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Deacon Kevin McCormack

 

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The quality of mercy is not strained ...

Recently an unmarried pregnant woman in a Catholic middle school in Montana was fired.  I fear the School and the Diocese are sending some terribly mixed messages.  (http://wapo.st/1dryZJ1) 

I am a husband, dad, deacon, and principal of Xaverian. No one in our community will be surprised to hear that I have sinned often and constantly need to say "I am sorry!"  I have also been in many situations where I have had to forgive and in doing so needed to balance mercy and justice.  As a Christian adult,  I have learned that I don't have the luxury to see the world in sharp black and white categories. I live in a very messy world.

With regards to this woman, I don't know anything about her, except for the fact that she had sex outside of a marriage covenant, got pregnant, and has bravely decided NOT to abort the child - but to bring the baby to term. And I also have inferred that this is cause of scandal in her community. I have heard nothing about her being a thief, rumor monger, or abusive to anyone in anyway. She however is clearly guilty of a moment of passion, one could rightfully say she made a sinful decision, which our God - that even in the midst of such a sin - allows his His Grace to abide in the miracle of new life.  (She also was not alone in this action, but I know of no penalty ever given out to a man in this situation!)

The decision of the Diocese and of the School, in my admittedly simple and humble opinion has encouraged other women, in similar circumstances, not to avoid sexual activity outside of the sacrament marriage but rather to abort their babies - less they lose the ability to support their families.  -  Now isn't that a new spin on a Sophie's Choice?

We can count on people continuing to sin, St. Paul and St. Augustine make it very clear that we cannot save ourselves. We will continue to be victims of the stench of original sin and add to that sin by the willful sinful choices we continually make.   However I have read and have been taught through the Holy Scriptures and our Magisterium that the Lord & the Church welcomes the sinners, never casting them away, nor ever have been embarrassed to embrace, forgive, and welcome them.  To paraphrase Isaiah, God writes straight with crooked lines.

On the other hand, the haughty, self righteous, and those who cloak themselves with the arrogance of the law, like the Pharisee of Lk 18:9-14 ...  Well you get the picture.

There are times when a Catholic Administrator has to remove a person from the community.  I have had to do this more times than I'd like to remember in the dismissal of people from the Xaverian community.  But in this case, when the woman has chosen the more difficult path, to protect her unborn baby, this School and Diocese have missed an opportunity to celebrate life and the triumph of Gracious Mercy for the celebration of a myopic, not even blind, sense of Justice.

There is so much more to being pro-life than platitudes and condemnations! 

Posted by Dcn. Kevin McCormack on Wednesday February 5
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Reflection on the 41st Anniversary of Roe v Wade

Can you believe that over the last 41 years there have been 55 million abortions in the United States?

 Joining with our Church, I make no apologies for being devoutly pro-life, mourning the 55,000,000 lives that never got a chance to struggle, laugh, suffer, love, and have a chance to live.  I also know that people of good will disagree with me.

 I wonder however, if pro-life & pro-choice people could agree to the fact that abortion continues to be considered the BEST choice (or even a right) for woman is a travesty. What does it say about our society that penalizes a woman for having a child to the point that she believes terminating the pregnancy is a good thing or at the very least, her best option?  

 Abortion is tragic for all involved - beginning with the lost child and his/her mother, and working its way to an often apathetic larger community.  Today, let our prayers be for the unborn, their mothers and her family and friends.  Let us also pray that we will have the courage to work to end the circumstances that make any life unwanted! 

Posted by Dcn. Kevin McCormack on Wednesday January 22
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Tag: abortion

Dystopia and the 7th grade

Much thanks to the most recent guest Blogger, Genesis English teacher,  Thomas Snyder.  Tom is doing some great work with his kids, finding ways to help all of us cope with the crazy, often frightening world in which we live through reading and critical thinking!

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The 7th grade is currently reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner to inspire them in their creative writing unit. Hot on the heels of The Hunger Games’ success, The Maze Runner is the latest entry in “dystopia fiction.”

While dystopia fiction is often grim in its depiction of our future, it is also often popular with teenagers, and many famous examples (Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, The Giver) still make frequent appearances on reading lists. Dystopia is relatable to the YA crowd. It’s dark. It’s angst-y. Young heroes, power-mad adults, rampant technology – these are things they know and experience. More to the point, it asks difficult and unnerving questions: how fragile is our society? How tenuous is our sense of civility and order? These are the questions the 7th grade seeks to answer.

And these are also the questions that were brought into stark, terrible focus after the events of the Boston Marathon bombing. That horrible event would seem to make real the dark vision of the future we see in fiction. But the 7th grade chose to read it in a different light, and provided wonderfully inspiring commentary on the society in which they are coming of age.

One student wrote, “The weakest things in a society are, like vulnerable flesh, the physical things. The things that we so desperately cling to: our phones, electronics, games, homes -- these things are all weak.  Removing them from our society would be easy.  But removing the spirit from a city, that is hard. The kind, down-to-earth attitude of the people in Boston was unaltered.  People jumped into action to help those in need, not once thinking about themselves, only thinking of others.  It is this attitude that is the most powerful in society. It is the spirit of people that keeps a society strong.”

Indeed, what the 7th grade have found and will continue to find in their reading is that, though bleak, dystopia fiction holds up a mirror to our society. And sometimes we see what’s truly important – that love is what holds us together when everything falls apart.

Thomas Snyder

Posted by Dcn. Kevin McCormack on Tuesday May 7, 2013 at 12:42PM
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a contemporary Psalm

A prayer about the Boston Marathon, in light of

Lamentations 3:19-26 & Mark 9:24

Lord I am heartsick

Lord I am tired of the violence and evil

I am sick and tired of praying to strengthen my faith in the midst of terror,

I am sick and tired of praying for the ability to see hope in the death of a child,

I am sick and tired of praying for the love to forgive the animals who kill the innocent

Lord I am heartsick

Lord I am tired of the violence and evil

I am sick and tired of fearing for my children’s safety,

I am sick and tired of fearing what the future will look like,

I am sick and tired of fearing anyone who is different.

Lord I am heartsick

Lord I am tired of the violence and evil

I am sick and tired of being strong in the midst of this confusion

I am sick and tired of promising a better world

I am sick and tired of wondering where you are in the midst of it all

Father, in the midst of the temptation to despair, I pray, through the intercession of St. Thomas the Apostle, the Doubter and the Martyr, that I stay strong in my Faith, Hope and Love of You and Your creation.

I believe, help me in my unbelief.

 4/17/13

Posted by Dcn. Kevin McCormack on Wednesday April 17, 2013 at 11:04AM
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an Gorta Mór

As we begin the St. Patrick Day weekend, there is much of which the Irish in America can be proud!  The Irish are successful in every aspect of our Country’s life.  But as many gather with family and friends to celebrate this weekend, I wonder if there will be any reflection on why so many Irish left the Emerald Isle for “greener” pastures. 

One of the best kept secrets in most Irish family is the an Gorta Mór or The Great Hunger.  Most families simply don’t talk about it, yet from 1845 to 1850, because of the potato blight, Ireland lost over 25% of her daughters and sons to death and immigration. The implications of the Great Hunger have had echoes in history for over 150 years. 

Recently I was visiting Ms. Lauren La Torre’s 6th graders in our Genesis program and noticed the title: Black Potatoes on a student’s desk.  It was the first time in my 48 years education that I had seen a book addressing the Great Hunger being used in a class.  I asked Ms. La Torre to offer the following reflection on her work for this blog.  

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Genesis' 6th grade literature class has just begun reading Susan Bartoletti's Black Potatoes, the Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845- 1850. While initially added into the curriculum to satisfy the Common Core Standards' new emphasis on non-fiction, the book satisfies a deeper need: the human need to comprehend disaster, and help relieve suffering.

Students are shocked and enthralled to read about the economic and social disparities entrenched in Irish society that kept Irish Catholics at its lowest rungs (and consequently, made them most vulnerable to catastrophe). In the history of the famine, many students see the story of their own family's heritage, as a great deal of our students come from Irish backgrounds. More importantly, however, we all see our own spiritual family's past.

The story of people of great heart and faith banding together to overcome adversity is not new. It has happened from the days of the earliest Christians, since the days of Jesus himself. But it is also not an old tale. Students, teachers, and other faculty who helped in the relief effort after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy know firsthand what it is to help allay suffering and need.

The book's themes of overcoming obstacles and injustice, the virtues of resourcefulness and scrappiness, the power of love, and courage in adversity resonate then as they do now, and always will wherever good work is done.

Of course, doing good deeds or charitable works are not just limited to the aftermaths of disasters. Lent is a time for us all to sacrifice and help others, and remember how much we really do have, and what matters: family, friends, faith, and the enduring spirit to persevere. These are the things the Irish had an abundance when abundance could not be had. In this, the poor Irish were richer than kings.

--Lauren La Torre

Posted by Dcn. Kevin McCormack on Friday March 15, 2013 at 06:07PM
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