Are the US Catholic bishops satisfied with the results of their endorsement of the war on the people of Afghanistan?

July 26th, 2010

The Runaway General and the US Catholic Bishops

June 23rd, 2010

Rolling Stone magazine has certainly kicked over a hornet’s nest with its Runaway General article on the numerous issues dividing the aristocratic leadership of our splendid little war in Afghanistan.  It appears like it is the civilians versus the military (this is news?) and unfortunately for the military, the commander in charge in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal, is blunt (even by military standards) and less politically savvy than one would expect of a general of his rank and experience.  He lost his job today as a result of his candor.

The closing paragraph of the article “says it all” –

Whatever the nature of the new plan, the delay underscores the fundamental flaws of counterinsurgency. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over – the Afghan people – do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. “Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem,” says Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan. “A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we’re picking winners and losers” – a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word “victory” when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge. 

After reading that bit of journalistic bluntness, I thought, “Well, I guess it is about time to check up on the US Catholic bishops and see what they might have said lately about Afghanistan.  I’ve actually been staying away from the bishops’ website lately (well, except for the lectionary pages which I use when I select music for Holy Mass at Epiphany Church).  I’ve spent a lot of time reading, analyzing, and commenting upon the statements of the US bishops on Iraq and Afghanistan over the last few years.  Not that any of them ever gave an indication of paying any attention, of course, to my comments.  Even noticing the existence of someone like me would be way below their most august sensibilities.  Well, there was the time I ragged on Cardinal George a bit, and that produced a discussion with my pastor “as ordered by” our local archbishop, I suppose to try to calm me down a bit, but that’s it.

My basic thesis about the US bishops is that they are guilty of material cooperation with the objective evil of unjust war.  See Opposing Unjust War if you are recently wandering in and missed those little screeds first time around.  None of this has ever been refuted theologically, so I continue to maintain this position.  The reason it hasn’t been refuted theologically is because it can’t be refuted, what I have written on the subject is true, even if my rhetoric has been at times over the top “with hair on fire”.  The issues are life and death and the consequences are enormous, so I think screaming “bridge out ahead” at the onrushing traffic is certainly justifiable, necessary even.

So what do the US Catholic bishops, heirs to the apostles, bound by their ordination oaths to teach all of the doctrines and dogmas of the Church, without exception, have to say about Afghanistan?  Well, not much actually.  They don’t even have a link to their various articles about Afghanistan on the International Justice and World Peace Middle East page at their website.

After searching their site for “Afghanistan”, I found a February 2010 “Background on Afghanistan and Pakistan” document.  It is notable only for its theological cowardice (and yes, that’s the most charitable thing I can think of to say about it).  It is also historically inaccurate.  It claims our involvement with Afghanistan dates to 1979, when in fact we helped the British overthrow the only freely elected government Afghanistan has ever had, in the 1950s.  Not one word about bishops using their canonical authority to forbid Catholics from participating in this war.  Not one word about how the Gospel of Life applies to the unjust war in Afghanistan.  Not one word about just war teachings in general.

So it’s bidness as usual down at the headquarters of the US Catholic Bishops.  They are all over the safe issues — abortion, the Gulf oil spill, immigration, and above all, the new English translation of the liturgy.  But not one effective word on the life and death peace issue of this era. 

I always say this when I talk about the US Bishops, so I might as well concude with it here “one more time”:  It is a tragedy of historic dimensions that at this critical time in history, the bishops of the largest and most militarily powerful nation are moral cowards, Cafeteria Catholics, who have betrayed the Gospel of Life for their own reasons.

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows regarding the human and ecological crises in the Gulf of Mexico.

June 16th, 2010

Here is a novena I composed regarding the situation in the Gulf of
Mexico. It combines the traditional language of the novena to Our Lady
of Sorrows with words specific to the crisis. The PDF is suitable for
making a two-sided flyer, with each individual flyer being half the size
of an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, for distribution.

An Anwer to Archbishop Chaput

March 24th, 2010

Archbishop Charles Chaput has published a March 22, 2010 column in his archdiocesan newspaper, entitled “A bad bill and how we got it.”

In his column, he blames Catholic organizations for breaking ranks with the bishops and “undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.”  In particular, he criticizes the actions of the Catholic Healthcare Association.

However, he has nary a word for how the bishops have damaged their own public credibility, leadership, and witness, and the role that may have played in this situation.

First, there is the issue of the “Republican Captivity” of some bishops.  Archbishop Chaput illustrates this process by including Republican party talking points in his comments, such as the inferred claim that most Americans oppose the legislation.  I’m not sure what competence bishops have in assessing public opinion, but I also don’t know what role that should play in what is supposed to be a moral critique of the proposal.

During the Republican Ascendency, 2000-2008, many US Catholic bishops were effusive in their praise of the Republican party, and in particular, its glorious leader the Tyrant-Emperor George Bush II.  Leading bishops such as Cardinal George of Chicago and Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia praised President Bush as “the most pro-life president ever.”  How this statement could be made about a president waging unjust wars, characterized by flagrant disregard for civilian casualties, is beyond my understanding.  I suppose we could say that George Bush II was anti-abortion, but that is not the same thing as being pro-life, as Pope John Paul II so eloquently explained in his seminal encyclical, Evangelium Vitae.

So the first problem with the bishops’ witness on pro-life issues is that some of them do not appear to be good faith actors in this debate.  They are visibly and persistently partisan Republicans, and that damages their public witness to the cause of protecting life for all people, from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.

Then we have the continued fallout from the clergy sexual abuse crisis.  The general attitude at the bishops’ conference is that “OK, we’re sorry, we’ve reformed, let’s get on with things.”  That’s an understandable attitude from their viewpoint, and surely, Christian forgiveness is due them for their public repentance and their efforts to reform their systems to ensure such problems do not happen again, but it betrays an aristocratic disdain for how things work in the real world.  As someone said to me recently, “How can they expect us to trust them after they betrayed us so terribly?”  Indeed, this is the question of the hour and it bears directly on how the bishops’ criticism of the pro-life problems of the health care bill was received, or not received as the case may be.

It was a major spiritual and moral mistake to leave bishops in office who were guilty of what amounts to criminal assistance to the sexual abuse of children.  It amounted to putting the protection of individual bishops ahead of the good of the entire Church and the spiritual welfare of American Catholics.  In doing so, the Vatican announced that its “preferential option” was for the bishops, not for the common good of the Church.  The continued presence of Cardinal Law, as an important voice in the Vatican congregations that choose, form, and supervise bishops, is a constant reminder of the blindness of the clerical culture to the actual consequences of its decades of corruption and sin in this issue.

So here again, the bishops and the Vatican have undercut and diminished their own authority and moral witness. They did that to themselves, and should not be surprised at the continuing consequences of their grave collective failure to protect children from sexual abuse.

As the nation faced the tremendous challenges of war under the Republican Ascendency, once again the US Catholic bishops failed in their moral duty on a pro-life issue.  Only one US bishop issued an ecclesiastical declaration forbidding participation in the unjust war on the people of Iraq. The Most Reverend Michael Botean very clearly stated that killing in an unjust war is the moral equivalent of abortion. The rest of the bishops effectively praised the war with their faint condemnation of it. Few bishops did much catechizing about the issues of just/unjust war, and the bishops’ conference has more often than not simply ignored the on-going wars as moral issues. Indeed, many of them, such as Burke, then of St. Louis, now of the Vatican, actually were quick to marginalize the issue of war as a pro-life issue.

Fr. Charles Emmanuel McCarthy has eloquently and at great detail explained the moral case against the bishops’ ambivalence on the Iraq War issue, in his essay “Moral Law and the Iraq War: A chronically misleading episcopal witness.” If the bishops themselves are going to give such a leading example of moral relativism in the cause of life, how can they expect others to not take some clues from their moral laxity and apply that elsewhere?

I don’t know whether the health care bill will turn out to be good or bad in a practical sense, nor whether it will be good or bad for the cause of pro-life.  Since one of the major drivers of abortion is financial desperation, and medical bills for the uninsured are a leading cause of financial desperation, the situation from a practical pro-life viewpoint may not be as bad as Archbishop Chaput suggests. Only time will tell.

Whatever the future brings, I think it is very clear that the bishops have no one but themselves to blame for the on-going loss of their moral and teaching authority. 

Sixty years ago, it might have been enough for them to say, “We’re the bishops, what we say goes, get used to it”, but this isn’t 1950.  Servant leadership above all demands that leaders walk their talk, and exercise authority in authentic ways, and avoid even the least appearance of corruption, partisanship, and bad faith.

And alas for all, such servant leadership is in scarce supply these days, anywhere we look, and especially at the Catholic Church.

The apparent inability of the US Catholic bishops to understand these issues, and deal with them, is one of the historic tragedies of these times. The examination of conscience is one of the most basic Catholic spiritual exercises. I think it is about time that the bishops took a break from focusing on the minutiae of liturgy, and did some serious individual and collective examination of their conscience concerning their actions in these major areas of their failures as bishops.

After all, what good will the “most perfect English translation of the liturgy” do if our churches are increasingly empty?

In the meantime, I recommend to all the rest of us that we pray earnestly for our bishops and use every opportunity that comes our way to speak truth to them and help them to understand how they create their own problems and damage the church.

Published on the memorial of the Martyrdom of Romero, AD 2010.

Turn away from sin! Ash Wednesday 2010

February 17th, 2010


With these words, and a smudge of ashes on the forehead, the Lenten penitent is called out of the normality of life and into a time of examination of conscience and metanoia.

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

What are the idols we erect in our lives, that come between us and our God, and which afflict our relationships with each other?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

How do we turn away – sometimes, run away – from the God who in Christ loves and cares for us?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

How do we abuse the goods of Creation, so lovingly given us by the Father, and treated with such contempt by human beings?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

How do we reject the poor, the marginalized, as we close our eyes to the Christ who comes to us in distressing disguises and invent clever words that comfort us in our abuse?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

Why do we worship the Almighty State, and its works of violence and war, when we are called to worship the Almighty God and do the works of justice and peace?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

Why do we support ignorant and foolish politicians, who are filled with violence and wickedness, and turn our backs on the little ways of justice and peace?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

Why do we willingly participate in structures of economic and social sin, and do the works of demons who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls?

Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the gospel.

Father in Heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight to the darkness of sinful eyes.May this season of repentance bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness and the gift of Your light. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


August 6th, 2009

Peter, James, and John knew Jesus.  They had walked with him, listened to him, spoke with him, even argued with him on occasion.  They had just climbed a mountain with him.  I imagine them getting to the top, looking around, sitting down to rest, maybe taking a drink of water.

And then. . . something changed.  They looked at Jesus, and they saw Jesus — but now his clothing was a dazzling white, his face shone with the glory of God — and even more remarkably, there were two more men on the mountain top, Elijah and Moses.  Mark’s gospel; says that Peter was so terrified, he hardly knew what to say.  And indeed, what was there to say in the face of such a sight?

But wait, there’s more.  A great cloud filled the sky, and the voice of God was heard — “This is my beloved Son — listen to him.”  And then, as suddenly as the vision was there, it was gone.

I often think of Transfiguration when I see someone particularly down and out on the streets.  I imagine them in robes of shining white, with the lines of pain on their faces replaced with dignity and glory.  Who knows who we are seeing when we see homeless people in the streets.  We are quick to judge them as unworthy.  Are they not poor in a nation which glorifies wealth?

Transfiguration teaches us to not be so quick to judge by first appearances.  All that we see is not all that is. The supernatural reality is as real as the natural reality.  We can see the supernatural reality as easily as we see the natural reality — so long as we have “eyes that can see”. And when God says — “Listen to my Son” — if we have “ears that can hear”, we will hear what Jesus has to say to us. That of course takes courage, because if we listen to what Jesus says, we will inevitably come to want to do what Jesus tells us to do.  And that is a journey both terrifying and glorious, fraught with comfort and challenge, a yoke that is easy, a burden that is light.

Our tenth year.

July 29th, 2009

Today is the Feast of St. Martha.  Ten years ago, July 29, 1999, I made a small sign that read “Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House” and put it on my door.  The next morning, a homeless person knocked on the door and asked for food.  I remember thinking, “Wow, word gets around fast.”  Even Sean was impressed, and he is never impressed about anything.

So I was thinking, “Well, today I will write a nice reflection on the long strange trip of the last ten years.”  But then this situation with HR 2479 came up, a terrible legal threat to local agriculture.  HR 2479 would allow the FDA to issue regulations governing the production, harvesting, and distribution of vegetables.  It threatens artisan food processors with high fees. We are talking about people who are my friends, practically my family.

So I got busy emailing and phone calling and generally agitating against the bill.  It came up for a vote this afternoon on special House rules that allowed for no debate and no amendments, and thus it had to get a 2/3rds majority.  It fell six votes short.  But then the House Rules Committee grabbed it, tinkered with it a bit, and is sending it back to the House soon.  I read the entire bill this evening, all 159 pages of it.  Someone remind me to drink bourbon the next time I have to do something like that.  As it was, I had to put on relaxing music to get through it.

And what did I find?  That the Rules Committee blatantly lied in its executive summary of its actions with the legislation. It’s clear the purpose of the summary is to lessen public opposition and mislead people into thinking that they had removed the worst aspects of the bill.  They’re betting most people won’t read the actual text, and they are right. I had to force myself to do it.  These imperialists are so devious.

So now its late, I’m tired, and the nice reflection about our ten years of ministry will have to wait.  But in a way, this is kind of how its been for ten years.  Just when I think we’ve got things all planned and scheduled, oops, life intervenes and totally distracts us from the originally planned program/project/whatever.  That’s why I sometimes describe us as “opportunists” on behalf of the cause of peace, justice, and the Care of Creation.

Thanks to St. Martha and St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist and St. Dorothy Day and St. Peter Maurin and St. Oscar Romero and St. Stanley Rother and St. Michael and St. Maximilian Kolbe and Saints Isidore and Maria and God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for watching out for us all these years and taking care of us even when we hardly knew how to take care of ourselves.   Thanks to everyone who has been part of this journey.  Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

On losing everything.

July 23rd, 2009

Matthew Talbot didn’t have much, but he lost everything he had — twice.  Once in the depths of alcoholism, and then again, in his sobriety and conversion.  Two very different “losses”, shall we say, but both very real.

When I went to the streets of Denver, I lost everything in my life for a time, all the things that were important but I didn’t really understand that then.  All I knew was that I was hungry, alone, and scared.  So my life goes on, and acquire all kinds of stuff and etc and now it seems I am trying to learn how to “lose” everything again.

Jesus said that if we would save our lives, we must lose them.  He said unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, there will be no harvest the next year.

There are lots of hard sayings like that in the Gospels, but at the same time, we read that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Some people, attacking the sanctity of Matthew Talbot, have said that he was a “laughingstock” in his day because of his poverty and his piety.  Well, I don’t doubt that at all.  People laughed at Jesus too.  The crowd wants conformity, because that enables the crowd in its own disorders.  Imagine the crowd shouting for the crucixion of Jesus and the release of Barabbas. What would they have done to anyone shouting for the opposite?

Today the world shouts for other crucifixions, and tells us that if we want to save our lives, we must get as much stuff as we can.  We can never have too much stuff, we must always have more, newer, and better. That’s why the example of saints such as Matthew Talbot are so important.

There are a lot worse things that can happen to a person besides losing oneself in Christ.   Indeed, this kenosis (emptying out) is the source of true self-knowledge.

Good counsel.

July 21st, 2009

What is the price of counsel?  At some law firms, it can be quite expensive. One can hope that it is good counsel, but as the “torture memos” suggest, sometimes high-priced counsel isn’t so benign.

What is Mary’s counsel to us?  “Do whatever he tells you”, is what she told the servants at the wedding at Cana, which is one of the seven great signs that the Gospel of John gives regarding Jesus’ lordship, and one of the traditional epiphanies of the Lord. Which is another way of saying — “pay attention to this, it is important”.

What else does she have to say?  “Be it done unto me according to your word” — fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

And then. . . “My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord” followed by some really revolutionary words about scattering the proud and pulling down the mighty from their thrones and exalting the lowly and sending away the rich and giving good things to the poor.

That’s good counsel.

But we think that all this happened long ago and doesn’t always apply to us’ns who are the rich and powerful in this world. And even if it does somehow remain relevant to us, surely it isn’t so in a literal way,  Thus we comfort  and protect ourselves from the troubling truths of the Counsel of Mary, Mother of God.

When Mary spoke to the servants at Cana, she spoke with a loving authority. The servants did as she asked, even though what Jesus said to them was obviously foolish.

Across all these years, Mary’s voice of loving authority continues to call to us — “Do whatever he tells you to do”.  She doesn’t say — “Pick and choose among what Jesus tells you to do and only do those things you feel comfortable with and that agree with your nationalist political aspirations.”  No, her’s is a simple counsel — “Do whatever he tells you.”

A lifetime of study could not completely break open the meaning of that simple phrase, so we’d all better get busy.

The edge.

July 20th, 2009

During this novena, we are reflecting on (among other things) those who are pushed to the edge of our societies.

Forty years ago this summer, I became one of those on the edge.  I was 16 years old, and I ran away from home.  There was no particular reason.  I was I suppose full of teen-age 1960s angst and tired of red dirt southwest Oklahoma.  Nothing was cool there. Everything was boring. I had seen a movie about runaways and it seemed exciting, maybe even glamorous.  Better than Frederick, that was for sure.  I wanted to go to California, but I only had enough money for a bus ticket to Denver.  So over a few hours, I went from middle class respectability in small town Oklahoma, surrounded by a dense network of family and friends, to being a lonely and friendless runaway on the streets of a city much larger than Frederick.

As it turned out, being homeless in Denver wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t exciting, it was terrifying and dangerous.  Things happened to me that 40 years later, despite my well known ability to carry on and on and on about a multitude of subjects, I can’t write about and indeed have only spoken about with a small handful of people over the years.  I was hungry,and didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t find a job.  I didn’t know where the soup kitchens were.  After a couple of days, I’m started to look a bit scruffy, and people were averting their eyes or telling me to get lost.

Someone said “go over there”, so I knocked on the door of the Catholic Cathedral on Colfax and the office lady gave me $2, which in 1969 was more than it is now. Big Macs were 35 cents.  Bus fare was a quarter.  I was really really grateful for that two dollars.  I was also glad that she spoke kindly to me and didn’t just tell me to go away.  After I left the office, I hid behind some bushes and cried.

The loneliness of homelessness can get really intense.  I had no street skills, and no one to talk to.  I had never been in a situation where I went all day and no one said anything to me and I said nothing to anyone else. After the events of the first couple of days, I was afraid to talk to people, to be seen.  Then, as now, for the homeless, all too often “to be seen” is to be hurt, attacked, run off, jailed.  So you practice invisibility until you get good at it.

When I lived in Kansas City, Missouri, I was a volunteer with the Uplift organization, which helped homeless people that didn’t live in shelters.  They had two old bread trucks and one suburban and three routes. The trucks were loaded with everything a homeless person needs (except a home).  It was really amazing to see where homeless people lived in KCMO.  Right close to a big elegant mall was a homeless camp hidden under an overpass, complete with camouflaged panels that looked like the side of the embankment.  There was another camp which was really out of the way.  It was close to a river, on an abandoned railroad, we had to drive over a tiny one-way bridge to get to it.  There were a bunch of abandoned railroad cars that homeless people lived in.  It lacked most amenities, but it had the most spectacular view of downtown KCMO at night.  I was amazed that no one had put expensive condos on the site, the views were so incredible.  Most of the railroad cars were covered with graffiti, and it was art.  We were always there at night, and there was a very surrealistic feel to the experience.

Homeless people in Oklahoma City are no different, they too are clever in their ways of hiding.  I am not going to talk about places they may be hiding, since I don’t want to cause anyone any trouble.  But there’s a dumpster where a homeless person was crushed. A parking garage where a homeless teenager jumped and killed himself years ago.  A place where a man named Steve died. I remember a freezing cold night when Marcus and Philip Evans went down and tried to get him to go to a motel, but he wouldn’t go, he just burrowed more into the cardboard and newspapers and sleeping bags that were his home.  From his viewpoint, it was better to be free on the street than to be locked into whatever terror an enclosed space would bring him.

Jesus often told people to “open your eyes so you can see, get some ears so you can hear”.  Then as now, it is easier to not see distressing sights than to open our eyes and really see what is before us.  All of it — everything that is there, not just the view that the Chamber of Commerce or the Republicrats want us to see.

Mother Teresa’s comment about the distressing disguises that Jesus wears has been repeated so often it has almost become a cliche, but even so it is a very true and prescient observation from someone who had practiced very hard the art of open eyes.  What we try to do in a novena like this, which just goes on and on and on and on and repeats so many things over and over and over and over, is to break through the scales which cover our eyes so that we can see the reality in which we live — not forgetting that the vision we seek includes a supernatural reality as well as the temporal reality.

“What do you want? Lord, I want to see.”  So Jesus spits in the mud and rubs it on his eyes and tells the beggar to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  The first extraordinary thing, from the cultural viewpoint of the time, is that Jesus was willing to not only see the blind beggar, but also to speak with him.  The beggar was obviously a grave sinner, why else would he be so afflicted?  Note the similiarity of views today with then.  People don’t want to see or acknowledge the homeless because there is obviously something wrong with them.  If they weren’t (fill in the blank) lazy, degenerate, alcoholic, drug addicted, whatever, they wouldn’t be homeless, right?  At least, that is what we tell ourselves over and over and over so we don’t have to deal with the consequences of our sight.

When I went to Rome in 2004, someone told me, “Bob, you have to decide what you are going to do about the beggars, because they are everywhere.”  I quickly found out the truth of that advice.  They were everywhere.  I knew all the socially responsible lies to tell myself starting with   “These people are professional beggars, ignore them” and ending with “if you get too close to them they will attack you”.  I ended up deciding to just give a small coin to everybody.  The old ladies sitting in front of churches would clutch my hand and softly murmur Italian words I didn’t understand.  For all I know they were saying “You hard hearted American, why don’t you give me a Euro?”  But I couldn’t afford to give everyone a Euro so I gave them what I had and when I saw them again, I would give to them again.  It’s a much better practice than running through some kind of decision-making process to determine who was worthy to receive a gift and thus dismissing some as unworthy.  Who am I to decide anyone’s worthiness?  “Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

So my advice is to take the risk of opening your eyes and seeing the homeless among us and to just forget everything the Chamber of Commerce wants you to believe about the homeless and go ahead and give them something.  It doesn’t have to be money. You could make little paper lunch bags of goodies for the homeless — pack it with a candy bar, some hard candy, a peanut butter cracker package, some aspirin or ibuprofen, a clean pair of socks, and a small bottle of lotion and maybe a prayer card or a personal note — “I am praying for you”.  Don’t forget the hand or skin lotion — it is really important for people who aren’t able to shower regularly.   In the winter, carry extra hats and gloves with you and give them away.

Be not afraid, as Jesus would say, to open your eyes and see what is to be seen in your own town.  I am sure that when we think of “having a vision of Jesus” we aren’t thinking of looking for homeless people, we’d like something more sanitized and holy, like a beautiful figure in an immaculate robe, radiating comfort while floating in front of us as rose petals shower down all around us.  But most of us will just have to be satisfied with the more prosaic vision of “Jesus in the breadline”.

Lord, I want to see. Heal my blindness so that I can see.