Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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Commentary

Dr. Donald DeMarco

 

There is considerable wisdom in the popular maxim “Stop and smell the roses.” A recent study done at Rutgers University, and reported in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, indicates that taking the time to appreciate people and the little things in life can play in important role in our overall happiness. Even taking the time, literally, to smell flowers, can be a healthy antidote to what is called the “rat race” in which we often find ourselves.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, of the Society of Jesus, wrote The Sacrament of the Present Moment to help his readers hear God’s voice as he speaks to us at every moment, and with love. This 300-year-old classic asks us to put aside our ego and pride so that we can be open to God’s salvific grace that is available from moment to moment. Each day, the author assures us, is a sacrament that we should not ignore.

In another 300-year-old classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence advises us that “whatever we do, even if we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes – as often as possible – to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret.”

“[W]hy shouldn’t you stop,” he asks, “for a while to adore Him, to petition Him, to offer Him your heart, and to thank Him?” There should be many stop signs in our daily lives that invite us to listen to the voice of God. The horizontal dimension of life should not eclipse our vertical relationship with the transcendent.

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,” said the poet, William Wordsworth: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; little we see in Nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.” Our excessive preoccupation with money has dulled our spiritual faculties. We have traded in Homo sapiens for Homo economicus. There is little time to stop and think. Our lives remain unexamined; our destiny, undiscovered. Speed robs us of the opportunity to appreciate all the beauty that lies around us.

Speed has become a central characteristic of our culture. The 1982 movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is an excellent encapsulation of America’s love affair with speed. It portrays teenagers trying to grow up too fast, working at fast-food restaurants, engaging in fast sex, listening to fast music and taking fast-acting drugs. There is no time either to think or to live. Unfortunately, the movie was regarded more for its entertainment value than for its timely moral message.

Technology, from speedways to the high-speed internet, has certainly sped up our lives, but at the price of reducing our face-to-face relationships and opportunities to appreciate the sacrament of the moment. In walking to work, we become involved in a host of interpersonal exchanges. If we ride a bicycle, these exchanges are fewer. But if we take the car, though we gain in speed, we lose in personal encounters. Getting there becomes all-important.

A character by the name of Yonatan Frimer has recited Hamlet’s “To Be, or Not To Be” soliloquy in less than a minute. At this speed, however, the message is completely unintelligible. It is fair to say that Shakespeare would have preferred a slower pace. Speed obscures. In “getting there” faster, speed erases all the vital experiences we could have enjoyed along the way. Life is to be lived, not rushed.

Mozart, who knew something about music, taught that the silent moments between the notes were more important than the notes themselves. This is a key to understanding the spiritual significance of his music. We might also say that in those silent moments between one action and another we begin to appreciate and enjoy the life that surrounds us, and perhaps even hear the Word of God. We need to stop and think, rather than stop and go. We need to meditate, to look over what we often overlook, to count our blessings. Life should not be a high-speed, endless merry-go-round, but the continuing opportunity to savor the blessings that God has strewn at our feet.

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International. He is a professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.