Monday, December 23, 2013

St. Joseph and our Happy, Holy Days

If we had reality TV and Time Magazine back in the days of Christ, do you think anyone would have paid any attention to what Joseph quietly accomplished?  Sometimes our quiet, unassuming Christian lives can seem to go unnoticed and perhaps seem unimportant.  And yet, were it not for St. Joseph and the decision he took to take Mary as his wife, things would have been very different. 

The Gospel describes Joseph as a righteous man.  A devout and practicing Jew who knew and believed the word of God, and given the opportunity to do God’s will, he did.  The choice wasn’t easy.  But in this and in all things, God gives us the choice.

We can be, like Joseph, open to God.  We can trust in Him.  God came to Joseph through an angel in a dream, and we can hear the word of God, to prayerfully discern his will for us only when we have surrendered.  In Joseph’s case to sleep, in our case to the peace of Christ, surrendering our notions of what’s important to the world, the awards and recognition, the gossip, the passive lies, the need for acceptance, the endless drone of the television and the internet, the celebrity news.

To look to, to pray to, to ask the intercession of St. Joseph is to connect with a man who not only touched and guided the young Jesus, but who was in effect himself very personally in a sacramental encounter with Christ, with his eyes firmly fixed on the glory of the Father as we are every time we come to Mass.

This is our Christmas.  This is what makes these very happy, holy days

Monday, September 23, 2013

Correct a Little

There is a popular belief that a Catholic should not bring his or her faith into the workplace.

Nonsense.  When I'm not a deacon, which is never, but when I'm not doing specific diaconal work I am like most men my age, in the workplace earning a salary and supporting my family.

Pope Francis recently quoted Pope John XXIII and if I hadn't been purposely reading a Catholic magazine there's no way I would have found this in the mainstream secular media. It jumped out of the page. He said,

"See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little."

I could have used this advice when I first started in management, and John XXIII expresed this Christian sentiment many years before that. Had I been reading up on my faith as diligently as I was all those motivational books there might be far fewer apologies owed to those who reported to me over the last three decades.

See everything: A manager's job is to see everything. We either know what is or what was going on, or we ought to have known. No excuses. No avoiding responsibility by deliberately not knowing.  A Catholic's responsibility is much the same.

Turn a blind eye too much: Here's my personal failing, while we're in the corporate confessional. I have felt compelled to comment, correct and coerce obsessively all in the name of developing my direct reports. In fact, I've been holding them back. People need the opportunity to venture, discover, be right and be wrong.

People don't need to be judged.

Correct a little: This is when we don't, or can't turn a blind eye for the good of the individual, the good of the company, and for our career.  This when we can't be a barrier to another's salvation simply by inaction.

I suspect the need to correct others is far less often than we think; certainly far less than I've felt necessary, to be truthful.

This quote from Pope John XXIII is radically different from almost every accepted management practice and wasn't specifically targeted to the workplace, rather to the church (the people of faith) to bring it into their families, communities and businesses. Is there a place for a strong, practical, practicing Catholic faith in the workplace?

We can't afford there not to be.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Catholic as Charged

In the Gospel for today Jesus asks
“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the world? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
He goes on to describe families torn apart by Christianity.  He speaks about bringing fire to the earth.  This is a far cry from the peace loving, hand-holding, welcoming handsome Jesus with the sparkling blue eyes, great beard and a good head of hair we see in popular art.  Jesus the hippie.  Peace, not war.

 I could never pull off the hippie look, and I don't think Jesus does either.  Because, as our peace loving friends from the 60s soon found out, just having a peace and love agenda does not guarantee our neighbours are going to see it that way.

And so what do we do when faced with inevitable opposition to the Catholic message?  Do we stand firm, or do we obfuscate and hide the message in socially palatable terms?

Jesus demands we have the courage of our convictions, the courage of his conviction.  We risk ridicule, family strife and even unemployment when we stand for that which we know to be right, and against that which we know to be wrong and which threatens the salvation of those for whom we care.

When we water down our Catholic values, we risk extinguishing the flame of truth.

There will come a day when our words and actions as Catholics will come back not to haunt us, but to accuse us.   As Father Jim Roche, Pastor at Corpus Christi in Windsor used to ask, "if being Catholic was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict us?"

Pray that the answer is yes.  There also will come a day when we stand before the eternal judge and answer the question, "did you speak my truth?"

Pray for our brothers and sisters, the Egyptian Coptics who face persecution and death for following Christ.  August 18, 2013