Wednesday: Explore Laudato Si!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hello everyone!  As we prepare for Father's Day, we can remember the tender care of the Father for His creation (Matthew 6:25-34). Pope Francis is reminding us of the universal call to all humanity and people of faith to cooperate with the natural laws and care of this great gift of creation. Continuing with our weekly excerpts of the pope's most recent encyclical, "Laudato Si" is posted here - so that we can all learn, digest, pray and discern one snippet at a time.  Come Holy Spirit, teach us and guide us, and may Your Will be done!

Practical relativism
122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is “even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism”.[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

The need to protect employment
124. Any approach to an integral ecology, which by definition does not exclude human beings, needs to take account of the value of labour, as Saint John Paul II wisely noted in his Encyclical Laborem Exercens. According to the biblical account of creation, God placed man and woman in the garden he had created (cf. Gen 2:15) not only to preserve it (“keep”) but also to make it fruitful (“till”). Labourers and craftsmen thus “maintain the fabric of the world” (Sir 38:34). Developing the created world in a prudent way is the best way of caring for it, as this means that we ourselves become the instrument used by God to bring out the potential which he himself inscribed in things: “The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them” (Sir38:4).

125. If we reflect on the proper relationship between human beings and the world around us, we see the need for a correct understanding of work; if we talk about the relationship between human beings and things, the question arises as to the meaning and purpose of all human activity. This has to do not only with manual or agricultural labour but with any activity involving a modification of existing reality, from producing a social report to the design of a technological development. Underlying every form of work is a concept of the relationship which we can and must have with what is other than ourselves. Together with the awe-filled contemplation of creation which we find in Saint Francis of Assisi, the Christian spiritual tradition has also developed a rich and balanced understanding of the meaning of work, as, for example, in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and his followers.

Wednesday: Explore Laudato Si!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hello everyone!  As we prepare for Father's Day, we can remember the tender care of the Father for His creation (Matthew 6:25-34). Pope Francis is reminding us of the universal call to all humanity and people of faith to cooperate with the natural laws and care of this great gift of creation. Continuing with our weekly excerpts of the pope's most recent encyclical, "Laudato Si" is posted here - so that we can all learn, digest, pray and discern one snippet at a time.  Come Holy Spirit, teach us and guide us, and may Your Will be done!

115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since “the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere ‘given’, as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference”.[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed”.[93]

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our “dominion” over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[94]

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism”, for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a “thou” capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the “Thou” of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.[97]

121. We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries. Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals its eternal newness.[98]

Reserve Now: Saint Agnes Parish Campout!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Are your relatives calling you? They want to know what the summer plans are. 

Well before you give away all your dates to in-laws, make sure you mark your calendars!

July 8-10, 2016
Greenfield State Park, NH

"Day Campers" invited to join us on Saturday, July 9th*

*Please note that Maureen Ronayne is in charge of the campout this year. Her information is below.*


1. If you know you are coming (or when you decide you are coming), please use this form, so we can keep track of how many people and WHO we are expecting to meet at the park! Ultimately, I will need everyone to fill out this form, so I have names and numbers in case of any emergency. So go ahead and fill it out ASAP.

2. The dates for this camping trip are July 8-10. We will plan to camp at Greenfield State Park in Greenfield, NH - about an hour-and-a-half drive from Arlington. This park has come highly recommended as a fun and easy park for family camping. The park features camping (with toilets/showers), hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and a camp store.

3. Make your reservations now! To get more information on the park, see:

4. Reservations are through Reserve America, and can be found here. We will try to cluster our group around campsite #44 on the small loop near Beaver Pond. A map is here.

There are no cabins. You can bring a tent, rent a tent from REI, borrow a tent from a friend, or make a tent (boyscouts anyone?). Cost for a campsite per night is $25 + a small processing fee. This is for two adults and their dependent children. If you plan on bringing a pet, please read the park's pet policy VERY CAREFULLY and be sure to reserve a site which allows pets... since most sites prohibit pets.

Greenfield State Park Ranger "Harry" was extremely generous to answer my many questions over the phone. He is friendly and helpful, and I can't wait to stay at his park! Ranger Harry recommends the "Small Loop," sites 26-64 for families with small children, because it is a loop with little traffic and close walking distances. For the most fun together, try to cluster our reservations around campsite #44.

5.This is our fourth Saint Agnes Family Group camping trip. It is meant to build community and friendships that will serve as an organic support network for people in our parish, as well as encourage you to give back to the community in the way you feel called.

Together, we will take on the great adventure of family camping! While we are really excited about this, we are using the good old KISS rule - Keep it Simple, Stupid. Therefore, we will distribute information about the campground, and a rough schedule of breakfast / activities / dinner / Sunday Masses, etc. However, each family will be primarily responsible for their own specific plans and accommodations. If you don't want to stay both nights - that's fine - come when you can. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for your own camping trip, camping gear, CAMPING FOOD, and camping survival! We will not be caravanning or providing transportation. We will meet you there!

I will be happy to answer questions, post camping tips, attempt to anticipate concerns, etc. Feel free to contact Maureen Ronayne with questions ( See you there!

Wednesday: Explore Laudato Si!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hello everyone!  As we celebrate Pentecost, let us reflect on the action of the Holy Spirit, and His compelling desire to make all things new (Revelations, chapter 21), including our hearts and our faith. Pope Francis is reminding us that as Christians, there's no time like the present to cast off our old selves and begin anew.  Continuing with our weekly excerpts of the pope's most recent encyclical, "Laudato Si" is posted here - so that we can all learn, digest, pray and discern one snippet at a time.  Come Holy Spirit, teach us and guide us, and may Your Will be done!

110. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests. A science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics; but this is a difficult habit to acquire today. Nor are there genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal. Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living. Once more we see that “realities are more important than ideas”.[91]

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction. It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

Weekly Digest

Monday, May 30, 2016

Here's the lineup for the week at the Parish:
  • Tuesday - Family Playgroup (10:30 am), Fatima Apostolate (7 pm)
  • Thursday - First Friday Confessions (4 pm)
  • Friday - First Friday Adoration (all day, Benediction at 5:00, Mass at 5:30 pm), Saint Agnes School Ice Cream Social (6 pm)
  • Saturday - BSE Care Packages due at weekend Masses, Prayer at Planned Parenthood (7 am, meet in parking lot at 6:30 am to carpool), Confessions (3 pm)
  • Sunday - BSE Care Packages due at weekend MassesCoffee and Donuts (after 9 am Mass), Infant Baptisms (2 pm)
Saint Agnes Family Playgroup
The Saint Agnes Family group holds weekly Tuesday playgroups outdoors at nearby parks. We start at 10:30 am (but sometimes moms run late). You are welcome to join us! You can find the spring playgroup schedule here, or by clicking the link at the upper left of the blog home page.

This Tuesday, May 31st, our group is scheduled to meet at Dugger Park  (2 Mystic River Rd., Medford) at 10:30 am.  This fenced park has a fun blacktop area (the sprinkler may be working...) as well as shade and a beautiful view of the Mystic River.  Bring a picnic lunch and come to join us!

Please note that Marianne Hudelson will not be at playgroup this week, due to family travels.  A new leader is needed for playgroup in the future.  If you are able to help with this ministry to parish families, please email Marianne (  Just come out, enjoy the sunshine, and any friends who come to play!

**NOTE THAT our outdoor play schedule is highly dependent on good weather. If the weather seems questionable, please check your email or the blog page before you leave for playgroup. In case of rain or weather below 32 degrees, playgroup will be cancelled for the day. Thanks!**

First Friday Adoration

This Friday, June 3rd, is the first Friday of the month. On Thursday, June 2nd from 4:00-5:00 pm, there will be the opportunity for confession in the lower church. On Friday, Saint Agnes will be offering all-day Adoration, concluding with Benediction and Mass at 5:00/5:30pm, in the lower church. Also at noon there will be a Holy Hour to pray for priests and victims of clergy sexual abuse. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity to spend some quiet time with the Lord and gain some focus in our lives - especially with all the busy distractions of daily life. For more background on the long tradition of keeping a First Friday devotion, look here or here.

Saturday Morning Prayer at Planned Parenthood
Saint Agnes Parish is continuing its hour of prayer in front of Planned Parenthood on Saturday mornings from 7:00-8:00 am.  If you would like to carpool, meet at 6:30 am in the Saint Agnes School parking lot.  We return to Arlington by 8:30 a.m.  If you have questions, please e-mail Eileen Cahill (  We have been told by the devoted sidewalk counselors how much they appreciate having us there praying when they arrive.  They need help and support.  Please join this effort.  Once you go and pray with others, you gain more confidence and it gets easier.  Join us; prayer is the faithful's most powerful tool!

FIDELITY HOUSE - Preschool and Pre-K
Links to these websites are located at the top right-hand of the blog page.
When you invest and involve your family here, you can participate
in the evangelical mission and service of these community resources,
which are offered by - and in the long tradition of - our very own Catholic Church.
Financial Aid is available.  WOW!