Love makes us do crazy things: makes fools of us in its vulnerability, makes agents of us in its power, makes people of us in both its complexities and simplicities. (After all, is there anything simultaneously more complex and more simple than being human?) So what the heck does love have to do with common sense? Ask anyone struggling with heartbreak or deep in passionate connection, and they’d probably tell you that there is no rhyme or reason to love. It is not common sense.
But love is common sense, as Christian author Bob Goff writes, because “love does.” Goff’s book, “Love Does: Discover an Incredible Life in an Ordinary World,” talks about his own experience of leaning into love, which isn’t common sense until one does it. Love requires a leap into the unknown and into passion, but love is what drives us to move through our lives. It is a commitment, an awareness, a rawness, and an openness that leads us to deeper engagement with the lives we live.
“[Love] pursues blindly, unflinchingly, and without end. When you go after something you love, you’ll do anything it takes to get it, even if it costs everything,” Goff writes. There’s a lot of wisdom to what he says: though loving is hard, once the loving is happening, nothing else matters. Jesus calls us out of our comfort zones (where love is scary) and into our growing zones (where love does). When we lean into a radical experience of loving, our world blossoms. Love informs the people, experiences, and memories we cherish: love lets us be passionate, vulnerable, selfless, and uncomfortable. Love helps us to grow.
Goff writes, “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kinds of things that love does is something that most people plan to do, but along the way just kind of forget. Their dreams become some of those ‘we’ll go there next time’ deferrals. The sad thing is, for many, there is no ‘next time,’ because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life — not a single decision.”
Love is common sense because it allows us to live. Jesus wants us to love and live with abandon, extending a hand to sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, enemies — everyone we encounter. Love is the mechanism for the framework of life; simply put, without love, we cannot live full human lives.
There is a prayer entitled “Falling in Love,” attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ. His words speak more eloquently to the common sense of love than anything else I’ve ever come across:
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love, in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in Love, and it will decide everything.” (Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book)
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
In our message series, “Common Sense,” we are reviewing the reasons to follow Christ’s teachings. One important reason is that it leads to eternal life. Here is our companion article on why seeking life everlasting makes good sense.
Every time we pray the Nicene Creed, we end with the words “...and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” If you’re anything like me, saying the Nicene Creed sometimes feels like a reflex; muscle memory, if you will. I don’t always fully engage while saying the words. But it is our entire faith summarized into about three paragraphs, which is especially incredible when you consider the centuries of written, oral, and practical tradition that are responsible for our contemporary Catholic beliefs.
And, those ending words are some of the most important in our faith tradition: as Catholics, we believe in life after death, where we will enter into full communion with Jesus Christ in heaven. We will be welcomed into everlasting life at Jesus’s second coming, as explained in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel, but only if we have lived for others as Christ did.
People will be sorted as “sheep” and “goats” — the sheep having fed a hungry Jesus, satisfied a thirsty Jesus, clothed a naked Jesus, visited a prisoner Jesus, welcomed a stranger Jesus, and cared for an ill Jesus. The goats will have done none of these. Both groups will ask Jesus when they were supposed to have done these things — the sheep protesting that they had done no such thing, and the goats protesting that they never saw Jesus in these capacities.
And Jesus will say to the sheep, “‘Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Likewise, he will say to the goats, “‘Amen I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me’” (Matthew 25:40,45).
Our eternal life is not guaranteed. We must live as disciples of Christ in all that we do, say, and believe. For every kindness, act of compassion, moment of mercy or forgiveness, we show the world what it means to be a follower of Christ. Unfortunately, the times of our human failings also reflect back onto Christ.
In Chapter 5 of his gospel, Matthew reminds us: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? . . . You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. . . . Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13-16).
As Christians, we will fulfill the Nicene Creed; we will be sorted into the righteous at the second coming; we are the light of the world; we are the salt of the Earth. The life that we profess each week at Mass is within our control, shaped by our actions and inactions — but in living lives of Christ, we will be glorified.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
I don’t think I could think of a more ubiquitous buzzword in this day and age than “leadership.” Leadership coaching, books, and seminars abound — from TED talks to television, to LinkedIn and school lesson plans, leadership is a theme we just can’t seem to get away from. In this “Common Sense” message series, where we reflect on why it just makes good, old-fashioned sense to believe in Jesus, we talk today about Jesus’s efficacy as a leader. Like Father Roger wrote, Jesus’s charisma, servitude, and deep commitment to the encouragement and bettering of others made him one of the most effective leaders out there.
But if our society is encouraging us all to be leaders, who is there to lead? And, more importantly, how can we adequately be followers of Christ. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with emphasizing the necessity and benefit of strong leadership, there is so much value to be gained from stepping into a follower role, where you allow the wisdom and strength of others to guide you forward. This provides not only a necessary, compassionate break for ourselves and the intense pressure of all the leadership, all the time, but also gives us a better perspective for when we step back into that leadership role.
While some saints are remembered for their great works — their founding of religious orders, their fearless defense of the Catholic faith, their strength in the face of Herculean odds, there are some saints who simply chose to love Jesus simply, through word and deed, and whose gentle holiness elevated them to sainthood.
One of the most popular saints to fit this description of simplicity and humility is St. Therese of Liseux. Her “Little Way,” in which she strove to glorify God through prayer and simple acts of generosity and kindness in her quiet, cloistered life, shows us that being a committed follower means just as much spiritually as does being a committed leader. God does not choose who enters heaven based on the charisma of their leadership or the number of people they evangelize — God admits to heaven those who follow with great love.
Because, in the act of following, we often become inadvertent leaders. St. Therese of Lisieux probably never imagined that she would inspire the work of Mother Teresa, one of the greatest humanitarians of our time. She probably never imagined that her life would be reflected in the lives of Blessed Cecilia Eusepi or St. Teresa of the Andes, both young nuns who committed their lives to Christ at an early age.
Pope John Paul II even conferred on her the title of Doctor of the Church, in recognition of her exceptional wisdom. Prior to her death, St. Therese of Lisieux is said to have written that she committed herself to “let fall a shower of roses” wherever she walked, these roses being little deeds inoculated with great love. She never aspired to greatness, writing “Humility consists not only in thinking and saying that you are full of faults, but rejoicing that others think and say the same about you,” — this humility is exactly why she is great.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
A group of fifty people participated in a special 10:00 a.m. Mass held at Saint Brendan Church before the Annual Walk for Life on January 25, 2020. According to staff member, Sister Angela Furia, it was the largest gathering in recent memory and even included members of Holy Name and Saint Stephen parishes.
The Mass was followed by a reception complete with “food for the journey,” as well as a heartwarming reunion among many who see each other only for this yearly event. The group even sang a joyful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to MaryAnne Schwab, venerable champion of the Saint Brendan Pro-Life ministry for many decades.
Following the reception, more than twenty parishioners walked together to the Forest Hills Station and rode the Muni to the Civic Center. “Tens of thousands” of people, the largest group in the sixteen-year history of the Walk for Life gathered in front of City Hall. Just the day before, on Friday, President Trump became the first president to personally address the March for Life in Washington, D.C. His support for Pro-Life issues was cause for hope and joy. Amidst all this energy, Father Celestine received a text message that his friends from Nigeria were watching the event live through EWTN!
On a personal note, the highlight of the rally was the testimony of Kathleen Folan. Over twenty-five years ago, Kathleen was raped in her junior year of college. Ashamed, she kept her secret, only to realize a month later that she was pregnant. She never considered an abortion. “I knew that God had entrusted
this child to me, and I already loved him.” Kathleen chose adoption over abortion. It was a difficult process, but with prayer and grace, she found a Catholic family in Maryland who were well-suited for her child. It was more than coincidence, that both Kathleen and the adoptive parents independently chose Nathan, meaning “a gift from God,” as the name of her child. Kathleen chose love instead of violence to heal the violence that had been committed against her. Today, Nathan is twenty-five years old and is a blessing to all.
There is more good news. The Archdiocese of San Francisco recently announced its plan to open a Women’s pregnancy center, called “Bella,” near the Cathedral. This center represents a shift of the Pro-Life movement from the abortion issue to tangible services for women experiencing a crisis pregnancy, abusive relationships, and fear of homelessness.
After the rally, it was our turn to actively participate in the Walk and, as the psalm at Mass this morning urged us, “tell the good news” to all the world that life is precious. Market Street was crowded with families, students, religious, priests and seminarians, some praying the Rosary in English or Spanish, others singing Marian songs. The children were joyful, especially the four youngsters from our own parish. The Church came to the streets of San Francisco last Saturday afternoon, and each step from City Hall to the Ferry building was an expression of faith, hope and love and a proclamation that God’s gift of life is indeed precious.
—Dr. Lou Sheerer, Parishioner
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