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Monday Musing… a link and a Monday song

Well, it appears that I continue to lag… Oh well, Fr. Jerry will be back soon and hopefully my energy and focus will return as well. In the meantime, I was flailing about, trying to figure out what to post today, but kept coming up with nothing.

Then I read a post at one of my favorite blogs; in fact it is the one blog I stop at daily, pretty much no matter what is going on. That blog is People for Others, from Loyola Press; the primary author of posts is the Publisher at Loyola, Paul Brian Campbell, SJ.

Miguel Arias, died recently; Miguel was a ministry consultant at Loyola Press until last year, and then had moved over to Liturgical Training Publications. He was only 40 years old and leaves behind a wife and child; it is so sad. Paul went to Miguel’s home in Mexico for the wake,  funeral and interment there and he wrote about it for today’s PFO post, entitled, Burying Miguel.

Not too long ago, I read a really wonderful book, Accompany Them With Singing, by Thomas Long; a book about Christian funerals. As someone who does a lot of funeral ministry, and as someone called to that kind of pastoral work, I read the book with great enthusiasm, I really thought it was wonderful. In our culture, we have come to sanitize death and try, often with the best of  intentions, to minimize our Christian legacy, which includes the body and the Cross. As a result, I was struck by Paul’s description of the wake, the ritual of carrying the very heavy coffin and burial. There was no mistaking death in the scenes that Paul relates to us and this funeral was as much a celebration of Miguel’s death as anything. We always, and understandably so, want to say that we are celebrating someone’s life. That is all fine and good, but it is really death we are celebrating and it is hard to remember that… We are filled with the pain of loss and often our own conflicted feelings about our mortality.

Jesus died on the Cross. It was not pretty. In those 3 days, his life was not celebrated, but his death. We recreate this every Triduum. Then – and only then – can we celebrate the great joy of resurrection.

That is what is on my mind this morning, how we might celebrate death, deeply rooted in our faith and hope, just as much as we celebrate life. They are intertwined, no resurrection is possible without death. And that is the celebration, the resurrection that comes.

To that end, I am posting a song, one that I love. We heard it at mass at St. Edward’s this weekend, as the communion hymn. I was a Eucharistic Minister, but I had to fight to not sing these words at the same time. Here is David Haas’, We Will Rise Again.


Saturday Song

We’ve had this song before, but it is a favorite, and it is Good Shepherd Sunday. Enjoy!

Church of the Immaculate Conception, April 26, 2012

Some photos from Thursday, April 26.

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I’ve got all my sisters and me…

(There has been a lot of news, and a lot of noise about women religious and the Vatican lately. James Martin, SJ has launched a Twitter campaign, #WhatSistersMeanToMe and I offer this as my contribution to the effort.)*

If you are in, near or around a Catholic parish in April or May, you are likely to encounter the sacrament of First Eucharist. It was some time in May, 1966, that I made my (what was then called) First Holy Communion, a special time and memory for me.

Yes, that's me!

I did not go to Catholic school, but received my religious education, at what was then… (continue reading at the Times Union…)

Monday? Musing?

Gosh, I have been off from work since 6pm on Tuesday of last week and I won’t return until tomorrow. It just hit me that I did not “muse” today.

I am sorry for the hiccup! And I am sorry that I never posted as much about Father Jerry’s trip as I meant to… Oh, as my mother used to say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. His absence and my commitments collided and here we are, with few posts about him and no Monday Musing today.

On the bright side, he did end up putting something into the bulletin each week, so I know that you are caught up with Father!

And won’t we all be glad when he returns?

Saturday Song

Today’s song is Rory Cooney’s Canticle of the Turning. There is no liturgically related reason for posting it during this Easter season, I just came across this video and remembered how much I loved this song.

Monday Musing – Faith, Doubt, Doctrine, Dogma… and Respect for Office

(I apologize if this is too long… I had a lot on my mind!)

This morning I woke up, not at all sure what I would write about. I was sick for most of the weekend, so I did not begin this sooner, as I typically try (emphasis – try!) to do.  My morning routine includes prayer and some reading and I came across this paragraph, in a homily for the Second Sunday of Easter, and it has really struck me…

So where does that place good Catholic people who, after prayer and consultation with spouses, partners, friends and pastoral leaders, honestly doubt the certainty of some doctrines taught by their religion? Note for the Blog: Dissent against a dogma of the church is impossible for a Catholic.  [5]

5 McBrien, Richard. Catholicism: Study Edition (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1981. See pages 67 ff.

I realize that many people have strong feelings about the priest who offered this homily, Fr. Richard Vosko. I have known Fr. Vosko for four years, and he has been a friend and mentor to me. Do I always agree with him? No, I do not. Do I respect him? Yes, I do. Do I have respect for his office, as an ordained priest in good standing, of the Roman Catholic Church? Yes I do. More on that in a minute…

One of the reasons that I really liked reading his homily is because I appreciate how he elucidated the difference between dissent from doctrine and from dogma. Dogma, if you read that snippet above, is impossible for a Catholic. (I included Vosko’s footnote in case anyone wants to go look it up.) Doctrine is to be obeyed as well, but many of us wrestle with various doctrines.

If you ask me, I will happily and clearly tell you that my faith, which is a great gift from God, is filled with questions. Are those questions doubts? Sometimes, yes they are. For me – how else can I dive deeper into and discover the great gift of faith?

As I have written before, obedience is based in deep, authentic listening, and therefore it can take time. If we just march in lockstep, without engaging our hearts and minds, that is not obedience at all, but something else. God is forever asking us to be in relationship, not bondage! It is bondage that God seeks to free us from.

This Sunday we did hear about how Thomas very boldly doubted Jesus. And if he had not done so, would he have gone further in his faith? Who knows? But he did doubt and he expressed it and this is part of the Gospel  and we are invited into our own doubt – and faith – as a result! (I wrote about yesterday’s Gospel at my TU blog, if you wish to read it; no subscription or registration required.)

In any case, we can all get into some fine arguments about who is a “good Catholic,” but I am pretty sure that we all dissent on something. For me, I try to be honest about that, engage in good faith and pray, study and strive for a deeper and more committed life as in this Body.

If we can’t doubt, if we can’t – like Thomas – ask questions, then we are lost. The questions can and should be asked, because the answers are there. Believe it! There are many issues that we are asked to submit to… issues about life, which include positions about abortion, contraception, torture, war, the death penalty, euthanasia, and health care, which are not as easily adhered to as one might think. And health care is especially contentious, because while we have challenges with what is mandated, we must also understand that the Holy Father calls for universal health care. In the linked article it reads,  “Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders said it was the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.(Which many Catholics, good Catholics, would disagree with.) This is all very challenging ground, so we should respect our doubts, explore them, find priests and others that we can talk to about these things, but also understand what the Truth and the truth are.

So what about respect for office?

As someone who considers social media part of their ministerial call, I read a lot of blogs, Facebook posts and Tweets from Twitter. It is getting uglier and uglier out there; in politics and in church talk.

If we are going to speak about obedience, we must be obedient – if it means struggling and disagreeing. If we have to hold our dissent in tension with our disobedience, then so be it.  A life of faith is not a destination, although it leads us to a destination; it is a constant journey. And a journey that makes great demands of us!

If you think that Fr. Vosko, or any other priest for that matter, is an apostate, that is yours to work out. However, I do believe that Fr. Vosko, Fr. Jerry for that matter, Bishop Hubbard – or any validly ordained person for that matter, deserves the respect of that office.

Recently I saw a video going around, of Glenn Beck telling us that if we don’t like what’s going on in our churches, to tell the priest. If you don’t like what the priest says, then he more or less said, go to the bishop. If you don’t like what the bishop said, then go to the top, write to Rome. (I am not linking to this video because it was so personally offensive and deeply un-Catholic to me. If you really want to see it, I suggest the wonders of the Google search.)

While I would not rule out such activity, I would reserve such things for the very gravest matters. It is actually apostasy to say or do otherwise, and I think that Mr. Beck is treading a dangerous path…. and encouraging Catholics to do the same.  The Church does not stand for our personal “likes” and “dislikes,” but is the actual re-membering (think, opposite of dismembering) of the Body of Christ.

The Church has always known terrible priests, bishops and even popes; a glance at Church history reveals that clearly. Yet the Church prevails, even in the darkest hours. Sometimes we might be engaged in the worst struggle of our lives, but no single one of us owns the truth.

If you really think that it is OK to go against the priests, bishops or even popes that you do not like, what prevents others – others who may have a different point of view than you do – from doing the same?

Please respect the office of those who stand in persona Christi. Trust me, there are plenty of priests, bishops and even popes, that I could really challenge, but I actively choose not to do so publicly. What I struggle in my heart with, I offer in prayer.(Please see this link to the Vatican’s Catechism pages for more.)

One thing that you should never doubt is this… the Church is neither democracy – or anarchy, based on personal preference. Doubt in and of itself is a vehicle for greater faith, but like all things of great power, it should be applied wisely.

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