Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frank Duff and the Economic Crisis

We are at present experiencing a crisis of authority and leadership both in Church and in state. Authority need not be a bad word. It derives from the word Author, which conjures up the notions of creativity and inventiveness. It implies and enabler an encourager. An encourager is one who can put new heart into another. From the Latin en--cor-agere

Jesus spoke with the authority of a leader. A good leader provides security. I may know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future in his hands.

A Leader is one who like Jesus, has to go alone into the desert. He may be a voice crying in the wilderness. But he really is a Voice with Capital V and he speaks not only in the wilderness but from the wilderness. Remember what Moses did there. By the power of God, he provided bread in the wilderness, --which is indeed the model for our time of economic crisis.

The Irish Bishops in 1999, when the Celtic Tiger was at the height of its roar, issued a Document that has proved prophetic: Prosperity with a Purpose subtitled: Christian faith and values in a time of economic growth. I quote: “The implications of cash alone being the reason why a job is done well and the loss of any sense of vocation are nowhere more damaging than in the public sector.”

Pope John Paul II wrote: “People demean their own dignity when they measure the value of their work they do by the measuring stick of money. Moderation in hours of work in the interest health and personal development.

Oliver Goldsmith Ill fares the land where wealth accumulates and men decay.

The Legion of Mary Handbook has a section that is relevant to our present financial crisis: True Devotion to the Nation: “When parts of the Community are misfits--then communities work at a terrible price of poverty, frustration and unhappiness. Money and effort are poured out to drive parts which should be moving effortlessly, or which indeed should be sources of power. Results: problems, turmoil, crises.”

Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion had a profound sense of the need for good leadership. He tells how he went to Eamon deValera, head of the Irish government, to ask what was the secret of good leadership. Dev, as he was affectionately known, opened a drawer and took out a note from a former Irish patriot named Fintan Lawlor, which read: The people will follow the flag that floats nearest to the stars.

They tell of deValera, that when he wished to know what was good for Ireland, he simply looked into his own heart. People laughed at the remark. Truth, however, is that the prophetic leader has to do just that-- go alone into the desert to search for the truth. He has to search his own heart and listen to voice of God.

While leaders struggle with the demands and distresses of the land, it is good to know that there is an Inner Land and and an Inner Voice that must be attended to. The Church in the Modern world of Vatican 2 speaks of the inner voice of Conscience as: “A voice within the sanctuary of man, alone with God whose voice echoes within him."

Pope John Paul II wrote: that conscience is an interior dialogue of man with himself, as well as a dialogue of man with God---the reflection of God’s creative wisdom which like an imperishable spark shines in the heart. Our task at this time of crisis of authority and leadership is to rediscover that imperishable spark.

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