Omar F. A. Gutiérrez

Faith, Culture, Politics – Catholic Social Teaching

Category: Spirituality

Encountering Jesus Key to Living Mercy

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice continuing my thoughts on mercy.

“In my column last month, I shared some thoughts on the meaning of mercy. I’d like to continue my reflections on mercy based on the pastoral priorities Archbishop Lucas has given us, expressed in the phrase ‘One church, encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy.’

“I mentioned before that merciful love transforms those around us, humanizes them and reveals to them who they are in the eyes of the Heavenly Father” …

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

The Father Provides Our Model for Mercy

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice on mercy.

Some time ago, readers may recall the listening sessions which Archbishop George J. Lucas held around the archdiocese to elicit comments about pastoral priorities for the future. The archbishop’s vision for the near future of the archdiocese is that we work together to support ‘One church, encountering Jesus, equipping disciples, living mercy.'”

“It’s the ‘living mercy’ part that I would like to focus on in the next few columns, starting first with some thoughts on mercy.” …

 

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

Listening: A Gift We Can Give Others in Our Journey Through Advent

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice on Advent and listening to others in pain.

“As every year comes to a close, we often look back at some of those who have passed away. This year includes the loss of Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammad Ali, John McLaughlin, Leonard Cohen and, in July, Elie Wiesel. Wiesel was a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and the author of ‘Night,’ an account about his holocaust, a book that almost never happened……”

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

Fidelity to Christ Transcends Politics

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice on looking past this election.

“The election is upon us, and if the news reports and my own experience are accurate, the vast majority of us will be glad when it is over. I am not exaggerating when I say this has been the worst election cycle I have ever experienced, but I may surprise you when I say I think the reason is partly my fault. Before I get there, however, let me share once again the story of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter….”

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

“Merciful Like the Father” What is the Jubilee of Mercy?

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is a piece I wrote on the Year of Mercy for The Catholic Answer, the magazine for Our Sunday Visitor. The Holy Father really has some beautiful thoughts on which we should reflect.

“In the papal bull of indiction Misericordiae Vultus (“The Face of Mercy”), Pope Francis announced the jubilee year, but also invites us to reconsider Christian life anew. In doing so, he unpacks his own spirituality and invites the faithful to work for those on the margins. In essence, he invites us to meditate on and live the core of his pastoral vision, rooted in an invitation to conversion.” ….

 

St. Teresa Benedicta: Patron of Culture

by Omar Gutierrez

Edith Stein

Today is the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as Edith Stein. The broader strokes of her life story are relatively well known.

She was born in 1891 into a devout Jewish family in then-Germany now Breslau, Poland. A bright young woman with a keen interest in the truth, she pursued philosophy. She became an atheist in her young adult life, but eventually came to the conclusion by 1917 that some sort of divine being must exist. She still had no way of knowing how to discover or discern this being. Many of her friends had become Lutheran. She was open to that or to becoming Catholic, but she had little guidance.

Then, one evening, she found herself amongst friends at the home of a philosopher couple, the Conrad-Martius home. They would have students come to help in the orchards during the day and read in the evenings. It was during that summer of 1921 that Edith pulled a book off a shelf filled with them. That book was Book of My Life by St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila).

Edith could not put it down. She read it cover to cover in one sitting that evening. When she was done, she closed the volume, exhaled and said “This is the truth.”

As soon as she could, she began to take instruction in the Catholic faith and was baptized in January of 1922. As soon as she was baptized, she sought to become a Carmelite Nun, a daughter of St. Teresa of Avila. Eventually she was accepted into the order, though it would take eleven years, and she took the religious name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Her being a Carmelite did not protect her from the Nazi thirst for Jewish blood. She was recalled from a convent in Holland and sent to Auschwitz. There, she was killed in the gas chamber, along with her fellow Jews, but clinging closely to Jesus, to the truth whom she loved so dearly. The year was 1942.

There are many things on which to comment about the life of Edith/St. Teresa. Not the least of these is an incident after she was a professed Carmelite. One evening the sisters voiced their frustration over the futility of voting in the elections. They had become convinced that everything was rigged in favor of the National Socialist Party (Nazis). Why vote? Sr. Teresa Benedicta would not hear any of it. She insisted they vote because every opportunity must be taken to voice opposition to injustice lest silence become compliance to injustice.

There is a strong lesson in this for many today who manufacture a façade of non-partisanship by pretending that both major parties are equally evil. They don’t vote because they are above all the pettiness of politics. There is serious folly in this however, for when evils are performed by either or both parties, the blame for it all surely falls on those who refused to choose against any of it.

But one other note from St. Teresa’s life is important to bring up as well. When she was just 21 years old, she read a novel titled Helmut Harringa. It made her terribly depressed.

The book, which fails apparently to hold together very well in terms of a real plot, is the story of Helmut, a strapping young German man of energy. He is dedicated to fighting against the three great vices of his time: alcoholism, premarital sex and the contamination of the German race.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross 3The novel pits the forces of darkness, i.e. the influences of drink and alcoholics on the pure German people, against the forces of light, i.e. the police. Helmut reads only the Nordic and Germanic legends of heroes and of their gods. His brother, Fredrick, who succumbs to an evening of drunken debauchery, discovers that he has contracted syphilis and so kills himself. Helmut believes his brother made the only reasonable choice, though he blames those who got his brother drunk in the first place.

Eventually, Helmut joins the great struggle against the enemies who are so corrupting the youth of Germany. A secret society is formed to save German youth. They then fight the bad guys  and ultimately defeat them. The novel ends stating, “The world owes the idea of freedom to the Nordic peoples, the Germans.”

The young Edith felt physically ill after reading the book.

I mention this little blip in the life of St. Teresa Benedicta because it is a good reminder of the effect literature, art, film, music, theatre can have on a soul. We happily trudge along, ignoring the filth that is pumped into homes at every hour, and then wonder why we suffer from so much violence.

For those of us with hindsight we can see within a book like Helmut Harringa the beginnings of a German youth movement that would eventually become the Nazis. But Edith had no such sight. She simply knew, because of her sensitivity to and for the truth, that this novel was evil. She was right.

So I wonder whether or not we ought to pray to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to help us know when to stay away from the poisons that exist in our culture. And perhaps we should pray to her to help us rise up and speak out against them, lest our silence becomes complicity in evil.

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Social Teaching of Church Rooted in Each Person’s Call to Salvation

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice on the importance of keeping Christ at the center of any work and talk about Catholic Social Teaching.

“This column comes out just as the holiest days of the year are upon us: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. These days are not just special; they are sacred.”…

Charity in Truth in "The Catholic Voice"

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

Book Brings Focus to Acts of Love

by Omar Gutierrez

Here is my column in The Catholic Voice on the wisdom of Servant of God Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.

“It is February and in a short time we will find ourselves in the midst of Lent, a season for exploring what is vital about Jesus and our relationship with him. In preparation for this season, I have been inspired recently to read parts of a little book titled ‘Five Loaves and Two Fishes’.” …

Charity in Truth in "The Catholic Voice"

Charity in Truth in “The Catholic Voice”

A Note About the Growing Confusion & Church Teaching

by Omar Gutierrez

A friend brought to my attention a piece by the well-respected Dr. William Oddie, which can be found here. Its title, “Is there Growing Confusion over Church Teaching?”, is perfect because there clearly is. What has surprised me is that the confusion seems to be on the part of Oddie and the rest who have defended the orthodox-sounding statement of a Fr. Tarcisio Vicario. Here’s the backstory.

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It May Be Irrational, But It’s Human

by Omar Gutierrez

I begin with this piece on an experiment on “magical thinking.” Rationalists, always so optimistic about how rational human beings want to be, were rather surprised to discover just how irrational modern men can be. A pair of psychologists from Yale University, Newman and Bloom, decided to publish a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on how people behave towards the inanimate objects once owned by famous people. Here’s what they did.

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Lest the Cross Be Emptied of Its Power

by Omar Gutierrez

XIR71022While working on some other project I was skimming through Pope St. John Paul II’s wonderful work Veritatis splendor. The words “the cross” caught my eye, and I started reading. It made me consider something about these days of Holy Week and the Triduum.

Many years ago I read the fine book by Steven Mosher A Mother’s Ordeal, the story of a Chinese woman who at one time enforced China’s one child policy and then underwent her own forced abortion. Read the rest of this entry »

Mary, Mother of God

by Omar Gutierrez

Madonna of the LilliesToday is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is the Octave of Christmas, the eighth day. It is hard to believe having a better sense of Christmas this year. My own family was blessed with the birth of a boy just a couple weeks before the coming of the Christ Child. Holding the tiny infant in my arms made me wonder in amazement at the love of God who came down to be so vulnerable for us. Read the rest of this entry »

“The Urging of Christ’s Love” Now for Sale

by Omar Gutierrez

 

The Urging of Christ's Love

The Urging of Christ’s Love

Here it is: my first book The Urging of Christ’s Love: The Saints and the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is now available for purchase. I need to thank Kris McGregor of DiscerningHearts.com for all her work and encouragement in making this possible. Without her, this would never have happened.

Thanks too to my patient wife Miriam.

Since I arrived in the Archdiocese of Omaha I’ve tried to find a way to present the social teaching of the Church in a way that is faithful to the teachings of the Church, to all the teachings but that is at the same time accessible. On my old blog, I used to write about the lives of the saints and discovered that I could glean from their lives some lessons about the social teaching. So it was that this book came to fruition.

The book is an attempt to teach a little about the social teaching of the Church through the lives of the saints. You will read about these good people:

  • St. Germaine Cousin
  • Bl. Franz Jaggerstatter
  • St. Mary Magdalene
  • St. Thomas More
  • St. Jean Denaloue
  • St. Maria Goretti
  • St. Thomas Becket
  • St. Isidore of Seville
  • St. Joseph the Workman
  • St. John the Evangelist
  • Servant of God Dorothy Day

I hope that every reader gets to know these saints and holy people a bit better so as to better live the social teaching in our world.

Life, Dignity and Disability

by Omar Gutierrez

Omaha_Life_Conference_201x288-1The audio of my presentation on Saint Germaine Cousin of Pibrac is now available for purchase from St. Joseph Media. You can by the CD’s which include all the other speakers from the Respect Life Conference put on by the Nebraska Catholic Conference and Human Life International.

Go here to get your copy and to learn about the other presentations which include the penetrating insights of Joseph Pearce and the venerable musings of Peter Kreeft.

 

Reclaiming a Sense of the Faith

by Omar Gutierrez

Here’s my piece at The Catholic Answer on the New Evangelization.