Make You to Shine Like the Sun

The days are growing short at the end of a what has been a dark year. The election here in the U.S. moves us forward into a new phase, but now we have to wonder: what will that phase be? And, who more importantly, who will we be in it?

The calls for unity feel like a balm after so much anger and contempt. “This is the time to heal in America,” said Joe Biden, in his acceptance speech as President-elect. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify.” The question, though, is whether there is any center around which we can rally. Threads of a liberal consensus hang all around, but they simply are no longer strong enough to knit together the body politic. Reminders to “be kind,” or a the hope for a quiet life with just enough creature comforts and just enough distraction are understandable. But they are simply not enough.

Many of those of us who have thought a lot about the past, and the complex ways that human life expands and contracts and changes, feel convinced: we are at the end of something. What is next, though, remains very unclear.

So, what then?

There is only one way forward now: a relentless commitment to build a broad culture of life on the ground of radical love.

I won’t propose labels, so much as commitments that could ground this form of life together. I believe we are called at the moment to several crucial tasks.

We are called to turn our eyes to the vulnerable, and face squarely a world in which so many cannot breathe. We must ask why this is, and listen carefully, and seek responses together—at the national level sometimes, but likely more often in our own towns and neighborhoods. If the asking or the responding causes to be labeled communist (or socialist any other label), so be it.

As we dare to open our eyes and hearts to the many forms of exhaustion and pain around us, we must cultivate a practice of compassion, both individual and corporate, that includes a commitment to justice.

We are called to face squarely the spiritual poverty that upholds this system. Anxiety and loneliness have made us greedy and curved in on ourselves. In this shared spiritual poverty, our system benefits no one in the ultimate sense, but diminishes and deforms us all.

We are called to ask not only about governmental policies, but our own lives. We must hold our own possessions lightly, and ask how it is that we can live for the common good.

Although we will debate various policies that might address suffering, we must recommit to a simple, nonnegotiable principle: we will hold human life sacred. Civilians are not “collateral damage”; state killing is never required; unborn children are to be cherished.

To these ends, we must make common cause wherever we can, with whomever we can. And in every case, without exception, our task is to love: that is, is to will the good of the other without condition.

We are called to ground ourselves in the nourishment of worship, sacrifice, feasting, solitude, and rest.

We are called to speak unapologetically of the character of life lived in the holy presence of God: humility, gratitude, compassion, and joy.

The days are growing shorter. Hope is now an act of resistance. But if we are willing to repent and turn from our wicked ways, God can renew us, can bring light into our darkness, and can even make us, together, to shine like the sun.


Suggested reading [More to come]:

The New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7

The Responsive Communitarian Platform

We Should All Be Feminists, Adichie

Mr. Truman’s Degree, Anscombe

The Fire Next Time, Baldwin

We Are Called to Be a Movement, Barber

Resisting Throwaway Culture, Camosy

The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day, Day

“Union Square Speech,” Day

Introduction to the Devout Life, de Sales

The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois

The Gift of Black Folk, Du Bois

“Caring for Our Common Home,” Ewell

Love’s Labor, Kittay

Might from the Margins, Edwards

Nickeled and Dimed, Ehrenreich

On Poverty, John Chrysostom

Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis

Laudato Si’, Pope Francis

“Catholic Citizenship and the Dorothy Option,” Gordon

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, Hinton

Wisdom’s Friendly Heart: Augustinian Hope for Skeptics and Conspiracy Theorists, Hockenberry

“To Hell With Good Intentions,” Illich

Tools For Conviviality, Illich

A New Way: The Spirituality of Unity, Lubich

The Return of the Prodigal Son, Nouwen

“Empathizing With Our ‘Enemies,'” Potts

Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace, Ruddick

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis

Suggested viewing:

The Man Who Planted Trees

The Butterfly Circus

God Is Not a White Man

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Life is Beautiful (1998)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Joyeux Noël (2005)


1 Comment

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One response to “Make You to Shine Like the Sun

  1. Doreen C.

    There can be no acceptance of a president who is tossed like the wind and bought by special interests, especially Planned Parenthood. This is not a Catholic, but a pawn, whose political and humanitarian accomplishments are rare, if any. So where are the rioters? Let us not be naive. Suddenly, there is no systemic racism or generational anger? Instantly cured by a leftist victory? We now know the rioters were bought and paid for to reap the whirlwind against pro-life President Trump. Catholic Christians ought to be deeply offended by the use of “On Eagles Wings” by the virulently pro-abortion Biden. What a sly calculating move to pretend to be uniting people of faith, while simultaneously propping up the abortion machine. God willing, the fraudulent vote will be exposed. Our nation’s soul is at stake.


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