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April 2, 1993     The Message
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April 2, 1993

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4 The Message Monthly -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Perspective -- Celet.,ating the blessing we receive By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR How did he do that? That was the question I was asking myself. It was a question that lingered for years in my grade-school days. The "that" in my question was something that Jesus did at the Last Supper. I had heard the account so often that for many years, the question never came up. I must have just listened to the words without really under- standing what they meant. Over and over, I had heard how Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disci- ples. At Mass, I could see what the priest was doing at that time, and what he did was make the Sign of the Cross over the hast, then hold it up reverentially for all to see. Somewhere in the slow process of my grow- ing up, questions began to form in my mind -- questions about life, death, God and religion, among them. The only blessing I had ever seen or experi- enced involved the use of the Sign of the Cross. That's what you used after you dipped your fin- gers in the Holywater when you blessed your- sell That's what the priest did over the Eu- charist. That's what the priest used over the people in church at the end of the Mass. But how did Jesus do it, I wondered. Would he have used the Sign of the Cross before the event which gave us such a sign? Not likely, I thought, but then, who could you ask such a ques- tion? I thought about asking the parish priest, but that seemed too dangerous. I remembered the last time I volunteered to talk with a priest -- with disastrous results. The priest was asking our class how Jesus really died, and I raised my hand to tell him what I distinctly remem- bered a mission-preaching priest tell us in a powerful and dramatic sermon, that "Jesus had died of a broken heart." The priest in the class- room made fun of my piously romantic simplic- ity and told us what really happened, that Jesus- had died of "asphyxiation." A young person just couldn't ask such a per- son a puzzling question about how Jesus could bless bread. Or if he did use the Sign of the Cross, wouldn't the disciples have been puz- zled? We had a simple book in y remembered. Books were safer to priests. The book was full of pictures and trations about the priest.and the vestments wore, about the prayers used at Mass, such things as the proper placement of the "book" on the altar. There was nothing on Jesus blessed bread. Today, as I look back and remember my] zlement, I still wonder how we have taught young people about the Mass out establishing our connection with the observance of the Passover. How could we talked about the "Lamb of God" without derstanding of the Paschal sacrifice How could we talk about Jesus who held hand and called on God to bless bread and without the simple understanding that grew up as a Jew and not as a Catholic? :: Maybe we did, and I wasn't maybe, no one asked the right question. We are approaching the holiest hol' the year -- a celebration of the passion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We call to J the promise of an earlier time of the Angel nf Death passed over the families God's Chosen People. Past, present and future are one: we the blessing we receive -- our salvation. Washington Letter A prophet shot 00Lown: 25 years later a dream still out of By LAURIE HANSEN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON {CNS) m A quarter of a century ago the nation was jolted out of its complacency by the assassi- nation of a black man who man), consider a m0de'rn-lay prophet. The Rev. Martin Luther King J;., an eloquent preacher and civil rights leader who became the conscience of the nation on issues of race, was shot dead by an assassin's bullet April 4, 1968, in Mem- phis, Tenn. Dr. King was mourned worldwide. Pope Paul VI on Palm Sunday that year as- sailed the "cowardly and atrocious killing" of the min- ister, linking it to the "tragic story of the passion of Christ." The visibly shaken pontiff ended his sermon by calling the slain civil rights leader a "Christian preacher who taught the human and civil promotion of his Negro peo- ple on American soil." Pope The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Pub#shed wee excepf last week in DecertYoer by the Catlic Press of Evan#e =====================  da, nmtmlcatkms to p.o. Box 41W EvaMlle. IN 4T/24-018g Subscription rate: $12.00 Ir year S#e Copy Pre: $o EnterKI as 2rid ctass numeral mepo offme in Evsmle, iN 47701, PublP tn norther 843800. Posxalec Return POD forms 3579 to Offcl of Pubcatkm   Cal Pmm a EIMb I I I Paul prayed that Dr. King's death not be in vain. Twenty-five years later, Dr. King is remembered with a national holiday. Parents of all races recount far their children the story of his life and the tragedy of his deathl ' In classrooms nationwide, construction paper silhou- ettes of Dr. King's face are tacked to bulletin boards. His serious eyes stare out at stu- dents from the pages of their U.S. history textbooks. Bishop J. Terry Steib, auxil- iary bishop of St. Louis who was recently appointed bishop of Memphis, cites Dr. King's "philosophy of being nonviolent" as his greatest legacy. The slain civil rights leader's dream of a colorblind society required a change in "our attitudes, our words and our actions, how I treat peo- ple and how I talk with peo- ple," said Bishop Steib, chair- man of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Black Catholics. Today, too, the dismantling of racism "begins with each one of us," said Bishop Steib. Too often instead, he told Catholic News Service, indi- viduals abandon personal re- sponsibility and look to insti- tutions, the church or government offices "to do for us" when it comes to racial harmony. John A. McDermott, founder of the Chicago Re- porter, a weekly newspaper on race based in Chicago, told CNS that Dr, King understood clearly that the fight for racial justice was a struggle for the nation's soul. r, King "came to the fight" m a Christian perspective, he points out. "lie did not hate white people. He could distinguish between the sin and the sinner, as we Catholics like to say. He sought to bring about recon- ciliation," said McDermott. McDermott, executive di- rector of the Catholic Interra- cial Council of Chicago dur- ing the 1960s, said Dr. King linked the causes of racial justice and equal opportunity "to the deePest values of the American people," making them hallmarks of decency and good citizenship. In this way, he said, he captured the support of the vast majority of Americans. Had the struggle instead been made into an "all-out battle of ower" it would have failed ecause blacks made up only 12 percent of the populace, said McDermott. The Chicagoan says the civil rights struggle has been long and hard, from the mid- lgth century agitation of the New. England Protestant abo- litionists to the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclama- tion. It dates from the rise of Jim Crow and the doctrine of separate-but-equal to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Edu- cation school desegregation decisionby the Supreme Court. "It has been a battle against ignorance, fear and hate and there have been many casual- ties and setbacks; but overall there was progress," said Mc- Dermott. Racial equality has not been achieved, but many doors of opportunity have opened and a new black mid- dle class has emerged, he said. Yet, largely due to impa- tience with the pace of change, the civil rights com- munity has abandoned Dr. King's values, he maintains. McDermott said prevalent today is a "much more pes- simistic and cynical view of the American character and of white people." He claims many civil right proponents are tr),ing to achieve racial justice by incit- ing guilt and preaching retri- bution, And affirmative action pro- grams -- initially "a way of helping people to qualify for apportunities based on need, not on the group to which you belong"  have turned into a "system of special pref- erence that goes against the grain of American ideals,' said McDermott. Bishop Steib agreed, saying that "instead of looking at the person, we started to play the numbers game, setting up quotas" of minority employ- ees and students. This he said produced a backlash among whites whose reaction was: "You've got your numbers, what are my numbers." As a result, McDermott said, the civil rights struggle has transformed into "a bitter quarrel." The United States  in his view the world's greatest multiethnic not afford this," mort. He says if a is based not on dividual qualities ments but on the which he or sh altyto grou predominant alienation from the! ciety will grow. New affirmative grams must be help "poor whites tans," as well as anyone else cluded from acce rights, he should focus on need, not on ship," he said, cial help in See Bishop's The following activities and events are listed schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettalfinger