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March 13, 1998     The Message
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March 13, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 7 Unlearning personal history By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor It was some kind of world exhibition -- or more likely, "exposition" -- but what I remember most from that event in my grade school days was not what I saw, but what I did not see. Whatever it was, I vaguely remember, it was probably designed to broaden our cultural experi- ences. ! think we were supposed to see and hear peo- ple from other parts of the world than our own, our own being a small town in southern Illinois. I am not sure what we. saw. We might have seen some hand-made garden tools.That's what I would have called them--but I am sure they were called "artifacts" by the people who organized the show. It was that kind of an experience. Everything you thought you recognized had a different name. We were leaving the exposition area, I recall, when someone asked me if I had seen the Indians. I would not have understood the question at the time, if I had been asked about Native Americans or indigenous people. I saw none of them, nothing of the like, I said. I was deeply disappointed, too. Some time later, long after the opportunity was past, I realized what had happened. No one had looked like the stereotypical image I had painted in my mind. I was too young, or too naive, to notice the general char- acteristics others had been able to distinguish. Ever since then, I have wondered how many other things have I taken for granted. How many of the "truths" I hold are not true at all? Such knowledge, of course, can be dangerous. Confidence can be shaken when one by one the cer- tainties of childhood slip away into the ambiguities of adulthood. A recent conversation with Larry Lambert and Marie Williams of Memphis stirred up my thoughts again, about the "facts" I had taken for granted in my youth. Lambert and Williams have developed a process called, "Out of Poverty," which is intended to bring about a personal transformation from poverty to self- sufficiency. Williams said she had learned from her father how to act and what to do at a job interview. Some people never have such an experience, and don't even know that you should shake the hand of the person to whom you are introduced, she said. Lambert said many people know that if you want to get and keep a steady job, you have to carve out up to 60 hours of time each week for it. Some'people do not grow up in an environment where they experi- ence such a truth. Take the time to reflect the world today, compared to the it when you were a child. Talk with family things you took for granted. Lambert and Williams challenge transformed, to begin with q and "How I came to be here" and "Choosing to live beyond my Take a good, hard look at the tions in your community who of poverty. Do they provide a change? -: * * : ii Take the time to help a child .... other cultures. Help a child learn to and time successfully. Help a family member self-confidence. Support a parish or people in poverty. That may money. It may mean taking a friend for someone who has truths you have taken for Take the time to make a .... . Comments about this column or the Christian Family! Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. " -" 7 :; Fasting takes on new meaning for those seeking" By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- . The rumbling stomachs of those on spiritually motivated fasts echo long-time religious tradi- tion -- dating from .common Jewish practice before the time of Moses. Yet the concept of fasting from all food is foreign to most North American Catholics, who have grown up in a time when fasting means that on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday they have just one main meal and two smaller meals. However, for social justice advocates like Maryknoll Fatlqer Roy Bourgeois; lawyer Jennifer Harbury, and Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, fasting means living for weeks at a time on water only in hopes of bringing attention to a cause. 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville ............. Ishop Gerald A. Gettelfger Edao ..................................... Paul R. Ingarg T .............. Joseph eich ................................... P'l Ne,,land swr ............................ MaryA.n,qas Address all communicatns to P.O. Box 4169, Evaosv, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $18.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 as pmdCa m,er at Ite po off in [Yans, IN 47701.Putica number 843800, Po=masl:. ReCta PO0 forms 3579 to Off of 19o -...ahoa Pnm o Ecansville ,., , / ,,, ,, , "As Christians, fasting can be a way of living out your faith in a more real way," explained Father Bourgeois, who has fast- ed for as long as 40 days in his campaign to change U.S. poli- cies and programs affecting Latin America. "It's not just giving up food for self-mortification," he con- tinued. "It helps you be con- nected to the poor Latin Amer- icans who fast every day because they have no alterna- tive. It helps you become more aware of God, more dependent on God." Throughout church history, fasting has been encouraged or required as a form of penitence and prayer. The Sunday Gospel readings this Lent began with the story of Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days while facing temptations from the devil. Although practices varied among individual countries and dioceses, until 1917 the general law of the Western church required fasting on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays four weeks a year; on the vigils of Christmas, Pente- cost, Assumption and All Saints; Headline To the editor. I assume it was an unintended oversight, but nevertheless an oversight which I hope you will acknowledge and correct. Father Anthony Kissel, a priest of the Diocese of Evansville, in good standing with the diocese, is cel- ebrating the twenty-fifth anniver- sary of his ordination to the priesthood in 1998. Father Tony served the people of our diocese and every day in Lent except Sundays. Those requirements were gradually eased even before the Second Vatican Council, after which just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday remained as oblig- atory fast days. Perhaps as a result of decreased church emphasis on fasting, acts of people who choose not to eat for weeks stand out as particu- larly countercultural. Earlier this year, six farm- workers in Naples, Fla., ended a fast they participated in for up to 30 days to draw attention to their unsuccessful efforts to get high- er wages for tomato workers. Bishop Gumbleton, 68, fasted in January and February for 23 days {o protest U.S. threats" against Irq over viola- tions of U.N. arms inspection requirements. Earlier, he had fasted in a campaign to pressure the Honduran government to release information on the 1983 disappearance of U.S. Jesuit Father James Carney. Harbury and Ursuline Sis- ter Dianna Ortiz have both con- ducted lengthy fasts in quests for faithfully in various capacities. Father Leo C Kiesel Loogootee Editor's note: Father Anthony Kissel was unintentionally omitted March 6 from a listing of priests ng anniversaries of 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 55 and 60 years. Father Kissel, 50, was ordained Sept. 1, 1973. The Message regrets the omission. information about U.S. involve- ment in Guatemala's civil war. Harbury's husband, Guatemalan guerrilla leader Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, disappeared; Sister Ortiz was kidnapped, raped and tortured while teaching school in Guatemala. Father Bourgeois was one of 11 people who fasted for 40 days in 1994 while maintaining a vigil on the U.S. Capitol steps. Later, he joined a 37-day fast at Fort Benning, Ga., site of the U.S. Army School of the Amer- icas. Both activities were direct- ed at trying to close the school, some of whose graduates have been implicated in murder, tor- ture and other human rights abuses in Latin America. Father Bourgeois believes long-term fasting can be an effective way of public advoca- cy, but says it must be an act of faith, rooted in an attempt to experience solidarity with suf- fering people. "In our country we have for- gotten what it's like to be hun- gry," he said. "We have become comfortable in our society, in our faith. With our 'mall men- tality' and consumerism, it's very easy for us to forget how our brothers and sisters llve elsewhere." For him, the key is fasting's symbolic lin k to people like the malnourished children he saw as a missionary in Bolivia. 'q'he sight of those kids with their bloated stomachs shook me. It made Navy the Vietnam ence still ha do is an those Frandscan [ masN ter for long-term social allowable to themselves, Before fast, cal condition, with the him and whether he is also watch carefully in prayer. "I've fast," he most i get closer . purification fasts icas have s attention to But toll. took days at Fort Dedication of Precious Blood Church, March 14, 4:30 p.m. EST. Vacation, Sunday, March 15