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