||Deacon Joe Hulway
||February 1, 2010
“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
|We often have a lot of questions we would like to ask Jesus, but in the gospels we can also reflect on a lot of the
questions that Jesus asks of others, and indirectly of us. In this newsletter, we usually reflect on questions Jesus asks
during His ministry, but this month we look at the very first spoken words of Jesus to be recorded. He asks these
questions of His parents when He was only 12 years old; when they found Him in the temple after three days of
searching. Jesus asks: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But apparently Mary and Joseph did
not know because the passage continues: "But they did not understand what he said to them." (Lk. 2:50) And Mary
"kept all these things in her heart." (Lk. 2:51)
This month's question hits on a theme that has occurred in many of the questions we have considered; our struggle to
understand, and the importance of faith as we journey to grow in understanding. Mary is a shining model for us to teach
us how we should act. She accepted the role of being the mother of God without fully understanding what that role would
entail. On the morning after Jesus was born, the shepherds visited and "they made known the message that had
been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." (Lk. 2:17-19) Mary was amazed at what was said
about her child and twelve years later she still was growing in understanding of His mission. But she reflected on all
these things and kept them in her heart. We should expect that there will be many things that we do not understand on
our faith journey. But if we stay close to Jesus, as Mary did, and if we are willing to spend time in reflection and
contemplation, God will send the Holy Spirit to help enlighten us. We need to spend time in the Father's house praying
and studying the scriptures.
Jesus loved and respected Mary and Joseph, but this month's question is a reminder that there is a higher authority than
any here on earth. Our love for God comes ahead of even our love for our families. Our obedience to God comes before
our obedience to human laws. Sometimes we are called to acts of civil disobedience. And let us continue the discussion
on this subject in the next section.
|So much for New Year's resolutions; I already missed the first newsletter of the year in January. You didn't get to hear
me go on about how wonderful the Christmas holidays were, especially from a family perspective. Since it is so late, and
we're already rapidly approaching the beginning of Lent, I won't say any more about Christmas. I will just include a
Christmas family picture below. It says it all about how blessed I am.
Shortly into the new year, we awakened to hear of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. I visited Haiti in 2001. At that time, there
was no earthquake, there was no hurricane to deal with, and yet the situation was very bleak. The extreme poverty, the
lack of food, the lack of clean water, the lack of sanitation and medicine, and unemployment rates exceeding 50%
brought about levels of despair in the people that I had never experienced. Parents had no hope of any future for their
children. Now add last year’s hurricane damage and this year’s earthquake disaster on top of this already desperate
situation, and I cannot imagine what it is like today. Many of the reporters are in Haiti for the first time; they think that all
of the hunger and thirst are the result of the earthquake. But most of it existed already; there are now terrible injuries
and staggering fatalities heaped on top of what was already an ongoing crisis. I talked with Sr. Joanne at Food for the
Poor last week. Food for the Poor has a significant ongoing presence in Haiti and was poised to be of immediate
assistance. They know the needs. For example, in addition to much of the traditional aid, FFP distributed Crocs to the
tent cities because many left homes without any shoes and the streets are strewn with broken glass and rubble. Sr
Joanne also directed me to a video on their website that had been created in the first days after the earthquake. The
video is Haiti Quake Devastation. Click to watch, but be aware that it very graphic. I hope you will be generous in helping
the relief efforts to Haiti; maybe you have already made a contribution. But even more, I ask you to please continue to
keep the people of Haiti, the poorest of the poor, in your prayers long after the immediacy of this current crisis fades
away. They are part of the Body of Christ. As long as they continue to suffer, the whole body suffers. As long as they
suffer, we cannot be made whole.
Jenni and I just returned from a weekend retreat for deacon couples. Our presenter was Fr. Jack Fabian. He is the
founder of the Companions of Christ the Lamb (CCL). (I have had an opportunity in the past to take a couple of 4-day
wilderness retreats on their property just outside of Paradise, MI, in the Upper Peninsula.) Father gave me a new
appreciation for the need for "slowing" to increase my awareness of the world around us--both the natural and the
spiritual dimensions. He left us with a reminder to reverence what is made aware to us. I have always enjoyed being
close to nature, but not so comfortable with the concept of dealing with spirits and being aware of their presence. I now
feel challenged to investigate some of the writing of the mystics within the Catholic tradition. Although the Holy Spirit has
not given me an abundance of gifts in this vein, I feel that I need to hone what little I have been given, and be more
receptive to appreciating the insights of people who have been blessed with these gifts.
As part of the spiritual dimension, Father encouraged us to develop our relationships with our guardian angels. And one
of the first steps is to ascertain their names. I had never asked my guardian angels for their names. (For me, angels is
plural because I received a second guardian angel when I was ordained.) I have simply assigned my angels the
nicknames of Colden and Marcy; two mountains in the Adirondacks. But last night, I think I found out that one is named
Dominic. I need to do a little more talking to be sure.
I was recently made aware of a document entitled the Manhattan Declaration -- A Call of Christian Conscience. (Visit the
Web site at: www.manhattandeclaration.org.) Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders united last
September to make a joint statement in defense of the following fundamental truths:
"1.the sanctity of human life
2.the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3.the rights of conscience and religious liberty."
I encourage you to visit the Web site and read the declaration which has been signed by the bishops of most of the
major dioceses in the US, as well as by most popular and public national Christian leaders. If you agree with the
declaration, you can add your name to the list of close to half a million signers. I almost never add my name to on-line
petitions, but I made an exception this time. The attacks on Christianity have been increasing steadily and I want to
support our leaders as they try to make our voices heard.
Here is an excerpt from the Manhattan Declaration which fits in well with the discussion from the previous section of this
newsletter regarding the need to put obedience to God's laws first:
"Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in
God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.' Through
the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no
more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in
his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as
Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the
moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no
authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience. King’s willingness to go to jail, rather than
comply with legal injustice, was exemplary and inspiring.
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our
institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-
life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages
or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and
the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render
to Caesar what is God’s."
We need to be ready to stand up for our beliefs in God, and be willing to suffer the consequences of our actions.
|Homilies and Bulletin Articles
|Since I didn't issue a newsletter in January, there are nine new homilies posted at the website since the last newsletter.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 24, 2010
What You Want and What God Wants
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 17, 2010
Baptism Throughout the Year
Baptism of the Lord
January 10, 2010
New Year's Resolution
Feast of the Epiphany
January 3, 2010
An Extended Family
Feast of the Holy Family
December 27, 2009
Go Away Changed
Christmas - Mass at Dawn
December 25, 2009
Reflections on the Visitation
4th Sunday in Advent
December 20, 2009
Joy in Heaven
Advent Reconciliation Service
December 18, 2009
Be Who You Are Called to Be
3rd Sunday in Advent
December 13, 2009
|Status of the Book
|The reality of the book took a major step forward in my mind as I received three different proposals from the publisher
for the design of the book's cover. I quickly narrowed it down to two of them and then printed off the covers and folded
them so that they could be placed on a bookshelf to measure their effectiveness. Jenni and I went to Borders and placed
them on the shelves among the other books to evaluate their appearance in an actual setting. We even took an informal
survey of three Borders' employees. After much prayer, I finally made my selection. The new heading of this newsletter is
a hint at the appearance of the cover.
The inside of the book was also designed and the layout of the text was formatted and approved last week. I should be
receiving my first hard copy for approval this week. It's an exciting time, but also one that leaves me feeling very anxious
and vulnerable. Up until this time, it has been a fairly private matter. But now as the book prepares to be born, I need to
brace myself for the criticisms of those who may find the baby ugly.
I am making the transition from being a writer to being an author. I need to now give a little more attention to the practical
and business aspects of being an author. I just picked up a small book entitled: "Writing as a Small Business". Hopefully
it will give me some insights on how to keep track of expenses and of any income that may materialize from this
endeavor. I've started to investigate modifying the Web site, including linking up with Pay Pal, to allow people to
purchase the book directly from me. Of course, it will also be available from the publisher, from on-line sites such as
Amazon, and hopefully from major bookstores.