Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marketing Thanksgiving

Food, Folks and Fun.  That was the tagline of a 1990's McDonalds's marketing campaign and for some reason while preparing for the parish Thanksgiving Day Mass, the slogan popped into my head.  As much as I would not want to reduce the meaning of Thanksgiving to a fast food catch phrase, it works.  A successful ad campaign is one that effectively causes the consumer to remember the product as one that is familiar, trustworthy and satisfies one's need.  (At least that is what I learned from my ad executive cousin.  See A Gentleman's Musings)In simple terms, "food, folks and fun," not only articulates the basic truth of Thanksgiving, it speaks to the truth of every celebration of the Eucharist; which is the Greek word for thanksgiving.
The food of the celebration of the Eucharist is the sacred body and blood of our Lord.  It is our food for the journey of life.  It sustains and nourishes our souls and our faith as we face the challenges of life.  The bountiful food that we eat at our tables today, represents that which sustains and nourishes our bodies.  We give thanks today to God who gives us this spiritual and physical food.  Without either we can not live.  
The "folks" of our lives are our families, the communities we create and the Church.  Our communal life reminds us that we are not alone, we are one with the Body of Christ and we are sons and daughters of God.  We give thanks for the community of faith and family without which we would not only be alone and unloved, we would not have the means to fulfill our mission of service.  These communities of ours are broken, our time with family today may be tense and even hurtful, but it is into this brokenness that we live our lives as disciples. We give thanks for the community of family, friends and church, who serve us and give us the opportunity to serve.
The word, "fun" be better expressed as joy.  In his final commandment, Jesus tells his disciples to "love one another as I have loved you."  He ask that this commandment my be filled so his joy may be complete.  In coming together as family, friends and community of faith we practice the great commandment of The Lord and complete his joy.  It is often easy to miss the joys of life, essepecialy after the sorrowful weeks we have endured.  But did we not find joy in the simple acts of love that were manifested during these days?  We give thanks for the joy that comes from loving and being loved by God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son.  We are grateful for this we love and have loved us.  And we rejoice in the knowledge that our acts of love, complete the joy of Christ himself.
It is more than a slogan, it is the truth of this day for we truly give thanks for the food, folks and joyful fun of this life bountifully bestowed upon us by God whose blessings endure forever.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Reelection and Religious Liberty

The reelection of President Obama has brought an end to a terribly long and antagonistic campaign.  With it comes some serious challenges for the Church.  What many continue to misunderstand about the Church’s opposition to the HHS mandate to fund contraception is that it was always more than a moral opposition to artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs The greater issue is the philosophy that is behind it’s implementation.  
In order to mandate this coverage, the President’s administration has used an extremely narrow definition of what constitutes a religious institution and therefore employer.  A religious institution, in their mind, is one that  (1) Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets .  In an effort to care for those who still bear the pains of last week's storm many Catholic parishes and other Catholic institutions have acted in violation of the third point of this definition.  In addition we may also be in violation of the first as well, since it was not our intention to inculcate religious values but simply provide shelter.    All people of faith as well as those who value our civil liberties ought to be greatly concerned with our future.  Because this definition has been codified in the mandate and the overall act, a precedent has now been set, which can now be applied more broadly.  Once we accept this definition as a valid and legal descriptor of religious institutions there are no limitations.  Anything outside of worship is therefore subject to this definition and whatever mandate the government may place upon us.  
Our nation does not need this fight.  This week has once again shown the value of the Church and its institutions.  Our society and our people are better off because of the faithful service of the people of God who are the Church.  Let us pray that given the opportunity to serve another term, the President will rethink this position and the courts will recognize its unconstitutionality so that we can continue to be a Church in service to all God’s people.