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One of God's most beautiful names


Let’s begin down at the nearest pond. Fr. Ed Hays, founder of the Shantivanam prayer community in Kansas and spiritual writer, advises that we adopt the common frog as a mascot for our spirituality of simple living.

The image of a frog could be hung on our walls as a religious icon, he suggests. One reason for doing so is that the frogs in our local ponds have such great bulging eyes. We need those kind of eyes in order to live deeply and well.

“To the eyes of the soul,” Hays counsels, “everything is holy. Viewing life with the soul’s enormous staring eyes allows us to see that we are swimming in the sacred.” With those great bulging eyes and a cultivated spirituality of simple living, we can backstroke through the holy, splash and delight in the taste of reality, find it easy to both pray always and to participate in the healing of our world. As theologian Monika Hellwig rightly claims, the primary issue in spirituality is not the redemption of the individual soul but the redemption of our whole world.

Homeboy Industries facing huge budget deficit


I recently blogged about how Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle did an about face with the Los Angeles police chief William Bratton: At first Boyle was not impressed, but later came to the conclusion that the police chief was outstanding.

Today's AP story describes the perilous financial condition of Boyle's anti-gang program, Homeboy Industries:

The Rev. Greg Boyle has walked through gunfire to quell gang violence, gotten sworn enemies to work peacefully together and redeemed hardcore criminals. But he never thought money would be the downfall of the nation's largest anti-gang program.

After Friday, however, all bets are off at Homeboy Industries. The Roman Catholic priest's 21-year-old effort to rehabilitate gang members by offering jobs, counseling and schooling, will run out of cash — the result of an economic recession that has ripped a $5 million hole in the nonprofit's budget this year.

It takes a village to make a loan


I have to confess, I was a bit upset by the lead story under the fold of The Wall Street Journal today: A global surge in tiny loans spurs credit bubble in a slum.

Microlending fights poverty by helping poor people finance small businesses -- snack stalls, fruit trees, milk-producing buffaloes -- in slums and other places where it's tough to get a normal loan. But what began as a social experiment to aid the world's poorest has also shown it can turn a profit.

That has attracted private-equity funds and other foreign investors, who've poured billions of dollars over the past few years into microfinance world-wide.

Microloans range from a few dollars to a few hundred. Tiny. The capitalists got involved with this "social experiment," becase its offers dependable returns. The granddaddy of all microlenders, the 30-year-old Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, reports repayment rates of nearly 98 percent.

Leave it to the capitalists to screw it up. The Journal article continues:

Honduras update


Honduras: The coup continues and repression escalates

The Quixote Center delegation in Honduras reports that Aug. 11 -- a day on which the popular movements had called for large urban rallies -- did indeed produce very large protests against the coup government in both Tegucigalpa and in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. But it also produced increased repression.

Here is part of their firsthand report:

Catholic exemplar wrong on health care debate


A couple of weeks back, I wondered why someone with such an illustrious reputation as Princeton Professor Robert George would agree to appear on the Glenn Beck show, especially after Beck had just that morning accused President Barack Obama of being a racist. But, hey, we all make mistakes and what with advance scheduling, and busy summer travel schedules, maybe Professor George did not know of Beck’s outrageous remarks.

Alas, the Glenn Beck appearance now appears mild.

The American Principles Project was founded by Professor George. Its Web site identifies him as "one of America's foremost scholars in the fields of constitutional law, ethics and political philosophy," although my conservative friends question his intellectual output and increasingly his intellectual rigor.

Reality check


My 82-year old father-in-law is a retired dentist who stays active by helping the poor get access to doctors. Last Saturday, he told me he was worried: a volunteer health group was offering free care over four days at the Forum, a sports arena once used (and filled) by the Los Angeles Lakers. His concern: not enough people would show up.

Turns out this was not a problem.

As reported Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, people camped out overnight to get a good spot in line and a shot at some decent health care. On day one of this four-day event, 1,500 people made their way into the Forum, where dozens of volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals stood ready to help.

People were turned away, went outside and began camping out all over again for a better spot on the next day's line. These were not just what some might call the hard-core indigent: an unemployed grocery clerk was there, waiting for a desperately-needed root canal surgery; a former auto mechanic wanted someone to examine his chronic back pain.

What price have you paid for your faith?


Today's "Morning Briefing" includes a link to an article in yesterday’s Washington Post about Fr. Miguel Lopez, a Mexican priest whose care of souls extends to a patch of that magnificently beautiful country that has been made exceptionally ugly by warring drug traffickers. I had to read the article twice it was so compelling. And, so humbling. What price have you or I had to really pay for our faith lately? This poor priest risks not only his life, but the life of his soul, confronting evil in one of its purer forms.


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February 27- March 12, 2015


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