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Monday Musing – Changes

Advent1BAs I sat in the pew during mass yesterday, and heard the first reading from Isaiah proclaimed, I began to compose a post in my head for today. Alas, I never did get to it, but here is what struck me…

Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Ultimately I believe that what the Lord asks of us is to be one. I grow so weary of the conservative versus the liberals, the orthodox versus the progressives – and even more weary of who God must like best. In the end “all flesh shall see it together.” That gives me great comfort and great hope.

What do you think?

About the changes – other than a couple of planned posts, I am going to take a little blog break. I would like to change things up around here and that will take some time. My prayer and hope is to be back by Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013.

In the meantime, I am wondering if anyone who reads the blog, parishioners and others, would consider writing a reflection during Lent? Please pray and think about this if you will. Some people worry that they don’t “know how to write.” Fair enough, but what is God inviting you to do?

The idea would be to pick a date during Lent and check with me to see if it is available. If you pick a date that is already taken, please have a back up day or days in mind. Submissions are subject to approval and must be 1200 words or less, based on your reflection for the Scriptures for a particular day. Readings can be found here at the USCCB webpage, simply click the days of the calendar.  If you are interested, please email me or leave a comment on the blog.

Thank you faithful readers, who are companions on the way, both known and unknown.  A post will up this Wednesday, which will include a book giveaway and a chance to win a $100 Williams Sonoma gift card, as I write about local Catholic author Mary DeTurris Poust’s new book, Cravings:  A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, from Ave Maria Press.  Later in the week, or early the following week, another book post will follow, this one about local author John Backman’s, Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart, from Sky Light Paths.  Other than that – silence for a month. Please pray for me and I will be doing the same for you!

Monday Musing

Advent begins this coming weekend. I always have a hard time with this last week of the liturgical year. The crash-bang-boom of the apocalyptic readings from the Book of Revelation and Gospels that sound like we are headed towards Good Friday and not Advent.

It makes me want to rush past it on some bullet train of prayer that blurs my view of what is out there.

The irony of course is that like a child waiting for Christmas, I am rushing into the future without living in the present. Advent is not simply some superhighway that gets you to December 25, it is its own essential time. It is a time of quiet, patient, waiting. Of waiting for what is to come, not waiting to “do” something.

I’m thinking about how we live in a time that values productivity as a way to profit, managing well, success and power. Being in constant motion is some kind of postmodern virtue that may get you rewarded with time off.  Don’t get caught being still, slacker!

And I’m thinking of our God who seems anything but interested in any such kind of things.

Monday Musing

Every morning, as part of both my prayer and my work, I read the daily readings and reflections at Give Us This Day, and  The Magnificat. I am very blessed to be able to receive a subscription to each one of these daily devotionals currently. The readings for daily mass are the same, but the psalms for morning prayer, as well as the featured saints of the day and reflections are very different. For many reasons, I treasure both publications.

Today the thing that truly hit me came from Give Us This Day. The featured saint of the day, (not always a canonized saint at GOTD) is Bl. John Paul II, our prior pope. These particular words refer to the Gospel of Luke (5:4), and Jesus’ command to “put out into the deep.” In Latin, this is “Duc in altum.” This can be found in the Apostolic Letter, Novo Millenio Ineunte, as we see below.

Duc in altum! These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8).

This got me to thinking about Saint Kateri, whose canonization we celebrated yesterday, and her journey from the area around Fonda, NY, near her shrine, to Canada. On Saturday I had posted two Kateri videos, and one of them has not left my mind, as I imagine her making her way, all alone, through the wildnerness.

How often do we really follow Jesus’ command to do this – Duc in altum? How often do we recall that Bl. John Paul II, and countless others in between, asked the same of us?

For the most part, it seems to me – in my life anyway – that we do all that we can to promote safety and security. Whether it is the best car, that will withstand the most impact, a home security system, fences, moving to neighborhoods that are filled with people that are like “us,” so that we will be safe from “them,” and more, we are endless seekers of the opposite, it would seem.

Now I am not taking anyone to task for this, I am front and center in this activity!

However, I must ask myself, how can I put out into this deep? Without fear?

That’s the question that I asked myself when I encountered Bl. John Paul II’s reiteration of Jesus’ command, and that question was on my heart as I read today’s Gospel.

In a life filled with the acquisition of wealth, followed by the protection of it, along with all of our possessions, just how do we “put out into the deep?”

I have no clue, but this will be my prayer today… That I take more risks, focus more on Christ, and less on my own safety and security. The shoreline feels like a nice place to be, but the deep of the sea is where we are called. How else can we become fishers of men and women? Including, catching our own souls, in the nets that are meant to overflow. Yes – our nets for Christ are meant to overflow, not our own barns, for our own use.

Does anybody but me find this a challenge?

Monday Musing – Holiday

Today’s Monday Musing is no musing at all… We will return next week! Thank you and peace to all! We appreciate our faithful community more than you can know.

 

 

Monday Musing

On Saturday morning, a number of us gathered in the Church at 9am for the start of our Ministry Morning called Catch the Spirit. We began with a prayer service, lead by Father Jerry, with music by Bernadette Petersen.  That was followed by our speaker, and after that we went over to the Parish Hall for some other great talks. But I am getting ahead of myself!

Our speaker this year was Father Pat Butler, who is the pastor at St. Edward the Confessor, my home church. If you have ever heard Father Pat speak, you know that we were very blessed this day. He spoke to us about so many things. At the core of his message was the importance of the Eucharist.

He spoke about the best places to pray. For Fr. Pat, the best place is the ocean, at night, under a full moon at high tide! That doesn’t happen too often for someone in this part of the state. Of course we pray in church, but is that the best place to pray? For some it is, for some it isn’t.

Then why do we go to church?

We come to be nourished by the Eucharist and by one another. The old Latin at the end of the Mass, as Fr. Pat told us, holds the meaning of the word Mass. Ite, missa est! This means – go! You are dismissed! That is why we come, to be together in community and prayer, through the Eucharist. He said so much more than this, but that is my summary for now. We come together to go forth, I just love that thought and how we are to evangelize in the world.

After the talk we all went to the parish hall to hear various speakers. Kelly Stiffen gave us an update about the Pastoral Council and Christine Goss said some things about our website. She mentioned that we have a parish Facebook page, so if you are on Facebook, please “like” us!

Maryann Haskell talked to us about our new “All Are Welcome” evangelization initiative. We want many people to come to our parish, we have so much to give and we actively seek all the gifts of others. This is a very exciting time at Immaculate Conception!

Then we heard from Dona Fragnoli about welcoming and team building. Dona is just a terrific speaker – which is probably why she made it her career! The thing that stands out to me is that Dona had us write something that challenges us on a 3 x 5 card. We all come “with a card.” Our cards reveal something about ourselves. If we could be more patient and caring with one another, imagine how different things could be.

Then we heard from another gifted speaker, another person whom God has asked to be a speaker, Emily Sederstrand. Emily offered us inspiration and hope with her words. She spoke beautifully about how God leads us to places high and low, yet is always with us.

Many thanks go out to Fr. Pat, Kelly Stiffen, Judy Broder, Maryann Haskell, Maria Groves, Sean Caron, Christine Goss, Dona Fragnoli, Emily Sederstrand, and others. And a big thank you to Fr. Jerry who, as our pastor, makes all of this possible.

If you were there, then you know, but please feel free to speak up in the comments! If you weren’t and you want to know more, ask in the comments!

Monday Musing

The 50th anniversary of Vatican II is upon us. I am always mystified by the extreme reactions to this event in our church, a monumental time in history. Talk is cheap, so it is easy to reflect back and either romanticize the entire event beyond any reality, or to make it into a huge “error.”

In virtus media stat,” which I believe means truth stands in the middle.  The results of Vatican II have not entirely ruined our church, unless perhaps you are a follower of the Society of St. Pius X, who remain in schism with our church to this day. The results of Vatican II, were not perfect. Nothing is perfect and our journey to the perfection is what we all seek through the transformation of the Eucharist.

This essay by Robert J. Nogosek, C.S.C., published in America Magazine really caught my eye, and I present it here today for us to all muse upon today. There is no shortage of good reading material on this topic and I will try to post more about it. The website Conciliaria is a tremendous resource, so have a look at that.

Here is the link to the Vatican website resources for Vatican II documents. A quick look at that reminds me that one of the true gems of the Council was Dei Verbum. If you are Catholic and you read any Scripture today, thank this Dogmatic Constitution! No matter what you think of everything else about Vatican II, where would we be without this?

Monday Musing

Oh those Corinthians! St. Paul has a lot to say to them, and it is not always pretty, is it? As we go through this cycle of readings from 1 Corinthians at daily mass, I find myself wondering what St. Paul would say to us.

Oh wait – he is saying this to us, isn’t he?

Corinth was a seaside town, a port on the busy Mediterranean Sea and apparently it could be a pretty wild place. This letter is addressed to them after Paul had spent some time there establishing the church. Today we hear,

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact
that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church
there are divisions among you,
and to a degree I believe it;
there have to be factions among you

Sounds familiar. As people who know me are aware, I loathe the designations of what “kind” of Catholic one might be. By this I mean any and all of the following: liberal, conservative, progressive, or orthodox. It might feel good to get up close with those of “our kind” but it is also very dangerous. This is not just about how we practice and live our faith, but also about the other areas of our lives.

So are our meetings doing more harm than good?

Let’s hope not, but perhaps they are. If we are sitting in the pew, judging, rejecting, denying anyone, then we are already on murky ground. I can only speak for myself, I have a lot to consider, because I have often done all of those things and worse.

He goes on,

Or do you show contempt for the Church of God
and make those who have nothing feel ashamed?
What can I say to you? Shall I praise you?
In this matter I do not praise you.

Ouch! How do we make those who have nothing feel ashamed? I could write volumes on this one, but let’s just all consider this at large for a moment.

Who do we want to “drive out” of our church? Who do we want to deny in our church? Who do we reject before they even get in the door of our church?

Is it the “poor” people who leach off of “the system?” Is it those who do not work as hard as “we” do? Is it those who we might think are getting what “we earned?” Is it people lost in addiction? Is it someone who is divorced? Is it someone who is gay?

It is very easy for us to gather together and close the doors behind us, to begin without “waiting” for everyone to arrive, and for judging others who are present, or trying to get in.

The wisdom of all of this, the healing wisdom, I might point out is something that we say as we prepare to receive the Eucharist, words that come from today’s very Gospel from Luke. There is a centurion who has an ill slave and there is a push for Jesus to heal this slave. These words always strike me when I read or hear them:

They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”

Deserves? Hmmm, OK – where are we headed here? What does this centurion end up doing?

...when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,

There is no expectation on the part of the centurion, there is respect, there is deference, there is humility. And in the midst of this, the centurion adds these words that will be altered slightly for our use at communion…

I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.

Suddenly, Paul’s message to the Corinthians comes into focus.

None of us is worthy. Ever. Yet, if Jesus says the word, our souls shall be healed. Our souls and the souls of others that we may have judged, rejected or spurned.

If the centurion can do this… well, let’s see what Jesus has to say,

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Not even in Israel (among the “assembly”) has Jesus found such faith.

What a reminder that none of us is worthy, yet we are all called to be healed, if we find the humility and openness to be healed. We are all called to the table in the unity of Christ. Yet how we fracture things from the start.

Can we do this differently? If so – how?

I know that I am not sure how to do this and that I have in general (um – not worthy!) failed at it, but step by step, and always in community, I will keep trying. Will you join me?

Monday Musing – “We all must be in the middle…”

NOTE: This post was published on my personal blog at the Times Union yesterday, but I thought it would make good food for thought over here today.

+ Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, SJ, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, died on Friday at the age of 85. His funeral mass will be celebrated on Monday, September 3. (I did not know that he was a Jesuit until he died; I am not surprised.)

The Cardinal was a remarkable man and cleric. His name was often brought up as a possible pope, but that was not to be. After his retirement as Bishop of Milan, he moved to Jerusalem, for on-going study of the Bible. He was also a peaceful presence in a place that is not always known for peace. I think that it says something about an aged, retired Cardinal of the Church… If he still felt like he had something to learn about the Bible and about God at his age, what is wrong with the rest of us who think we know it all?

Martini was devoted to reconciliation. If you watch the embedded video, which I hope you will; it is only a little over two minutes long, you will hear him say this:

“We need to be in the middle and work to cease all violence and learn to understand each others pain also.”

We need to be in the middle. Regrettably, that position is often seen as one that lacks power. But Christ is always in the center, drawing all to Himself. If we profess our love of Christ and that we follow him, shouldn’t we be doing the same? (Trust me, I stink at this part of it, so I am talking to myself, as well as speaking out loud here.) Given the giant tug of war between the “right” and the “left,” or the “liberals” and the “conservatives,” it is further proof of Christ’s divinity that he has not been torn in half due to our constant fighting and claims of authority.

In his last years, in pursuit of peace, Martini  focused on the high value of intercessory prayer. In the video he speaks of the meaning of intercede as to walk thorough. I like that kind of etymological understanding, it brings us deeper into understanding. He says that we must walk through “without giving or taking any reason, not to say that one side is more right than another.

Walking in between in prayer… who does that remind you of?

Today we mourn a man who dedicated his life to God, to the Gospel and the the need for mutual trust and dialogue. Maybe today, we can all reflect on how we all might choose this path of Christ and not walk apart, but walk through this life together… in Christ.

Monday Musing

Having been on vacation, I did not prepare a musing for today and nothing is coming to me… So I offer this photo from my beach walk on Friday morning. The colorful skies gave way to a great sunrise a short while after I shot this. How God is so present in all things!

 

Monday Musing

Did you already hear or read today’s Gospel from Matthew?  What are we to make of these words?

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

Most of us have many possessions, don’t we? I know that I do. Frankly I shudder to think of how much stuff I have.  Honestly, I have been trying to get rid of stuff. Six years ago I was a single woman with a house of her own. Five years ago I got married and had to move into a house of similar size (read: small) with a man and his daughter. A lot of stuff went away, but I still have way too much. Do you?

Another thing that gets me is when Jesus says “sell what you have and give to the poor.” *sigh* Wow. I had a garage sale once, when I was moving from Los Angeles to New York in 2000. I made a lot of money, it was very successful. No, I did not give the money to the poor. And I did not sell everything.

No wonder so many people, like the young man in the story, stay away from Jesus. We live in a culture that tells us to earn more and do more. That’s fine, but what do we do with it? Do we hoard things? And when we have so much stuff, where does Jesus find room?

As Catholics we don’t take every word of Scripture literally, but there is a message here. Can we hear it? Can we follow Jesus?

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