Wisdom Wednesday | January 31st

AUSCP NewsJanuary 31Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday and the end of January weather. We begin with a storm of secular and religious celebrations and opinions in early February.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is National Freedom Day, always observed on February 1st, celebrates freedom from slavery. The day honors the signing February 1, 1865, by Abraham Lincoln of a joint House and Senate resolution that later became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (It was not ratified by the states, however, until December 18, 1865.)

Friday, February 2, is Groundhog Day and Candlemas Day. That may not be just an odd coincidence. The weather lore from German-speaking areas about a forecasting animal is possibly related to the lore that clear weather on the festival of Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter.

With Christmas decorations put away and candles blessed on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on February 2, we are ready for throats to be blessed with crossed candles on the February 3 Feast of St. Blaise.

Back in 2022, American Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago was part of the Croatian celebration of the Feast Day of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, celebrating Mass and taking part in the traditional procession through the city streets with the saint’s relics.

Processing full speed ahead into 2024, Wisdom Wednesday finds opinions galore, not from the AUSCP but from columnists and writers who express their views in various publications.

Political commentary

Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter says the GOP Congress is so scared of Trump, it fails to do its duty regarding the southern border.

Adam Serwer, writing in The Atlantic, says the Supreme Court has itself to blame for Texas defying its orders. Serwer says, “[Governor] Greg Abbott is taking a stand to protect his state’s right to let children die in the Rio Grande, and four justices of the Supreme Court are encouraging him to do so.” He adds, “the union is perpetual, the federal government is sovereign, and states do not get to defy federal law simply because they don’t like when their preferred candidates lose the presidency.”

Peter Stone, in The Guardian says Elise Stefanik “scares me.” As Donald Trump aggressively fights multiple legal and political threats, New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik has become his most powerful ally in Congress in key ways by echoing Trump’s dangerous falsehoods and pushing outlandish conspiracy theories around the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

February prep for 2025

More than 300 representatives of consecrated life from over 60 countries are set to meet in Rome from 1 to 4 February for a preparatory meeting ahead of the 2025 Jubilee. The Prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life spoke to Vatican News about the upcoming meeting in Rome.


Pope Francis tells the Italian Newspaper ‘La Stampa’ that “Without two states, true peace remains distant.” He renews calls for a global ceasefire, warning the world is on the brink of the abyss. The report is from Vatican News.

A Guardian investigation has detailed the mass destruction of buildings and land in three neighborhoods in Gaza. Not an opinion, but an investigation using satellite imagery and open-source evidence, the Guardian found damage to more than 250 residential buildings, 17 schools and universities, 16 mosques, three hospitals, three cemeteries and 150 agricultural greenhouses. Entire buildings have been levelled, fields flattened and places of worship wiped off the map in the course of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, launched after the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

The Vatican mends relations with China

The Holy See approved ordination of new bishop in China in agreement with the Communist government, the culmination of months-long efforts to ease tensions with Beijing. The report from La Croix International.

The new Diocese of Weifang was recently established in China, and on Monday, January 29, its new bishop was consecrated. Quietly, the erection of the new diocese and the appointment of its first pastor took place in April 2023, but were not announced until the day of the Bishop’s consecration. The appointment was made in the context of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China.

Christian Unity marred by ‘heretic hunters’

The mainline Churches in the northern hemisphere have just concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. La Croix International English editor Bob Mickens notes that by many of the comments that appeared on social media during the January 18-25 commemoration, it would seem that at least some English speakers who describe themselves as “traditional” or “loyal” Catholics saw this annual ecumenical event as a propitious time to remind Christians who are not in communion with the Church of Rome that they are heretics.

Restaurant diplomacy

After its menu was deemed antisemitic, a New York eatery threw a Shabbat dinner for its Jewish neighbors. Religion News Service reports that the Palestinian restaurateurs tried to set the record straight after cheekily naming seafood section of the menu “From the River to the Sea.”

After menu is deemed antisemitic, eatery throws Shabbat dinner for Jewish neighbors

Jewish, but not sold on the whole ‘God’ thing

From what she eats to how she ties her shoes, religion shapes nearly every moment of Michelle’s life. An Orthodox Jew living in New York City, she follows a line of discipline guided by halacha, or Jewish law. She keeps a kosher kitchen, and on shabbat she doesn’t drive or turn on lights, following ancient strictures against lighting a fire on the Lord’s day. A feature about a skeptic from Religion News Service.

Religious but not spiritual? Meet the skeptics favoring ritual over the supernatural

‘Limbo with Jesus: How low can you go’

Father Gerry Kleba, a long-time member of the AUSCP, offers a personal experience of preaching at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis. Gerry writes, “I met Pastor Lauren Bennett very unexpectedly as she supported me in my ministry of caring for Johnny Johnson on Death Row. She is the lesbian pastor of the MCC who invited me to preach at her church on the Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus and ML King Holiday Weekend. The service got cancelled because of the weather, but we celebrated this past Sunday. Many queer people, especially former Catholics who were ostracized by the Catholic Church, were very grateful for my preaching. Some said it was the most that they laughed and cried in one service. Here is a link if you would like to listen in.

The patron saint of in-between things

Brian Bantum writes a reflection on Moses in the Christian Century. He says, “Having grown up as a Black-mixed kid, I can relate to Moses’ upbringing as not quite Hebrew and not quite Egyptian.” An enjoyable, thoughtful read.

Religion News Quiz

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a $1 million grant to leaders of the Church of God in Christ as part of a national program to plant and maintain trees in American cities. Vilsack made the announcement on Tuesday (Jan. 23) at the predominantly Black Pentecostal denomination’s annual leadership conference in Atlanta.

That’s the answer to the first question in a quiz prepared by Religion News Service. There are seven more questions, but you will have to sign up if you want to match your knowledge with RNS.

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We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.

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