Yes, I am a Catholic!

Yes, I am a Catholic!

 

I had intended to do some other things today, these thoughts have come upon me…..

 

Per my regular routine, I rose early, today just after 5 AM, to enter into my morning meditations.  I have been using the Catholic Liturgical Calendar as a basis for my morning meditations.  There is an App for that, there are Apps for nearly everything.  The one I use is on my tablet and phone, but here is a link to another: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022116.cfm, except this one is computer based.  You can look up the name, CatholicApp.org on your tablet, I believe.

 

Today’s Liturgy and my meditations were about God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, and also about our imitation of Christ, in so many words, when the heritage of those who have imitated him before us is passed down to us, until the end of time.  Moses and Elijah, even appeared to the Apostles, and God advised them that Jesus is God’s Son, listen to him.  The Apostle Paul wanted his followers to imitate him as he, Paul, followed and imitated Jesus.  In view of my morning meditations, and my admiration of Pope Francis’ comments about Mr. Trump, if he believed in building walls to keep the immigrants out of the United States, not being a Christian, (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/world/americas/pope-francis-donald-trump-christian.html?_r=0) I decided to go to the local Catholic Church.  I happen to be out of town, in Wetumpka, AL and the local Pastor, Fr. Albert Kelly, does not know me.

 

It was a wonderful worship time, and the music was wonderful.  They have a praise and worship band signing the traditional Catholic hymns with a live choir too!  The Homily was great too, and very meaningful, an exposition on the Liturgy for the day, which I just mentioned having meditated and prayed with this morning.  The Homily was about how parents pass on their genes and teaching to their children, just as Abraham’s heritage and genes have been passed down according to God’s promise for generation after generation, until the end of time.  Also mentioned was even if one does not have children, how one’s character and belief is passed down to others who are affected by it.  During the mass, I regularly thought of how I grew up Catholic, and I am in many ways still Catholic, due to my upbringing.  I regularly attended the Catholic Church, receiving all the rites of passage, until I was 18 and began attending another church because of my beliefs at that time in observing the Sabbath on the 7th Day of the week and my beliefs in peace and non-violence, which I did not know were accepted at that time in the late 1960’s to my knowledge. (There were some beliefs in non-violence in Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement, and Thomas Merton was a kindred Spirit to me, but I did not know of these things until much later.)

Being there today, at this mass, even though I do not regularly attend the Catholic Church, I went right up to receive communion.  I was in a little state of contemplation, and apparently I was not holding my hands just quite right, although I know how to, when one receives communion.  Fr. Albert Kelly asked me, “Are you Catholic?”  I realized I was not doing it quite right, too late though, and I said “Yes, I am a Catholic.”  So, he gave me the host, and I drank the wine.  You may say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” but I say, in the context of the situation, and the liturgy of the day, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.”  It is in the genes.  It is in the heritage of my soul and being.  In many ways, although I also believe in and have a heritage in other sides of the Christian family too, Yes, I am a Catholic.  This happens to be the week I already wrote about our common heritage as human beings created in the image of God, an article, “Cooper White – Cooper Black” which some loved, and some did not appreciate so much…..  https://jcooperforpeace.org/.  I don’t mind a bit if my physical makeup is a little mixed, or my religious heritage somewhat mixed, or if some of my family members were crazy, just like me…  I am who I am!

 

So, after mass, in place of eating doughnuts and coffee, as I have done before when I have been to this church, I spoke to a few people, and left to go about what I had planned to do, which was not to write this article, but I ran directly into Fr. Kelly, having changed his cloths and coming back into the Sanctuary.  I shook his hand and told him I wanted to explain something to him I did not have time to in the communion line.  I told him I grew up Catholic, and this year, for the first time in 49 years, I was observing Lent and that I sometimes do attend a Catholic Church. (This year for Lent I am giving up one drink per day, limiting my lunches to about $5, giving up meat, except for fish on Fridays, and sending the savings to help the refugees, which is the important thing to me, what I can give, not give up.  Also, I am trying to give up more of my conceit and vanity and pride, and other sins…, although I did not tell him all of that.)  He was very kind.  He asked who the priest was in my town when I told him I was not from Wetumpka.  I told him it was Father Deasy, whom he knew and had gone to school with, along with Fr. Deasy’s brother.

 

Anyway, it is good to be a part of one big worldwide family, the human race, or still have in my being the heritage of the Catholic Church, or the Worldwide Church of God, or Grace Church, where I now mostly attend.  It is good to be an American, to be a Christian, but it is not so good, in my view, to build up our walls and exclude the needy from fellowship with us, just because they are different.  Yes, I know the Vatican has a wall around it, but I don’t think Pope Francis built it, it has been there many years before.  Maybe we can tear it down, if it matters so much, which it doesn’t.  Yes, I am Catholic.  It came to me today, just how Catholic I still am..

 

Peace,

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

Reflections and Shadows

Reflections and Shadows

2013-09-25 12.18.16

I visited Birmingham, AL this past week while calling on a casket distributor and some funeral homes attempting to get a new phase of our business, Simple Way Coffin, http://www.simplewaycoffin.com going.  I drove by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, http://bcri.org/index.html which is just across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church http://www.16thstreetbaptist.org/ and noticed in Kelly Ingram Park what is referred to as the “Four Spirits Statue.” http://www.wbhm.org/News/2013/fourspiritsstatue.

 

I drove on by and I believe a Spirit urged me to come back, to take a picture, and to stop in the middle of the day and spend time in reflecting on the meaning of this statue and the history and sacrifice depicted here and in the surrounding buildings and park.  Perhaps a Spirit will urge you to stop what you are doing and think about these things too…  The picture above and the links above are enough for long periods of study.  You may wish to spend a whole day visiting this area, the museums and church and park and statue, and to think…..  Thinking, meditation, and reflection may be becoming lost arts in our fast paced society.  I wish you well if you decide to attain to these disciplines.

 

In those days then President John F. Kennedy responded the day after the killings by saying, “If these cruel and tragic events can only awaken that city and state – if they can only awaken this entire nation to a realization of the folly of racial injustice and hatred and violence, then it is not too late for all concerned to unite in steps toward peaceful progress before more lives are lost.”

President Kennedy’s words still ring true for those who believe in Racial Reconciliation, Social Justice, and the ethics of Peace and Nonviolence.  Surely these words ring true also for the rest of the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, and multitudes of other bombing tragedies that occur so often they are not in the news, and are, unless extra brutal, passed on by without reflection of the folly of attempting to overcome Evil with more Evil, Hatred with more Hatred, and Falsehood with more Falsehood.

 

Open the picture up full screen and take some time to think about these matters….  Read the links… Read the names….  I will mention just a few of my reflections….

 

It was a sunny day; notice the shadows cast by the gentle rays of the Fall sun….  Notice the landscaping, flowers and other statues in the exquisitely well-kept park…  Notice the 6 doves released in my view to God above, who keeps in my view the Spirits of all mankind, those who subscribe to our personal religious systems, and those who subscribe to other systems too…  Or, who subscribe to no systems…  Notice the girls have no defense systems.  What good would a gun, a sword, or any method of overcoming Evil with more Evil have done?  Overcoming Evil with Good is all they could possibly have done, and are actually still doing..  6 Spirits… These 4 girls died, but the same day two other girls died…  The girls are in the process of physical development… They were only 11 to 14 years old… I can only imagine they still occasionally played with dolls, and I cannot imagine they had seen much violence on TV back then that is now our steady diet.  “Gunsmoke,” and Matt Dillon was about as violent as it got on TV back then.  In those days the news was sanitized, as it is now in the United States.  No blood, no guts on TV….  The terrible wars we were in back then…  The public was protected from seeing people actually die… We still are, basically… We do not see the results of our long range missiles, and Drones….   It could be your own girls…  What would stop anyone with a heart of Evil from killing your children, or killing you?

 

Notice what appears to be a cloth under the kneeling girl… Is she praying?  Should we pray too?  I thought later that I should have offered to pray with another woman who was there taking pictures too… Do our prayers matter?  Does God hear our prayers?  What could we pray for?  For forgiveness? For Peace? For Justice? For ourselves and our own sins? Notice the kneeling girl is not wearing shoes….  The shoes are in the shadows on the ground… Is this Holy Ground?  Where are the other girl’s shoes, the girl that is reaching to the doves, or perhaps reaching to heaven?  Where are the shoes?  Really poor people do not have shoes…  The girl sitting on the bench has a book in her lap… Is that a Bible?  I imagine so…  I imagine she believed the words of the Bible…  I imagine other things too, that God is Good, that Justice will be done, not retribtative Justice, but Justice to restore and draw us all to God, including the killers of these little girls.  Including us too… Our own hands are not clean who benefit from the injustice done to black slaves and the injustice we as a nation do in other parts of the world…  Including Presidents and the CIA who do it too…  Including me, who used to pay taxes to support warfare.  I say used to; now I am living under the level that requires me to pay Federal taxes…  But, there are all those hidden taxes…  It is these systems we all grow up in, including those systems of our perceived enemies,  including the four little girls…  Men’s systems that are less than perfect, that are not “Exceptional.”  Except Exceptionally Evil, they are…

 

Therefore, we look to a better Kingdom, a better system, as these little girls seem to be looking… Maybe there will come a better Kingdom…  Maybe if we just go to a hilltop we can envision it from far off…  Just to look at it as our father Abraham, not to enter it yet…  Maybe there will be a Millennium on earth and these little girls will be resurrected to live in it, to grow up, have families of their own, and to forgive their killers….  You may say there is no hope, no future, but I disagree…  The statues told me that there is a hope and a future for those who at least pause to reflect upon the shadows of the past that haunt us…

 

Grace, Peace,

 

John Cooper