FROM: Fr. Chris Ponnet, Catholics Against the Death Penalty Leadership Team
TO: Pastor, Parish Life Directors, Priests/Deacons preachers, bulletin and Liturgy Directors/Teams:
RE: YesOn62.com (no on 66) Let us end the Death Penalty together as part of our Pro-life Movement
Please use the following to help with your Sunday liturgies between now and the November 8th Election. We stand with Saint Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis call to end the Death penalty. We stand at this moment and in this state with the California Catholic Conference who endorse Proposition 62 to end the death penalty and oppose Proposition 66 which would continue the death penalty—prayer, register, education, prayer, get out the vote, prayer —the steps before us. Below you will find some points for homily preparation, a bulletin announcement (quote) and one or two petitions for the Prayer of the Faithful. YesOn62.com or deathpenalty.org has great additional resources with data and research. Usccb.org and Www.cacatholic.org has great resources for the campaign against the death penalty and for Respect Life Month. Our resource page has the attached liturgical resources and handouts for teaching, preaching and door to door Registration to vote, get out the vote and sharing support for 62 mobilizing doors to door campaign.
GENERAL ANNOUCEMENTS from your offices and parish bulletins:
For more information or to get involved: Catholics Against the Death Penalty 323 2254461 x111 or YesOn62.com Text CADP to 22828 to Join our Team
California Conference of Catholic Bishops: “In November – the concluding month of the Year of Mercy – Californians have the opportunity to embrace both justice and mercy (cf. Ps. 85.11) in their voting. We strongly urge all voters to prayerful consider support for Proposition 62 and opposition to Proposition 66.”
SUNDAY CATHOLIC/CHRISTIAN BIBLE TEXTS HOMILY/SERMON IDEAS, PETITIONS AND BULLETIN ANNOUNCEMENTS
Prepared by Catholics Against the Death Penalty/Pax Christi So Cal/St Camillus Center
October 16, 2016 Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1EX 17:8-13
Responsorial Psalm 121 Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Reading 22 TM 3:14-4:2
Gospel LK 18:1-8
One of the characters in a Eugene O’Neil play laments that, “There is no present, no future, only the past happening over and over again now.” Yes, it seems that we humans can get ourselves trapped in seemingly endless cycles of disagreement, conflict, and even violence. As St. Paul, in effect, once cried out, “Who will deliver me from these dead ends that I have created for myself.” And so like the widow we cry out, yes we cry out for some kind of grace and mercy to break in and set us free at last. In today’s gospel, Jesus reassures us that the one whom we cry out to will certainly respond and release the reign of his grace upon us as we persist in crying out, “Lord, help us!” Jesus reassures us that God’s grace and mercy are not a scarce commodity but are endlessly available for us to draw upon in our need.
For years our Church leaders have persistently called for an end to the death penalty. All of the Bishops in California have endorsed Prop 62 which would end the death penalty and replace it with life in prison. The Church is now more and more clearly teaching that Capital Punishment is a Pro Life issue. Popes and Bishops have invited us to reflect on the deep moral and spiritual dimensions of the death penalty and ask us to keep calling out to the God of life and love and mercy for the salvation of all.
Petition: May we persist in seeking God’s mercy and grace for ourselves and for all those on death row, we pray.
Bulletin: “Our support to end the use of the death penalty is also rooted in our unshakeable resolve to accompany and support all victims of crime. They suffer the very painful consequences of criminal acts. With the violent loss of a loved one, a sword has pierced their heart. Their enduring anguish is not addressed by the state-sanctioned perpetuation of the culture of death. As we pray with them and mourn with them we must also stress that the current use of the death penalty does not promote healing. It only brings more violence to a world that has too much violence already. In November – the concluding month of the Year of Mercy – Californians have the opportunity to embrace both justice and mercy (cf. Ps. 85.11) in their voting. We strongly urge all voters to prayerfully consider support for Proposition 62 and opposition to Proposition 66.” Bishops of California
Vote YES ON 62 and NO on 66 End the Death Penalty YesOn62.com StCamillusCenter.org
October 23, 2016 Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 SIR 35:12-14, 16-18
Gospel LK 18:9-14
HOMILY HELPS: As usual, in today’s gospel, Jesus, invites us to reflect more deeply on our customary understanding of things. In this gospel Jesus invites us to discover our deepest source of identity and dignity. Does our moralistic success or failure determine our God given identity and dignity? Or is it given to us from a deeper reality within us…. a presence within us? The Pharisee assumes it comes from his moralistic success which allows him to judge and dismiss the dignity of an obvious, public moral failure that the tax collector was seen as. In those times, tax collectors were seen as thieves, collaborating with the occupying Romans…they were seen as utter moral failures…no dignity at all. One time the German Poet Rilke wrote: “There is in each of us a secret center where God sits rejoicing and saying, ‘This one is very good, nothing is lacking, and could not have been better made.’” It’s like the moment in Genesis when God says, “This is very good.” Each of us is invited to discover that goodness given to us prior to our moral successes or our moral failures and it from this, from this God-given goodness that our dignity originates. What is this deeper source of our dignity? It is that we are created in the image of God. Every single person in this world has this dignity. There are no exceptions. Not even the worst criminal act can erase this dignity. As we draw nearer to November 8 when we will cast our votes to keep or to eliminate the death penalty, that’s what we are appealing to and pointing to and the Popes and Bishops have been telling us that we need to recognize. That even the worst criminal act doesn’t destroy this dignity in God’s eyes. We are called to humbly recognize that dignity in ourselves and in others and to recognize our own moral failures and not take the high ground of a pedestal righteousness over anyone. We are all capable of moral failure. We are not saying that those sentenced to death have not committed atrocities. We are saying that they do have a God given dignity, a dignity prior to moral success or failure and that the state has no right to take away their God given right to live until the end of their days. Sister Helen Prejean said, “A person is more than the worst thing he has ever done.”
Who are we before we did anything good or anything bad? That’s the person God loves and the dignity given to us…not contingent on moral success or moral failure. Those people who have been sentenced to death by our judicial system are not horrible people but people with a God given dignity who have done horrible things. Helen Prejean wonders who of us would want to be judged only by the worst thing that we have ever done.
Help us to be people whose dignity is sustained by a life of humble communion with God, we pray…
Free us from our own self-righteousness that we might discover the way of humbling abandoning ourselves to God’s boundless mercy, we pray…
BULLETIN: Since the beginning of his ministry Pope Francis has advocated to end the death penalty. In his address to Congress last September he said, “Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”
Vote YES ON 62 and NO on 66 End the Death Penalty YesOn62.com StCamillusCenter.org
October 30, 2016 Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 WIS 11:22-12:2
Responsorial Psalm 145 I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Reading 22 THES 1:11-2:2
Gospel LK 19:1-10
HOMILY HELPS: It seems that Jesus is always turning our world upside down about who’s first and who’s last and who’s up and who’s down in God’s eyes. And with those on the outside brought back home inside and being embraced by God’s all-embracing mercy and love. And he definitely does this in today’s Gospel story about Zacchaeus, the short in stature tax collector who climbs a tree so he can see Jesus. All he wants to do is see Jesus. And see Jesus he does. And Jesus sees him. St. Francis of Assisi once said that “who you are in God’s sight is who you are and nothing more or less.” Yes, who you are in God’s sight is who you are and nothing more or less. In today’s gospel Zacchaeus, one of those tax collectors who are seen as the scum of the earth by the Jewish Religious leaders, like the one we heard about last week, is at last seen and known for who he truly is. And this seeing turns the life of Zacchaeus upside down, he is brought to full life in God. It is as if an inner spring of generosity flows again. He says, “I give away half of all my possessions.”
Zacchaeus is turned around by the merciful loving and seeing of Jesus and like Zacchaeus Jesus helps us to be able to exchange what the world sees and values…namely money, power, success, and vengeance…for God’s kingdom values: forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, and inclusive love.
This election season we have before us a key spiritual issue and that is the elimination of the Death Penalty. In this Gospel story Jesus shows us that no one, no matter how despised by society, can escape the embrace of God’s merciful and liberating love.
Maybe some questions as disciples of Jesus we need to ponder: do we Christians have hearts large and open enough and a love strong enough to live the all-embracing love of Jesus? Can we live out of the loving and merciful all-embracing love of Jesus? Can we participate in the seeing of Jesus which looks on all people with a tenderness and a compassion that sets them free? Can we withdraw our harsh judgements and leave room for the infinite goodness and mercy of Jesus to flow through us?
The gospel reminds us all that God looks at every life with merciful love and not with judgement. It calls on all us to open the eyes of our heart to see as God sees with mercy, tenderness, and compassion.
Give us the grace to allow our lives to be turned upside down by the always surprising mercy and love of God, let us pray.
Open the eyes of our heart to see as God sees with infinite mercy, tenderness, and compassion, we pray.
Open the way forward for us as individuals and as a society faced with the spiritual question of capital punishment, we pray
Help us to discover a more merciful space in our political, economic, and social life, we pray
BULLETIN: “Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God’s plan for man and society, and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.” Pope Francis Vote YES ON 62 and NO on 66 End the Death Penalty YesOn62.com StCamillusCenter.org
November 6, 2016 Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 12 MC 7:1-2, 9-14
Gospel LK 20:27-38
The long election season comes to an end on Tuesday. Life in the Hebrew texts, throughout the ages values and faith often are the moral compass for government officials and policies. Our church calls us to vote, it is a sacred commitment. Our church calls us to reflect and pray. We are to be informed on the persons or initiatives goals and effect on the most vulnerable. The Beatitudes, along with Jesus’ vision of “serving the least” need to be part of our discernment. We as a church do not endorse a candidate but invite all to read the platforms and person’s history or current statement. Initiatives like Proposition 62 (vote Yes) has gotten a clear endorsement by the California Bishops affirming the papal teaching of the past century that ending the death penalty is a part of the affirmation of the dignity of each life as sacred. Proposition 62 will also address the concerns of many around the costs of killing citizens, the concerns of innocents and racism and mental illness. Proposition 66 has the Bishops opposition, Vote No, because it continues the death penalty with all its problems and it misses the moral argument of Jesus, Popes and bishops that gives each of us in our darkest moment the hope of reconciliation, charge of life and restorative justice that includes the justice and healing of all who are victims of violence.
The Gospel reminds us of God’s faithful and our invitation to reflect faithfulness in commitments of the sacrament of marriage and in all friendships. Jesus puts us into the context that our God is not of the past but is of the living in this moment. We bring that faith of God in the here and now into all of our daily decisions, our own self-reflection, our relationships at home, work, school and in the public arena. Hatred and bigotry will also be opposed by the Church the week before and the weeks after an election. Healing and restorative justice will always be affirmed the week before and the weeks after the election. The Beatitude vision of Jesus for the Church and society remains the litmus test for ourselves and our participation in civil society. For new votes and old, let us all vote.
The second reading reminds of that “the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.
God of Wisdom, as election day approaches, we seek wisdom from you and our biblical social justice teaching on voting for persons and initiatives that effect all of your people including the most vulnerable. Bless this process of discernment, voting and service for the common good…
Loving and faithful God, you are the God of the living, be with us as we take your Word of life and justice into the conversations and voting booths of our lives.
BULLETIN: “Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God’s plan for man and society, and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.” Pope Francis Vote YES ON 62 and NO on 66 End the Death Penalty YesOn62.com StCamillusCenter.orgTop of Form