31 March 2008
30 March 2008
Crocuses are appearing in the cloister garden.The season of alleluias has come,the honking of geese is heard overheadthe Easter lilies give off their fragrance.Come then, my belovedmy Risen One, come!
28 March 2008
I have been a priest for a long time and have watched the world very closely during that time. I have come to three conclusions:
1) There are millions of homeless and starving people in the world today.
2) Most people don't give a damn that there are millions of homeless and starving people in the world today.
3) More of you are offended by the fact that I used the word "damn" from the pulpit than by the fact that there are millions of homeless and starving people in the world.
With that, he returned to his chair...
At a point in his ministry when Francis was growing in celebrity due to his great faith, but sought anonymity with even greater vigor as it was less of a challenge to his humility, he came upon an man who asked him: "Are you Francis of Assisi, himself?"
Francis hesitated but, feeling obliged to the truth, admitted that it was he.
The man replied: "Well then, try to be as good as you can be. Everyone has such great faith in you and you musn't let them down."
Francis was so touched that he dismounted and kissed the man's feet.
26 March 2008
God never overpowers, never twists arms, never pushes your face into something so as to take away your freedom. God respects our freedom and is never a coercive force.
And nowhere is this more true than in what is revealed in the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels assure us that, like his birth, the resurrection was physical, real, not just some alteration inside the consciousness of believers. After the resurrection, we are assured, Jesus’ tomb was empty, people could touch him, he ate food with them, he was not a ghost.
But his rising from the dead was not a brute slap in the face to his critics, a non-negotiable fact that left sceptics with nothing to say. The resurrection didn’t make a big splash. It was not some spectacular event that exploded into the world as the highlight on the evening news. It had the same dynamics as the incarnation itself: After he rose from the dead, Jesus was seen by some, but not by others; understood by some, but not by others. Some got his meaning and it changed their lives, others were indifferent to him, and still others understood what had happened, hardened their hearts against it, and tried to destroy its truth.
Notice how this parallels, almost perfectly, what happened at the birth of Jesus: The baby was real, not a ghost, but he was seen by some, but not by others and the event was understood by some but not by others. Some got its meaning and it changed their lives, others were indifferent and their lives went on as before, while still others (like Herod) sensed its meaning but hardened their hearts against it and tried to destroy the child.
Why the difference? What makes some see the resurrection while others do not? What lets some understand the mystery and embrace it, while others are left in indifference or hatred?
Hugo of St. Victor used to say: Love is the eye! When we look at anything through the eyes of love, we see correctly, understand, and properly appropriate its mystery.
The reverse is also true. When we look at anything through eyes that are jaded, cynical, jealous, or bitter, we will not see correctly, will not understand, and will not properly appropriate its mystery.We see this in how the Gospel of John describes the events of Easter Sunday. Jesus has risen, but, first of all, only the person who is driven by love, Mary Magdala, goes out in search of him. The others remain as they are, locked inside their own worlds. But love seeks out its beloved and Mary Magdala goes out, spices in hand, wanting at least to embalm his dead body. She finds his grave empty and runs back to Peter and the beloved disciple and tells them the tomb is empty. The two race off together, towards the tomb, but the disciple whom Jesus loved out-runs Peter and gets to the tomb first, but he doesn’t enter, he waits for Peter (authority) to go in first.
Peter enters the empty tomb, sees the linens that had covered the body of Jesus, but does not understand. Then the beloved disciple, love, enters. He sees and he does understand. Love grasps the mystery. Love is the eye. It is what lets us see and understand the resurrection.
That is why, after the resurrection, some saw Jesus but others did not. Some understood the resurrection while others did not. Those with the eyes of love saw and understood. Those without the eyes of love either didn’t see anything or were perplexed or upset by what they did see.
There are lots of ways to be blind. I remember an Easter Sunday some years ago when I was a young graduate student in San Francisco. Easter Sunday was late that year and it was a spectacularly beautiful spring day. But on that particular day I was mostly blind to what was around me. I was young, homesick, alone on Easter Sunday, and nursing a huge heartache. That colored everything I was seeing and feeling. It was Easter Sunday, in spring, in high sunshine, but, for what I was seeing, it might as well have been midnight, on Good Friday, in the dead of winter.
Lonely and nursing a heartache, I took a walk to calm my restlessness. At the entrance of a park, I saw a blind beggar holding a sign that read: It’s spring and I’m blind! The irony wasn’t lost on me. I was blind that day, more blind than that beggar, seeing neither spring nor the resurrection. What I was seeing were only those things that reflected what was going on inside my own heart.
Christ is risen, though we might not see him! We don’t always notice spring. The miraculous doesn’t force itself on us. It’s there, there to be seen, but whether we see or not, and what precisely we do see, depends mainly upon what’s going on inside our own hearts.
25 March 2008
I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope for. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.
As the wagon driver said when they got to the bottom of the long, hard hill, "Them that's going with us - get out and push. Them that ain't, get out of the way." - Robert Fulghum
23 March 2008
22 March 2008
21 March 2008
19 March 2008
18 March 2008
Updated: March 18, 2008 10:11 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - - Holy vision sightings have been around for years, the Virgin Mary on a garage door, in a window, her face on a grilled cheese sandwich recently gathered 28 thousand dollars on ebay.
Jesus images are just as common, on a frying pan, a fish stick and even a pancake and now, some Niagara Falls parishioners say his face is on the altar at St. John de Lasalle Church.
Rory Etopio, "Definately a vision, because it looked like christ to me."
Rory doesn't go to this church, but came by because she heard about the image.
Rory Etopio, "I came to stations of the cross to see it for myself, and I couldn't believe it."
But Father Lynn Shumway says there's a simple explanation for this odd appearance in his church.
Father Lynn Shumway, St. John de Lasalle Church, "There was an image because the way the altar cloth is folding in and the palms here are pushing back one part of it."
He's pretty skeptical that this might might have a deeper meaning, even during holy week.
Father Lynn Shumway, St. John de Lasalle Church, "They say that we find god in the everyday things of life and if we find him in folds of an altar cloth well that's fine and good."
On Monday nights stations of the cross service, around 100 worshipers showed up, a service that typically gets around 10-15 people.
But you don't think there's anything to this really?
Father Lynn Shumway, St. John de Lasalle Church, "If there was I'd take up a collection!"
(or just what you want to see?)
My prayer for all of you this Holy Week isn't that you find some great spiritual insight that you've ben looking for, but that you see what God has been trying to show you (but that you've been missing) all along...
(watch it again, just to make sure) ;-)
h/t Br. Blue
17 March 2008
Ugh! How bad is this? One of these days, someone with far more time than me should run a contest of the worst 'serious' depictions of Jesus, both in painting and in sculpture...
Anyone? Anyone? (Anyone from a state that has both a North and South version of it???)
16 March 2008
He went out into the night. He did not fear the chaos, did not hide from it, but plunged into its deepest point, into the jaws of death: as we pray, he "descended into hell". Faith always means going out together with Jesus, not being afraid of the chaos, because he is the stronger one. He "went out" and we go out with him if we do the same.
Faith means emerging from the walls to build places of faith and of love in the midst of the chaotic world by the power of Jesus Christ. The Lord "went out" - it is a sign of his power. He went out into the night of Gethsemane, the night of the cross and the grave. He is the "stronger man" who stands up against the "strong man" - death.
The love of God - God's power - is stronger than the powers of destruction. So this very "going out," this setting out on the path of the Passion, when Jesus steps outside the boundary of the protective walls of the city, is a gesture of victory. The mystery of Gethsemane already holds within it the mystery of Easter joy. Jesus is the "stronger man."
There is no power that can withstand him now; no place where he is not to be found. He summons us to dare to accompany him on his path; for where faith and love are, he is there, and the power of peace is there which overcomes nothingness and death.
Do yourself a favor. Read this story and rediscover your faith in your fellow human.
Merrick teens design clothes, jewelry for charity
And their website:
One is greater than none (1>0)
hat tip: Br. Blue
15 March 2008
After spending the last few weeks in the desert of Lent, suddenly we find ourselves in an oasis, clutching long leaves of palms.
But like so many things you see after being in the desert, it’s a mirage. What we see, or think we see, is about to shift before our eyes.
Soon enough, the palms will be whips. The leaves will be thorns. Jubilation will become jeers. That is the paradox and the mystery of Holy Week. The liturgies of this week are powerful and primal. In the days to come, there is silence and smoke, fire and water, shadow and light. We are a part of something both ancient and new, and what we do this week reminds us of that. The altar will be stripped. The cross will be venerated. The tabernacle will be emptied. The Blessed Sacrament will be moved. Bells will be stilled.
And yet here we stand, at the gates to Jerusalem, palms in our hands and hosannas on our lips, beginning the arduous trek to Calvary.
It is easy to be distracted by the events of the world, and not really pay attention to what we will do this week. Somewhere, wars are raging, and politicians are squabbling. Somewhere, Easter eggs are being sold, and chocolate is being inventoried, and plastic grass is lining wicker baskets.
But not here. Not now. Not yet.
This week, take the time to wonder about what we are doing, and what we are remembering.For close to two thousand years, we have gathered like this, in places like this, to light candles and chant prayers and read again the ancient stories of our deliverance and redemption.
But are we aware of what we are doing? Do we understand what it means? Do we realize the price that was paid? A proper accounting is impossible. The ledger—His life, for our souls—seems woefully unbalanced.
So try this. This week, take a moment in each day that passes to wonder: What was He doing during this time of that one week all those centuries ago? What was crossing His mind on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday? What sort of anguish? What kind of dread?Has anything we have ever worried about, or lost sleep over, or agonized about, even come close?
He was a man like us in all things but sin. He must have been terrified, His mind buzzing with questions. Long after the others had drifted off to sleep, did He stay awake and worry? Maybe He sat up alone, late at night, whittling a piece of wood, the way His father had taught Him, until a splinter sliced His skin, drawing a rivulet of blood. He might have flinched and thought: Well, this is nothing. And still it stings. How intense would the pain of death become? How long would it last? How much humiliation would He be forced to endure, stripped and bleeding? And: What about His mother? Is there anything He could do to spare her from this?
As you shop for Easter baskets and dye, think of this. Ponder this. Wonder about it. Make it a kind of prayer.
And then, remember what we are doing, and why.
Because, of all the calendars in all of human history, this is the week that changed the world.
Originally published in the bulletin of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, Forest Hills, New York, on April 9, 2006 (Palm Sunday)
14 March 2008
13 March 2008
11 March 2008
09 March 2008
True forgiveness is something quite different from weak indulgence. Forgiveness is demanding and requires both parities, the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven, to do so with all their minds and hearts. A Jesus who sanctions everything is a Jesus without the cross, for such a Jesus would not need the torment of the cross to save mankind.
As a matter of fact, the cross in being increasingly banished from theology and reinterpreted as just a vexatious mischance of a purely political event. The cross as reconciliation, as a means of forgiving and saving, is incompatible with a certain modern mode of thought. Only when the relationship between truth and love is rightly comprehended can the cross be comprehensible in its true theological depth.
Forgiveness has to do with truth. That is why it requires the Son's cross and our conversion.
Forgiveness is, in act, the restoration of truth, the renewal of being, and the amusement of the lies that lurk in every sin; sin is by nature a departure from the truth of one's own nature and, by consequence, from the truth of the Creator God.
"Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job."
h/t Brother Blue
07 March 2008
05 March 2008
For the content of this faith is that the sinner as sinner is hanging on the Cross of Christ - really, and not only in some vague representation - and that, accordingly, Christ dies 'my death of sin' whilst I obtain from beyond myself, in this death, the life of the love of God. Paul, then, expresses the total situation of the Church with great precision when he asserts in Galatians 2:19-20:
It is no longer I who live (as an I abiding with itself as home), but Christ who lives in me. . . (which means, I am co-crucified with Christ. . .). The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God.
That puts into words the essential constitution of the Church's being. To become a Christian means to come to the Cross.
Hans Urs von Balthasar