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Dear Friends,


After a long absence from my experience and ministry comes the request for “special blessings.” I have people drop to their knees no matter where they are when they find out I am a Catholic priest for “a special blessing.”


After Mass more often than not these days right after I have just blessed them, people will approach me for “a special blessing” and requests for me to bless houses or automobiles or pets are on the rise.


While all of these can be perfectly legitimate and healthy, remember, a blessing is essentially an acknowledgement of thanksgiving to God for the gift given not a remedy or vaccination against problems or the vicissitudes of life or some kind of superstitious talisman and, certainly not a substitute for responsible mature responses and decisions and choices. 


Surprisingly, too, after many years of silence people will call me to talk about real problems in their lives when that kind of conversation and appointment dried up with the rise of Oprah and Dr. Phil and all those other sources of self-help cures and solutions.


My thinking on these developments is that daily life and the constant grind of the negative fear mongering noise looping in the background is taking a toll on personal peace and well-being and people inclined to a throwback Catholicism are seeking relief in rescue operations from the heavens.


Complex religious systems have always found it easy to create a business and to play into people’s fears and anxieties and their real or imagined problems and be the broker between a magic god and the solutions that will make their lives more manageable, at least in the short run or so they think.


One of the reasons for many people abandoning religious affiliation today especially in mainstream Christianity including Catholicism is that the idea of heavenly solutions to problems or notions of justice that extend to the afterlife in heaven, hell, or purgatory are just too incredible to be taken seriously.


Christianity of this kind including Catholicism these days has become pretty detached from real people with lives lived in real time.


The tendency to define ourselves over against some real or perceived deficiency in another is always there but in these times as the teachings of Christ have been diluted and distorted to support cultural and ideological gulfs between people racial and gender differences have been exaggerated and become excuses for the indifference of Christian people.


The concern for “saving souls” that I talked about a few weeks ago is precisely what drives many sincere seekers away from the Church because souls carry no real urgency, but bodies do in the generous minds of many intelligent and sincere people.


Getting to heaven is not a real alternative to making the earth a little bit more just and whole. It is on the earth that we are asked to pray for likeness to heaven not escaping earth for heaven.


Contemporary Catholic concerns often disregard the injustices and inequalities that haunt us and make the lives of many miserably unfair.


The values assigned by the cultures and ideologies developed in contemporary political life have a tendency to hide and deny the values that the Gospel has found in Christ allowing us to tolerate, even justify and endorse, ways of being with one another and the earth that at heart are wrong, dead wrong.


The very Catholic idea that Holy Spirit will sort things out is essentially blasphemous and agnostic. The Holy Spirit inspires persons, the Holy Spirit does not do our work for us.


Legions of people are tired of going through the motions of a culturally correct Catholicism and are striking out on their own to make in their own humble ways the world and all that inhabits the world more like heaven on earth.


For example, there is no longer any profit in newspaper recycling nor has there been for some time so those green and yellow recycling containers will soon be gone. Please do not bring your newspapers to us for recycling because we do not have the resources to handle them anymore. Please continue to recycle though your own community recycling programs.


All recycling programs are in jeopardy because recycling euphemistically was just shipping millions and millions of tons of first world garbage and refuse to third world countries and those countries have no more room.


Very little has actually been invested in our country to recycle anything so increasingly you will find recycling programs curtailed or shut down leaving us with lots of stuff and incredibly intransigent problems that will contribute to the health and well-being problems of those who come after us.


Crucially, electronics and plastic have no real known recycling capabilities that come close to the volume of what needs to be recycled.


So, try and develop in your homes ways to be more proactive on your use and reuse of resources.


There are parents of children in our religious education programs that think we should talk about suicide. I have no problem with that, and we will talk about suicide but there is very little political will to actually invest suicide education and prevention programs in our schools or communities with realistic funding to enable them to work.


It is the same with public education, gun violence, opioid addictions and death, mental illness, homelessness, sexual violence, child abuse, and racism,  there is very little political will to seriously tackle any of those problems and yet billions and billions of dollars will be spent on political campaigns that perpetuate that produce dysfunctional needy people that we, increasingly, allow to think for us producing results that break the heart of God and are the antithesis of what Christ actually teaches.




Father Niblick