Remain in my love, a reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter

13746Have you ever heard someone say, “I used to go to church, but I’m not welcome now.”? These words, and variations of them, may be spoken in anger, sadness, resignation, but most always in hurt. Hearing them breaks my heart.

What church doesn’t welcome/like God’s people? God’s longing is to draw everyone in relationship with God, as members of the mystical Body of Christ in the world. All three of today’s readings orient us towards God’s invitation to all people, offered in love, and made manifest through our own participation and action.

image002First we hear about Cornelius, a Roman citizen, who prostrates himself before Peter. Without hesitation, Peter tells him to get up, reminding Cornelius that he too is human, not divine. We are all human, and Jesus – who is divinity enfleshed, came to draw us into deeper relationship with God through one another. Peter tells Cornelius that God shows no partiality, and that every nation that “fears him and acts uprightly” is “acceptable” to Him. At this point, the Holy Spirit “fell upon all who were listening to the word.” Such an event is shocking to the “circumcised” who were amazed by God’s generosity and welcome to those they considered outsiders.

This makes me wonder why God’s generous welcome remains Continue reading

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Resurrection, naturally

Ellie May 2015 WalkOh yes, I’m still here. As is so often the case, I disappear for extended periods of time, for no particular reason – and the days following Easter are often among them!

Add to that a little surgery had me resting more than writing. Plus the weather has finally improved tremendously, and I have been outside enjoying it all, going on long walks with our dog Ellie. Spring has sprung at last!

Which gets me to to this – walking around the woods, or even just my own yard during spring reveals the glory of God in nature. This is not news, but for some reason this year I seem to be more aware of life in the conditions around me in the natural world. Winter hit me hard this year, in a way that it typically does not; its glacial grip around my soul was beyond numbing.

Snowpack March 2015As recently as a month ago, we still had some remaining plowed snow that was covered with dirt. Blocks of old snow/ice – solid and nearly unbreakable, and not in a good way. That glacial grip remained. Like bulbs I planted last autumn, those dry hard little things going down dark and deep, my own unreconciled feelings, were buried in our dry and sandy soil that had frozen over, and was covered by this dark mess.

Crocus April 2015Tulip May 2015Yet, Spring arrived in full, and that gritty pack ice near the curb has slowly melted and washed away. Suddenly green things were emerging – grass, shoots, and leaves. (Sorry – as a writer and a poor copy editor of my own work, I could not resist that one!) The branches of trees which not so long ago appeared dessicated and devoid of any new growth, were sprouting little green tips. And those dang bulbs – up came the green, followed by crocus, then daffodils, and now tulips.

Magnolia bud March 2015No matter how dead something appears, God stirs up the Spirit in the form of new or renewed life. Even in the depth of my winter ennui in those waning days of Lent, the first buds on the magnolia tree outside of my office window caught my attention. On March 24, I decided that I would take a picture every day, or almost every day, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #magnoliawatch. God uses every means possible to get into our hearts. Why wouldn’t God use using social media and hashtags to get our attention?

 

Those magnolia buds became my beloved quotidian companions. What might I note from one day to the next? Was the cold too much, would the tree prevail? When would the blooms finally spring forth? Like a bird tending a nest, I was attuned to the slightest details and just as protective!

Full Magnolia White May 2015Full Magnolia Pink 2015At this point the tree has not simply bloomed, petals are already falling to the ground. Make no mistake, the tree is spectacular and I’m in love with all those big pink and white puffballs exploding in color at the end of each branch and twig. However, I see the fallen ones, and while I mourn, I also feel joy. The tree flowers intensely now, but will offer me green shade all summer long. There will be no grieving for the petals for me this year, just an embrace of what follows.

Magnolia May 2015 Full GloryEvery walk I take this Spring reveals new glories and joy, signs and wonders made plain in the flora and fauna of this ecosystem. God appears to have illustrated our Easter season readings and prayers in the growth all around me, and within me. Naturally!

Blessings of Spring to you, blessings of this continued Eastertide!

(Tonight on Tuesday, May 5 at 7PM, we will have Evening Prayer at St. Edward the Confessor. All are welcome for this time of music, prayer and reflection. Please join us!)

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Thank you to our Music Ministry

thank-you-god-bless-you-card58859lgOn this Easter Monday I come to say a loud and resounding THANK YOU to the music ministry of our parish, St. Edward the Confessor!  Thank you and God bless you all. If you were able to be at any of our services during Holy Week, you would have been aware of the tremendous depth, breadth, richness, power, and love found in our combined music ministries. Under the guidance of Director of Music, Mary Jo Brue, and the many hands, hearts, and voices that are a part of it, we have 9 different groups that come together as one during special celebrations, such as Easter. The music is so beautiful, so powerful. So much work and preparation goes into what happens…. Thank you and God bless you to our Music Ministers! You made Holy Week and Easter so beautiful… just like you do every week of the year.

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Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

the-empty-tomb-george-richardsonΧριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

These Greek words sum up what today is all about. In fact they sum up everything about our Catholic Christian – or any Christian – faith. Christ is Risen! Truly He Has Risen!

May every blessing and hope of the resurrection be yours! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

alleluia

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Why have we come to the cross? by Phyllis Cardona

Jesus on the CrossMeditation: Why have we come to the cross?
by Phyllis Cardona

Why have we come to the cross?
Are we among the curiosity seekers?
Are we still trying to figure out what is going on?
Are we here to reframe the events so that we can
maintain the status quo without challenging our beliefs?
Are we fearful and hiding in the shadows or
Are we looking for a leader, for someone to rely on?
Why have we come?

Why have we come to the cross?
Are we here to protest the injustice?
Are we here to argue with God,
and to wrestle with irresolvable issues?
Are we here to lay down some rage –
to figure out if we can ever forgive God
for allowing this to happen?
Why have we come?

Why have we come to the cross?
Are we here because we are immobile and
stunned by the suffering and pain of this
dreadful display of cruel and inhuman treatment?
Are we searching for the few remaining faithful ones
we can cling to to bolster our own faltering faith?
Why have we come?

Why have we come to the cross?
Are we afraid of what the hour of our own death will be like?
Are we afraid that all of our efforts will end in vain,
And that no one will be with us to bless us on our way,
to mourn our passing and to care for our loved ones?
Why have we come?

Why have we come to the cross?
Are we here to stand vigil with a dying friend?
Are we here to prepare the body for burial –
to wipe away the signs of a brutality
we can hardly bear to witness,
and to restore, in some way, a measure of reverence
and dignity that humanity cries out for?
Are we here to console his Mother and to
share in the silent communion of a final, loving gaze?
Why have we come?

Whatever the reason, we are here. Together we stand at the foot of the cross, not afraid of the reason why we are here, but knowing that we must be here to face all that is known and yet unknown because it is in this very place that God is powerfully present.

Thank you to Phyllis Cardona of Albany. A writer, retired catechist, and so much more, Phyllis generously shared some of her work with us this Lent and we are grateful.

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Am I too late? A last day of Lent reflection from jail

tell-me-not(This Last-day-of Lent reflection is a guest post offered by Shannon O’Donnell. She is a longtime online Catholic friend, from the Seattle-Tacoma area, author, and jail chaplain. Her words never fail to move me.) It’s the last week of Lent, the last days, really. Some days I have been aware of the season, other days, not so much. In the county jail where I work, “Lent” describes more than just those six weeks before Easter. Some people refer to it as “Hell on the Hill.”

In mid-February, we distributed ashes at Catholic services. At communion services and prayer groups, at the one Mass, and I carried a small box of ashes with me as I met with offenders for private talks. Ashes were one thing most people could relate to, so anyone who asked received them.

Out in the parishes, Continue reading

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Last gasps of Lent

-1Here we are, another Lent come and nearly gone. How do we feel? Any different from how we felt on Ash Wednesday? Or how we felt last year? Or the year before?

If you look at the selected Evening Prayer in the daily devotional Give Us This Day, you will find a reading from the Book of Acts (Acts 17:27b-31). It is not the standard evening prayer for today, as found in the Liturgy of the Hours, but I read it (yes – early, because I thought I was giving a reflection on it tonight) and I thought it really delivered the message of what these last gasps of Lent might offer us.

imagesHere we are at the end of our 40 day trek through the desert. We are likely weary, hot, tired, thirsty, exhausted. Or maybe we are not, because we saw the “last oasis before Easter” exit earlier in our Lenten journey, so we did the sensible thing – we bailed. Some of us may be somewhere in between, straddling a well-practiced Lent and a lazy one. That last one covers me, as I careened from one extreme to the other, a sacrificial Lent and a somewhat less disciplined one. God, I’m sorry about eating so much of that cake that Erica baked; I did not mean to, it just happened.

It may seem Continue reading

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