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Lord Hear Our Prayer

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Saturday evening and Sunday Mass looms, calling me ... calling me home. The Catholic Church and I are wide apart on many of the" issues" of today, but on Sunday morning it is my family, my heart, my solace ... it is where I go to see the face of God.

I am pro-choice. I think celibacy is nonsense and I believe that God sees all people as one ... I do not adhere to the notion that only those who are baptized will be saved. We are all baptized by the fire of life and the God of my imagining does not stand on ceremony. So am I really a Catholic? I don't know. Can any one human be that judge? All I know for certain is that on a Christmas Eve, when the chapel doors burst open and the song "Joy to the World" envelops me I am moved beyond words, embraced by faith, happy to be in a house of God.

This past week has been confronting for all of America, no matter left, right or center. We have crossed a threshold with this presidential race that is touching every nerve in our nation and exposing the dark underbelly of our society and the generation that still governs it.

I am entering my 50th year and share with many of you some very real and painful remembrances of racism, misogyny, and gay bashing. We have lived through Vietnam and AIDS and debilitating conflicts about who is moral and what constitutes decency. The outrageous utterings of Pastors' Hagee and Wright and feminist icon Geraldine Ferraro are all too familiar, they are echoes of a not so distant past.. We know these hard words by heart.

Did we think that we could somehow magically leap-frog our own failings by putting forth leaders who embody the best of our hopes and dreams? We have raised a new generation that is largely free of the fears and prejudices that bind us. We have a choice, but there is only one good option. We can choose to slide back into the angry divisions of our history, at the cost of our children's future, but the only real option is to face our prejudices and heal these wounds and give our kids the chance to evolve.

This brings me to the one teaching of my church that never fails to resonate...cierthat forgiveness is the key of life. To forgive ourselves and one another is to achieve the highest calling of our faith. It is the closest we can ever come to God.

I wonder about the recent statements by many feminists about Silda Spitzer. Many were angered that she stood at her husband's side during his excruciating press conferences. One web site called for a moratorium on women standing by their wayward men. How can anyone of us measure the rightness or wrongness of such an act of love? That he betrayed her is not in question. I have been there; I have been betrayed. I saw my own face in hers as the camera settled upon her features, drawn tight with grief and sallow with shock. It is a brutally painful realization to find that you have been living with a stranger ... that indeed the emperor has no fucking clothes. Still, is he not a human being? She was standing next to a man who had no choice but to face the nation. We were all slack-jawed and titillated as we presided over the death of his dreams. There they stood, side by side amidst the ruins of his career and their marriage in that one terrible moment. It took remarkable courage, but even more, it took remarkable compassion. For this I salute her and tomorrow I will ask the lord to hear my prayer for them both.

I wonder what it was like to be the first woman ever to run for vice president. There was the strain of all of that scrutiny. There was the considerable weight of the hopes and dreams of American women on her shoulders. We asked a great deal of Geraldine Ferraro and she gave us all she had to give. Was it stupid for her to say that Barack Obama has it easy because he is black? Yes, of course, but maybe her experience as a woman seeking higher office convinced her that is was easier for a man to compete, regardless of color. Clearly, something is pissing her off.

We cannot know what it feels like to be in her skin, but we can remember her tomorrow in whatever prayers we offer. We can thank her for her service.

To Pastor Hagee I offer this prayer...that you might one day come to see that homosexuals were created by the same God of your own making. Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and also the French are all the children of God. I pray that we all come to understand that catastrophe is not God punishing us, but rather God calling us to our highest selves. In tragedy he asks us to be more compassionate, more Godlike in how we see our fellow man...Katrina and 9/11 were not God's way of saying "I see your sins" but rather our opportunity for us to see our own humanity and be called to love ourselves and one another.

To understand the anger of Pastor Wright, we will have to see the world as he saw it for so many years on the mean streets of black Chicago. I cannot know what it was like to try to lead a people through the suffering of his lifetime. So many young lives lost to violence and hopelessness on his watch. Maybe anger was preferable to death...maybe he preached it hoping to awaken his charges to their own value, to their right to exist. His words were charged and they made me uncomfortable. The words are to be condemned. We must put an end to any and all of dialogue of hate, but, I wonder, were those words un-American? Or did they represent in their very outrageousness the very meaning of being American? I am not equipped to judge, but I will remember him in my prayers and hope to hold his pain and anger to be human and forgivable.

We love to hear that we are a great nation!, the best!, number one in the world!, but deep down we know that the picture has not always been pretty. The most liberal as well as the most far-right among us know that mistakes have been made and people have been hurt and often killed because of them. We know that we decimated the American Indian, kept slaves and plundered the treasures of weaker nations. We know that Vietnam was a failure and that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. We are haunted by the dead of Rwanda and Darfur and the suffering, of innocent children both here and abroad. We watch our own students massacred on college campuses and it does not fill us with pride. We are a great nation, but by no means are we a perfect one and we must be big enough to admit it.

I have launched my fair share of angry words and intolerant attitude and for this I ask you to forgive me.

I will be praying tomorrow for us all. Let us each remember that compassion is the true essence of any sacred moment. Let us pray that the long held prejudices that divide us will one day be healed. Let us pray for a way through the muck and mire to a path of empathy for our enemies as well as our friends. Let us pray most of all for the next generation that they may face the future with open minds and open hearts and the will of a great Nation to live in peace and to sleep in the arms of God.

Amen.

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