It was a great Lenten season. Aided by the suggestions in the book 40 Days, 40 Ways by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Pat and I selected the ways we were going to participate daily and throughout Lent. What was unusual was that we had planned a trip to South America that had us away on Easter. We were in Trevelin, Argentina on Palm Sunday and were fortunate to join the Parish processional led by the pastor, a priest from Poland. The absence of palm branches was replaced with local shrub branches and flowers and joyful singing.
On Holy Thursday, we were in Buenos Aires and visited St. Mary’s where the Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aries took place. In 1996, a consecrated host was found on the floor after Mass, shown to the priest who placed it in water in a chalice to dissolve. Not only did it not dissolve but it changed color to red and grew. After some time, a sample was taken and analyzed by a physician and scientist without knowing from where the sample came. The analysis came back that it was from a man from the Middle East who had been severely beaten and it came from his left ventricle. This was then compared with a 17th century sample by a different physician and scientist both without knowing their source and the analysis came back that the samples were from the same human person from the Middle East who had been severely beaten and came from the left ventricle (you should Google this for the whole story). This miracle explains what happens in the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ each day in the Mass. Yes, a miracle occurs each time the Mass is said and God has caused this to be seen over the centuries since His Son, Jesus Christ, died for each of us so that each of us can have eternal life. To be there, at one of the places where a miracle became visible to all, on the same day (Holy Thursday) Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was very special.
On Good Friday, we were flying from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile the place where Pat was born. I had been promising her I would take her there for some time as she had not been back since leaving when she was two years old. Since we could not attend the Good Friday service, we used the outline in 40 Days, 40 Ways as a guide while flying.
On Easter Sunday, we attended Mass at a local parish, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Santiago and enjoyed the beauty of the flowers in the church and the Mass as we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Our South American adventure included (1) Red Stag hunting near Trevelin, Argentina. I got a 13 point, 450-pound Red Stag on the last afternoon hunt. No time to enjoy the meat, but it was shared with the lodge and people in the small town; (2) a whirlwind 4-hour tour of Buenos Aires; (3) great Argentinian beef; (4) a tour of Santiago including the fish market and unique Donde Augusto Restaurant, built from materials similar to the French Eiffel Tower, where they serve the local favorite drink a Pisco Sour; (5) four wonderful Chilean wineries; and (6) 3 days in Valparaiso, an intriguing UNESCO city which is the port for the Chilean navy and where Chile’s congress meets.
As we celebrate the 50 days of Easter leading up to Pentecost Sunday it is a time when many teenagers receive the Sacrament of Confirmation arming each with the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Our granddaughter Blaine was confirmed in San Antonio on May 4. I want to share with you a Prayer to the Holy Spirit:
“Spirit of wisdom and understanding, enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries of the universe in relation to eternity. Spirit of right judgment and courage, guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision to follow Jesus in the way of love. Spirit of knowledge and reverence, help us to see the lasting value of justice and mercy in our everyday dealings with one another. May we respect life as we work to solve problems of family and nation, economy and ecology. Spirit of God, spark our faith, hope, and love into new action each day. Fill our lives with wonder and awe in your presence, which penetrates all creation. Amen.”
On May 14th, I had two grandsons making their First Communion – Roman Timothy and Jack Francis Von Dohlen in San Antonio. So, the month of May is dedicated to our Blessed Mother Mary and it is fitting to fill this month with youth receiving the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Confirmation as each sacrament offers new connections to their faith and meaning to their life.
I want to share my concern for the unrest going on in America today. In my lifetime, I have never seen such unrest and confused actions happening in our wonderful country. Even the demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s were not as alarming. It seems wealthy individuals and powerful groups are paying people to protest. When interviewed most do not know why there are protesting. I had said for a number of years that many of the Obama administration actions were bad, but it would take some years before we knew all the negative actions and their effect. This belief is bearing itself out. Thank goodness on May 4, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that signaled the end to the attack on religious liberty which Obama orchestrated. The Executive Order instructs government agencies to consider issuing new regulations to address conscience based objections to the HHS mandate which requires employers to offer health insurance plans that fund contraception, sterilizations and some drugs that can cause early abortions. After the Executive Order, Dr. Tom Price, Commissioner of Health and Human Services (HHS), was quoted as saying his department would be issuing new rules soon. While the Executive Order is a good start there are still more issues that need to be rolled back as described by Brian Burch, President of Catholicvote.org who stressed the need for “protection for faith based groups on the issue of marriage, gender, and on the right of the Catholic Church to carry out its social services when they receive federal grants”. The Executive Order also instructs the Attorney General to issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law. Hopefully this will address the Johnson Amendment which allows the IRS to remove a church’s tax exemption if a priest or pastor preaches in support of a political candidate from the pulpit. Actually, Congress needs to act to repeal the Johnson Amendment and allow free speech from the pulpit by pastors and priests who are currently fearful of losing their tax exemption if they speak out on political issues and candidates.
Let us pray A Prayer for Religious Liberty written by the USCCB as follows:
“Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1). We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
The Trump administration is making good things happen. As Catholic businessmen and women we need to do our part in the workplace and faith community to live our lives as Jesus taught us to do. We must pray and work for the future of America and religious liberty.
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