Sunday July 15, 2018 Homily
 
The Musings of a Senior Citizen
A reflection for July 15, 2018 By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus Order Franciscans of Mercy
www.missionstsergius.org   www.orderfranciscansofmercy.org
divinemercyparish@msn.com
 
At the ripe young age of 83.5 and this August 15th  completing 15 years as a priest and 38 years as a deacon and more than 42 years as a teacher in addition to some years as an Actor, producer, Director and writer, I find myself asking many questions about the state of our life today versus the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It is true that technology has made major advances in our lives but I also believe that we have lost a great deal as well.
We can see world events as they happen and not in a News Reel at a movie theater days later but instantly, as the event is happening. We can communicate with people on the other side of the globe not just by voice, but be seeing the person and their seeing us. 
We see pictures and videos immediately after we take them and can send them to friends across the globe within minutes of their taking. 
We have explored space and discovered cures for polio, tuberculosis, Measles and chicken pox and some forms of cancer and have found ways to extend the quality of life for people with incurable diseases like AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. 
We have had some great advances but we have also lost a lot.
As a child we had to walk to school, for me the distance was about a mile and a half.  We also walked home for lunch and back again and then home at the end of the day. That meant we walked 6 miles every day and then we would also engage in games in the neighborhood.  Is that the reason we did not have so many overweight young people back then?
I remember that all our meals were cooked at home from vegetables grown in our own yard or delivered by The Green Grocer.
There were no micro waves, convection ovens, instant meals or fast food places.   We had our milk; butter and eggs delivered by Kennedy’s and H. P. Hood and bread, cakes and pies were often baked at home or by a neighbor and if bought it came from a local baker.
Weekends were family time and we would either have a house full or visit other members of the family. Neighbors had block parties and neighborhood cookouts. Holidays were family and neighborhood events. 
Sunday began with church and it did not matter what denomination you belonged to every person in the neighborhood went to their own denominations church or in the case of our Jewish neighbors, to synagogue on Friday evening and Saturday as well.
Most Catholic churches had a daily mass whose attendance was greater than what some Sunday masses have today and stores were not open on Sunday which meant families had time to get together and bond.
Gang violence was almost unheard of and the worst thing young people did was to sneak a cigarette in the rest room or take a sip of dads beer.
Hearing about a child bringing a gun to school or worse yet, killing someone was unconscionable.
Neighbors looked out for one another and I remember rationing during WWII neighbors shared with each other to make sure all had food enough for their family.
Parents never disputed a teacher when their child was found to have broken a rule of failed to bring an assignment but the parents supported the teacher completely and when it was an infraction the child received not only the punishment of the school but another from the parent.
Most public meetings and often sporting events began with a prayer by a clergy member of one denomination or another.
Professional sports were just that, sports that people played because they enjoyed playing them, and not the big business they have become making tickets out of reach for many families.  Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Bobby Orr and Fernie Flannon never even dreamed of the salaries that today’s players expect and demand.
When you went shopping the store clerks were courteous, knowledgeable and stores usually had a policy of “The customer is always right”. Made in America was the tag on most clothing.
I had the pleasure of seeing the original performances of THE KING AND I, OKLAHOMA, and many other Broadway shows, went to the circus, the Ice Cappade’s, Ice Follies, Hockey Games, The symphony, Operas and other cultural events often.
Today I cannot afford to attend even one Live theater performance a year and a movie ticket today could buy you a weeks’ worth of groceries back then. Music & Art were a part of our curriculum in grammar school along with the basic subjects of Reading, Math, Science, Grammar, Spelling, Writing, Geography and History.  
Schools had at least two if not three field trips a year to museums, historical places, and cultural events. These were at little or no cost and included in the school budgets.  So much has changed and as I have said previously, I am not certain that all the changes have made our lives more sociable, friendly and affordable. People have so little time for social activities and family reunions or dinners because they have to work two jobs just to make ends meet.  Families rarely get together on a regular basis; People have little time to attend church weekly and certainly not on a daily basis.
I feel greatly blessed to have lived in those times past and to have experienced all that I have.  I am blessed to still be in contact with friends I knew in the first grade and my youth.  Students I had more than 40 years ago keep in touch with me. 
God has blessed me with many memories that I hold fondly in my heart and I worry and pray for our young people today as they face many challenges we never had to face, and I believe are greater than those we did face and overcame.
The time is now for us to all reflect on what we have lost and try to reclaim those things that made us the great nation that every other nation looked up too.
The time is now for us to return to being a God loving people, not afraid to express and live our faith.
There is but only one God, One Creator, by whatever name you desire to honor or call him/her.
We are all children of God and everything in creation belongs to God. God made us the caretakers of this planet.  Sadly we humans have not followed God’s will and have not done a good job of being the caretakers of the earth and ll God provided us with.
Pope Francis in the title of his encyclical LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. Was taken from the beautiful canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi, which says; “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”
The Pope wrote; “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”  Times have changed but in doing so we have neglected to respect and care for the precious things that we, our parents and grandparents cherished.
We have ignored how we are devastating our environment by careless use of its resources.
Religion of any kind has become something that many reject and often disparage replaced by idealization of money, fame and famous personalities.
Today, family gatherings are few and often totally lacking replaced by Facebook postings of pictures, Church attendance is often limited to Easter, Christmas and weddings and funerals. Prayer before meals is almost nonexistent except by some clergy, religious and an occasional individual.
I think it is time for us to look back to how our nation was and the values it revered and embrace them while incorporating them into the great advances we enjoy in technology.
Let us pray that we and our leaders will move toward improving things so that the quality of life for all people on this planet improves and we gain greater respect for the care of our planet and its resources and people.   AMEN