Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Meditations on Beauty, the Gospel and the Rosary…

Father John J. Lombardi

Mary’s Grotto is beautiful. Everyone would agree to that.

We all are attracted to beauty. The ancients used to say, something like: In seeing the beautiful we become beautiful. The iridescent image of something beautiful impresses itself within us, and this intermingling may cause conversion, change, even God-likeness. In Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy there is a famous collection of books called "The Philokalia," which means "Love of Beauty". Let us embrace that pursuit!

Beauty is an attribute of God, meaning that God is the essence of beauty­He doesn’t gain or become it; it is Him. And yet: He irradiates this beauty to his created world­to Our Grotto, to America the Beautiful, and also to us His disciples. Some of the most-heard comments here by pilgrims include: "This place is beautiful," and "I feel peace as soon as I come here." We are grateful for a beautiful, peaceful Grotto! Yet, beauty-as-holiness radiates from Jesus Disciples,too.

Sometimes, though, people turn away from this beauty and, impropriety is instead embraced and promoted. A huge and invasive instance of this is pornography. Recently three newsworthy items occurred regarding this. The Supreme Court ruled that child pornography is illegal. Meanwhile, actress Kate Blanchette protested overseas about a child pornography case. Thanks to her­we need more of this. And here in our country, some pictures of notorious Mormon sect leader Warren Jeff s, with young girls were released­to the cries of many.

So, now, a question: just why is this immediately and viscerally crazy­child pornography­and not adult pornography? Where does pornography suddenly become a first amendment right­free speech, as it is so touted and protected today?

We knee-jerkedly react rightly to abuse of minors, but why are so many numbed today when it comes to adult pornography? Answers may include: First, it’s ideological. Some believe it is a right to turn people into objects and display-thru-manipulation other humans, though it produces a collateral damage they well know about. The classic case against this is that you do not have freedom of speech to yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater­as it would cause harm and death. But pornography has caused harm and death­and is happening today not only in other countries but also here in the USofA. Next: pornography makes lots of money­and some want to protect that, thru legal, sophisticated and other means. Last, it’s a so-called "victimless crime". Well, once again, while child pornography is a crime, why is it not a crime with adults? People-especially women and young ladies are being objectified-- no longer seen as persons with feelings and rights; they are being manipulated to make money­a kind of savage capitalism; the pornography industry airbrushes the surrounding darknesses, denigrates the victims and sterilizes the many abuses, and forms a multi-sensual-enslavement of audiences (thru literature, internet, video etc.). And there are no victims here?

Anyway: the three-cited cases above show the clarity of harm by pornography­and our public’s reaction against it. Point: We Catholics and Christians need to capitalize on this teachable moment­that, since we certainly agree on the harms proven in these children’s instances, we should be able to do so in other situations, and ask various persons­movie stars included­into the liberating cause of freedom, beauty and human dignity.

How You Can respond:

Watch out what you watch: whatever you let into your soul can affect you-so guard yourself and others in love…Look at beauty: Place beautiful icons (the word means "image") of Jesus, Mary and the saints around your home, office, your computer to inspire you!...

The Mass and Bible Today…

"Perfect love casts out fear. " + I Jn. 4:18

Three Big Enemies: Fear, Anxiety Intimidations. We all have these in life, and to a certain extent, we all are crippled by them. However, the saints and other heroes overcome them­maybe not always totally, but enough so that they are not crippling. In this Sunday’s Gospel (St. Mt. 10:26ff) we hear Jesus Christ give counsels regarding these "three enemies" and spreading the Good News… What are some lessons of Love?

1-Do not be overly identified with your body or emotions (as Jesus implies in the Gospel about the hairs on your head,etc.)­Jesus says be more concerned with your soul. We will be challenged for being Catholics, Christians­because of our moral teachings like chastity; for our metaphysical teachings on soul’s eternal destiny­our particular judgment to Heaven or Hell); and lifestyle teachings like simplicity of living and giving to the poor.

2-Know­experientially­"The Bottom Line": Our Heavenly Father loves us and takes care of us . A lot of times we neglect or reject this­not always explicitly. But, think, if you become anxious: just how did you get this far­where did you get your breath from?; your body and soul?; your possessions? God the Father is our supplier, so we shouldn’t just collapse into despair or a "God-doesn’t-care mentality" when we are down or challenged. Keep reminding yourself of His love and all the Gifts He’s given you already! "No one can receive anything unless it comes from Heaven" (Jn. 3:27).

3-Our biggest agenda in life is not money, personal fulfillment, and not even our Holy Catholic Church, but: Proclamation of the Kingdom! That’s what Jesus is reminding the Apostles in this story about­to go forward without any inner or outer enemies and, as they say today: "Stay on Message" ! Proclaim, live and extend the Kingdom of God to others!

Pray the Rosary--and pass it on!

Bobby Kennedy’s fortieth anniversary of his death was recently celebrated. Astonishing story: when dying Kennedy was attended to by a busboy, Juan Romero, who came to his help. Juan reached out to Kennedy’s hand and grasped it; then Juan reached into his pocket and passed a rosary into Kennedy’s hand, who could not grasp it as he lay dying. "Juan said: "I pressed it to his hand but they wouldn’t stay…so I tried wrapping them around his thumb. When they were wheeling him away, I saw the rosary beads still hanging off his hand."

(New York Times June 8)

Have a Blessed Summer !

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi