ATTENTION: EXECUTION MANDATE FORCES COMPANIES TO DEAL DEATH DRUGS
Washington, DC – A controversial new mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, forces drug companies to sell drugs for use in lethal injections to state execution facilities. This comes in the wake of a controversial botched execution, which left an inmate at an Oklahoma penitentiary convulsing for over forty minutes before he died of a heart attack.
“Never be friends with the English!” Despite his own maxim, Dr. Aziz, the main character in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, can’t help but be friends with the English. Aziz moves through a cycle in the story. He opens himself up to and becomes friends with Dr. Fielding, falls out of friendship with him, and then in the end reunites with his old friend. The reason Aziz breaks their compact is that he suspects Fielding betrayed him. This belief hardens Aziz. It shuts him off to friendship with the English in general, who were occupying his country. He had opened himself up to Fielding by sharing about his personal life, his hopes and fears, his joys and tragedies. He trusted. But upon not finding this trust reciprocated (or so he thinks), he cuts the friendship off.
When St. Gertrude and St. Margaret Mary, several centuries apart from each other, encountered Jesus in visions, they both did something curious. Ears pressed close to Jesus’ breast, they listened.
And they heard a heartbeat. With rapt attention, they listened to the heartbeat of Jesus.
It’s summer, which means that the superhero genre gets to enjoy a little more than its typical share of box-office revenue and media buzz. The appeal of the superhero is a rather interesting phenomenon, though perhaps not too surprising, since man dreams of excellence. It is only natural, then, that he would wonder at what might be achieved beyond the realms of human excellence.
There is no point in being a Christian unless we regard death as God’s greatest gift to us.
What did he say? Death is a gift, even God’s greatest? Death is no stranger to superlatives, but they usually come in the negative form: death is the most terrible reality; death is the final enemy; death is the worst defeat. Because of this, death avoidance becomes a wellspring of activity in modern society: nursing homes and hospitals keep it at a safe distance from the home, and euphemisms are commonly deployed in its description. Is not the euthanasia movement an extreme form of this avoidance in its attempt to master death through free choice? If death must happen, I will decide exactly when and how it happens!
Sports shape our lives from our earliest years. It started with games in the backyard with our siblings and neighbors, and during recess with classmates. Along with encouraging us to study hard and learn a musical instrument, our parents signed us up for sports teams. We made friends on our teams. We were taught how to be a good sport, a gracious winner, and to cheer for others. We also learned teamwork, hard work, “It’s not over until it’s over,” and, most famously, “It’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game that matters.” This saying contains wisdom in a more manageable package for children than the more spiritually-worded equivalents, such as “abandonment to divine providence.” But the message that faithful effort is more important than “success”, as measured by other standards, is similar. If sports analogies are good enough for St. Paul, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, urged early Christians to run the race of the Christian life so to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24), then they must be suitable vehicles for conveying spiritual wisdom for people of all ages.
In the liturgy, outward words and gestures are performed that express an inward faith in the ability of God to work through our frail humanity in bringing his grace into the world. The liturgy is attuned to each moment of human life, from the new birth of baptism to the preparation for death through the anointing of the sick. Between these two extremes, the sacraments and rites of the Church accompany us and make possible the rite of Christian life: confirmation helps us grow into spiritual maturity as Catholics; the Eucharist nourishes us and gives us strength for the trials of life; confession allows us to regain our foothold after a fall; and finally, matrimony and orders allow individual members of the Church to be directed to service of the whole community, whether as parents or pastors.
This Sunday marks the 190th anniversary of a small act with great consequences. On June 22, 1824, an Irish woman named Catherine McAuley used her recently received inheritance to lease a plot of land in Dublin. With this land, Catherine and her co-workers constructed a house where they would care for poor servant girls and homeless women. After three years of construction, Catherine opened what she called a “House of Mercy” on September 24, 1827, the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. In 1831, Catherine and two co-workers professed religious vows and founded the Sisters of Mercy. During her lifetime, Catherine worked tirelessly to expand the Sisters of Mercy, and within a few decades, the Sisters spread worldwide, serving the world’s poor and destitute.
No, this title doesn’t imply that we’re going discuss whether Jesus used shampoo. Instead, our present discussion has more to do with how Jesus went public with what he had to offer, versus the methods of commercial marketing. In a word, Jesus didn’t advertise.
Some of the most shameless advertising is used for hair products. At some point in your life, you may have taken a brief moment in the shower to read the back of the shampoo bottle. Once you begin a study of these “texts,” you quickly learn that you’ve entered a rather exotic field of word play. Shampoo companies employ some outrageous marketing.
Take a few minutes to survey the field: the promise of restoration made by L’Oréal and their little sister brand Garnier Fructis; the allure of oils from exotic lands, as with products by Organix; or the list of mysterious and unordinary ingredients in L’Occitane or Pantene Pro-V. Pantene even outdoes the rest in their Age Defy Shampoo line, calling out to all who have ears, “Turn your shower into the Fountain of Youth!”