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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HART0617 round6 Page 12 Image 0001Dear Father Joe: After a natural disaster, I hear people who were saved talking about how they were “blessed.” Does that mean the people who died were not? Should we be using that word that way?

 

This is a tough question, because the answer more or less depends on the person’s intent when they say it. Let me share with you an incorrect way to use the word “blessed” and then an understanding of it.

Some people use the word blessed to indicate comfort, financial success, etc. This is simply wrong. Having our desires met does not mean we have been favored by God in some special way. Despite what some televangelists would tell you, God does not reward faith with worldly goods or even health.

Church history is full of stories about beautiful and holy men and women who suffered outrageous physical and emotional pain but who considered themselves blessed because they were sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. Many saints lived in poverty but felt blessed because they were poor, as Jesus was poor. In answer to those televangelists, I can assure you that there is no rational or true standard that would look at the life Jesus lived and call it financially successful.

So, if being blessed is not about our circumstances, what is it about? It’s about our attitude, our spiritual state. For example, when my mother died, a number of people came up to me at the funeral to say, “Don’t cry — your mother is with our Lord in heaven.” My response: “I’m not crying for her, I’m crying for me. Because I’ll miss my mother.” Now, don’t get me wrong — I also felt blessed in that moment, because I do know my mother is in heaven, and I know that I am loved by Jesus, and that he was with me in that moment. Remember, tears are not the result of a lack of faith but an abundance of love.

In the New Testament, when you see Jesus say the word “blessed” in your English translation, he is using the word eudaemonia. This is from the Greek for “good” and “spirit” and is often translated as meaning “human flourishing.” Jesus is saying that people of good spirit are blessed. There are long and complicated discussions about this in Greek philosophy, as well, that talk about blessings coming with virtue. If you’ve got a few days to spare, you can find out more!

Often, when folks say they’ve been ‘blessed,’ they really mean circumstances have occurred that make them happy. Back to the natural disaster: Certainly, the person who was spared is “blessed,” but so is the person who lost everything. He or she may not be happy — because earthly happiness means our circumstances prompted an emotion. Don’t confuse happy and blessed — I would suggest that when you and I say that we are blessed, we should be referring to our inner state. That is, we should be referring to our conviction that we are loved by God, and that, whatever our circumstances or situations, we are confident that Christ will bring victory. We know we are loved and saved by Christ and that this knowledge transcends any pain we may be experiencing. Or, it may be that we are in a place that we are simply striving to fully understand and embrace that conviction. It is then that we are blessed.

When you are feeling overwhelmed with grief or pain, you might want to turn to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and his mighty words ringing down through the centuries:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has given me strength and comfort in adversity — I hope it does for you. Enjoy another day in God’s presence.

Father Joe Krupp is a former comedy writer who is now a Catholic priest.

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.