Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DIRTY FINGERNAILS -- Changing the World One Soul at a Time

The family is in crisis.  Anyone who has paid attention to the news over the past few decades is probably not surprised by this.  But what to do?  How can we bring families back from the brink of extinction?

Our Heavenly Father, who foresees all, has provided for us an example to follow and a foundation to build upon.  The Holy Family of Nazareth may provide for us some insight into building a stronger family, a stronger faith and a stronger society.

Over the past few decades, a slow but steady deterioration of the family has taken place.  Abortion on
demand has made children a commodity to be accepted only when convenient.  The degradation of traditional marriage has altered the face of the world...not to mention the very definition of the word “marriage”.  With the basis of a strong society under attack, it is time for Catholics, and all people of faith, to step up and push back.

Previous Popes saw this coming.  His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae stated that the use of contraception would lower the moral standards of society regarding sexuality.  He went on to state that the widespread use of contraception would lead to a devaluing of women and marriage.  Sadly, the Holy Father was correct.  More and more children are born out of wedlock, especially among the poorest of society.  This leads to increased poverty among those peoples.

With Father's Day just around the corner, let us turn to the example set by St. Joseph.  Although we know very little of the foster father of Jesus, we know that he was the foundation of the family unit. He took our Blessed Mother, at the time a very young girl, under his wing and cared for her. When faced with a potential crisis, Joseph did not run off and abandon Mary.  He didn't divorce her or have her put to death.  No.  He stepped up to the plate and raised Jesus as his own.  He instilled within Him a strong work ethic and taught Him the tenets of the Jewish faith.  Joseph, in his actions, showed us what we fathers ought to do.

The charism of our wonderful Pauline Family is—as you well know—the use of the mass media.  Of course, not all of us can be publishers, authors, artists or broadcasters.  Those that have these skills ought to be using them daily to promote a strong family, a strong and orthodox Catholic faith, and a consistent life ethic of “Pro-Life For The WHOLE Life”.  This includes not only being pro-birth, but also supporting programs and ideas that make it possible for women to have their babies.  It also includes support of a strong economy, an adequate social safety net and care for those who cannot care for themselves.

Those who are unable to write, publish, speak or otherwise actively participate in the media, ought to be praying for those who do.  We ought to be using the media in ways which are glorifying to God. How do we use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?  Do we post jokes that are questionable?  Or, do we use it to edify the family, our society and our faith?  We don't need to be preachers...but we DO need to be witnesses.  I know that I have failed in this myself.  It is an area of prayer for me...and probably for many of you as well.

So what is the ultimate answer?  What can we do—really--to make a difference?  First and foremost,
of course, is prayer.  One of the prayers we Paulines say daily is the Invocation to Jesus Master.  One of the petitions in that prayer asks, “Jesus Way, may I be example and model for souls.”  We have already mentioned that we are to be a witness to the world.  We must do more than give lip service to the Lord.  If our lives do not correspond to our faith, people notice.  What kind of witness am I?  What kind of witness are you?

Secondly, we can model our faith to others.  This goes along with being a witness.  This is the “roll up your sleeves and get your fingernails dirty” part of our faith.  What do we do for the poor and under-served of our society?  Do we simply feel pity...or not even notice them at all?  Scripture tells us about the rich man who daily simply walks right by the beggar, not noticing or caring about his condition.  In the Gospel of Luke we read, “22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. (Luke 16:22-25 RSV-CE).

What sort of model was this rich man?  What kind of difference would he have made, not only to Lazarus, but to other poor and suffering souls who have gone ignored by those best able to help them?  Had the rich man shown compassion and mercy, would not other rich men have noticed?  Perhaps.  And perhaps then they would have acted on the example they were given.  Thus one life, and then another would have been changed.

My challenge to the Pauline Family is this:  Go and make a difference in the world.  Use the media for good.  Pray for those who are unable to help themselves.  Then, let's work to become known as the Christians with dirty fingernails!


Mike Maturen is a member of the Holy Family Institute, having taken his temporary vows in September of 2012.  Maturen ran for President of the United States in 2016 under the banner of the American Solidarity Party, a party largely based on Catholic Social Teaching.  He and his wife Sue are active members of their home parish, St. Anne Catholic Parish in Harrisville, Michigan, where they live on a farm with their two dogs, two cats and eight chickens.  They have three grown children.  In his spare time, Mike is a professional magician.  He is the author of “A NEW DAWN:  Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life”, a weekly devotional.  Mike has appeared as a regular guest on EWTN Radio's “Catholic Connection” with Teresa Tomeo, and has also been a featured guest on “The Journey Home” with Marcus Grodi on EWTN Television.

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