theologians or ask their advice. I make pretense of being either a psychologist although I make the gifts and learning of both. I also choose topics that are fimeb secular and religious countrywas riveted on rescuin~ from the pipe, I asked why we don't that 35,000 children die daily fion - related causes on our planet. becauseJessica had a name and the didn'O Because families are affected mental and Church polities, the advertising, media, education and institutions, developments. My column on the veto' the Family Leave Bill would be ent from that of a business columnist, example. In the final analysis, I guess choose have to hold a general middle-America Catholics, wherever live. As a national this problern The issue like the dilution of ethnic parishes, are significant in North Dakota, and their of family farms is of little interest So topics must be balanced and hag them is both the or downfall of the columnist. Cotgn~ 1991 Dolores Ctwran