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Monday Musing

Holy Week is here – how was your Palm Sunday? I kept this community in prayer as I spent many hours at my home parish of St. Edward the Confessor. We have much to ponder as we enter Holy Week.

I got a note from Father Jerry yesterday, as he described his experience of serving at mass in St. Peter’s Square. He said:

“The Vatican was amazing this morning.  Perfectly organized, about 100,000 people – so they say.  It was daunting to walk down the sea of people for communion.”

Let us enter this Holy Week with prayer and hope in our hearts. We all must die, we all will rise. That is our faith and our life in and with Christ our Lord.

Prayers and blessings to one and all who visit these pages, from near and far. You are a gift to our community, no matter who or where you are.

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(these photos are not from Father Jerry!)

The donkey and the dreams, a Palm Sunday relfection

(This was originally published at my Times Union blog and is reprinted here)
Palm Sunday… The Donkey, a poem by G.K. Chesterton is a reminder of the place occupied by the donkey, and the dreams. Ah, the humility of the lowly creature that carried the Lord Jesus on its back, as the people flung and waved their palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Ah, the need to be mindful of, and listen to our dreams, no matter where they may lead.

To remember that this donkey, called a colt in the Scriptures, but a donkey, an ass, is simply meant for carting and carrying goods. Such a lowly creature, a humble one, carrying the Lord Jesus, himself humble. To remember the role that dreams played in getting Jesus onto that donkey.

I think of the donkey that ferried Mary to Bethlehem. Another donkey probably was pressed into service when Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus fled from Herod’s clutch. And yet another likely brought them back to Nazareth from Egypt, after Joseph was informed in a yet another dream, that it was safe to return.

It was not safe to return to Jerusalem Continue reading

Saturday Song – Palm Sunday Edition

Have mercy on me,  God, in accord with your merciful love;
Psalm 51

Based on Psalm 51, the Miserere Mei Deus by Gregorio Allegri is a piece of music so powerful,  that it was deemed playable only at very specific times. It was meant only to be used for the Tenebrae, meaning Matins and Lauds,  during the final three days of Holy Week, at the Sistine Chapel.

This is a much longer piece of music than is usually posted – and these are different days. I invite you to set aside the time to give a listen if you can.

Earlier in the week I read something in Give Us This Day which has lodged in my heart all week long.  The very first words of the psalm begin with:

For the leader. A psalm of David, 2when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

After he had gone in to Bathsheba… One thing that I think of is this…  as a people tend to judge and criticize people for their sexuality and behavior all the time. And yet, as humans, we do all kinds of things. David – King David literally took Bathsheba for himself, not to mention killing her husband, Uriah Heap,  to make sure that there was no trouble.

This is not to say that this is OK, but if God forgives David – forgiveness that King David asks for in this psalm, for what he did, where does this leave us? Why do we punish one another so, when God is so ready to forgive us?

Lent’s narrow and ever-steepening path…

I don’t have something for today, but I did write about my own Lenten struggle over at the Times Union, have a look if you wish!

Amazing God – A Visit With St. Paul – March 26, 2012

On March 26, 2012 we will hold a very special Amazing God event here at Immaculate Conception! We are blessed to welcome Glenn K. Smith and his outstanding performance of A Visit with St. Paul.  The program will begin at 7pm in the Church, all are welcome.

I always wonder what it would be like to have actually met Jesus or the Apostles; it is so hard to imagine, but I do think about it!  While we can never know what that would have been like, Smith offers us a glimpse of what things might have been. We will be transported to 65 A.D. and we will meet the great saint in his Roman captivity.

Please join us – and do bring friends and tell others!  This will be a great Lenten evening and an opportunity to grow in our faith!

About those tables… Some thoughts on today’s Gospel

(This was also published at the Times Union website today.)

Recently I heard a priest tell a story about when he was growing up. This man is probably about 6 or 8 years younger than I am. He is younger, this I know to be true. He is very gregarious and very funny, but like so many funny people, he is actually saying something serious almost all the time. He was telling us that when he was a kid, sometimes it seemed that all he ever learned was that Jesus handed out daisies. Oh that image, Hippy Jesus, nice all the time and always feeling kind of groovy, mellow and cool.

Forgive me if you find me irreverent, but that is how the image pops up for me. And frankly, it is an image of Christ that I am not too fond of.

While we are at it, I find that the idea that Jesus is judging us with suspicion all the time, and making sure that we behave, is not helpful either. Oh Jesus help us! Jesus holding our hands and giving out daisies is not helpful; Jesus smacking us down. Is this the best we can do?

Why must we project all this on the Lord? OK, OK – for the record, I have spent time in both camps; Tough Love Jesus and Hippy Jesus. At least in my own discernment, I found that those images had a lot more to do with me and where I was at that time, than with Jesus. On knowing God, St. Augustine said, “Si comprehendis, non est Deus.” (If you think that you understand God, that is not God.) Quite simply, God is Continue reading

Monday Musing

Santa Sabina

One of the elements of Father Jerry’s sabbatical experience at the Pontifical North American College is The Roman Station Liturgy. This is not the Stations of the Cross, but rather, an ancient tradition of the Church, dating back to the late 2nd or early 3rd century. A more structured approach was adopted by the 5th century, but over time, the practice had diminished. Since 1975, the PNAC, where Father Jerry is studying, has coordinated masses at these sites in English during Lent.

The Station Churches in history were very much about how the Church stood and journeyed together in public and in Lent in particular. What a beautiful image this is! Like the Stations of the Cross, like our beautiful liturgy, we journey together as we live the Gospel.  We are called to live this way, to be united in Christ; in these splintered times, this offers a lot of food for thought. Everything that we do and how we live as Catholics should be about how we restore the integrity of the Body of Christ.

I have many photos that Father Jerry has sent to me and I am going to sort them out this week and start posting them more frequently. (Last week found me more than a little behind!)

However, today I am thinking about how we stand together as Church and how we are Church in the world, how we restore the Body of Christ. Today’s Gospel from Matthew contains one of the most oft-quoted passages of Scripture. All things that are easy to say and so very hard to do. Like most things…

Saturday Song – Lent Edition

God is always calling us back to God. On Ash Wednesday, we heard the reading from Joel, some of which is heard in this song, Hosea. Joel, Hosea – read Scripture; no matter who is doing the talking, the topic is the same… Return to God. That is at the heart of our Lenten journey, returning to God through and in the Risen Christ.

Ash Wednesday

Last night I offered a talk about being too busy for Lent. I’m not sure that I said anything helpful, but what was so helpful for me was seeing so many smiling faces before me. Thank you, what a turnout! I am really grateful to all who attended and to those who worked so hard to prepare our Mardi Gras inspired event.

Despite the fact that it looked like I was reading from my notes, as is so often the case, my written notes and the numerous words that kept tumbling out of my mouth bear little resemblance to one another, so printing any kind of text here is not going to work. Perhaps an appropriate title would be, too talkative for Lent? Yes! That is me!

On a serious note, we are going to go to church today to have our foreheads marked with ashes. We are going to be reminded of our death and we are invited to grow closer to God so that we might actually change. Repent, rethink, re-orient, restore. Return.

The first reading from today’s Scriptures, from the prophet Joel, is clear:

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart,

While Joel then intones us to do a lot of mourning and weeping, we are also reminded in the Gospel a few moments later, by none less than Jesus himself:

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance…”

That’s pretty clear too!

We are invited to traverse this place, these forty days, bracketed between those seemingly opposing thoughts. Focus on the returning seems to be the message.

Our Ashes remind us that we are all going to die; our instructions for Lent remind us that we all need to live in a particular way.

Can we do this?

This is a journey, one that is not simply between God and any individual one of us.  The journey is made together. We are all ultimately alone with God in that moment of transformation that death brings, but resurrection is about the promise of Christ for all.

Have a good Ash Wednesday. I look forward to making this journey in community with you.

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