Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Are you being blindsided?

Father John J. Lombardi

In this Sunday's Gospel (St. Mk 10:46-52) blind Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus: He is made to see. Miracles happen! Jesus en-lightens this man-how about you? Are you seeing truly what is in the world or are you misled by what others say is true?...You know, people describe a blinding condition as, or say: Raise the blinds or open your eyes, or can't you see?! and so forth.

I once read a Jungian-psychology book called "Seeing Thru the Invisible World". Translation: this world is not all there IS. And my current commentary: In our world today we may get stuck on the visible world, either because of suffering (we cannot "see" because of dark trials) or intoxication (materialism masticates us) and so we cannot spiritually visualize or image Heaven and/or deeper realties God wants us to see. We have scales on our eyes which St Paul says can be "un-masked (II Cor. 3:18) and thereby be transformed.

Into this world and condition, Jesus Christ the Divine Physician and "Mystical Medicine Man" comes to heal us along with Bartimaeus. I once learned in seminary the most significant trait and "flavor" of St. Mark's Gospel is: Jesus is Divine precisely because of His miraculous signs and wonders-which are abundant in his gospel. (I do remember some things from seminary-a kinda' miracle!). ..So, today, we need to be de-blinded by Jesus in many ways, such as…

All Hallow's Eve: My Mom just informed my dad and me that Halloween is the third busiest and money-making season of the year (after Christmas and Easter, I suppose). Anyway, most people are blinded to the roots of Halloween. The Catholic Church (esp. in Great Britain) established All Saints Day to counteract pagan holidays and dark worship services, and introduce Christ and the Sacraments into un-evangelized lands. Now, are we going blind? We are now experiencing the waning of Catholicism in England and Ireland; the severing of God, the Commandants and spirituality from our public life; and the uprise of Wiccaism-witchraft and black magic and paganism in schools and public places. Are you blinded by the surrounding webs and fairy-goblins cult of dark spiritualism-and the loss of Catholic-Christian Faith in our land? Alternatively, here at the Grotto we have generous spiritual people who offer an alternative: On All Hallow's Eve-Halloween, children come dressed for Mass and a procession following in saints' costumes to celebrate the Faith and Light, so as to douse the darkness. Join us this Tuesday afternoon and contribute in a good way to the third busiest shopping day in a saintly way!

Stem Cell research: there was uproar in a couple ways when a television ad by Michael Fox, the actor, aired, with him promoting embryonic stem cell research. This form of research is morally wrong since it operates on human embryos-nascent babies-to harvest stem cells from them to help people with Parkinson's diseases such as Fox has. One commentator critiqued Fox's approach, saying he was acting (Fox appeared with very dramatic motions and contortions, causing in any human, some sympathy) and, though the critic later apologized, said that Fox writes in a book that he often and deliberately does not take medicine to offset his Parkinson's so as to look more dramatic during testimony. Others critiqued Fox's approach-- no matter his dramatic flair-- by saying that those who oppose stem cell research are made to feel guilty for allegedly holding up progress in healing various diseases. Remember: that no embryonic

stem cell research has proven viable or healing and, in fact, some embryonic stem cell research has adverse affects upon recipients. However, and, in fact, adult stem cell implants have helped in healing some persons. Are you and others blinded by this research which, as a commentator recently, un-blindingly said, this is akin to creating babies to destroy them. Pray for conversion and True Sight.

Voting: America magazine (a noted Jesuit weekly) reports of a religious (Catholic?) group which says no litmus tests should be placed on political candidates for voting-saying that a broad range of issues (from poverty to abortion to war issues) should inform voters, and no one issue alone should affect a voter. While using the negativistic term "litmus tests," the group seems to debunk the Catholic teaching that it is never licit to vote for a candidate who promotes an evil which is always and clearly wrong, say abortion or euthanasia. Is this "no-litmus-test" way of informing consciences blinding Catholics today and blurring Catholic teaching? Be unblended-you can never do a wrong to promote a right (Rm 3:8) and voting for a politician who promotes abortion or euthanasia just for that reason alone is always evil-litmus test or not.

Families: I recently heard on an evangelical radio program interview that the average American family watches a total of 49 hours of television each week and that parents only listen to their children 39 minutes. I became un-blinded by this harrowing travesty and threat to families. Are you blinded by television and other forms of entertainment and technology and so unable to communicate with your children or other family members? Do you need healing in your family to communicate? Remember-no communion without communication.

Media: In a new book, "The Way to Win," by Mark Halpern (director of ABC News Political Director, written with Jim Harris) it is stated that American media heavily favors "the old liberal" mindset against a more conservative version. The media famously favors bashing religion, spirituality and the traditional family while promoting alternative lifestyles, secularism (de-throning God from public life) and materialism. How can you become un-blinded and glean yourself away from un-mystical media's agenda and into a new mindset of enlightenment?

Bottom Line"? In a New York Times article Wal-Mart is reported to be aligning with gay, lesbian and transgender groups to manage their stores. A member of a homosexual group said that Wal-Mart understands "the bottom line-the profit motive," and, an implication from this is that

Wal-Mart will do anything to raise profits-including utilizing groups with counter-Christian agendas. Are we being blinded to this "savage capitalism" motive and supporting big companies because they deliver low prices even thru immoral practices? We need healing-and help.

Science? The most current fad and so-called fact of cosmology (science of the universe)-- String Theory, says that everything is made up of sub-atomic strings which undulate energy and matter and hold the key to the universe. This theory has taken the science world by storm and is almost dogma. (Just like the "big bang" theory-but that's another matter). However, in the latest issue of "Nature" magazine a couple scientists "de-blind" us unknowing novices by critiquing string theory and, virtually, debunking it. Upshot: we can't travel thru the cosmos with blinders on and scientists can show that not all scientific, popularity theories are true. Be aware.

Delusion-Evolution: In his controversial and contrarian new book, "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins claims that belief in God is like a child thinking naively of an imaginary friend, or believing in Santa Claus-and cannot be proven. Dawkins ridicules the Old Testament (calling God a "bully") and degrades Christians and other believers-and just about every religion (he's not a nice guy). But a critic of Dawkins in an interview with him says, rightly, that some so called scientific "facts" are never proven or provable-like the origination of matter which allegedly morphs into Earth and, eventually, into man (evolution) and that these, indeed, take some kind of faith. Who's promoting delusion, then? Are you being blinded by "scientific dogma" and accepting it blithely because "scientists have all the facts" and thereby embracing, however unwittingly, delusional scientific steamrollers?

The Last Things: Who remembers just what this means? So many are blinded to Eternal Life and The Last Things precisely because of their own sufferings and/or pursuit of pleasure-all this divorced from eternal significance. So, be unblended esp. To The Four Last Things: Death--a consequence of sin: we will all die, so we should meditate on our ending and not make denials of death. Yes a skull and cross bones may help you (!) remember death, or a crucifix or, most importantly, image within your heart that you will one day (sooner or later) die-so be ready. Judgment-we will either go up or down, to Heaven or Hell (or Purgatory-the Final Purification for those who merit Heaven but aren't perfect)-so: remember, you will get "an eternal report card" and therefore ask for mercy all the time! Heaven = eternal Bliss (unending happiness); Union with The Godhead and Divine Trinity; the paradise of Beauty, Communion with The Virgin Mary, Angels and Saints. Hell -the essence of this is eternal separation from God-forever. The End. Literally.

Pro-Choice: as a priest-friend in Calcutta recently alerted me to, the pro-choice moniker, though attractive to Americans who want and have become addicted to so many choices, is not pro-Truth. It is based not on objective morality (Commandments, laws), but on subjective, individualistic persons and circumstances. Pro-choice, like atheism, is also a denial of any absolute Truth. Pro-choice is based on, usually, one person (the aborting mother), and excludes others (the Church, husband or community) and also the Truth-that all life is sacred no matter what. Are you blinded to this situation and allowing an alluring bumper sticker phrase which has decimated so many babies and consciences to reign?

Homosexuality: The New Jersey Supreme Court just allowed their Legislature to confer "rights" to same-sex partners and asked that a name (like marriage or civil union or otherwise) be chosen within 180 days. Hints (from The New Jersey senate and others) are that some form of "civil unions" may be approved but not allowing the word "marriage"-which the governor and others oppose. By affecting and controlling language, various political and sexual movements are changing morals and, even, in this case, our culture. Are we blinded to this? It is obvious. Think about how "pro-choice" becomes death; harmful chemicals to women become a culture of contraception; sodomy is legalized, materialism is promoted and pursued as a right-even of Christians and Catholics, etc. There's silver lining to a New Jersey cloud-"civil unions" of homosexuals continue to be promoted, and yet the Marriage Movement is somewhat buoyed from this situation. Let's hope and pray that no one else is blinded to the sheer black-and-white fact: Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and is the foundation-cornerstone of all civilization.

Purifying our Personalities: Blindness to our faults: We all need purification to become saints. When we hear just, holy comments about ourselves which are "Christically-critical," these may help us grow. We ourselves cannot see all the areas of growth we need and so others, loving friends (not thru bitter gossip) can assist us grow in holiness from our blind spots. This is the nature of community-we all grow together in holiness!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi