Monday, August 20, 2012

The Drought, High Food Prices and the Poor

There was another heat wave in Russia this summer, which will cause wheat exports to drop. There has been record heat and an historic drought in the Midwestern United States. The drought has devastated the corn crop in the U.S. The yield per acre will be the lowest in 17 years. Almost half the corn crop has been destroyed. World food prices are going up. According to an article in, Global Development, "America's worst drought in half a century will push up inflation and put a fresh obstacle in the path of the struggling global economy, one of UK's leading banks has warned."
Who will suffer the most? The poor. Here and abroad. As Christians, we are suppose to love our neighbor and to be compassionate to the poor. Jesus made that clear in His teachings and actions. He identified with the poor and marginalized, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do to me..." But according to reports, feeding the poor and helping the poor is going to get more costly. High food prices cause instability in countries (or worse), and hunger, especially in third world countries. Children are at the greatest risk.
The demand for food is rising in the world. Each year new customers for food increase and that is a good thing, as growth continues in developing countries. But with record heat, droughts, flooding and more severe weather this will get more difficult in the future.
Pray. The world needs prayer. The world also needs compassionate action. Practical, intelligent, inspiring ideas are needed, that translate into bold action, to help the helpless. Who will step up to the challenge?

St. Daniel The Stylite
A rich man questioned Daniel, then eighty years old, "As you have been up on that pillar for the past thirty years, what advice can you give me, noble champion?
Daniel answered, "Love your neighbor, especially the poor. Up until today, you have loved no one but yourself. In truth, very little!" (Conversations of the Saints-Words and Wisdom From God's Chosen)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paolo Gabriele-"Thou Shall Not Steal!"

Sadly, the Vatican, as reported widely in the news, is embroiled in a scandal that reads more like fiction than non-fiction. Even Dan Brown couldn't make this stuff up. Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former trusted butler, betrayed Pope Benedict and others, by allegedly stealing important documents from the Pope's private apartment, even from the Pope's desk, which were then leaked to the Italian press. How could anyone with the name Gabriele do such a thing? I'd like to put this question to Gabriele. Gabriele, no fear of hell, or God's wrath, not to mention prison time? The humble and trusting Pope Benedict was being attended to by someone with questionable character, I find that alarming. Paolo Gabriele had many functions as the Pope's butler, at times, he helped him dress, gave him meals, attended Mass with him. Someone who is now standing trial for grand theft and who was obviously mentally unstable (who in their right mind steals from the Pope!) was giving the Pope meals and had access to the Pope's private apartment?
In the latest development, "A Vatican judge on Monday ordered the pope's butler and a fellow lay employee to stand trial for the alleged pilfering of documents from Pope Benedict XVI's private apartment in an embarrassing scandal that exposed power struggles and purported corruption at the Holy See's highest levels" (Huffington Post).
In a strange turn of events, "Gabriele is telling investigators that he was, "motivated by my deep faith and by the desire that in the church light is shed on everything." He also apparently said that, "seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the Church........I was sure that a shock, even a media one, would have been healthy to bring the Church back on the right track."
Bringing the Church back on the right track by stealing, betrayal, lies and scandal? Strange thinking, I'd say.
What part did greed (one of the deadly sins) play in this story? I wonder how much money Gabriele received to steal and leak these documents? Perhaps it was not Gabriele's wish to expose the power struggles at the Vatican as much as it was his desire for money and grabbing power himself. Essentially he was smiling at the Pope to his face and making small talk, (I assume), while betraying him behind his back. It's all so absurd, convoluted and criminal!
I'm sorry for Pope Benedict that he had to experience this level of betrayal, no one should have to go through that. But Jesus said, "As they persecuted me, they shall persecute you." Unfortunately, it happens all the time, on all levels.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lord Its Time To Act!

I'm preparing a talk I'm going to give to Lay Carmelites this weekend. I've been reading, thinking, trying to come up with some inspiration. I'm choosing the topic and so I can be creative, which I like, so I can be open to the movement of the Spirit. Actually, I've been thinking about the topic for weeks.
I came across this material while preparing: "In the land of Galilee, twenty miles from Nazareth, there is a beautiful mountain chain that is called Mount Carmel. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and provides an ideal setting for retirement and reflection, for prayer and contemplation. Carmel means garden and vine of God and its luxurious vegetation is a symbol of grace, blessing and beauty. This was the site where the Old Testament prophet Elijah was victorious over the 450 prophets of Baal. They cried to Baal from morning to night but he would not consume their holocaust. One cry to the Lord was sufficient for Elijah. Immediately a fire consumed not only his holocaust but also the stones, altar, and even the water in the trench around it. After this challenge of fire the false prophets were slain and the Israelites returned their hearts back to God and renewed their convenant with God. On the Carmelite shield the sword over Mary's crown signifies Elijah's zeal for the Lord, the God of hosts......"
Granted Elijah was a special prophet. But I couldn't help thinking that one cry to the Lord was sufficient and immediately God acted. And so I humbly address this to God in prayer:
"What about our cries Lord? Isn't it time to act? Isn't it time to act, Lord, on behalf of goodness, truth and holiness. Isn't it time to destroy evil, to crush the demons who drive people to do horrific acts of violence like what happened in the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, or in Syria, or Nigeria........Lord it's time for good to conquer evil. It's time for love, compassion, tolerance and peaceful co-existence to reign and rule the day............It's time for human beings to live with integrity and goodness, all the time and not to give into despair and hatred.....Guide us Lord."
For those of us who have zeal for the Lord, we won't give up, we'll hold fast to truth and goodness, knowing God will act, in God's time.

Do great things for us, O Lord, for you are mighty and holy is your name.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Eva Rausing's Death and Hans Rausing's Need for Penance

Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments. (Abraham Heschel)

I was thinking about the sad details of the story about Hans Kristian Rausing, the son of a billionaire, whose wife Eva was addicted to drugs as he was. So much opportunity, wealth and potential influence darkened and lost by the demon of drug addiction. It destroyed their family. According to news reports, apparently in a bizarre ending to Eva's life of addiction, "for more than two months Mr. Rausing went about his business while the corpse of his wife Eva decomposed in their luxury home in central London." After his wife died of heart failure combined with drug abuse, he left her buried beneath a pile of clothing and garbage bags, in their home. Two enormously wealthy people, with great potential, gave into drug addiction and lost sight of what's really important in life. Their own children had to be taken from them and cared for by relatives. Hans Rausing recently pleaded guilty to preventing the proper burial for his wife. She died without dignity because of drugs.
It says in the Bible that "To those who are given much, much is expected." Though they did give to anti-drug charities during their marriage, they could have done so much more, so much with all their wealth. But they gave into their demons and the demons got them in the end.
Hans Kristian Rausing is still alive. He owes it to his children, to the memory of his wife, to his parents and hers to pull himself together, to do penance and overcome his addiction, once and for all. He can still do a lot of good with his life. In my humble opinion, he should spend the rest of his life, helping others and using his wealth to make a difference in the world. That might be the only thing that could save him from self-destruction at this point.