Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rick Malloy's article on the Examen in St. Anthony Messenger 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ignatian Silent Retreat

Here I am again at Chapman Lake Retreat House, the U. of Scranton's retreat center 12 miles from campus.  It's cold!!!  Below 10 degrees all week.  But the students are engaging in absolute silence with the mystery of God and learning more and more about Ignatian Spirituality.  
-  Peace,  Fr. Rick

George W. Traub, SJ has spent his career in Jesuit education. He tells students and colleagues that Ignatian spirituality has these characteristics:
  • it sees life and the whole universe as a gift calling forth wonder and gratefulness.
  • it gives ample scope to imagination and emotion as well as intellect.
  • it seeks to find the divine in all things—in all peoples and cultures, in all areas of study and learning, in every human experience, and (for the Christian) especially in the person of Jesus.
  • it cultivates critical awareness of personal and social evil, but points to God’s love as more powerful than any evil.
  • it stresses freedom, need for discernment, and responsible action.
  • it empowers people to become leaders in service, men and women for others, whole persons of solidarity, building a more just and humane world.
From An Ignatian Spirituality Reader, edited by George W. Traub, SJ.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Now the Work of Christmas Begins....

Yesterday we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord.  Today begins Ordinary Time, and the work of Christmas begins.

Then the Work of Christmas Begins
"When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make music with the heart…”
- Howard Thurman, Morehouse University

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Gun Violence: 47,856 killed by firearms from 2006-2010. A Jesuit's perspective

It's hard to say, and we all are suffering for and with the multiple victims of Newtown, but the brutal slayings of those wonderful little kids are just the tip of the iceberg. How respond to atrocities like Sandy Hook and the ongoing daily slayings in our society?   (1) We must deal with mental health issues more quickly and efficiently, (2) get reasonable gun control functioning in our society and (3) de-glamorize and confront the culture of violence.   

Guns in the home (47% of Americans legally own a gun.  How many illegal firearms are out there is anyone's guess) is a bad idea and a worse practice.   The gun in your house has a better chance of killing someone you love than it has of hurting an intruder.  10,000 people a year are killed by guns.  Suicide by guns are are almost double that: 18,735 in 2009.

The 2nd amendment gives one the right to bear a musket.  Just as no one has a right to own a tank, a bazooka or an atomic bomb, no one should have the right to weapons of mass slaying.  Let the hunters have their shotguns.  There's no need for a AK-47 or Tech 9 anywhere in the USA.

Back in 1994 the U.S. Catholic Bishops put out a prophetic document, Confronting a Culture of Violence (1994) .  That prescient and cogently argued booklet noted:

"Between 1979 and 1991, nearly 50,000 American children and teenagers were killed by guns, matching the number of Americans who died in battle in Vietnam. It is now estimated 13 American children die every day from guns. Gunshots cause one out of four deaths among American teenagers" (USCCB 1994)

"Our entertainment media too often exaggerate and even celebrate violence. Children see 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television before they leave elementary school." (USCCB 1994)

The children of the 1990s are today's adults.  We reap what we sow.

Guns and Violence in USA:   47,856 killed by firearms from 2006-2010.  Almost 10,000 a year.

Gun Homicides (average annually):
Less than 50: Japan
Less than 150:  Germany, Italy, France, etc.
Less than 200:  Canada
More than 10,000: USA  Source: IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms of the United Nations)
U.S. lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries total an estimated $2.3 billion

 U.S. taxpayers pay for almost half ($1.1 billion or 49%) of lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries.

ABC News reports there are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the U.S., including 51,438 retail gun stores.  There are 36,569 grocery stores and 14,098 McDonald's restaurants.  (Do we really need three times more gun shops than Mickey D's?)

TIME Magazine reports  ( ) 

-  47% Percentage of Americans have a gun
-  $6 billion Estimated revenue generated by the gun and ammunition industry in the U.S.
-  310 million Estimated number of firearms in the U.S., 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns
-  17-to-1 Ratio of gun-rights lobbyist spending to gun control lobbyist spending in 2011.  Gun rights groups spent $4,212,996; gun control groups spent $240,000.
-  $14 million Amount of money the National Rifle Association spent during the 2012 election in an attempt to defeat President Obama, according to The New York Times

CDC Center for Disease Control Reports:  Firearm suicides.  Number of deaths: 18,735

 The New England Journal of Medicine reports:  [NEJM (2008)
Deciding whether to own a gun entails balancing potential benefits and risks. One of the risks for which the empirical evidence is strongest,1 and the risk whose death toll is greatest, is that of completed suicide.
In 2005, the most recent year for which mortality data are available, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among Americans 40 years of age or younger. Among Americans of all ages, more than half of all suicides are gun suicides. In 2005, an average of 46 Americans per day committed suicide with a firearm, accounting for 53% of all completed suicides. Gun suicide during this period accounted for 40% more deaths than gun homicide.
Why might the availability of firearms increase the risk of suicide in the United States? First, many suicidal acts — one third to four fifths of all suicide attempts, according to studies — are impulsive. Among people who made near-lethal suicide attempts, for example, 24% took less than 5 minutes between the decision to kill themselves and the actual attempt, and 70% took less than 1 hour.2
Second, many suicidal crises are self-limiting. Such crises are often caused by an immediate stressor, such as the breakup of a romantic relationship, the loss of a job, or a run-in with police. As the acute phase of the crisis passes, so does the urge to attempt suicide. The temporary nature and fleeting sway of many suicidal crises is evident in the fact that more than 90% of people who survive a suicide attempt, including attempts that were expected to be lethal (such as shooting oneself in the head or jumping in front of a train), do not go on to die by suicide. Indeed, recognizing the self-limiting nature of suicidal crises, penal and psychiatric institutions restrict access to lethal means for persons identified as potentially suicidal.
Third, guns are common in the United States (more than one third of U.S. households contain a firearm) and are lethal. A suicide attempt with a firearm rarely affords a second chance. Attempts involving drugs or cutting, which account for more than 90% of all suicidal acts, prove fatal far less often.
The empirical evidence linking suicide risk in the United States to the presence of firearms in the home is compelling.3 There are at least a dozen U.S. case–control studies in the peer-reviewed literature, all of which have found that a gun in the home is associated with an increased risk of suicide. The increase in risk is large, typically 2 to 10 times that in homes without guns, depending on the sample population (e.g., adolescents vs. older adults) and on the way in which the firearms were stored. The association between guns in the home and the risk of suicide is due entirely to a large increase in the risk of suicide by firearm that is not counterbalanced by a reduced risk of nonfirearm suicide. Moreover, the increased risk of suicide is not explained by increased psychopathologic characteristics, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts among members of gun-owning households.
Three additional findings from the case–control studies are worth noting. The higher risk of suicide in homes with firearms applies not only to the gun owner but also to the gun owner's spouse and children. The presence of a gun in the home, no matter how the gun is stored, is a risk factor for completed suicide. And there is a hierarchy of suicide risk consistent with a dose–response relationship. How household guns are stored matters especially for young people — for example, one study found that adolescent suicide was four times as likely in homes with a loaded, unlocked firearm as in homes where guns were stored unloaded and locked.

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