April 25, 2019

Choosing Well

Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh…

The message is somber and blunt, but we shall thank God all the same. How accurate is this warning? Let us begin by asking ourselves: “who keeps failing us?” Many would say that the government, at the local, or at state or at federal level fails them. Even some of those whom we elected to look after our interests and rights do fail us. 

However, let us start, instead, by listing those closest to us, those in whom we placed our trust, especially during difficult times.

  • Some of us were failed by their spouse, their parents, their children, by their friends, by members of their own family. And it hurts so badly!
  • Can we trust priests and bishops? Obviously, we cannot trust all of them, especially in the wake of the sex scandals and those criminal cover-ups. 
  • Can we trust doctors? Hmmm. Not all of them. 
  • Can we trust our teachers? Not all of them. Can we trust lawyers? Let us say NO and then, get specific to see if we know of a trustworthy lawyer. 
  • Can we trust experts in fields of vital importance such as food and drink consumption, health issues, education, psychology, etc.? Same reply.

We have all being hurt and let down, although in different degrees, by other human beings.

The message is clear: we should not be too shocked, or too upset because, by definition, all human beings are born with innate flaws, limitations and faulty drives stemming from  self-interest and, ultimately, from original sin.

Can we trust big organizations and large agencies designed to help national and global communities run smoothly and with mutual cooperation to achieve the common good? Since they are made up of human beings who are limited, they, too, turn out to be flawed and disappointing, if not dangerous and corrupt more than single individuals could ever be.

But the same God who warns us not to trust in human beings demands of us understanding and forgiveness in dealing with each other’s weaknesses. Yet, there are also human beings whose wickedness is so pronounced that they have chosen to work for the prince of darkness. Not only should we not put our trust in them, but we should also stay clear of their ways as they lead to self-destruction.

Indeed, from long ago, groups of progressive and liberal thinkers have proposed a trend of thought (secularism) that has pushed God out of the picture of human life and human affairs. Because of their ways of darkness and evil, since we choose to place our trust in God, they automatically label us retrogrades, simpletons, delusional, if not altogether harmful to their concept of a perfect society. Recently they have shown their true colors and their viciousness has caused sensible, decent people to recoil in horror and disbelief. We are shocked by what they propose as solutions to social ills and global challenges. We must conclude that they have lost touch with reality since they have chosen to trust in ever-wilder ideologies, rather than in the Creator of reality.

Yet, why do we cower as they call us racists and evil and passé? Why don’t we push back and expose their emptiness and foolishness? We knew, at gut level, that it is impossible to really shove God out of the picture without losing touch with reality and live guided by an elegant form of madness as they do.

But we found ourselves entangled in worldly affairs; we were drawn to consider easy solutions that excluded suffering and the cross as necessary elements of genuine loving. Consequently, we were caught by surprise, in recent days, when they dared to propose abortion all the way to birth as the easiest of all solutions for disabilities, imperfections and to accommodate any human whim of the woman who should be mother. We bought into easy solutions while not being completely sold to God’s ways and the inevitability of the cross.

Therefore, this very day, we have to make our choice for God quite visible and lasting. It should be rather easy because of the extremes of arrogance and foolishness that have been in full display in these legislators who legalized, celebrated and heralded infanticide as human advancement. See? Their wickedness and evil ways have been totally unmasked by less than perfect people; by severely handicapped individuals, who are grateful that their mothers chose to welcome them to life and cared for them.  

We must ask ourselves how can people, who should have never been allowed to be born, possess such zest for life and be clearly filled with joy and purpose. People like Daniel Ritchie, a man born without arms. He is happily married, father of two, renowned author, motivational speaker and with his own pastoral ministry from Huntersville, North Carolina. 

And also, how is it possible for people who are totally dispossessed of everything find reasons to praise and glorify God? Why aren’t they angry with Him? If not coursing Him outright, why not, at least, be wondering why He allowed them to be dirt poor or ill?

What an example of correct living for us all! What an existential implementation of the Beatitudes!

Hence, today, when Jesus (Luke 6:17, 20-26) looks in the direction of those among us who are poor; when he looks in the direction of those among us who are hungry; when he looks in the direction of those among us who are weeping; when he looks in the direction of those among us who are hated, insulted, denounced, and he declares them all blessed, he is reminding us that the choice that they have made is the right one and that we should continue to live according to that fundamental choice placing all our trust in him alone.

With the help of the Holy Spirit we shall make all our choices in such a way that blessings and not woes will ever be directed at us.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin