Monday, November 18, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, November 17, 2019

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! In only ten days, we will have our Thanksgiving Mass here at St Austin Parish on Wed., Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. Hope to see you there!
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, a great time to gather with friends and family, to share food, company, stories. There is also a less welcome side to the holiday gathering. Does anyone have a little bit of dread about discussing current affairs with relatives, extended family and in-laws? Do you try to steer the conversation away from certain topics with some of your relatives and in-laws? Given the bitterly divided politics of our country, and the emotionally fraught issues that can arise at gatherings, perhaps you have a slight bit of trepidation or outright dread about being mixed with family and friends and neighbors who have different opinions on politics, hot-button social issues, matters of religion, certain sports teams, etc. I recommend you go to this website promoted jointly by the U S Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Communities of Salt and Light: It is called “CIVILIZE IT”. As the website succinctly states; “When personal attacks replace honest debate, no one wins.” The CIVILIZE IT website invites you to pledge to do three things:
1. Civility: To recognize the human dignity of those with whom I disagree, treat others with respect, and rise above attacks when directed at me.
2. Clarity: To root my political viewpoints in the Gospel and a well-formed conscience, which involves prayer, conversation, study and listening. I will stand up for my convictions and speak out when I witness language that disparages others' dignity, while also listening and seeking to understand others’ experiences. 
3. Compassion: To encounter others with a tone and posture which affirms that I honor the dignity of others and invites others to do the same. I will presume others’ best intentions and listen to their stories with empathy. I will strive to understand before seeking to be understood. 
You can share this pledge with your family and friends. Pray for a spirit of civility and understanding in your family and community. Open your heart to the working and courage of the Holy Spirit. I have taken this pledge, and will strive to “civilize it” in my discussions and interactions with others. I urge you to do the same. If by example and courage we can help turn down the vitriol and anger in our civic discourse, and listen better to each other, then we really will have something for which to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

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