Thought for the Week – The Right of the Environment

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I am re-reading Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. At this time, when Climate Change is being dismissed as a hoax, it is good to have a pope who knows the issue and insists on our responsibility to do something about it.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, Pope Francis said:

It must be stated that a true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Humans beings, for all their remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology,” (Laudato Si’, 81) is at the same time a part of these spheres. Human beings possess a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow human beings and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorised to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good.

We need to live simpler, more sustainable lives. The health of the planet and our existence depend upon our choices and actions.

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Thought for the Week – Commitment

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Commitment is a challenge – it is hard to rule out other possibilities and there are always are possibilities – it is easy to stay nibbling at the edges of marriage, of monastic life rather than committing to them.
We take on this commitment not to restrict or limit ourselves, not to annoy ourselves or our partner. We commit because we know instinctively that a successful relationship requires it, requires the security and freedom which commitment brings.
W.N.Murray, Leader of a Scottish Himalayan Expedition says,  ‘Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless good ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one 
that would otherwise never have occurred. 
Commit your life to the Lord. Trust in him and He will act……the psalmist promises
And I deeply believe this –commitment releases all sorts of things that one could not
have dreamed of….. allows providence a free reign in our lives.
Commitment must be visible at some point – visible as humble service or creative
love  – else it may remain a pious aspiration or an illusion.
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Thought for the Week – Achieving Greatness

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The movie, The Third Man was set in Vienna after the second world war . Reflecting on the conflict, the main character, Harry Lime comments; ‘After all, it’s not that awful – in Italy for 30 years, under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, and 500 years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!”  Though several of these facts are wrong – for instance the cuckoo clock was invented by the Germans – it suggests that strife, suffering, somehow pushes us to achieve greatness.

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Thought For The Week – Zacchaeus, that man of small stature in the Gospel story

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I imagine most of us here have climbed a tree at some stage in our lives- probably when we were children.  You will know from that experience that climbing is often the easy part. Getting down can be much harder.
I have often wondered how Zacchaeus, that man of small stature in the Gospel story, climbed the sycamore tree with such apparent ease.  Part of the answer is that the Jericho sycamore is quite different from our
European variety. Instead of one trunk it has many branches growing from its base, something like a fig tree.  This makes it easier to climb though getting down remains a challenge.
It is still hard to imagine your revenue officer leaving the comfort of their office and heading off to climb a tree even if it is easier then we thought. It is hard to imagine them or any of us having the courage and humility to take such a step.
Yet we are told that Zacchaeus, this important, if despised tax collector, did just that – left the  security of his office and ventured out onto the street and climbed a tree? What pushed him out of the safety of his office – nudged him to go and see this man? He probably heard the news that Jesus had healed a blind man at the entrance to the town.  Whatever it was, he threw caution to the wind, obeyed the call and went off to catch a glimpse of this man Jesus.
Then while peering out from the safety of his perch, Zacchaeus is spotted by Jesus. Jesus  challenges him to leave the safety of his tree and come down meet him – he wants to be his guest today. Jesus invites him to participate rather then remain an observer.
This second step requires even more courage than the first – it is tempting to stay up there  – watching, criticising, judging, safe at a distance – rather than descend and stand vulnerable on the street in the midst of a hostile crowd. Come out of hiding and meet your God.
Zacchaeus again responds generously – and in that moment of meeting his life is turned upside down – ‘taking’ transformed into ‘giving back and giving away’.
Jesus’ invitation is open to all who repent – tax collectors and sinners – the invitation to come down from your tree and encounter Christ and Christ, St. Benedict tells us, is everywhere, in our brothers and sisters, in friends and neighbours, in the sick, in strangers. The possibility for transformation is all round us.
The Eucharist is also such an invitation  – God inviting us to come out from where ever we are and be his guest today.  “To be a christian”, according to Rowan Williams, “means to live as people who are always guests – that are wanted and welcomed”.
We too are free to climb our tree to get a better view. We also have the option to stay up there, observing, watching, criticising, judging or come down, risk the encounter and be his guest today and so be transformed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Murroe Website EditorThought For The Week – Zacchaeus, that man of small stature in the Gospel story
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Thought for the Week – SPIRITUAL STENTS

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In medicine, a stent is a tube, made of metal or plastic which is inserted into a vessel or duct to keep the passageway open.
There is variety of stents for different purposes. One type is used to open up an artery that has been narrowed by fatty deposits along its walls.
There are times when we need the equivalent of a spiritual stent to keep a passageway open to the centre
Our world is not too concerned with this task. It  is more interested in external success and the appearance of things. Our consumerist culture does its best to clog up the passageway to the centre.
But we also know that contentedness is an inside job. It requires that we keep connected with our own interior world.
If I don’t pay attention to this and use my ‘spiritual stents’, I am in danger of constantly spinning round things and never landing – never touching the centre.
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Thought for the Week – The secrecy of my inner self

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A well know theologian has argued that we no longer believe because tradition tells us or because an authoritarian church commands us.
Belief in God’s existence is not a matter of rational demonstration
or irrational feeling.’  It is rather ‘a matter of reasoned trust’ –  an act of mystical faith. Our belief in the existence of God, to be convincing,
must pass through our  human experience.
“And why is this confidence in a totally different ‘invisible’ reality reasonable 
and intelligible? Because it is supported,and  verified in the context 
of our lived experience….
 
God has been obscured by churches, and often by their actions so that the 
only remaining possibility is to close one’s eyes in order to turn inwards and find the all-encompassing, all-directing God in the secrecy of my inner self, to sense, to feel and experience him at the core of my being.”  Hans Kung 
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Thought for the Week – Simplicity

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I have just read a book called, ‘Think Simple’, by Ken Segall. In it he proposes simplicity as key to business success.  At the same time as I was finishing this book, I received a sermon on the importance of simplicity in the spiritual life. Simplicity seems to be the order of the day.
Segall claims that,  “simplicity is one of the most deceptive concepts on earth.”He goes on, “It is arguably the most potent weapon in business – attracting customers, motivating employees, outthinking competitors.” Ken worked with Apple where simplicity is at the heart of business and close to the secret of their success.
Simplicity is key to the spiritual life also – we are urged “to become as little children – become as wise as a serpent and as simple or as innocent, as a dove.”
As we grow up we tend towards complexity and this happens in organisations too. As we mature we return to what Richard Rohr calls, ‘a second naivete’,  a simplicity which is calm, patient, inclusive and self-forgetful. The goal of religion is to lead us back to this blessed simplicity of heart.
In business and in the spiritual life, simplicity takes work.
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Thought for the Week – Become Reconnected

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Having witnessed the drama of the Renaissance and the emergence of the individual and the subsequent rise of humanism in the Enlightenment, it is easy to understand how human beings came to see themselves as the measure of all things and masters of the universe. It is easier to understand how God became irrelevant and spiritual values relative and arbitrary.

Humanism has delivered on some levels but it has left our spirits ‘no less lonesome inside’ and weakened our communal ties – it has led us to become slaves to ourselves and spiritually impoverished.

We are products of this world, withdrawn from wider circles of identity, and can experience ourselves as floating off, anchor-less. Many people no longer belong to the stars, or participate mystically with nature and are disconnected from extended family and community. We need to widen our circles of identity and become reconnected.

Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – Become Reconnected
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