Daily Postings

People who Offer their Services is Crisis Situations have to have a Gentle Humility And Patience

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July 29, 2014

I can see why when priests and ministers retire, most just enjoy their retirement.  Parish work and any kind of work involving dealing with so many people working on so many complex programs takes patience and understanding and the ability to accept people where they are at, and allow all those with shortcomings to still feel accepted and appreciated.  It is much different than working in a corporation where programs and operations are already structured and everyone is hired to do specific work.  Parish work is extremely complicated if the pastor allows the people to play a role in the community, especially today when the people feel called by the Holy Spirit to offer their services for a specific work or ministry.  They can feel very hurt if the pastor gives the impression that they are not needed or that there is someone else already doing that particular ministry.

To work effectively in church work or in any kind of work dealing with people, especially in crisis situations, it takes a certain kind of personality because the work is stressful. In reaching out to people in communities where there are multiple and varied needs, the workers have to have a flexibility to deal with problems and personality differences, and realizing that even good people have difficulties of many different kinds.  People who offer their services are not hand-picked. They join up out of good will, and one has to expect people who are not easy to understand or not always easy to adjust to.  So, they have to make up their minds to get along with each other, otherwise the work suffers.  It is also important that people who offer their help in times of crises, have to be happy just offering their services and not feel they have to be in charge.  That is one of the big problems in parish work, people feeling their leadership abilities are not being recognized and they cause friction and tension which makes the work difficult for everyone, because when persons like that are unhappy, they begin to act strange and others then begin to feel uncomfortable. Jesus had this problem with the apostles during the whole three years of his public ministry. The apostles were continually arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest and most important among them, and who should be put in the leadership role when the time came.  St. John was very jealous of St. Peter because he felt that Jesus showed favoritism to Peter, and even in his gospel, he makes carping remarks about Peter.

If people’s hearts are in the right place they will just be glad to be of service, because when people are trying to help in critical situations, there is no room for difficult personalities or cry-babies.  The work is stressful enough without having to be a psychiatrist to deal with difficult egos.

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Come, Blessed of my Father!

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July 28, 2014

As I get more and more involved in the problems of the flood victims in Schoharie County, I am learning more about just how serious the issues are there.  I was shocked to see the condition of the really beautiful building that we have a chance to own.  The flood waters were almost six feet high and left a thick layer of mud on the wraparound porch and on the first floor inside the house.  The garage and apartment attached to the garage is also covered with mud.  Hopefully,  today, volunteers started shoveling up the mud so the workers can go in and see what has to be done.

We also went to the local school to see how the lunch program is working.  So far we have only enough money to provide lunches for Middleburgh where the volunteers are serving 450 students a day for the summer.  Some of the children asked if they could have a bag to put the lunch in, and when they were asked why they would need a bag if they were going to eat their lunch right there.  Their answer was, “We want to bring our lunch home so we can share it with our parents.  We have no food at home.”  How could one’s heart not break hearing such a remark?  But, that is the situation there.  I have never come across a pocket of such desperately poor people like this in my whole life, and to think that this is not rare, baffles me.  Other villages have the same problem.  And we are getting calls from the next county asking if we could help there as well, because the same situation exists in their county.  And when we ask these people if they have insurance or welfare, or Socials Security or Medicare, some just look at you with a blank stare.  Some of the people do not have the ability to understand what some of these things are.  And I am finding out that these situations are spread out all across the New York State, and there are really no fully adequate programs to help these people, especially since many of them have very low IQ and are not aware of the help they need.  It is beyond me to even understand how these people could survive as long as they have.  Maybe they had little jobs when they were younger, but now that they are older, they don’t even know that Social Security I, or Medicare, or Medicaid are available to them.  Many of them are just like children, and fortunately we have volunteers who are willing to help them apply for what is available.  The County Office on Aging wants to help us and set up an office in the building we are in the process of restoring, and so does the Department of Social Services.  The Office on Aging wants to set up a kitchen in the garage, so they can cook the meals there for the elderly who can come there, and for our volunteers to deliver hot meals to the elderly living out in the woods and mountain areas.

Finally, after all these years I am beginning to see that how desperate these pockets of poverty are, and that they are located outside practically every city and town and village in the state and in the country, I wonder how Congress members can make remarks that “there are no real poor people in our country. They are just too lazy to work.”   From what I see going on in Washington, it seems that they are the ones who are too lazy to work.  To this day, not one of our Congressmen or women has come out to Schoharie to see the desperation of the people who are struggling there, just to survive.  Imagine having to buy clothes for a family just so they can have something to wear for the mother’s funeral?   I realize very deeply now why Jesus made our eternal salvation dependent on how we treat the poor.  If we think we can get to heaven that easily and act as if there are no poor, when they are right in our back yards, Jesus reminds us of the Last Judgment, “Come, blessed of my Father into the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of time, for when I was hungry, you gave me food; when I was thirsty you gave me drink, etc., etc.,”  “Depart from me, you others, for when I was hungry you gave me no food, etc.”

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What is Socialism and What is Social Justice?

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One of the biggest political and theological crisies in America today is not over religious liberty which is merely a difference in understanding, which can be worked out by calm and reasonable negotiations.  The most troubling issue is the furious and irrational conflict over capitalism and social justice.  Most politicians, it would seem, as well as some clergy, have no real awareness of the concept of social justice.  The concept was coined by the popes in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum and  Quadragesimo Anno, in which Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI.  In these two documents they laid down the principles that should govern moral relationships between Labor and Management, and the governments’ responsibilities, in justice, to protect the rights of both, and also to protect the human rights of its citizens so they could live in dignity.  This is not charity. It is justice.  We would all do well to familiarize ourselves with these documents, especially Rerum Novarum, which was issued during all the tumultuous crises brought on by the treatment of workers by the industrial barons.  There are some politicians and industrialists who believe that industrialists should be left to run their businesses the way they want without any interference, and without being inhibited by labor unions.   That is nothing more than a reversion back to the times when Industry enslaved its workers.   That is beginning to happen in our country right now.  So, the guidance of the Church is needed now more than ever to protect the rights of the workers as well as the poor and the struggling middle class as well.  Here is a summary of Rerum Novarum.

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We become acquainted with the real Jesus by reading the Gospels, by meditating on scenes in Jesus’ life, and by reading the Early Fathers of the Church to understand what the Apostles taught these early Christians

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Christians are all stuck in denominational loyalty, and they forget about Jesus; I mean the real Jesus; the Jesus who taught us such a beautiful way of Iiving, by following him, “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Following Jesus means taking him seriously and getting to really know him, not just singing pious hymns, and sharing a few comforting sayings when we’re hurting.  It is essential that we get to know the real strong Jesus who faced life head on and told us we should be the same and not just follow the nice things he said.  Many preachers won’t preach the real strong Jesus because they might lose their job.   Yet it’s the real Jesus that we must know and be willing to follow if we are going to be authentic.  And the way you get to know the real Jesus is not by reading the scriptures alone, but by reading the gospels especially and by meditating on them daily, and also by familiarizing ourselves in the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, who were converted by  the apostles and had learned from them many  things that make the scriptures come alive by the clear and authentic understanding of what Jesus meant when he said something that might not be clear when we read many passages in the gospels that may not be clear.  In doing these three things, reading the gospels, and reading the Fathers of the Church, and spending time each day prayerfully meditating on various scenes in Jesus’ life as described in the gospels.  Over a period of time Jesus will become very real to you and it will become clear what it means to be an authentic believer and disciple of Jesus.

Those of you who have access to a computer can easily find the writings of the early Fathers of the Church by typing that into your computer and you will have access to practically all of the writings of those great persons and how they understood Jesus and all his teachings.  You will find them fascinating.

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That we may Think and Love like Jesus

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July 25, 2014

I have made one goal for myself since my retirement, and which really was a special goal during my life as a priest, and that goal was to try to put aside my personal ideas and prejudices and interests and try to understand how Jesus views us all and how he understands us all.  An essential part of this endeavor is trying understand how Jesus must look at things and happenings and all that is taking place in the world today and how we treat one another.

First of all, Jesus looks upon the whole human race as a family, and his love for all of us is real and non-discriminating.  That word or that concept is alien to God’s love. Nationality and race mean nothing to Jesus.  Borders between countries are offensive to Jesus, because the world is his and we act as if the world and our part of the world is ours and no one else has a right to be here. When it comes to religion, he has a true understanding of the priceless message he gave us and well aware of the original family he started and whose existence he guaranteed until the end of time so it could pass on intact all the teachings he gave to us.  He also realizes that many people started their own religions and passed their teachings on to their descendants.  He is aware that in the course of time his teachings were fragmented among these churches, but the people are conscientious and honest in their practice of their religion, and so he loves and respects them for their sincerity and integrity and honesty.  Outside of Christian religions there are many other forms of beliefs, and some who have no belief.  Followers of these religions who are honorable and sincere in the practice of their religion are accepted by Jesus as close to him because of their sincerity and conscientious practice of what they believe to be their honorable way of worshipping God. Others who have no belief are  still loved by Jesus and blessed as they try to live good lives and care for others.

It is unfortunate the members of so many religions develop hostilities towards people whose religion is different from their own. This is certainly not pleasing to God.  It is easy for us to point out the evil things that people of other religions do, while we forget that leaders in  our religions did the most horrible things to others and even to other Christians.  It was Christians who slaughtered Jews and Poles and Gypsies  and other Christians and even their own priests and ministers during the time of the Second World War.

Now we single out Muslims who are no different from the rest of us, other than their religious fanatics are similar to the religious fanatics of the Christians churches not many years ago. It is just sad that the rest of the decent people in a religion are branded with the same stigma as the fanatics whose beliefs and practices are alien to the majority of the honorable members of their religion

The worse thing that happens in these difficult times is that good people think they are doing Jesus a favor by hating people of other religions because of the evil things their hateful radicals do in the name of their own self-created God.  If Christians really lived the way Jesus showed us how to live and love and care for one another, we could show to the world the beauty of the way of life Jesus taught us, but few of us have got past living just like everyone else, so we are not the yeast in society that Jesus dreamed we could be.

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What would the world be like if it was Modeled after the Mind and Heart of Jesus

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July 24, 2014

In reading and listening to feedback about my books and my daily postings, I find it fascinating to find out how readers view what I write.  When “Joshua” first came out thirty years ago, most Catholic bookstores banned it, saying it was undermining the authority of the Church.  Southern Baptist bookstores, and some Methodist bookstores, stocked it but had to keep it hidden from the person in charge of overseeing books in their stores.  Jewish people loved the book and one Jewish man asked if it could  be considered the last book of the Hebrew bible.  The book was first recommended in the  ”American Journal on Psychiatry,” and from then on many psychiatrists and psychotherapists used it because of the healing effects it had on deeply troubled patients.  The Vatican ordered a case of the book (44 copies), and years later the manager of the Vatican bookstore said my books were the most popular books in the Vatican, and the last two popes have read “Joshua,” and some of the other books aswell. When I was in Australia, I was asked by my Australia publisher if I would sign books at the Daughters of St. Paul Bookstore, which I agreed to.  When I got there I expressed surprise that they would sell my books because in the U. S.,  the Daughters of St. Paul wouldn’t sell them.  I told the Italian nun in charge of the Australia bookstore and she was shocked, and merely said “We’re different.”  I asked her where she got my books from, and she said she ordered them directly from the Vatican bookstore.

Conservative Catholic periodicals said that I am a heretic in a wide range of issues, and am dangerous to the faith of innocent, loyal Catholics.  They do everything to prevent people from reading my books.  Many priests are scandalized by my writings and consider me a radical liberal.  Hundreds of other priests wrote telling me “Joshua” saved their priesthood. Most sisters and nuns love the books.  The first letter I got when “Joshua” first came out was from a cloistered Poor Clare nun who was 95 years old and had been a nun for 65 years.  She thanked me for writing “Joshua” and said that after reading the book it made her for the first time in her life feel comfortable being a Catholic.

What is interesting is the various interpretations people have of who I am and what I am.  Some say I am a radical liberal.  Radical liberals refer to me as a shrewd conservative.  Some say my ideas are typical radical liberal democratic hogwash.  Others say, Girzone is so old-fashioned like the old Republicans, but he is sly in the way he expresses it.

The bottom line of who and what I am is very simple.  I am none of the things that people think I am.  When I wrote “Joshua” I used the gospels as the format. If Jesus came back today how would people treat him, and as a result everybody recognizes themselves in the characters. And when they do, they see the book referring to them as good or evil.  The book is like a mirror.  When they read the book they either love it or they hate it, or somewhere in between.   With regard to everything else I write, it is very simple why I write what I do, and that is: How would Jesus think about this, or how would Jesus treat these kinds of people? And with regard to every issue in society and in the world today, and about our institutions, how would Jesus view all these things, like war, and the death penalty, and our prison systems, and our educational systems and about relationships between countries and governments, and about immigrants, and about the poor, and the mentally troubled, and the whole range of issues affecting human life.  The reason for this approach is also simple: a real Christian society should be designed after the mind and heart of Jesus himself, not according to Democrat or Republican ideologies, or worse, along the prejudices of ignorant, meanspirited bigots.

One Catholic pastor used Joshua to transform his parish into a real Jesus parish, and created the most awesome authentic Jesus’ spirit throughout his whole parish.  His parish is composed of high Pentagon officials and military families and other federal officials and employees, and business people and ordinary people, as well as people of almost a hundred nationalities, and also many poor people.   The most stunning phenomenon is that  all are very familiar with those in the parish who need help,  and reach out to them and treat them like family, just like a real family as Jesus intended.  They also adopted Haiti as a parish mission and so far have built three villages with over 3000 homes and schools and civic center and pure water systems.  We were broken-hearted a month ago, when our dear friend died suddenly.  But the parish still is committed to the work in Haiti, and since his death the parish collected enough money to build another village there.   Even though the pastor was such a self-effacing man, and so ordinary, a movement has already started to promote the process for his canonization as a saint.

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When we are weak and helpless, we are ready for God to use us to enrich the lives of others.

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July 22,2014

God uses simple people and weak people to accomplish his greatest mysteries throughout the world, because they do not have big egos and will not tell God how to do things. When we are weakest God can work his best through us, and can accomplish great things that will enrich the lives of many, and even the whole world. So, don’t ever be afraid to let God use you, and always be ready to recognize your weakness and inadequacies.

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How to Understand the Violence in the Middle East

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July 21, 2014

Thirty-six years ago when I was a chaplain in the New York State Guard, and was at camp with the men, a police official came from New York City and read off a list of terrorist groups that we should be aware of.  One of the terrorist groups was an Israeli terrorist gang.  I put my hand up and complained that the Israelis are not terrorists.  All the Jewish officers in the group clapped and came to my Mass on Saturday night.  One Orthodox Jew took me aside and told me I should become more familiar with what is really going on.  I did not know what he meant, so from that day, I started to do my own research, and learned things I had never heard before and was disappointed and shocked.  The first thing I discovered was that up until 1946 the Palestinian population was 1,200,000.  The Jewish population was only 600,000.  From that year and for the following years the Palestinian population kept dropping dramatically until it was less than the Jewish population.  The loss was over 550,000, as the Jewish population kept growing.  I was shocked and wondered what happened to all those people, then I discovered that there were two Jewish terrorist gangs, the Irgun Gang and the Stern Gang, and it was their job to terrorize Palestinian villagers by assassinating their village leaders and force the people to flee into refugee camps.   And this was all kept hidden from the hundreds of thousands of decent Jewish people living in Israel.  Now there were enough Jews to form an all Jewish democracy.  And later on I found out in reading a recent book written by a highly respected Israeli historian, Illan Pappe, that the United States aided the Israelis in this horrible chapter of modern history.  And I also read a book entitled “Blood Brothers,” by a Palestinian priest, who started with some Jewish friends the first peace movement in Israel, and who is now the archbishop of Galilee, about the Israelis driving his family and all the other villagers from their homes, and his father who was the village leader would not let his people retaliate.  He said, “We are Christians, and our ancestors became followers of Jesus in the time of the Apostles, so we must not seek revenge.  We should appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court,” which they did and the Supreme Court ordered the army to give the villagers back their homes.  Rather than do that the army bulldozed all their homes and the whole village became homeless.  Knowing these things helps us to understand better what is really behind all the violence between Jewish leaders and Palestinians today and why we lost the good will and love the Arab peoples used to have for us Americans.

And, yet, in spite of all this, my books and writings are filled with beautiful things about the good Jewish people and all they have suffered through the ages, and all the good they have contributed to the world throughout history, and especially today.

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We Need your Help.

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July 20, 2014

We are hoping to start preparing to build the tiny houses for the victims of the hurricanes two years ago.  We also have to renovate a building that we can use as a clinic.  I have never asked anyone for help before, as I used my own royalties from my books to help others, but I don’t have that income any more. So, I hope those of you who are able, could you please help us with whatever you can afford to give.  We have doctors and a psychiatrist and nurses and healthcare workers who offered to staff the clinic as volunteers so many days a month, but we have to renovate the building which was badly damaged in the hurricane.  Please help if you can.  As I not very sophisticated,  the Joshua Foundation is not set up for donations made by credit cards, so could you send donations by check to The Joshua Foundation, 1071 Joshua Lane, Altamont, NY 12009.

Every penny you donate will go to the work for the flood victims in Schoharie.

Many thanks,

Fr. Joe Girzone

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And then The Judgment

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July 19, 2014

Recently, a large number of people had died and their many spirits were arriving in ever-increasing numbers at the gate to the kingdom of heaven where the court was being readied for judgment.  Suddenly Jesus, the Son of God, seen as never before in all his majestic glory, took his place in the judgment seat.  One by one the quivering souls approached the Judge, and begged admittance into the kingdom of heaven.   As he looked deeply into the souls of each one, they cringed as they become more acutely aware of what their lives had been like since their childhood.   Some were filled with guilt because of they were keenly aware of all the commandments they had broken and how dreadfully often they had broken those commandments.  Other felt the guilt of coming before God with empty hands, as they realized they had done nothing of value to anyone.

When the Judge motioned for silence, he then began to speak.  “You are here today begging admittance into my kingdom.  You are trembling like leaves on a tree in a windstorm because you are aware of your guilt at having violated the Commandments, but I will not judge you on that, because I understand that your sins in those areas often stem from the lack of spiritual strength.  Those I can understand, because they represent areas in your lives that were lacking in gifts I did not give you.  What is uppermost in my thoughts today are the things you could have done which come from kind and compassionate hearts.     These are well within your ability to shine and show your concern and caring for those who are hurting.  So critical in these days back on earth are the masses of starving and despairing parents and children desperately pleading for acceptance into your country where they can find a place to work and care for their children. There are some among you who have compassionate hearts and understanding minds, and have opened your hearts and even your homes to me in these tortured souls.  I see you standing there by yourselves, and I see the sorrow in your hearts for not having accomplished more with all the gifts I gave you, but you are forgiven, so now you are welcome into my kingdom.  Follow the angel who will guide you to the places that have been specially prepared for you, and where you will find all those who were close to you on earth.”

Then the Judge looks with sadness, and with no trace of anger, on the others standing there before him.  “What shall I say to you?   Well done, good and faithful servants?   How can I say that?  You have not been my servants.  You paraded my name as if you were my loyal disciples but your words were empty and hollow and never came from your heart, and you looked with contempt at those who had love and compassion in their hearts, and who were willing to forgive enemies.  When masses of the poor and the desperate came to your country and pleaded with you to take them in and save them from destruction and despair, you accused Me in them of being criminals and diseased and unfit to live with all your “decent and respectable patriots”.

“Now you must remember that I warned you that when you would one day come here pleading for acceptance into my kingdom, that I would treat you the way you treated Me in the poor and  especially the hurting poor.   I see you here before me as criminals who have broken my law which is the only one I am concerned about, the law of love and compassion.   For all the others I am willing to show understanding and compassion because of your weakness as humans.   But, because I see no love and compassion in your hearts, I must be true to my word, and judge you as not worthy to enter into my kingdom.   However, I will talk to my Father and the Spirit of Love, and my Mother as well and perhaps there may be an alternative to the worst sentence, but I warn you, even the alternative will not be pleasant.”

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