Category Archives: Faith & the Public Order

I have a dream –50 years later

MLK I Have a DreamThe 17 minute “call to arms” speech delivered by Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr, on this date in 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, is recalled today. Few of the key people from 1963 are still around but many of the listeners are plentiful.

Benedictine monk, scholar and hymn writer Father Harry Hagan, wrote this hymn “We Have a Dream,” a meditation on and a prayer for our aspirations for peace.

Speeches are meant to move its hearers to action. In what ways am I working for peace today?

We have a dream that we shall see
all races rise as one
a dream of vast equality:
the day God’s will is done.

Lord grant that this may be the day.
Lift us so we may rise
and lift each other by your Word
filled with divine surprise.

We have a dream that we shall touch
each person’s self and soul;
with cords of mercy bind them up
till they, as you, are whole.

Lord, grant that this may be the day
when wounds begin to heal,
when enemies are reconciled
and share a common meal.

We have a dream that we shall know
the coming of the Lord;
when in the twinkling of an eye
earth’s goodness is restored.

Lord, grant that this may be the day
when you shall draw so near
and in your presence we are filled
with love that casts out fear.

We have a dream that we shall feel
your justice and your sway
when we shall follow you alone
though we be framed of clay.

Lord, grant that this may be the day
when justice sets us free
and we by being true to Christ
shall claim our dignity.

We have a dream that we shall live
in harmony and peace
when lamb and wolf together lie
as heirs of your increase.

Lord, grant that this may be the day
when walls are broken down;
and we as sisters, brothers, all
shall one in Christ be found.

We have a dream that we shall reach
Jerusalem the New
where every tear is wiped away,
where all is held by you.

Lord, grant that this may be the day
when life begins to reign
and gathers all into the life
that you yourself sustain.

Hymn written for the Fiftieth Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Speech: “I Have a Dream”, written at the request of Westwood Hills Congregational Church, UCC.

Father Harry Hagan, OSB
Archabbey of Saint Meinrad
28 August 2013

The Fourth of July: looking to live in a freedom for excellence

The Holy Face.jpg

God of justice, Father of truth, who guide creation in wisdom and goodness to fulfillment in Christ your Son, open our hearts to the truth of the Gospel, that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives.

Our prayer today ought to be for the citizens and the government of the USA. As the Collect for today’s Mass asks God who is justice and truth: to open our hearts to recognize divine truth and to be rule by His justice. We are not creators of our own destiny as Mr. Obama said today. God has given us our destiny. Our work is to recognize the path laid before us to walk to Him.

Faith and good public order linked graces. 237 years ago the Declaration of Independence was signed; but we are still looking for a good definition of freedom. Let me offer one: freedom for excellence.
What does freedom for excellence mean? One aspect of this type of freedom is that what is expressed in the universal call to holiness. My “I”, that is, my whole person, is a gift from God. In this notion of personhood there is a fundamental openness to the Divine Mystery who created all things, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this life, and in the next. From a Pauline point of view, we live in Christ. And if I live in Christ who is excellence to perfection, then I need not have the disordered attachments of money, power and fame; not be seduced by accomplishments, possessions, interpersonal competition, and reducing my intellect, sexuality and my will to base desires.

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Priest killed allegedly for giving bad homilies

The small, rural Scilian town of Trapani apparently is a crossroads of culture and history. It is now dealing with the murder of an elderly priest for allegedly giving bad homilies. His assailant, 33 and unemployed, wanted to teach Father a lesson one what he was saying in the pulpit. In some reports, Father Michele DiStefano is said to have spoken in a public fashion of the wrong-doings (sins?) of his people. I hope he wasn’t revealing what he heard in the confessional.

Bad preaching can drive people away. Actually, I think music can equally disturbing. If priests read this report they may want to get their affairs in order, or pick up a Father Peter John Cameron’s book on preaching, Why Preach: Encountering Christ in God’s Word.
I suppose you could make many conclusions about this circumstance, but I think it’s if we pray for God’s mercy on Father Michele and the man who killed him.

Catholicism and evangelical Christianity are Religious Extremists, US Defense Department says

The US Department of Defense has now listed Catholics and Evangelical Christians as religious extremists, that is, religious terrorists. Catholics and Evangelicals are now lumped in the same list as are the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, the KKK and Hamas.

The slide presentation, in the context of talking about the rise of extremism, gives the impression that religious belief, whatever it is, and however it frames its claims for truth and how these truth claims are applied, are the same and to be rejected. Religious tenets can be widely different from another but that doesn’t mean they lead to violent actions. Ideas are not intolerant, people can be; faith is a way of knowing the world, a way of perceiving reality, faith relates to matters of salvation. It is true that we need “religious types” need to make sure that the faithful are properly taught what is held by the Church body. If you are interested, here is the offending presentation:  Extremism Presentation & Extremist Organizations.pdf
When I saw this news item the other day I had to say to myself that secularism has now gone to a new level of intolerance and ignorance.

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Pope Francis to be decisive in sexual abuse crimes

Abp Gerhard Ludwig Mueller & Francis.jpgThe Pope is meeting with all the heads of the various departments of the Holy See. 

Today, there was a meeting with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, 65, to discuss the work of the Congregation and its competence in handling cases of sexual abuse.
Archbishop Müller is the bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Regensburg; he was appointed to his present work on 2 July 2012.
No surprise in that Pope Francis will continue the good work of Pope Benedict in acting quickly and decisively, in excising justice and compassion, and being close to the victims and their families. The unsaid part of this is being attentive to the needs of the people falsely accused. Sin and criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the Church.
No formal message was issued but several news agencies have carried their own analysis of the meeting. Read about the meeting here and the CNS story by Carol Glatz here.
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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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