Author Archives: sshields

What are we supposed to do?

A reading from Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[d]

This is a wonderful Gospel reading because it provides us with the “Mission” of the Church.

  • What are we supposed to do? “Go therefore and make disciples”
  • Who are we supposed to make disciples? “of all nations”
  • How? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

It’s a great idea and quite a challenge, since it indicates that we, who have embraced discipleship, are actually being asked to do something to bring others into communion with the Church. The challenge, of course, is that circling the wagons to commiserate with only those who adhere to our personal opinions of Catholicism is rank with passivity, yet forcing others to embrace our brand of Catholicism has not had a remarkable success rate. In spite of the difficulties, we have been asked by Christ to do something, which means there is a way to do it.

  • There is a way to make disciples of all nations.
  • God has a plan
  • We are part of that plan.

I believe there are a few ways to walk this road.

  • First of all, our live’s must attract others to Christ.
  • Second, we must each commit to an active ministry with the goal of bringing others to the Church.
  • Third, and most importantly, we must make the decision to turn our life over to Jesus and let Him lead the way. This is the basis of the prayer “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put all my trust in You”.  This step is most difficult since it requires us to commit to cooperation with God’s plan, even when it is not what we really want to do (think of the book of Jonah). 

Peace and Blessings!

-s

The Shack – Part 1

My wife wanted to go to this movie, but when I saw the early previews I was not so sure. I finally went with her last week and despite my hesitation, I found it worked in several levels. Certainly, everyone who sees the movie has an opinion. I have seen reviews that are very positive and very negative, but everyone seems to have strong emotions about the story and content.

In my case, I saw the continuing theme of Trinitarian relationship. I am sure theologians could do a much better review of the specifics, but I was happy to actually see a movie that put it out there at all.

I have more to share, but ask my brothers to take some time and see it first. I am sure there will be a lot of discussion at that point.

Rest in God Alone

Apologies to my friends in the blog, but I have been swamped lately. the bottom line is I continue to work on recording the music to the Psalms that I wrote over the past 10 years. Back in January the first nine recordings went to iTunes as an album (Psalms Vol. 1) and now I am working on Vol. 2.

As my brothers both are aware, sometimes we are driven to get something done. In my case, my retirement from active music ministry last year kicked me into putting my focus on recording the Psalms the way I originally intended. I am not making any bold statements on the content, but for some reason, as I worked in ministry, the music came very easy.  I felt it was a gift from God, not as a definitive rendering of the Psalms, but as a personal connection and a lesson that God constantly reaches for us. He does not wait in Church for us to show up; He stands knocking at each or our doors in a way that we recognize. He speaks to us with the voices of those we know and those we interact with only briefly. He speaks to us in the Gospels and He speaks to us in our own hearts.

For some reason, I got this music, and for now, I will do whatever I can to put it out there. This one features my youngest son, Noah on lead vocals.

 

Psalms Vol. 1 Released!

Allison and I released our new album “Psalms Vol. 1” on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby today. This album is a compilation of music we wrote for the Psalms from the Catholic lectionary over the past ten years with the goal of bringing the Psalms to life for a contemporary audience. Allison and I had a lot of help pulling this together; including:

Noah Shields (piano)
Sarah Shields (vocals on several songs and songwriting partnership on Psalm 118)
Kevin Shields (vocals)
Abby Rusak (vocals on Psalm 41)
Wishing All a Peace Filled New Year!

He who places division

A dear Priest friend of mine once told me that the names for Satan were loosely translated as “one who divides”. I did a quick look online and found this:

“The Hebrew word Satan means “adversary” and its translation into Greek gives the word “Diabolos”, from the root dia-ballo, to divide or separate. The meaning of Devil (>Diabolos) would be “He who places division” and its derived meaning would be “slanderer”.

The question then comes back to what we do and say, especially in a public context, like a blog. When we intentionally say things to divide and separate, it may seem like a great way to capture an audience (and quite effective, if the recent elections are any measure), but, in fact,  it places us in direct opposition to the Church we love.

Although it has always been so, more recently, the rise of social media and advanced marketing practices have raised the processes of division and slander to an art form. Worst of all, it suggests that hatred, division, slander and scapegoating are somehow now ok, especially if we stoke enough righteous indignation. The acceptance of this is dangerous to our world and very dangerous to our faith. 

The message of Christ to Love one another becomes very difficult to comprehend in this environment, but if we claim to love our Church, then we must defend it with the tools that Christ gives us and not the tools of one who divides. If there is a lesson here, it is that the ends do not justify the means. In fact, it is all about the means. Our salvation is through our faith in Jesus Christ brought to life by works that mirror His life and message. 

The willingness to use the tools that were given to us by Christ and reject the tools provided by satan, is a foundation of Faith. This is true most especially in this world where the tools Christ provided appear to be so ineffective. Our great temptation is the notion that the Gospels and the Eucharist are not enough; that somehow we need strength and power to defeat the strong enemies at the door. Be assured this is not the case.

The Election

Hindsight is truly 20/20.

I was a Hillary supporter. I expected Hillary clinton to win the election, and disliked Donald Trump in a big way.  Donald was a bigot and a bully who attracted other bigots and bullies who wanted to feel that it was ok to be that way, but Donald was not stupid. Donald saw something that Hillary did not see.

For years now, I’ve felt that NAFTA was a failure and the people in the heartland were missing out in the recovery. My friends in the city didn’t always recognize this because they lived and worked in a world that recovered from recession and was thriving with growth. Home prices and wages were up and unemployment was down. Things were good and while poverty existed, it was not widespread. It was a small world.

I know I’ve am blessed because I can drive 1.5 hours to a job in the Boston area. I live on the edge of the commute range to Greater Boston and have marketable skills. I’m doing ok, but people who live just a little bit farther away and may not have those in-demand skills have been facing a very different world for some time now. Their home prices are half as much as the ones closer to the city. Their wages are much lower. Their opportunities are dismal. Their pain real.

The fact is that once we get past the reasonable commute range, instances of rural poverty and despair are rampant. Let’s be clear. I do not believe the people in Central or Western Massachusetts are any more bigoted than the people in the Boston suburbs, nor do I believe they are any less diverse than most of the Boston suburbs.  Yet, as the election map demonstrated, communities just beyond the reasonable commute range went for Trump in this election, while those closer to Boston, went for Hillary. My theory is simple; when people wake up every day and feel their life is crap, they overlook a lot of character flaws when someone shows up to promises to help them. Donald saw an opportunity that most of the Democrats and Republicans ignored.

While the Trump campaign had more than it’s share of bigots, the characterization of a majority of Trump supporters as hillbilly racists by some of the commentators during and after the election missed the mark. Hillary made a big mistake when she commented about “deplorables”. Her comments essentially discounted real economic pain that was being felt by a large part of the country. Commentators have been searching for reasons and are now coming to the conclusion that maybe it really is that bad.

There is a tipping point with poverty. When it gets bad enough, unpredictable and dangerous things happen. Hillary simply did not see it, but Donald did. The only question is if Donald and the Republican party can actually do anything to relieve the pain.

Peace

-s