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Daily Reflections Earth Healing

Daily Reflections
by Al Fritsch, S.J.

A series of written meditations and reflections

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November, 2022

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Chickory, Cichorium intybus

November Reflections, 2022

          As the year winds down, we ought to realize that our gratitude must expand; think of all good things the Lord has given us.  November includes Thanksgiving Day, a time of national celebration.  In our northern temperate zone, we discover the closure of the growing year through heavy frosts.  The skies become gray, leaves turn rust and fall, daylight's span shortens, unprotected plants die through freezing, and we prepare for the winter winds just around the corner.  Let's bring in the outdoor furniture and house plants, protect the late vegetables, check insulation, and prepare for the holiday season with special treats.

Wild Chickory      

You are like a life well-spent,
  blue flame along roadside glory,
  spanning the summer months
                          and fading, but still noble
  amid determined autumn frosts.
Your dried roots kill the chill,
for you let us taste endurance

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St. Elizabeth of Ravenna Catholic Church




Thanksgiving Appeal 2022

Once a year our Earth Healing Program seeks the special assistance of friends, with confidence that their donations will help facilitate our public interest activities.  We assure you that what we have promised for 2022 is being achieved and we expect to fulfill the same next year.  In fact, even amid the pandemic and personal health challenges, we have been able to accomplish more than what we promised, including a trip to Michigan to rebury the bone fragments of Jacques Marquette, the explorer, missionary, and environmentalist (see our YouTube video of event).  Our Daily Reflections continue to examine important issues, our weekly Facebook essays receive numerous positive comments, and our YouTube channel is supported by a growing number of subscribers.   

We now receive a host of comments worthy of response, but we have not found time to do them justice; with increased funding we could open dialog with earnest viewers.  Likewise, with my increased immobility and inability to continue driving, I need added assistance in ordinary tasks.  Lastly, we hope to extend our Earthhealing YouTube channel and expand publicity of our books, especially Resonance: Promoting Harmony When Confronting Climate Change, and update our computer resources.

Our work at Earth Healing has taken on more than a local and regional emphasis; in fact, our essays go out to a national audience and our Daily Reflections yield a monthly numerical ranking of the first thirty nations of our over one million readers.  Overlooked by censors, China often ranks second after the U.S. in monthly readership in the last year.  Global outreach is critical for spreading the spiritual message that renewable energy sources are essential; they must grow at a faster pace in both the individual domestic and regional levels.  Worldwide energy consumption is increasing and renewables are not substituting fossil fuels fast enough to avoid a climate change catastrophe.  Also, we have been sorely disappointed with the Russian/Ukrainian conflict, since all major and minor energy consumers must work in collaboration to save our threatened planet.                     

During the coming year we will continue our outreach through Daily Reflections, weekly Facebook essays and occasional YouTube videos of a more regional nature.  We have initiated partnering work with our parent ASPI, as leaders Dr. Tammy Clemons and Timi Reedy are expanding the organization’s scope.  We are cooperating with them in assembling and sharing historic information, interviews and hopefully YouTube production.  

Your continued support is deeply appreciated, since our work load is heavy for our small crew.  We hope that this critical work will help control the ill-effects of climate change, and will continue to encourage those working for a better environment.  God willing, 2023 will also be productive – and your donation will make it so.  This is a single yearly request and we do not share addresses with others.  Please make checks payable to Kentucky Jesuit Missions.  Thanks for your generosity.       

                                                                                    Al Fritsch, SJ - Earth Healing






November 1, 2022       Update on treatment of AF Lung Tumor

Friends, after consideration of options regarding my lung tumor, ranging from letting nature take its course to use of multiple suggested treatments, the following option allows maximum service to the many who support our efforts:  the choice is the Lexington Clinic’s stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatment, under Dr. Amin-Zimmerman.  Initial radiation work has successfully begun and will be completed by mid-November.  On an added positive note, the left hip fracture appears to be healing and will soon allow a return to mobility.  Thanks for all your moral and spiritual support over the autumn; please continue sharing your concern. 

                                                      Blessings, Al Fritsch, SJ




Epifagus virginiana, beech drops
Epifagus virginiana, beech drops. Franklin, TN.
(*photo credit)

November 1, 2022     Honoring Unsung Saints

        At various times in history some think too much honor is given to certain individual "saints."  Granted, the special attention can lead to possible excesses of personal piety; in fact, this can verge on superstition, such as burying statues of St. Joseph upside down in order to gain a home sale.  However, piety towards saints for the greater part is sparse, not excessive in our modern materialistic culture.  Rather, we ought to give special attention to those workers and faithful souls doing good deeds in life who are often forgotten after they pass away.  Saints of all stripes deserve greater, not lesser, honor.

        Honor comes in many ways.  First, we ought to speak well about people who are easily overlooked and their stories are well worth telling, especially to youth in dire need of good models to follow.  On All Saints Day, the good and often forgotten deeds of our ancestors in the faith deserve a mention on Twitter, Facebook, and email, or in face-to-face conversation.  Today, we each can share with another a story of someone who cared for others during their lifetime.

        Honor comes through respect.  Let's simply recall beloved deceased relatives and friends who were instrumental in our lives, who we neglected to give special affection and gratitude to while they lived -- and whom we now pay back in the communion of saints.  Perhaps a more positive sign of respect may inspire those who forget anniversaries or who show little gratitude.  We compensate for our past neglect and forgetfulness through public admiration of others' fidelity and courage.  Honor incorporates respect -- something that our rather informal age seems to overlook too often. 

        Honor comes in living history, a narration or writing about folks who have since taken a back seat to the popular stars that shine brightly for a moment -- and then pass on.  The new is not necessarily the better; many older deeds are worth recording, but we soon realize that a narrative of written or spoken history (talks, videos, and writings) takes more effort than creating fiction.  On the other hand, real history is more interesting.

        Honor is in memorials and public displays.  Keeping up cemeteries is a simple November-type practice.  In Kentucky, one can start a cemetery at one's choosing and there are many of them.  The creation of burial spots has an ultimate drawback since many of these private graveyards are easily forgotten and abandoned.  Visiting graves is respect; so is cemetery upkeep.

        Honor comes in prayer for, and even to, those we are sure have found special favor with God.  They are more able to speak on our behalf.  Having favorites among the ranks of the unsung helps empower our growing faith, for saints stand close to the Almighty. 

          Prayers to Forgotten Saints: Lord, on this All Saints’ Day we celebrate all who entered Heaven, not just the 20,000 canonized saints.  Inspire us to seek the intercession of those good people, who exited mortal life in joyful expectation of what was to come.  With them, we have a sense of confidence while, without judging, we suspect that many required time in purgatory.  May we bless you in your mercy for receiving so many into the eternal fold.  May they be our inspiration!










Autumn color
Autumn colors in Appalachian Kentucky.
(*photo credit)

November 2, 2022   Reflecting on “The Hour of Our Death"

        On All Souls Day we turn attention to mortality.  We think about those who have gone before us, and we pray that they will soon come before the face of God.  Our community is both with those who have succeeded – and we celebrated their good fortune yesterday, but community also includes the souls in Purgatory. 

        Each day many tortured loved ones await the hour of death of some beloved soul.  What about our own supreme hour?  Is that what we pray in the Hail Mary when reciting "now and at the hour of our death"?  Awaiting certain death can be a blessing.  Shakespeare says that cowards die many times before their death.  Perhaps a few fearful souls view every circumstance as a possible life-threatening event.  That's different from those who really are ill, or condemned prisoners, waiting for an approaching hour that seems impossible to postpone.  It is the awaited hour of hours, the time when the curtain falls on our mortal journey.  Such experiences have blessing attached, for it is not unexpected death by accident or earthquake.  The victim has time to prepare for what is coming.

          Awaiting death remotely has merit.  A dying person is highly focused on important matters.  Little things blur; or does it include a morbid envisioning of how one will look at the coffin viewing?  People do want to pass respectfully.  Beyond immediacy is a more spiritually remote preparation, and the passing of a loved one is a valuable lesson for us to do just that -- a prudent making ready for the inevitable.  Let's not pretend; death is as certain as taxes.  The reality of living includes that of dying as part of the natural cycle in which we are part.     

          Waiting is easier when seen as a transformation.  Failure to speak of death or presenting it with the rawness of THE END can be extremes of denial or despair about future eternal life.  The hardness of the unbeliever is strikingly discomforting to the true believer in future life.  Our Christian liturgical prayers speak of a passing from this life to the next and that this is more a transition from one form of life to another.  It is the sure belief that Christ through his resurrection has conquered death.  We die but do not die, for this is changing from mortal to eternal living.

          Awaiting with others can be shared faith.  We feel a kinship with all believers who also believe that this is change and not a definitive end.  Awaiting with others a happy death can be a community event with all learning from the courage of the one passing, a moment of gratitude for the gift of life.  It enhances our respect for what is mortal as well, and gives new meaning to healing our wounded Earth.

          Prayer for Holy Souls: Lord, on this day we remember loved ones who passed before us.  Help us pause and regard that some of them are still in Purgatory and eagerly seek your face.  May our prayers and sacrifices quicken their journey to you, for you allow us as family to beg for our friends when they need our help.  May our community with those in Heaven and in Purgatory make us ever mindful that someday we will need prayers as well.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord!    










Blue skies forever - Sugarloaf, Medicine Bow, WY
Blue skies at Sugarloaf, Medicine Bow, WY.
(*photo credit)

November 3, 2022  Viewing Food Quantity, Quality, Safety, and Access    

        The minor environmental theme for any month is food, and so we seem to detour from energy issues for a time, or is that the case?  Good nutritious and safe food gives energy to carry on our daily tasks.

          Quantity -- We have much to be thankful in November and every month of the year.  Whether we are urban or rural, we are aware that God gives us a harvest season of plenty that has just been completed, and that the barns and storage bins are almost overflowing this year with the bounty of the Earth.  Hopefully, this abundance of grain and soybeans can be used properly for the benefit of all people.

          Quality -- We think about the quality of our upcoming thanksgiving meal with turkey and its trimmings, cranberry sauce of a variety of fixings, vegetable side dishes of a family sort, and desserts of pumpkin, apple and other pies and sweets.  The quality of this typical American ritualized meal is of prime importance for the celebration of the holiday.  We need times of special feasting when food quality means much.  This makes us thankful for the caregiving cooks who prepare these meals.  Likewise, we look beyond Thanksgiving and ask ourselves about the types of food we choose for our diets -- how nutritious are they?

          Safety --   Every item we buy and all the things we grow demand care and safeguards for those who will consume our food; this is taken for granted.  Open a package and we assume the food is good, or else it would not have been sold, and that is a prior commercial commitment of trust.  But many factors brought this food through multiple production, transportation, and commercial systems.  We give thanks for producers and processors, and for the conscientious overseers of food safety systems which furnish nutritious food.

          Access -- There is bounty out there but, unless it is properly distributed, it remains excess for some and need for others.  No other commodity makes us as aware of the disparity of wealth in our world as plenty and lack of food.  Social justice clings to food as a delivery package, as much as does food quantity, quality, and safety.  Yes, we ought to enjoy each and every meal, but at the same time be mindful to make surplus food available to all.  Let's give thanks to God for those in the community who help make food accessible to all.

        Finally, our thanks for food and service personnel becomes a Eucharist, which means Thanksgiving.  This sacrament is the precursor of the heavenly banquet, the foretaste of things to come.  In receiving this Holy Communion, we become more aware of God's generosity to us and that we help in multiplying the loaves by insisting that no food is wasted and that surpluses go to those in need.  Yes, make every meal a truly spiritual one.

         Saint Martin de Porres: Lord, you give us Martin as a humble religious who cared deeply for the poor.  May he both be a model for us and intercede for the destitute who are in deep need at this time.  May we learn from his life, for he had a devotion to the Eucharist and encouraged others to do the same.  In respect for his work, may we help and support groups dedicated to his name and champion the cause of charity for all the world's poor. 







Pere Jacques Marquette: Missionary, Environmentalist and Saint    

        The famous French Jesuit explorer and friend of the Native Americans of the northern Great Lakes region in the 17th century, Pere Jacques Marquette, is quite well known in American circles.  He was part of the Joliet Expedition that ventured into the Mississippi River Valley in 1673, and his are the only scientific specimens and records preserved from that exploratory trip, due to Joliet’s river accident near Montreal.  Marquette’s statue stands in the U.S. Capitol building and his name is on counties, towns and rivers throughout the region.  Though well known in American secular historical circles, he is not well represented within Church ones – though he ought to have been since he was a highly successful missionary.  But if we look more deeply, we find that he was an early environmentalist and could be a model for an up-and-coming generation of those aspiring to be ecologists.  He could be one with Francis of Assisi and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks (the Mystic of the Forests). 

        In a previous essay this year, I mentioned going to Saint Ignace in upper Michigan on June 18th to participate in the reburial of his bone fragments at his grave site (see our YouTube video showing highlights of the ceremony: https://youtu.be/GDTW0ZvZDJM).  At that time, I suggested to the gathering that a Saint Jacques Marquette could increase the number of visitors who would come and make his grave site a special ecological center.  This reburial resolves an issue sought for over a decade - to get these bones removed from the Archives of the Marquette University Library; and we witnessed the happy ceremony with the Ojibway Indians, who treasure the burial site.   

        The hopes of some of us are that Pere Marquette might be a canonized saint.  At this time, some one hundred pious American missionaries or residents are on the road to sainthood, a process that starts with declaration of being a “Servant of God,” as is Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement.  One solution is to find someone associated with the environment who is in need of healing and to pray for the intercession of Pere Marquette in the hopes that a miracle of healing will occur (the proof of sanctity).  Father Frank Brawner, who is the new pastor at Stanton’s the Mountains Catholic Church, is in need of healing from an illness that could kill him in a few years.  His parish is at the heart of Eco-Kentucky, with Natural Bridge and the Red River Gorge in his parish boundaries.  Without a miracle he could soon become incapacitated.  People from his previous parishes and elsewhere are signing forms saying that all are praying for such a miracle.

         If you have read of Marquette’s life (as in my little book on his life “Water Sounds,” Marquette University Press), or numerous other sources, then seek to assemble a list of people who are praying for the miracle sought above.  Your support will be most deeply appreciated.  I have the blessings of my superior for this final work of my career.





Totem near Prince Rupert / Canada
Totem near Prince Rupert, Canada.
(*photo credit)

November 4, 2022     Being On- or Off-the-Grid

        When we at ASPI constructed the Solar House in 1978, we residents lived off-the-grid for a period of time and found the energy from the 4-panel solar array to be sufficient for ordinary needs.  However, when one wanted to run an electronic device such as a sewing machine, more energy was needed and so we decided to connect with the local power grid.  It would have taken far more solar panels to furnish additional needs at given times; the batteries were not sufficient for advanced energy demands.  

        Of course, some with extensive batteries could be able to live happily off-the-grid – an ideal worth championing when the grid system shuts down during severe storms.  The solar-outfitted place continues merrily while the solely on-grid neighbors hunt for candles and ways to save the refrigerated food.     

        One could conceive that the individual needs of a solar residence could be coupled with that of neighbors who opt for solar as well, and a local grid system would suffice for most emergencies, provided all refrain from using certain electronic devices.  A pattern of strict energy conservation during extreme weather conditions would be required; no clothes washing or extensive bread-baking during rough times.  Such a local grid could be constructed for a reasonable amount of money and suffice, provided all cooperate in extreme weather conditions.  Yes, and there would be no regular electric bills.

        Granted, the nation and world does need grids of a larger variety to satisfy greater needs.  If a coastal community needs energy that is renewable, it can look to the sea and have a rather expensive off-shore wind farm along with a grid system to bring the energy to the communities.  Utilities will not go the way of the horse and buggy as some predict; rather there will be need for some sort of corporation to regulate and transport the large-scale renewable energy to the urban domestic user. 

        Competitive-priced renewable energy alternatives are the accompanying reason that entices people to invest in their own home or community wind, solar, and geothermal resources.  Prices are coming down rapidly and in some cases are lower in economic and environmental cost to that of fossil fuels.  Each individual or local community could reflect on the possibility of going off-the-major-grid.  It is well worth the effort; especially as state and national agencies begin to offer incentives to bring solar energy to the home.  It is well worth the investment of time and resources to think of solar domestic applications.

        Mercy Prayer: Merciful and loving God, we acknowledge that we have sinned and we also affirm faith that you forgive us and bring us closer to you.  That sense of mercy fills us with confidence and joy, even when the past may haunt us.  Though we doubt at times, still we can be and are forgiven through your mighty mercy.  As we recall at this time the departed souls, we beg your mercy to extend to them and hasten their coming to you.  May we acquire enough mercy to pray for our world community.







Agate beach, Eagle Harbor, MI
Agate beach, Eagle Harbor, MI.
(*photo credit)

November 5, 2022 Melting Pot or Diversification in American Population
        While working last year on the “Ethnic Atlas of the United States,” the question as to whether the nation was amalgamating or diversifying emerged. Two opposing tendencies are occurring simultaneously; the white majority includes increasing numbers of mixed ancestry who prefer to be designated as “American” rather than English or another specific European ethnic type; and at the same time, the country is witnessing rapid growth of minority racial and ethnic groups, such as Asian Americans and Hispanics.    

        People with a melting pot mentality value uniformity and even quote the “e pluribus unum” phrase on paper money (from many, one).  However, the proponents of diversity can argue that the “many” helps in giving honor and dignity to the “oneness” we all share with each other.  In fact, historically the colonies-turned-states saw strength in unity amid diversity.

        If both tendencies occur, which is greater at this time?  Lower white birthrates were evident in the recent two federal censuses; in 2010 whites constituted 64% of the population on the whole, but only 54% of those under 18 years of age; this has shrunk still farther in the 2020 census to under half.  In the two decades since the turn of the millennium, the American population climbed to 332 million, but minorities accounted for 90% of that growth.  In that period Hispanics swelled from 12.5% to 18.5% of the population, Asian Americans from 4.2% to 5.9%, Native Americans from 1.5% to an amazing reported 2.9%, and African Americans from 12.9% to 13.4%.  The four groups went cumulatively from 31.1% to 40.7%, or a total population increase in the nation of 9.6%.  During that period “American” rose by about half that amount.    

        While an amalgamation is occurring in older 17th and 18th century arriving European groups, our country is experiencing a fresh infusion from Asia, Latin America and Africa.  In other words, diversification continues through immigration and higher minority birth rates – and is a very strong countercurrent to amalgamation.  Though conditions may change in the coming decades, as of now diversification is the primary phenomenon in our American population growth.

        Prayer to the Divine Word: O Word of life, you were there before the making of the Heavens and Earth, the Big Bang.  Your resonance fills a universe and resounds down through the ages.  Sacred words, a testimonial to your loving presence, were spoken and humans evolved over time.  Spoken word, chants of glory, songs of joy yield to written and communicated expressions of created love.  A redeeming act strikes us who had fallen, and through your goodness manifest a glimmer of Trinity at work in our world.  May we respond in spoken and written word.










Childhood revisited
Changing leaves in southern KY.
(*photo credit)

November 6, 2022   Encouraging Others in the Midst of Adversity

Pray that the Lord’s message will spread quickly, and be received
with honor as it was among you.               (II Thessalonians 3:1)

        As we reflect during the month of November on the four last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell), we pray for the courage it takes to face life squarely.  None of us find it easy to dwell on these things for any length of time, and yet spiritual writers say we need to spend some time pondering these timely issues.  We do not like to admit that such dwelling is at times uncomfortable, and often regard death as an issue worth postponing to a later date.  No, this month is a perfect time, and it is our duty to bring it forth in a forthright manner.  We will all experience death and so we need to be prepared for it in some fashion.   

        In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 20:27-38), we find the Sadducees, who claimed no resurrection for the dead, uttering a tale of woe and death, unlike Jesus who, in contrast, speaks of life.  Jesus affirms the afterlife for those who are just; for these will receive the promise of eternal life; these will exercise the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.  If no resurrection then, as St. Paul says, our faith would be dead and nothing to look forward to.  In fact, this anticipation of eternal life energizes us and gives enthusiasm to the works we do on Earth.  Eternal life gives quality to our work, a mark that others can view and discover as profoundly Good News.

        All of us, both believers and unbelievers, must let go of mortal life, and the manner in which we do so is a telling sign of who we are.  Our passing from this life is for many people the most profound undertaking in their span of years.  We pass as we have lived and, for those who believe in resurrection, the joy and hope they possess expresses itself quite often in very public ways.  Yes, not only see how they love one another, but also see how they depart from this life.  The Christian prays for a happy death and rightly so, for in happiness we proclaim Christ in a unique way to others.  They see that our life makes sense for the one dying and the community in which he or she participates. 

        Faith in the resurrection transcends the cynicism that confronts Jesus in today’s account.  In contrast to the Sadducees, Jesus addresses a struggling world seeking meaning in life.  Many seek a firm foundation on which to believe.  The promise of eternal life is an invitation to look at the last things in a new light.  For non-believers, it is an abrupt end; for believers, it is a promise for those who live a good life, and a judgment and hell for those who do not.  We are called to follow the Lord in the current sacramental life, and in doing so to affirm the resurrection that awaits us in joy and hope.  So, we reflect upon the last things and how they relate to us.

       Eternal Ways: Lord, we are so prone to speculate and yet at times this is fruitless.  How are we to know the things that are to come?  In this period of remembering the "Last Things" and the passing of loved ones, help us to simply acknowledge that the eternal life cannot be imagined, even while yearned for.  Make us more focused practically on the immediate future before us, and rest in faith that you have prepared an eternal life of unimagined happiness for us all.  Help us to dismiss eternity-speculators.











Buffalo Mountain Windfarm / Tennessee
Buffalo Mountain Windfarm, Tennessee.
(*photo credit)

November 7, 2022   Taking the State of Climate Seriously

        The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a 260-page peer-reviewed report in 2013 written by 384 scientists from around the world.  For those who deny any evidence for climate change and consider it somewhat patriotic or "religious" to do so, this could be an eye-opener given the data accumulated up to the end of 2012.

        The ten hottest days on record are all within the last decade and a half.  Sea Arctic ice in summer is at historic lows and ocean levels at historic highs (counting only recent human civilization).  We are witnessing wild fires in the Western U.S. and in parts of Europe to levels never before reported.  The frequency of flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts has been increasing.  Global surface (land) temperature is very high as is surface sea temperature.

        Arctic sea ice (one of the most noticeable effects of global warming) is shrinking to levels never before recorded, and opening the way to maritime traffic – a possible good effect amid bad ones.  Also 97% of the massive Greenland ice field melted at least somewhat last year.  This occurs when scientists talk about the lubricating effects of this melting resulting in increased calving at the icecap edges, both in the arctic and the Antarctic regions

        We are becoming more aware by recent reports of an increased misery for the poor inhabiting low-lying areas due to current climate change.  Much of the anticipated fears of ocean rise are based on melting of this massive Greenland ice cap, which is in places one mile thick -- and can affect the ocean levels when melted.  Large numbers of people inhabit these lower areas.  Think of crowded Bangladesh with two hundred million people and the less populated but sovereign Pacific and Indian Ocean Island nations that will be submerged. 

        The COP26 Conference last year confirmed trends that have been predicted and are coming true faster than originally anticipated.  Prudence is the virtue in great need during these troubled times, and even the more optimistic must take note.  There is no magic wand in sight.  The urgency expressed in these recent reports is real and worthy of serious consideration.  We hope to take heed and reduce levels of greenhouse emissions; this can be done by curbing fossil fuel use, hastening renewable energy applications, and instituting energy efficiency measures at a global level.  The United States has been a major greenhouse emitter in the past and needs to take a conservation lead.  The pollution "honor" has shifted to China with other developing nations not far behind.  Will all polluting nations accept their global responsibilities? 

         Social Justice Prayer: Holy Spirit, inspire us to move always to a sense of justice in what we do and how we express ourselves.  This world with its many divisions harbors too much injustice, which damages our quality of life.  May we exercise just practices among our neighbors, hoping that this will have a ripple effect in the local neighborhood and beyond.  Burn within us the desire to bring that justice to all who lack food and lodging security and who are suffering from the effects of economic inequality and climate change.  Make our justice stand with our commitment to faith in a better world.












Energy Lake
Energy Lake, Land Between the Lakes, western KY.
(*photo credit)

November 8, 2022 Realizing Fair Trade as Socially Beneficial

        An arena of deepest concern is world trade, for we are all more dependent on the products being produced by other nations.  As global brothers and sisters, we are deeply concerned that the poor are able to engage in that movement both in their individual lives and as communities, who benefit from trade with neighbors near and far.  All people need fair trade, but we are often beholding to larger commercial interests for global trade policy. Farming folks discover when their crops are plentiful that prices come down and then go up when all suffer from scarcity.  Hard knocks to lower-income folk can be softened by governmental efforts through fairer trade regulations.

        Consumers who like coffee or chocolate discover ways to purchase from fair trade sources; these omit profit-making middle people and allow far more funds to return directly to primary producers.  Likewise, fair trade advocates seek to ensure that purchased products meet proper worker safety and environmental standards, whether the producers are small or large companies.  Since the tragic fires in a building used by garment workers in Bangladesh killed over one thousand in 2013, the international community has pressured purchasers to abide by rules for workers to receive fair wages and safety in their workplaces. 

        A sizeable number of charitable and relief organizations have moved into fair trade practices.  For instance, Catholic Relief Services promotes specific homegrown and crafted products from poorer countries.  This involves direct contacts between consumer and producer through missions and other religious outlets where person-to-person contacts are easily established.  The end result is the reduction of the influence of middle people who historically gain most through commerce.  Instant communications are a great leveler, for consumers are able to pay less for higher quality products, and ultimate producers benefit from higher prices for their goods.   

        The key is access through the Internet between those who are producers and those who are ultimate consumers.  Democracy ought to benefit the little guy.  For example, SERRV is a non-profit fair trade and development organization helping to bring good returns from ultimate consumers to original producers.  The potential for further refinement in such trade is bright through the Internet.

        An added fair-trade note is important.  We have always supported obtaining locally-produced materials and even applaud those who drink locally-grown herbal tea over imported coffee (some like it), and such choices have much to do with tastes and preferences.  While we promote local products, still some of our purchases are goods from a distance, with amounts differing from consumer to consumer.  Fair trade becomes a fair option.

         Grace for Civic Duty: Holy Spirit, inspire us to see the needs of our country and locality; make us aware that we are to do our duty in voting, monitoring legislators, petitioning for social justice programs, caring for our needy neighbors, and encouraging others who are remise to assume their civic duties as well.  We need to be moving forward and not postponing to later times what we must do now.  Help us to defend our democracy and freedom in every way possible.  Flood our land with your inspiring grace, so we can be prompted to do our duties properly.










Ginseng, Panax quinquefolium
Ginseng, Panax quinquefolium Rockcastle Co., KY.
(*photo credit)

November 9, 2022   Trading Unfairly in Fauna and Flora

        Global population growth has resulted in decline of forested and wilderness areas as well as available "bush meat" from threatened wildlife.  On an equally dangerous scale, the rise of the middle class in developing countries has triggered a market for animals' parts (e.g., pets and medicine extracts from rare species) as well as plant species and parts (exotic plants and timber from rain forests).  In Daily Reflections we have mentioned bison, passenger pigeons, seals, elephants, hippos, whales, ginseng, and rain forest products.  Profits drive the unscrupulous to exploit and pillage -- and it accelerates when regulations are absent or unenforced.

        The combination of poor folks who see this exploitation as added income, to richer people who see profits at the expense of the environment is a repeated tale of woe continuing into these supposedly enlightened times.  It is a fruit of an excessive and uncontrolled capitalism that has spawned exploitation for five hundred years and is in need of control.  Some misinterpret this continued exploitation as part of their supposed mandate to conquer Earth.  However, such conquests are counter to the Judeo-Christian messages of care and respect -- and yet promoters neglect the nuances associated -- for bashing Judeo-Christianity is more popular than the harder effort required at curbing exploitation.

        Today, poachers harvest wildlife because lucrative world trade allows such practices to go unenforced.  Purchasing ivory from elephants is not a mere luxury but a criminal offense -- and all parties must be considered liable.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife from exploitation, and to prevent international trade in threatened species.  The U.S. is a party to this treaty, which has proved to be an effective vehicle for protecting these species through severe trade restrictions and commercial penalties.  A major environmental problem is failure to enforce existing global regulations-- and it is not too soon to bring them into effect through trade sanctions and interceptions in the trading routes and commercial activities. 

        Animals are not the only threatened species.  Forests are under threat from slash and burn as well as wanton and rapid overharvesting of both temperate and tropical areas -- though the rate has slowed in recent years by conscientious efforts on the part of many countries.  Forest Products Certification (funded by extraction fees) can ensure that forest products are properly harvested, processed, and utilized.  However, protection often depends on testimony of harvesters who have devastated forests through improper practices.  Policing at points of harvest and transport would curb excesses, but this is a major challenge in poorer countries.  Endangered forests deserve global trade enforcement of regulations as much as endangered animals.

         Prayer to the Radiant Creator: Oh God of the universe, who inspires many to speak words of poetic beauty and scientific discovery, unveil your created order; give us the spiritual vision to gaze with the eyes of Faith, for seeing is believing, and believing in you is seeing.  We cannot bear to focus intensely upon your radiance, but we can proclaim its fullness in word and deed.  May we be blessed to see the brilliant countenance of Christ looking up at us from every creature.   











Autumn-blooming (!) Viburnum with Syrphid fly
November-blooming viburnum with Syrphid fly.
(*photo credit)

November 10, 2022   Celebrating Indian Summer

        Indian summer is autumn now half spent,
                a whiff of bountiful summertime
                coming amid fading falling leaves;
        It is a melancholy moment,
                harking to time gone forever,
                not redone -- but why should it be?

        Indian summer is crystal clear weather,
                allowing us to look out to the horizon
                through the cluster of naked trees;
        Isn't it better to look ahead than back,
                lest we stumble into our past once more,
                or think it better than it really was?

        Indian summer means that last bit
                of an ever-shortening growing season,
                that fleeting passing present moment;
        We take it with open hands, thankful
                and knowing the present is God's gift,
                only borrowed and rented, not possessed.

        Indian summer is a weather event
                that mirrors human life in final stance,
                present but not lasting forever;
        It is the foretaste, even foreshadowing
                of what lies ahead as an eternity
                among the changing seasons of our lives.

        Indian summer in the fullness of its spell
                tells us that brevity has its place
                for us to take in and breathe deeply                ;
                We are here now and pause
                as the climate changing weather does,
                hoping that worse things won't arise.

        Indian summer is a promise
                that what was good is still good
                even if changing again tomorrow;
        Celebration is the better thing to do
                because our full living is worth exalting
                and opens us to new life.  Rejoice!

        Saint Leo the Great, Pope: Lord Jesus, you established the Sea of Peter to be ever closer in community within our Body.  At times, some popes act in extraordinary ways as leaders, and Leo the Great was one of the best.  For two decades in a pivotal century, he showed public expression in a bold manner.  He proved fearless in defense of those entrusted to him, even in the presence of Attila and the powerful secular leaders of his day.  May we speak in his favor when cynics seek to belittle the papacy, and may we hope that future popes may imitate his courage.







Is America Losing Its Faith?

        This entitled question is disconcerting for some of the faithful and ignored by those who do not believe there’s a faith to lose.  A national faith in America as land of the free and the brave has come under stress in recent years by a divided land; our “faith” as a public expression of divine worship has been in decline with the rise of the “nones,” who do not belong to a particular denomination or cult.  Some confuse the scene by blending the national and the spiritual personal faith (a practice of many Trump Evangelists) and even advocate violent extremism; this is disquieting to many who desire to keep politics out of their public religious practice.  The blending has led others within Evangelistic communities and families to distance themselves from close relatives or neighbors and could be interpreted as losing faith.

        A popular trend for teens and other young folks is to cease attending their family traditional worship practice and no longer be counted as adherents; this phenomenon is observed especially in mainstream Protestant groups and to a lesser degree among Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and also Jewish circles where religious practice of parents is not followed among an emerging younger generation.  Taken totally, the public profession of religion is falling and thus the growth of those calling themselves s “nones” has been rapidly increasing.  In turn, some religious leaders lose heart and drop out of the professional leadership role.  No doubt the secular world is thus in an ascendancy – but not to the dislike of certain radical persons of faith, who appreciate the purifying effects associated with losing the half-hearted and becoming smaller but more intense in number. 

        Where do I stand with the changing American religious scene?  One fact I am aware of is that the secular bias of the non-affiliated does grow with regard to the abortion question and immigration policy.  Matters are complicated, because Trump conservatives mix their spiritual faith and their politics.  I have changed from being a “numbers person,” desiring to account larger commitment to specific denominational size and larger worship attendance and expressed commitment.  When one ceases public religious practice or commitment, we ask whether they were following peers in adherence, or had an internal commitment that has now been abandoned.

        Growing secularity not only leads to anti-religious bias of one or more sorts, but it can be unhealthy and encourage a sense of disrespect and lack of gratitude (next week’s essay).  America is already a divided nation and this could certainly grow if the “nones” increase in political power and declare those with different views as unpatriotic or deviant from acceptable public expression.  The freedom to practice one’s faith could be and seems to be heading towards increased restriction, to the dismay of earlier democratic-loving citizens.  If such be the case, then the country is losing its faith in tolerance and respect.  Those committed to trust in God (our national motto still in effect) need to redouble efforts to increase public gratitude for what God has given our land.  May we never lose sight in our foundation and spiritual life.





Fort McPherson
Sunlight and shadows, Ft. McPherson, Nebraska.
(*photo credit)

November 11, 2022    Honoring Local War Veterans 

        Veterans, especially those demanding just compensation or health services, are all around us.  Veterans, especially those from unpopular wars are in need of extra kindness -- for their experiences can prove dispiriting for them.  This occurred to many war veterans who had sacrificed much after the Revolutionary War and in more recent times after the Vietnam War.  For they gave up much and risked their lives and then upon returning to civilian life were not honored for their services.  Respecting these brave souls is the least a grateful nation ought to do, even when in hindsight the reasons for the war itself were not perfectly expressed.  Adjustment from military to civilian life was hard enough, but the burden of experiences may haunt them through life.

        Many of us know those who fought in bygone struggles, some more famous and notable than others.  I have sought to honor veterans of sound memory in my two parishes by videotaping their exploits for the U.S. Library of Congress Veteran's Project.  However, today some of my parishioners are too old, and their records are known only to God.  In a golden retirement age when memory lasts, all of us should honor local veterans with a recording for their posterity and a grateful nation.  We show we care for their exploits through these more permanent recordings.

        Some who fought in those wars of long ago would rather have their experiences kept private and that is their option -- and often for the good of their wellbeing.  That privacy must be honored as well though we certainly are always intrigued as to why they want to remain silent.  The mental weight of past war horrors is not easily lifted by time or even by publicizing experiences.

        Today is a day when scouts move through military cemeteries and put little flags at each grave, marks of respect that teach the doers and all that our nation owes a debt of gratitude to those who risked or gave their lives, for their country and what it stands for.  With time some wars become less and less justified but not for the ones at the height of the crisis who responded to the national defense.  Armchair historians would never have won battles, only the foot soldiers who did more than reflect.  Some study history and some, like veterans, make it.  They made decisions to go to fight, to be disciplined and endure hardships, to fight the battles, and to return and adjust to civilian life. 

        The collateral damage of wartime exploits has always been high -- and that cannot be denied.  All veterans endured uncertainties, nervous spouses and mothers, and loved ones devoid of immediate communications for periods of time.  These associated individuals are part of the veterans' sacrifice and they are also deserving of honor on this Veterans Day.

         Prayer for Veterans: Lord, look kindly on the many who have fallen in defense of their country.  They gave their all, their life, and their future strivings for the sake of their country and citizens.  Now grant them eternal rest, for they were willing souls to stand for far more than their self-interest.  Guide us to make them models to follow in standing for the Common Good and public interest as well.











Pottery sherd - Keet Seel - Kawestima - Navajo National Monument
Pottery shard, Navajo National Monument.
(*Photo by Alan English, Creative Commons)

November 12, 2022    Molding a Just World     

Take a potter, now, laboriously working the soft earth,
  shaping all sorts of things for us to use.
Out of the same clay, even so, one models
  vessels intended for clean purposes
  and the contrary sort, all alike;             
  but which of these two uses each will have
  is for the selfsame potter to decide.   (Wisdom 15:7)

        We have just celebrated Veteran's Day and recalled the great sacrifice made by our military heroes and heroines who gave all for their country and a peaceful world.  The fact that the goal of peace has not yet been reached does not stop us from trying.  We can continue while having breath to work towards a just world, a hope that is not lost due to individual or social imperfections. 

        Maybe we are to learn from those who struggle in many different ways.  We can learn from potters who make artifacts that bear their imprint, but they prefer to look to the product rather than an exaltation of their creative efforts.  We ask ourselves whether we are satisfied with the final result far more than being participants in fashioning that emerging world.  On the other hand, isn't it just human to leave our fingerprints like potters on the artifact?  This is taken from Appalachian Sensations for the month of November under the category of "touch."

                      Potter Molding Clay                 

I came upon a potter at the festival;
  she was so diligent and wanted others to observe
  the talented works of her hand.
I asked her whether her fingerprints would stay
  on the piece that she was fashioning.
She assured me they would not,
  and smiled at my ignorance.
She ran the wire under the moist clay
  and set the pot free and on its own.  A birth!
Is it really so bad if the fingerprint remains,
  I said to myself?
For the genius was in the creation,
  and this would be her own signature.
We are shaping our hearts from wet clay,
  here awhile with smudging fingerprints.
All are unique for each individual,
  and no other has the same features.
We are clay creations from a mighty potter's hand;
  and then we fade in death's own kiln,
Glazed into a reflection of eternal light.
  Will not all fingerprints remain?

         No More War: Lord, we have just celebrated Armistice Day, with its ramifications that wars would be no more.  It is the universal hope of all people of good will.  Give us the courage to spread the word that wars must cease and the military might of nations be converted to ways that benefit all of humankind.  Of course, this is a hope, but with destructive atomic weaponry, it is a moral necessity that such weapons be destroyed and the first signs of global peace be implemented.  May peace come soon!











November frost, Kentucky hay field.
(*photo credit)

November 13, 2022    Remaining Steadfast in Uncertain Times

And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do
not be frightened, for this is something that must
happen but the end is not so soon.  (Luke 21:8b)

        We are never certain about what tomorrow or what even the next moment will bring.  The likelihood is that we know about the future with some degree of certitude, but it is still probability. In an age of instant communication, we get rumors that spread quickly from one place to another.  This ever-compressing neighborhood makes us all the more aware that something apocalyptic is emerging and can arouse millions in minutes.  Christ's repeated admonition through the storm at sea and on Easter Sunday is more poignant: Do not fear!  Some try to frighten others as an exercise of power.  However, prophets of doom don't know what's coming; only God knows.

        In response to troubled times, we are called to be steadfast as expressed by St. Paul (II Thess. 3: 7-12).  We are to remain even tempered and balanced during times of chaos and uncertainty. We ought to avoid two extremes: doing nothing and allowing others in the community to support us while we await the end; or becoming overly nervous and busybodies who want to take charge through meaningless activity.  Expecting a calamity brings on stress and loss of energy, and so we seek to flee from those prone to panic. Our steady pace shows a willingness to find God as our rock and Christ as our stronghold amid all adversity.

No doubt, we know from the surging evidence that future calamity is beyond the horizon as windows of change close on climate change.  Can we avoid catastrophe?  Is the ancient funeral song correct in it being a terrible day -- Dies Irae (Latin for "Day of Wrath")?  Yes, we are to prepare for a judgment to come.  We live and breathe and still have fleeting time.  At this moment, our freedom calls for sound judgment.  While we cannot deny the current situation, we do not have to be paralyzed by fright nor idle through accompanying excuses; we do not have to seek to escape to false allurements as busybodies distracted from the work at hand.

Steadfastness in our faith comes through partaking in the Eucharist, our presence with the Lord during troubled times.  We discover the Lord to be our rock and companion not just today but every day as a "Day of the Lord."  As willing servants, we thank God for calling us in these times and to enter into the struggle with courage and even temperament.  Thus, in the face of personal or social calamity we still exude an air of gratitude, not just as we want to participate in a Thanksgiving event, but as an everyday exercise of our fidelity to the Lord.  Our life is a special gift, and so is the work and prayers that we can do and give; this is a time of promise and not of wrath and we must have the courage to say so. 

          Persecution of the Faithful: Lord, as the Church year comes to a fitting close, you remind us that this year some suffer loss of life for your sake.  Make us aware of what occurs today in parts of Asia and Africa by those who suffer in professing their faith -- and in some cases are even abandoned by their families for the sake of Christ.  May we learn about their circumstances and show compassion, for in numbers this century may be one of the worse for such tribulations.  Perhaps it is a sign of the coming of the end of times, but that is not for us to speculate; rather, let us all realize that Christians suffer today for what they believe.  We pray that they persevere and their oppressors come to the truth.











Taxus canadensis, rare Kentucky plant
Evergreen cluster of Taxus canadensis, uncommon Kentucky plant.
(*photo credit)

November 14, 2022       Challenging Sounds of November

        Every season has its sounds and they are different depending on where we live.  With frosting and falling leaves we get some clearer sounds that were muffled earlier in the year and they may prove welcome or not.  Some people enjoy train whistles and youth shouts at football games.  It allows them to know they are not alone but have company in a world where silence wears on their nerves.  For others, the opposite seems to be the case, and so November can become a noisy month that adds to its gray tone.

        The same sounds can resonate with us as music or they can disturb us as unwanted noise.  We try to live with the times and places, but it can be trying -- at least for those of us with full hearing.  It all comes down to the art of listening to what we want to hear and to blot out the disharmony that can bother us.  Thus, the art ultimately rests in discriminating and focusing on what adds to our quality of life.  The fullness of environmental work for a just world is to allow all to have their times and places where sounds and silence can add to quality of life -- and this is a challenge.

From Appalachian Sensations: A Journey through the Seasons we quote this November selection (click here for book)--

November -- The Haunting Bay of the Coon Hounds

             Acclaim YHWH, all the earth,
             serve YHWH gladly:
             come into the divine presence with songs of joy!
                                (Psalm 100:1-2)


        In the distance we can hear them bark and move about restlessly on cool autumn evenings.  They're our companions giving a chorus of their excitement.  Don't dogs sing in their own way?  Our speech has a certain Appalachian character to it -- a twang, a dialect, a way of talking.  Even the region's dogs have their own distinct way of barking.  Yes, coon hounds are really Appalachian, and so are many less descriptive mixed-breeds as well.  We detect a lilt to animal sounds and know this is their way to acclaim and serve the Most High.  But we don't stand over others as strict rulers; we show leadership by giving them service; we go ahead of them not in a sense of triumphal greatness, but knowing full well that as serving people we help them form an honorable procession of all creatures.  Dogs are our chosen companions who reconnoiter the procession path.  Coon hounds are our Appalachian cavalry; their yaps announce their coming.  And any self-respecting coon knows how to behave at the proper time and place.

          Grace for Empowerment: You have made human beings little less than a god, with glory and honor you crowned them, gave them power over the works of your hand, put all things under their feet.  All of them, sheep and cattle, yes even the savage beasts, birds of the air, and fish that make their way through the waters.  How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the Earth!  (Psalm 8)











Rural outskirts, Fayette County, Kentucky
"Rural outskirts, Fayette Co., Kentucky.
(*photo credit)

November 15, 2022  Considering Consumerism as Good or Bad

        In the course of my life, I have used "consumerism" in either of two ways, one good and one pejorative.   However, of the six times Daily Reflections considered consumerism, the bad outweighed the good.  Yes, we are all consumers and must act ethically in the manner and selection of consumer items from food and clothing to electronic devices, cars, and housing.  When I started public interest work, some consumer advocates asked me to devote attention to consumer products much in the fashion of Ralph Nader's attention to faulty automobiles.  However, the "consumerism" issue had an ambivalence attached: attacking shoddy, unsafe and fraudulent practices is a civic duty; exposing excessive consumer "demand," want, and purchasing within our materialistic culture is really a pastoral duty due to effects on our spiritual life.

          Ethical consumerism -- This concern focuses on the rights of those who buy to get what they paid for, and have safe products that use fewer resources and can be disposed of properly.  Responsible consumer buying includes a deep concern about how ingredients are properly measured, identified, and warning given as to possible misuse.  It is the world of Consumer Reports.  Purchasers have a right to get what they pay for and to have proper legal recourse when not satisfied.  Cheating in measurements is as old as human commerce and governmental regulations are needed to ensure that what is purchased is listed with correct amount and ingredients.  Advertisements, especially directed to infants and youth, lead to purchase of high-priced, sugary cereals and sports clothes.  Planned obsolescence is programmed into new product introduction.  Here ethical consumerism deals with vigilance and proper response to misdeeds perpetrated by unscrupulous perpetrators.  Proper consumerism involves governmental regulation of commerce accompanied by consumer/citizen vigilance.

        Excessive consumerism -- More attention has been given in recent years to upper- and middle-class people with additional spending money used to consume unneeded or luxury products, or to hastily move from one product to a slightly improved one -- all to enhance the profits of producers and sales people.  Much attention must be given to consumers being deliberately duped into thinking they have new needs.  This applies from air conditioning to the latest Internet device: excessive food leads to obesity; excessive domestic heat is oppressive in winter and excessive cool air in summer is harmful to health; inefficient vehicles are costly to driver and the planet; and excessive purchasing leads to a junked-up environment.  Credit cards give the notion of putting off payment to a later time; well publicized sales lead to panic buying when the greedy trample down timid bargain seekers.  Excess is a curse affecting human spiritual health and Earth's viability. 

          Prayer: Lord, teach us ethical consumerism and vigilance as charity for neighbor's wellbeing.  Help us experience excessive consumerism as a temptation to be addressed.  Teach us to be satisfied with enough and make sure the enough is high quality.










Bluegrass rock fence
Central Kentucky "stone fence".
(*photo credit)

November 16, 2022  Confronting Excessive Property Holdings

        A decade ago, when speaking about the "Our Father's" phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” I mentioned that we are to assist in giving this nourishment to others.  In this discussion, I said that bread is a form of livelihood, and that we are pro-life; being so, we must be willing to assist in allowing all to exercise their right to life through the dignity of earning their daily bread.  Workers are willing; the work is more than enough; but financial resources to bring this about are salted away in the 30-trillion-dollar tax havens that need as much liberation as do slaves.  One couple walked out and called me a "communist."  C'est la Vie! 

        My response to name-calling (since I am a fiscal and social conservative and believe in adequate private property for everyone's basic livelihood) is that excess of anything is wrong. Excessive food or drink turns people into gluttons and drunkards; excessive auto speed is dangerous; excessive property is likewise detrimental to the democratic spirit.  It inflates a sense of money power that turns citizens into autocrats and allows some to be far more influential than average citizens (something Ben Franklin saw as destructive of democracy at the time the Constitution was being framed).  However, money people won out then, and these moneyed ones have often held the upper hand in our struggling democracy.  Amazingly, the Constitution framers struggled with property and so slave trade (a property issue) was discussed.  Within four score years this festering slave property question morphed into a bitter Civil War with its Emancipation Proclamation and Constitutional Thirteenth Amendment -- and 650,000 dead citizens.

        In this century, accumulation of vast financial resources occurring in hands of fewer people has accelerated.  Now, the common good is deeply affected, for wealth is removed from the commons and held by fewer "property holders."  The Holy See has championed the need for international financial controls and regulations -- but the call is weak globally.  We the faithful must speak out even when some misunderstand the problem or dislike a possible solution so opposed by wealthy nobles.  Excessive property is a problem that must be tackled, but can it be if legislators are paid by the wealthy to keep laws to their own benefit?  And poor lottery players dream of a wealth with little odds of success.

        Excess is the greedy dream of immature adults bent on possibility of excessive consumption.  A rising middle class seeks affluence of a greater degree, forgetting that materialism is never satisfying.  It only brings further pollution and waste of resources meant for the poor and future generations.  One answer is "Save the souls of the rich through fair taxation."  Help the unemployed who call for sound livelihood -- and who could and do foment global insecurity.  How many of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are unemployed young people?  We must address excessive property issues for this is the planet's unfinished revolution. 

         Prayer for Fair Taxes: Lord, you know how unfair the tax burden has been in this country on middle- and lower-income folks.  On the other hand, the privileged wealthy pay little or no tax at all.  Make this a proper issue in and among our people, so that our democratic fairness might be preserved and the privileged few be required to pay their fair share.  We, as responsible citizens, must see that better legislation is enacted.  Make all our citizens accountable and reduce the abuse of power by the wealthy class in our society.  Keep us focused to see that justice prevails and adequate financial resources are available to handle the essential needs of the people.  May we never tire in working for justice.











Field guide
Unconditional love of farmer's pet.
(*photo credit)

November 17, 2022   Pledging that is Anti-Democratic

        Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warming, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.                       New York Times

        The billionaire Koch brothers inserted this "No Climate Tax" pledge that in essence says there will be no new legislation that is not accompanied by an offsetting amount of tax cuts.  To date, this "No Climate Tax" pledge was signed by 411 lawmakers; this essentially means at the national level a working minority is able to cripple legislation directed at curbing any form of climate change regulations.  For these legislators money will have to be forthcoming to bring about such regulations, if nothing more than salaries for the regulators.  If the Big Money bosses say "no" and exert tax pledges from those who swore to uphold our Constitution, then the democratic system is compromised at the moment when global climate change means severe decline in life quality.

        Why am I concerned?  Because the very heart of our democracy is being placed in the hands of a wealthy and undertaxed elite driving a stake into its heart.  And this is a democracy that has at its heart the saving of our world.  We can no longer tolerate the stake drivers.  In his amazing prescience, Benjamin Franklin saw excessive wealth as a threat to future democracy at a time of global need.  A pious remark, "Oh, look how principled these good legislators are" might be cast in a totally different light: "Their working principles are tuned to Big Money donors."  As all of us are to meet our Maker soon we ought to give deep thought to what lies before us.  How can we leave this Earth in a worst state than when we found it, without a voice of dissent? 

        My rhetorical comment to the silent majority is: Why are we not speaking together as democratic people?  Why allow billionaires to get away with murdering our democracy?  Astoundingly, the real culprits are not the billionaires, but those of us who allow the billionaires to exist as such and throw their undertaxed fortunes at retaining their noble ranks.  Through silence we tolerate this system and such tolerance is wrongdoing.  We allow ourselves to be influenced by the media that help retain money power by kowtowing to it.  We allow the "commons" to be so corrupted by tax breaks for those who control legislators.  America's original revolt, “Taxation without representation," is now cast by a newly minted rebellious people slogan: "Fair taxes through representation."

        Healing of Earth consists of discovering the troubles and addressing them not as individuals, but as a voting public demanding that those elected act in a democratic spirit.  A climate of consuming fewer resources only occurs in a society that controls unnecessary spending and spends what it takes to govern properly.

          Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: Lord, you have given us few people who achieved so much in a mere 24 years of life: wife, mother, religious, hospital builder, and charitable person in many ways -- an astounding worker who cannot be matched.  She tells us that we are not to squander time and opportunity, but to give all to you, O Lord.  May she be an intercessor in our undertakings, for we need positive models.  May we both imitate her and spread the word about her goodness and activism.   








Cultivating a Sense of Gratitude

          How often we forget to say “thank you” for the many under-appreciated services rendered, or the times others hold the door for us or give us a word of encouragement.  Our own sense of gratitude needs another review, especially on the week when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day as a holiday.  I often think that God tolerates America because we have at least formally established an annual day of gratitude.  Still, we are often acting as though we deserve what gifts we have, and forget that we have what we have by the grace of God.  It is so hard for some to say “thank you,” because they regard conditions as their entitlement.

          Gratitude grows with prayer life.  In honesty, I get frustrated when I confront people who think they deserve everything they have and whatever they still lack.  In fact, I suspect the practice may start very early when the child never cultivates a sense of gratitude.  When youngsters learn to pray early on, they receive early lessons in the presence of God-given gifts.  Of course, lack of parental prayer life handicaps the child.  No prayer means no gratitude to God for our creation, our talents, our surrounding circumstances, and the privileges of freedom.  We have so very much to be thankful for, but so little practice of sincerely expressing any form of gratitude.  Our dismay comes when we experience others demanding their personal rights and never considering balancing them with competing rights or with social duties.  We live in a world of selected politically-correct personal rights and few if any duties.

          Respect is needed.  Americans are often informal in conduct and lacking in respect for others.  They demand what they consider they deserve and forget about the rest.   For such folks saying “Thank you” is not normally on their lips, or it only comes on major occasions.  Disrespect is part of the scene with those who love to make demands and never think about civic or any type of duties.  A moment of respect is also a prayerful moment, of which the pause is an opportunity to show gratitude to God.  The Eucharist means thanksgiving and those without a sense of sacred communion with the Almighty are somewhat handicapped.  They often lack respect for a higher Power.

          Take time to list our gifts.  Don’t we take our health, highway safety, military and police protection, insurance, local and national peace, garbage removal, clean air, potable water and countless other things for granted?  Our affluence has a way of making us overlook or forget the many things we simply expect to be operating perfectly, and every time the electricity is cut off for some reason, we suddenly become aware of what we can depend on so deeply.  We have so many things in ordinary life that function well, and we expect them to be there when needed.  Thanksgiving time is a period of remembering gifts.  Celebration is part of Thanksgiving; so is expressing thanks to God and to those who show good will in helping us.  Let’s pray to increase our gratitude, our respect for caregivers, and our being immensely blessed by God.  May our Thanksgiving Day be worth celebrating.






Manistique, MI
Shoreline view, Manistique, MI.
(*photo credit)

November 18, 2022  Defining Methane as Blessing or Curse

        Methane is a gaseous chemical component of the natural cycle of decomposition and decay (the major component in marsh gas), and yet its excessive liberation through modern human activity has become a major environmental problem.  In fact, it is regarded by the USEPA as the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. from human activities.  Methane is twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide, the number one greenhouse gas.  Methane is an emissions product of a variety of human activities: natural gas and petroleum systems (30% of methane emissions), livestock waste 9%, landfills 17%, coal mining 11%, wastewater treatment 3%, and enteric (intestinal) fermentation (23%).  Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011.        

        Today, with increased fracking of natural gas deposits in shale rock, methane has been designated as the "good guy on the block" in comparison to coal and tar sand -- its dirty fossil fuel cousins.  It also outdistances worrisome nuclear fuels that are unsafe and demand highly expensive power plants.  One difficulty with fracking is that it may perhaps be less damaging than using coal, but it keeps us bound within the fossil fuel economy from which we must liberate ourselves ASAP.  Some softening of methane impact occurs through proper livestock manure management; another is to burn emissions from landfills as fuel.    

          Note that the largest source of methane in the environment is the processing of natural gas and petroleum, and yet USEPA estimates are imprecise and data is incomplete.  Drilling, processing, and transporting of natural gas along with seeping methane emissions after well closure could generate sizeable quantities of escaped gas.  Furthermore, the cheapness of this new fuel source makes some drillers less concerned about leakage that USEPA estimates as 2 to 4% of total withdrawals.  If these percentages of escape prove higher, methane is NOT a good coal substitute due to the high climate change potency of methane. 

        An added wrinkle in the fossil fuel debate is that methane is also a worrisome gas in coal mining (11% of total methane emitted) -- and reduced coal mining means less of this gas escaping from coal seams.  In fact, the reduced methane escape in coal processing could make methane still more favorable as a fossil fuel of choice.  However, this reasoning only prolongs the transition from fossil fuels to renewable (wind, solar, etc.) energy; in those the greenhouse emissions occurs only in manufacture of equipment and NOT in energy production.  Very little greenhouse gas emissions also occur when using hydropower, geothermal, or tidal energy, though biofuels have combustion carbon dioxide emissions.  Renewable energy substitution and greater energy efficiency are the greatest relief from methane generation or escape, and this is where the focus ought to be.

          Rest for Everyone: O God, you rested on the Sabbath and called your Chosen People to do the same.  May we become aware of precious time for resting as well, finding quiet moments in the day and even longer quiet periods during the year.  The Christian monks in the Dark Ages accepted your command and made their foundations contain numerous work-saving devices, such as windmills and watermills.  Through these the monks championed rest time for all, including the lowly peon; these now had time to cease labor, pray, and celebrate life in community.  Yet in our day a secular world is indifferent to those who must serve resting folks.  Help us, Lord, to defend the right to rest for everyone.










Early Spring, 2010
Natural assortment of autumn leaves.
(*photo credit)

November 19, 2022  Pondering Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

        This is the 159th anniversary of Lincoln's famous address at the dedication of a military cemetery at the Gettysburg Battlefield site in Pennsylvania.  Let's recall his words and reflect on the impact of the concepts when our nation was in its deepest crisis.


        Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

        Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do so.

        But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it will never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Reflection notes:

1. The message was mercifully short (269 words) versus a previous long-winded preliminary address mostly forgotten today;
2. The words were to the point, having mentioned the sacrifice just made and the benefits of those who gave all for their country;
3. A sense of gratitude for what has been achieved pervades the text throughout the short speech for the sacrifice of those who really consecrated the site by their lives;
4. The words are hope-filled with a message to the audience or the living to give our lives in service for others just as the fallen heroes had done; and
5. The address was all inclusive, bringing in a shared vision of, by, and for the entire people.

          Grace to Champion Simplicity: Holy Spirit, you promise to furnish us words of defense, and we need this today in a world that champions affluence, with all its crass insensitivity and misuse of resources.  We are asked to do more than live simply; we must also show that this is the way to sharing resources with the billions of people who lack essentials or materials for a higher quality of life.  Embolden us to speak out and demonstrate that this sharing is essential for social justice.  Inspire us to rise to the occasion as we seek to "green" our planet.










Coyote in Kentucky forest.
(*photo credit)

November 20, 2022 Designating Christ the King Monarch or Servant

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.  (Luke 23:42)

        Each year on the Feast of Christ the King we ponder the choice of serving either a worldly king, ruler or system, or serving in the emerging "kingdom of God."  Our choices are stark, for we can either give allegiance to a prosperity "Christianity" of possible material success and fame, or follow in spiritual service to the Lord and servant of all.  Fortune and fame are certainly alluring for those who have experienced want and being marginalized by the wider society.  But is this really worth striving for?

        The opposite of this allurement is the side of Christ who is a king upon a cross.  We know that Calvary is not a palace, the cross not a golden throne, and thorns hardly a proper crown.  The contrast hits us hard, for Jesus tells us that we are to follow him wherever he goes.  The fact that at times so-called Christians seek to imitate the opposite imperial sense of power and grandeur must be acknowledged -- and rejected.  At his moment of infamy, Jesus is still a king and he refuses to let the world define his leadership differently.  Jesus is telling us that true kingship and authority means service that is not easy to give, a raw touch of a reality that includes accepting risk, rejection, and ignominy.  No, that offer is hard to take for it makes us empty ourselves of false pretensions about fame and fortune.

          Choices stand before us.  A kingdom where power overwhelms the lowly and they are led through the whip to follow a leader is certainly part of history -- and not desiring repetition.  Authoritarian rule has been tried many times, but hardly includes a freedom exercised by subjects to such a reign.  Kings can rule and they can rule.  A totalitarian rule exudes false power, restricts freedom of all, and leads to violence in attempting to overthrow such a system.  It can even entice some to follow.

        The kingdom of Christ stands in opposition for it offers the free choice for each of us to say "yes" to a life of service to the Lord.  It is more than assenting and saying yes, for that takes little effort; rather, the affirmative involves sweat and blood demanded of the entire life of serving the needs of others -- but done out of love and mercy.  All this is contained in the "yes" of our Baptismal Vows, to avoid sin and its glamour, and to stand or even be nailed with Jesus at Calvary.  However, it is in turning a yes into service that a new and just kingdom of Christ can become a reality.  The new kingdom is in the process of being built, but it offers eternal promise of justice and peace.  New motivations are called for; new strategies to be tried; and we are given a very personal invitation.  Will we accept?

          Christ the King: Lord Jesus, through your life, death and resurrection you are true king of the universe.  Our sad world has seen the comings and goings of too many of imperfect royalty; now the spirit of dominant republicanism rules heavily.  Lord, may we let bygones be bygones and let there only be one King – you, who we honor with this title at the end of the Church year.  May your reign be our glory as well as yours; may we spread the word that you have conquered and that the Kingdom of God with you as head is being established.  Yes, there's work to be done, but you as our model go before us -- and we are privileged to follow.










Autumn treats
Developing seeds of the Artemisia annua, Mercer Co., KY.
(*photo credit)

November 21, 2022   Accepting That We Are Getting Older When…

* You thank God for each morning's sunrise and feel good that you survived the night;
* You can't remember whether you said this before -- even a short time before;
* You fail to recall whether the clock means "a.m." or "p.m.", and so you look outside to see whether it is daylight or dark;
* You find the tools used on the farm when you were young (seed jobber, hay hooks, corn sheller) being displayed in the state agricultural museum;
* You regard virtually everyone as a youngster -- certainly the President and even the Pope;
* You consider the practice of learning a new word every day as getting to be "old hat," and fewer choices are now available -- if really new words;
* You discover that prayer gets harder to say in words; it now becomes an exercise of sitting with the Lord just as loved ones sit silently on front porches;
* You enjoy new foods but are unsure whether they are new, or your tastes have forgotten;
* You lose count on your fingers and give up counting with your toes;
* Your next conversational point really doesn't matter or at least the listener has moved on to something else;
* You are convinced that birthdays are coming way too fast and so it is better to ignore them;
* You still remember someone who remembered the Civil War (ole Joe Davis), but virtually no one else to share the experience;
* You simply can't accept the kind invitation to play pickup basketball when walking at the local park, for fear of a heart attack -- and that might disturb the intensity of the game;
* You favor obituaries as the best local news and then discover that virtually all are younger -- however, on an optimistic note those dying my age seem to be getting fewer;
* You let God do the accounting for you because those whom we promise prayers could get overlooked by the ongoing press for new intentions;
* You introduce yourself one more time to someone who smiles and said you did this several times before -- and you acknowledge that this is an ongoing habit;
* You check whether your shoes are simply on and not just lace-tied -- and the same thorough check holds to whether you have your pants on;
* You have something very important to say or write today and now you don't know what it is, or whether you placed it on a note in a prominent place;
* You put reminder notes everywhere and then they become so many you are unable to sort them out; and
* You say -- "Thank God for good memories of the past, for these are like fragile and precious gems." 

          Prayer at Mary' Presentation: O Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives.  Obtain for us your children, the grace of a happy death; so that in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever.  Amen.











Autumn treats
Fast-growing silver maple, Acer saccharinum, age ca. 50 years.
(*photo credit)

November 22, 2022    Knowing Where You Were 59 Years Ago

          For three-fourths of Americans this question makes little sense, but for those of us who are older and retain some memories it does.  I recall the exact spot (my location was in a chemistry laboratory that no longer exists) when the news first struck us that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.  In a fit of prayerful desperation, I remarked to lab mate Frank Creegan, "I think Kennedy has been killed and they are not telling us yet."  The dirge music was followed in a half hour by the announcement that he had passed way -- and a nation went into mourning.

          Such imprinting of time and place has few repeats in my lifetime, and even to some degree the death of loved ones, some of whom we were more or less expecting.  Perhaps we were convinced that President Kennedy's mission was just beginning, with his administration having great things in store.  The time and events of the next few days after his being shot likewise remain vivid in ways few other spans of time have done: the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson; the presence of sorrowful wife Jackie; the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald actually on TV screens; the salute of tiny son John-John at the funeral; the global leaders who came like tall, stately Charles de Gaulle; and the horse-drawn procession from St. Matthew's to Arlington Cemetery.  The nation was stunned and all schools closed.  It was truly a world event, and they reported that people cried in the streets in New Delhi, India.

          Shocked people talked and talked, and some thought the event was a conspiracy.  President Johnson established the Warren Commission to investigate and found that Oswald and his assassin Jack Ruby both acted alone.  However, theories lingered for years in books and articles.  Perhaps the shock involved great expectations now crushed by a cruel Dallas gunshot.  The youthful exuberance of those three John Kennedy years suddenly turned a hero for some into a universal idol.  His presidency had not proved itself yet and it was over.  JFK certainly was still a rough unpolished diamond, and many overlooked the blemishes and even later disclosures; he stood for high ideals in the midst of the Cold War, and he had a knack of saying things (perhaps due to a good speech writer) in crispy ways that were memorable and stirring.  We sorely missed his youthful enthusiasm.

        That event of 59 years ago marked us to some degree; we aged and had to mature in ways never expected.  What seemed to be promising, such as a new civil rights crusade was to have its dark moments and killings before light at the end of the tunnel.  The war in Vietnam grew in intensity and took the nation by storm and divisiveness with its massive body counts and returning coffins.  In some ways one never recovers from the death of a loved one, and in a real sense I for one had pinned high hopes on Kennedy, perhaps too high.  And that makes this a very special day. 

         Prayer to Eat Right: Lord, you give us bounty, but we have often misused it.  We delight in foods: some are good for us in sufficient quantities; some are not so good in portions we prefer as everyday fare.  Your goodness can be misused through our unwise choices.  Help us to see what is proper for our health and what portions we should prepare and consume today.  I like to eat about anything, especially when the barrier of taste does not hinder me.  Many things attract; in your grace may I choose well.










Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa).
(*photo credit)

November 23, 2022    Stealing Wages is Global

          Injustice to workers in the form of wage theft comes in a variety of ways and is still a major problem after all the enlightenment of modern industrial relations.  Why?  Because this injustice allows money for profiteers who can get away with it.  Many of the post Great Recession job slots are lower paying and subject to a variety of work-place abuses: temporary jobs, lack of health benefits, unsafe working conditions, lack of alternative employment opportunities, etc.  For those of us engaged in Reclaiming the Commons this is a major focus area:

          Two unequal parties may be coerced by the more powerful to trade "freely," but the result will not be fair trade; power has an advantage over the other and freedom is compromised.  Commercial activities are now globalized; injustices to workers in rapidly emerging nations are similar to those noted in earlier Western European and North American development periods.  Corporate outsourcing, unsafe coal mines, failure to pay workers, escape industries, and repression of the right to organize are all part of the infringement on the rights of people to find and retain decent working conditions.  A world of surplus potential workers is opening itself to bargaining for the lowest wage to the great disadvantage of all workers.

          Longer-term unemployed bear an unjust stigma -- for it renders some and especially older people unemployable.  Why does one with the privilege of wealth have a right to deny another who is less privileged the right to a livelihood?  Over a waiting period without work in this dysfunctional economy, the unemployed become virtually unemployable.  Cynics speak today about unemployed middle management as the BWM or "beached white male."  During and after this Great Recession unfortunate persons with longer unemployment are being discriminated against when competing against workers, especially in other countries who are willing to work for much reduced wages.  Thus begins a downward spiral of competing workers who bargain down with others for scarce positions.

        Worker justice is challenged by advocates committed to social justice.  Interfaith Worker Justice <www.iwj.org> and state affiliates is a leading group seeking to address this issue.  The witness of everyday workers standing up to unscrupulous employers is documented in a report by IJW and Fe y Justicia entitled Wage Theft Comics and is available in English and Spanish.  IJW focuses much attention in recent years on the plight of large American corporation workers seeking to improve wages and working conditions and to create a respect for the dignity of work.

          Prayer before Meals: May we think to show thanks at the start of each meal and so humbly bow our heard:  Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive through thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen.











Thanksgiving blessings to share.
(*photo credit)

November 24, 2022   Affirming Gratitude through Simple Thanks

        Today's reflection was rewritten several times and for a reason.  We know that many people fail to say thanks and take far too much for granted -- and this applies to some degree with all of us.  But what is the response and can preaching be the proper tone on a day like this special one?  While thanks are always at the tip of our lips, still today is one when we verbalize it in a most public manner.  Only by simple thanks can we have a contagious message that others will want to follow.

* Thanks, Lord, for leading us out of the Pandemic and that many are able to obtain the essentials of life. 
* Thanks for the recent harvest season and we hope you inspire the custodians of this bounty to use it wisely. 
* Thanks for allowing us not to see this as my own blessing and the fruit of hard work, but a success that you give us.
* Thanks for overcoming the temptation of our own glory apart from you and absent of any spiritual generosity.
* Thanks for good food and companionship, for people who cook and bring the food to us, and for the security and peace offered.
* Thanks for the spiritual insight to see that our imperfections have been forgiven, and you still show us mercy and love, and that you inspire us to do the same.
* Thanks for good government that needs many improvements, but we have the room to help make them through your energy and grace.
* Thanks for the energy it takes to say thanks publicly and to ask others in a simple way to do the same.
* Thanks for Francis who continues to guide the Church during these difficult times.
* Thanks for being patient with our nation in its efforts to bring stability to a torn world. 
* Thanks for the growth of renewable energy applications so that our world will be spared the risks of severe climate change.
* Thanks for letting us see that the agenda is unfinished and that we are learning to be ever more hospitable, for those who are undocumented in our midst. 
* Thanks for the insights to allow prisoners who have minor records to perform community service.
* Thanks for life and breathing and the time it takes to pause and say thanks.
* Thanks for simple things we so often forget to notice: refrigeration, microwaves, potable water, electricity, and alarm systems.
* Thanks for open churches and faithful congregations and for faith to believe in new life.
* Thanks for friendly smiles and those who call one honey even though they may be suffering within themselves.
* Thanks for traffic lights and police, for careful bus drivers and courteous waitresses.
* Thanks for the senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching, especially on Thanksgiving Day.

          Prayer in Gratitude: God of mercy and love, in this season of Thanksgiving expand our mind and hearts to be ever set on showing you gratitude.  How else ought we to journey on our way, except in an atmosphere of thanks for all the good things given.  Let this be our final thought as life ends, for if we approach you in gratitude we can be confident that your mercy will take us in with open arms.  May this atmosphere be our reply to your expressed love for us.  May we share your bounty with others today!

Keeping Aware of Climate Change Issues

          We passed through another hot summer and it did not take too much to recall that climate is changing.  Few insensitive people deny the fact, though some may dismiss it by increasing their air-conditioning or welcoming other allurements.  Our ongoing acceptance of this problem area has been constant over the decade, with at least 120 daily Reflection essays during the period.  Reminders are not just for individual or loyal readers, but hopefully for those who demean climate change as due to specific political or economic advantage.  How can we return with some freshness to an impending condition, knowing that the poor will be gravely affected by extreme weather events, famine, flooding conditions and rising sea level?  The following hints may help us continue to encourage awareness to an urgent public matter:

         Promote energy efficiency in new ways, especially where fossil fuels are being consumed in some fashion.  We must help reduce the carbon dioxide greenhouse emissions as much as possible by electronic device use reduction, lower space heating temperatures in winter and reduced air conditioning use in summer, and careful travel practices;

  1.  Utilize renewable energy when convenient through outdoor drying of washed materials, application of solar to homes and domestic use, and considering geothermal changes in the home and work place;
  2.  Reconsider any investments that include fossil fuel or nuclear energy involvement and shift to more renewable energy sources.  Petition those we are affiliated with in academic, entertainment, business or religious circles to do the same.  Such investment threats or shifts could have powerful effects on promoting renewable alternatives;  
  3. Focus once more on travel needs by reducing number of longer trip experiences, give more time to walking and bike use, choose public transportation where possible, and determine when to acquire an electric car in place of your internal combustion auto or van;
  4. Confront and publicize any wasteful energy use practices in order to shame the ones who sponsor them.  Too often we consider that what others do is their business and forget the social nature of wastefulness that should be addressed within a local community;
  5. Keep up with the latest in renewable energy progress (subscribe to Sun Day Campaign for weekly summaries: sun-day-campaign@hotmail.com; Twitter: Follow @SunDayCampaign), new publications and books, and local media and festive events as to neighborhood energy awareness and improvements;
  6. Keep aware of the views of newly elected and even lame-duck legislators and make them aware of needs for further upgrading of energy programs due to slow curbing of greenhouse emissions. 
  7. Support innovative educational programs for youth who need to remain motivated by the climate change issue.  Extend programs to include all within a household and neighborhood.
  8. Introduce the above ideas in a non-threatening manner to those relatives and friends who are adamant about retaining and defending tradition energy patterns.  We all must change and from economic and health standpoints this can result in vast improvements.
  9. Pray that peace will soon come between Russia and the Ukraine, so that world collaboration may be enhanced by all major parties in order to save our planet from severe climate change conditions. 






A ripple effect.
(*photo credit)

November 25, 2022    Spreading the Message: Buy Nothing Day

        "Black Friday" is regarded as a duty by some of us.  Before the turkey digests, some grab credit cards and rush to the shopping center.  For those inspired by the sound of the rushing wind of commerce but do not want to drive, an electronic device at hand can launch the on-line spending venture of this holiday season.  Giving thanks was nice yesterday, but holiday getting seems better than giving, even getting into the shopping rush.  Those with a touch of cynicism may add that cash or credit will see us through holidays. 

        Saying "no" to the consumer frenzy can best be accomplished by answering the word "save" on this or that item by buying nothing today.  Then we really save.  Certainly shop owners and workers look forward to today, for it kicks off the final buying season of the year.  How unpatriotic to also counter the binge with Buy Nothing Day.  One response is that this is a personal matter, and stores can tolerate a few of us doing other things today.  They expect us to spend time making a longer shopping list for tomorrow or next week. 

        The commercial world may be a little more disturbed because we are going beyond personal self-denial for a day, and saying that others ought to join us in doing the same -- and so we spread the word -- "you all, buy nothing today."  Really a single day of restraint may be extended to no purchases on Sunday or the "day of rest."  If the old "Blue Laws" were reinstituted, then those who staff the stores could truly have time off for rest -- for they need it.  The art of purchasing is quite involved, but the art of non-purchasing takes greater self-control and creativity.  It may lead to sound budgeting and proper use of personal resources.

        How about thinking up ways to occupy yourself on this day other than frequenting a local or on-line market place?  Yes, think up forms of entertainment: games, books, social visits, outdoor exercise, and on and on.  It is still the Thanksgiving weekend and well worth additional thanks to God, for all good gifts bestowed.  Rest your weary bones or exercise unused muscles, talk to guests, snooze, stroll, watch a game, see a movie rented earlier, or spend time with those around you.  Just don't make purchases, if that is possible.  And get others to do the same.

        No doubt, consumers have become wiser during the Great Recession.  Self-control has more followers, especially by those with limited budgets.  Watching pennies means allaying the consumer spending impulse.  We Americans watch in horror as other consumer nations enter the buying craze that takes a toll on environment, atmosphere, threatened plant and animal species, and the quality of life on this planet.  The world cannot afford another consuming U.S.  Let us Americans be the first to stop shopping until we drop; invite others to join the anti-consuming league.

          Prayer of Thanks for Simple Things: Oh God, in this Thanksgiving Day week may we pause to say "Thank you!"  Please strengthen our resolve to live ever more simply and to truly enjoy ordinary things.  Instill in us a willing attitude to be satisfied in what we do and where we are.  Yes, our home is here, and yet it is beyond as well, both in space and time.  Allow us to see what must be done: to speak, to act, to focus on our service, and to keep the moorings of our temporary home safe for all to enjoy.









Eastern bluebird - Sialia sialis
Eastern bluebird, Sialia sialis, at late-autumn bird bath.
(*photo credit)

November 26, 2022    Sharing through Simple Living

        The lessons from Pope Francis to live simply in lodging and transportation are not lost on those who struggle for their daily bread, as well as those who know the current economic order has serious flaws.  In a world where higher prosperity drives some to compete and win for choice positions and fame, the material allurements are counter to simple lifestyles.  This is true no matter how multiple the reasons for living simply are enumerated. In fact, we have on occasions listed many of these motivational reasons such as physical, psychological, economic, ecological, and spiritual ones.  The benefits of many of these are immediately seen and thus the emphasis on shorter range benefits results.

        A longer-range benefit is the powerful witness for the poor by living simply.  The effects resulting from imitating Christ are not seen in a day, but over a longer lifetime; it is more than momentary self-denial, for those living simply can commit to a life time of service for others; this is an expression of loving God with everything we have at our disposal.  It involves a rejection of prosperity as proposed by material affluence, the itch to buy and to consume, and the appearance of wealth.  The road to complex lifestyles with credit cards and indebtedness is paved with ready cash that needs to be spent.  Saying "no" to such impulses is key to longer-range living simply and sharing with the needy.

        Simple living has is own inner dynamism, which may require us to express ourselves through dramatic action.  In fact, simple living allows freedom to act when something must be done -- and affluence holds us back.  Agents of change transform simple living into simple focus with clear goals.  We need charismatic agents of change along with rank-and-file followers willing to live the virtues of simple living for all, not just those committed to passive practice.  Our world needs a simple lifestyle for the benefit of all.  Being Christlike means acting when acting is needed.  Changing from a material culture of grabbing and acquiring to one of restraining and sharing is revolutionary.  To speak and act as and for the poor can only be done if we are able and willing to be poor in spirit.

        Again, those living simply are not beholden to the rich, and thus are free to do more than speak freely in general terms; the ones who live simply can act simply.  These do not have such baggage to allow them to be encumbered by the weight of material things holding them down.  We cannot mince words and speak bravely without being willing to put ourselves on the line, even at great expense.  Those living simply ought to discover their freedom to undertake radical action when this is called for, and they are more able to do this than when practicing in an affluent manner.  The Christian must be liberated from allurements of materialism and must regard the simple life as the passport to profound change.

          Prayer of Thanks for Health and Security: O God, we thank you for giving us life and good health.  When illness strikes, let us be thankful also for -- past good health, endurance during current conditions, and openness to what may come.  Forgive us for not taking care of ourselves when we too often take good health for granted.  Assist us to be watchful over our diets and to encourage others to do the same.  When health gives way to sickness, move us to give double glory to you through cheerfulness and acceptance.  









Flower garden
Memories from warmer days, ripe mulberry.
(*photo credit)

November 27, 2022    Preparing for the Advent Season

        The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon -- let us give up all the things we like to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light.         (Romans 13:12)

        Doing something in the light is a public event, and that is what Advent prepares us to do.  The Church starts a new year today, and we ought as people of faith to be willing to come to the light of publicity.  Urgency prods us as we observe days shortening and time span a precious commodity.  In the coming weeks we light each additional Advent candle in succession, as we note creeping night.  We must get deeply involved in an ever more troubled world -- and do this with open eyes of faith. 

        Resolving to be active is not enough; we must be willing to make a public act.  It is the season of anticipation and expectation, of watchfulness and waiting.  We need to stay alert, but that is not always so easy.  Sometimes we get drowsy and so call to others to help stay awake; it's too hard to go it alone.  We know that sentinels who sleep risk leaving the place subject to attack.  In non-militaristic ways, we are an alert people who need freshness for doing a good job -- and freshness comes with adequate balancing of our collective lives with hopes of better things to come.  However, the consumer culture lures us, even when we know that affluence dulls the senses and simpler living freshens them.

        When seasoned travelers prepare for a trip; they plan what they need: an itinerary, mode of transport, tickets and proper papers, and contacts with hosts, friends, and associates when away.  When we prepare for the coming of Christ, we carefully make ready as well.  Jesus gives us suggestions worth noting: be alert, be mindful of others in our lives, be willing to forego allurements that will distract us, be nourished with the Bread of Life.  Further detailed specifics are harder because we each have different living circumstances.  But Jesus gives us individual attention and is thus personally honed to our own needs.  Some of our company are exhausted, depressed, institutionalized, or people suffering from traumatic events.  We are aware of this and resolve to do more to stay fresh and alert.

        In our readiness we recall that we become another Christ for our depressed brothers and sisters.  We are light in a darkening world.  Let's approach each person we meet gently, fully aware of our limited role in their journey.  In freedom, each must respond to the coming of Christ in their lives.  However, we become the unexpected event that they may not realize, but for which there is an interior hunger.  To be a strong and clear light for them requires our own purification, our prayer, and our living simply.  Part of our vigilance is discovering how to be Christ to others.

         Prayer for Advent: God of Israel, for centuries you promised a coming advent event; be ever present to us on our pilgrimage in life.  May we find deeper meaning in our work, and motivate others to give a listening ear to your calling.  Bestow on us breadth in space, immediacy in time, and catholicity in community.  Show us precisely where we are, the urgency of these times, and how we are to join forces and collaborate with others.  You are able to break through the paralysis that inflicts us and give a clear message to all who are deaf.  May Earth be a promised Holy Land!










Rainbow in the forest
Brilliant rainbow in autumn forest.
(*photo credit)

November 28, 2022    Respecting the Skunk or Polecat

        Each month we highlight some form of flora or fauna that is familiar and worthy of our special attention.  The lowly but still beautiful black-and-white stripped skunk or polecat (a few of other colors) comes to mind this month because they move about even during the winter months when other mammals are in hibernation.  The ever-searching skunk is known more for its distinctive odor than its beauty and inquisitive nature as it surveys our domestic sites whenever possible.  Unfortunately, in its journeys around the neighborhood it crosses or prefers to use highways and along with possums become major contributors to "road kill."  Hardly a month goes by without observing a dead polecat on the local roads I travel.

        In Appalachia, the polecat finds refuge in our many forested regions.  Their odor is truly distinctive and is their simple weapon of defense against larger carnivores.  Virtually every frisky country dog has tangled with a skunk once (only once) in his or her career.  People find these beautiful wildlife creatures make amiable pets and so they have them denatured.  Skunks are certainly loyal to the "master" and are opportunistic enough to know when another will feed them on a regular basis.  Wild ones love to venture into residential areas and swipe cat or dog food when available.  Skunk appetites seem to cover a vast gamut from insects of all sorts, lizards, frogs, and birds to carcasses of wildlife.  But their tastes also extend into the plant kingdom with a diet of fruits, nuts, berries, leaves, roots, and grasses of a wide variety.  They are also known to eat honey bees.  What an appetite!

        The beauty of these little beasts can make nature lovers hate to see their unfortunate loss on highways.  My suspicion is that roads have a relatively warmer and smoother surface and it is easier for the roaming skunk to take to the highways.  Once past immature stage they seem to be solitary, living with a wide range of space with the males, being polygynous, covering a broader range of territory.  They do make dens or burrows and are known to cluster together in colder climates (their range is well into much of eastern Canada as well as the U.S.) in winter months to keep warm.

        No one wants to tangle with skunk spray, so please stay clear when observing wild ones.  On occasions our more immature dogs would attempt to contact or even fight with a skunk.  We applied grapefruit or tomato juice to kill the scent that could remain for days if unattended.  Other pet owners advise cheaper methods but I hope you will not have such unfortunate skunk aroma, for its presence remains for weeks on your pet, your vehicle, your home, or yourself if unattended.        

         Presence of Christ: Lord Jesus, you are with us at all times when we pray together, celebrate and reflect upon where we are, and call upon you for help.  You are sacramentally present in the Eucharist, and so help us to show reverence in places where your Eucharistic presence is stored.  Knowing and affirming your presence gives us special meaning in our life, and assists when tempted to misdeeds.  In times of pandemic and crises, may we encourage others to find your presence, to adore you, and to give fitting tribute to your sacramental life among us.









Springtime in Kentucky
Autumn sky, approaching meteorological winter in Kentucky.
(*photo credit)

November 29, 2022 Promoting Economic Development through Church

        Preaching a Gospel of social justice in matters of economics is most challenging.  Business leaders and promoters say that the Church should stay out of economic matters, for they (the commercial world) know best from practical experience.  However, when the Church is silent about unjust economics, it appears to confirm the status quo; when bad economic practice is exposed, the status quo is threatened and those with economic and political power do all they can to restrict any form of change.  The challenge is intensified because Church physical institutions depend on finances from those who may be involved in suppressing any true change -- economic power exerted by financial donors.  The hand that feeds is the hand wanting to keep feeding -- a silent and accepting Church fostering patience, tranquility, and personal piety.  Business expects the Church to play by business rules and nothing more.

        However, current events present a mixed picture of growing inequality between rich and poor, first foisted by an industrial revolution including a pool of the unemployed and then by a financial revolution with its own growing inequalities.  Such conditions are accompanied by overuse of drugs, alcohol, and domestic discord and the blaming of the impoverished on their sad condition through misconduct.  This treatment of the poor as cause of poverty has died down but still persists among some individuals who defend the so-called advantages of excessive wealth. 

        Part of the decline of "poor as cause of their poverty" are new theories of poverty that counter the notion that the poor are better off staying poor -- and that economic activity builds on the ready pool of poor folks.  In the place of such cruel concepts of society comes more recent understanding that sound economic development rests on raising economic health of the entire community from bottom up.  The key to economic prosperity among poorer nations is verified by elevating the poor out of poverty and bringing them into the main stream ASAP.

        To withstand the temptation to remain silent requires spiritual stamina and a spirituality of social justice that is willing to take risks, even of impoverishment for the sake of the Gospel.  Some economic programs are more or less neutral and the Church is quick to support those seeking fair trade programs or building of cooperatives in a particular region.  However, what about a fundamental change of a global system that is becoming more and more dysfunctional due to problems associated with globalization (escape industries to lower wage scale places and bidding down of safety and environmental issues)? 

          Permafrost Melting: Lord, you give us existence in these trying times.  One of the catastrophic events we are starting to witness is the melting of permafrost, due to global warming.  Why catastrophic?  Because this melting is leading to release of enormous amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.  Lord, in giving us time to serve, also give us ability to focus as a people on curbing climate change.  Do not allow us to lose heart, for you are always near us and our prayers are always answered.  Give us the power to help save our wounded Earth and to see this as a creative challenge.  In so doing, may we participate in salvation history in a special manner.











Casting a stone
Autumn view of Thompson Creek, Anderson Co., KY.
(*photo credit)

November 30, 2022   Blessings of Advent Include Self-Denial

        Advent is a season of minor self-denial in preparation for the upcoming Christmas event.  Today in America, this period is part of the "holiday season" stretching from Thanksgiving to the end of the year and beyond.  Often holiday and self-denial do not go together. 

          Self-denial is a practice worth welcoming for we need it very much.  Yes, this is the first blessing of Advent.  Self-denial is not part of the national lexicon, for our national economy of consumerism is at stake, but why not rethink our spending habits?  Self-denial is physically, emotionally, economically, intellectually, and spiritually healthy; it gives our stomach a rest; it saves on the budget; it relieves stress; it calls into question materialism in all its forms; and it opens our minds and hearts to the coming of the Lord.

          Anticipation in a spirit of hope is the flavor of the season.  We are awaiting something or someone more and we sense our wants.  Advent makes us aware that there is far more in store, and thus we look to the future for development, growth, security, and happiness.  For those with no advent, tomorrow will only bring in its petty pace from day to day -- and little more.  On the other hand, Advent enhances our enthusiasm for spiritual things to come, for the Lord who is coming in the finality of events. 

          Will power to say "yes" or "no" and mean it, for self or for others, is a good that comes from the combination of self-denial and hopeful anticipation.  As individuals, we need the period to be able to come to better self-control in everything from food choices to time spent in recreation.  At a time of budget control, tax reform, and better migrant policy we are enabled to pray that our nation takes on these policy issues with a willing heart. 

          Taking stock of our lives makes Advent a blessing, for this needs to be done as an end of the year exercise, and we hate to do this at the very end of the year when we have other things on our mind.  Furthermore, Advent is a proper time span at the beginning of a new Church year.  Taking stock spiritually is of greater importance than budgeting on material things -- though that is time well spent also.  How often do we pray?  Are we mindful while praying?  Do my prayers concern myself only or others as well?

          Sharing with others is a product of this season.  So often we engage in self-indulgent ways that crowd out the essential needs of the poor and those with greater problems than our own.  The combination of self-denial and growth in will power allows us to break away from self-interest and turn to the public interest in our family, local community, and national lives.  In Advent, let's resolve to reach out to those often overlooked and find a way to communicate with them in a meaningful manner.

         Saint Andrew, Apostle:  You were first John the Baptist’s disciple and then brought your brother Peter to Christ.  You were a practical and sensitive person and went on to spread the Good News to the people in many lands, ending in martyrdom in Achaia.  You are the patron of the Orthodox Church.  We ask for your intercession to seek to bring all churches back together after a thousand-year cleavage of East and West.  



Copyright © 2022 Earth Healing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Earth Healing team:
Albert J. Fritsch, Director
Charlie Fritsch
Janet Kalisz
Mark Spencer

Excerpts from the JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday & Company, Inc.  Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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