20 March 2010


I obviously have not been posting much. When I have, it has been rather random.

I keep experiencing a bigger and bigger "disconnect" between my life and what is reported in the news about the events of the world and the Church. My life seems to filled with very rich blessings -- granted, more of them than I am effectively dealing with -- and with human sorrows that call for responses that I can make. Practically everything in the news seems to be hugely bad. I am thinking particularly of the "health care" debate or the clergy sex scandals. They seem to bring out the worst in everyone. Why is it that things up close, even sad or bad things, seem manageable whereas the more distant things are so overwhelmingly bad? How can I handle this?

I think that I need to handle it by a sort of "subsidiarity" of attention and involvement. "Subsidiarity" is a principle of Catholic social teaching which directs that concerns are best handled at as low and local a level as is effectively possible. I see the urge to become obsessed with the health care debate or with the clergy sexual scandal as temptation. There is little I can do about these things. Of course, I should pray. If any of it happens to come my way, I should act -- perhaps by contacting my congressman. If I become obsessed with these matters beyond my control, I might miss the opportunity of taking care of the many things that are uniquely in my area of influence: for example, that friend who needs some attention or that small accomplishment that deserves recognition. Who will do these things if I don't? -- not Nancy Pelosi!

The world, the flesh, and the devil all like to draw us away from reality -- the real good I can do and the real evil that I can avoid -- to become obsessed with unrealities like considering the motivations of congressmen or vicars general.

Once again, a trip to Honduras brought this home for me. Efforts to stumble through Mass in Spanish were so much more important than the stuff I "missed out on" in the news while we were gone. Why? Because only I could offer those Masses, each of which was of infinite value. The debates and scandals seemed to go on just fine without me!