Category Archives: Easter

Bury fear, resurrect love, keep Easter

50_days_easter_graphic_webIt happened about midday on Monday, as I sat at my desk. It happens every year, in every way, but this year it hit me hard; perhaps I was snappish in my reply, I don’t know. This “it” is something we’ve likely all said or thought over the years. The gentleman sitting before me, a very “churched” person said, “I bet you’re glad that Easter is OVER!”

The snappish bit? When I looked up and (was I roaring like a lion?) and said, “Easter has just begun! Easter is 50 days! Easter is not over, it never is!” (H/t Bosco Peters.)

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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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Christ is Risen!

resΧριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! Khristós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Every blessing to one and all. Alleluia!

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Taking a leap of doubt – a reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

doubtPoor doubt, I feel kind of sorry for it. Doubt takes such a beating in our culture, and I think that is rather unfortunate. Where would faith be, if not for doubt? Like night and day, like good and evil, like joy and sorrow… well, like so many other opposite points, the space between them is where all the real action is found. How can we so carelessly toss doubt aside, as if it negates everything? For me, the deepest anchors of faith are not dropped in surety and certitude, but deep in the ocean of doubt.

Is our faith more about making leaps of doubt, rather than leaps of faith alone? Can one exist without the other?

Somewhere around 2005 I heard a radio program on the topic of doubt and I was hooked on doubt as a topic to explore. “A History of Doubt” first aired on what was then called “Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett,” in 2003. Tippett’s program, and now podcast, is know known as “On Being,” and “A History of Doubt” continues to find an audience. The program features Jennifer Michael Hecht, who has made doubt a field of study and exploration.

Today’s Gospel, one of the most familiar, even to those who do not follow the Gospel, is about “doubting Thomas.” When I was a kid, I used to think badly of Thomas. Was my point of view informed by my faith education? Probably. I don’t have any specific recollection of hearing this – or any other Gospel – as a child, but my “religious instruction” classes, I do remember. Please know that I was spared any “mean” priests or nuns, so none of this is couched in that. What I do remember is that we were instructed that is that doubt was the opposite of faith. It seemed reasonable enough to me, so I went along with it… when I was 10.

Today I have no such vision. What about you? I can only speak for myself when I say that my faith, something that is so real, so powerful, at the heart of my being, is infused with the on-going scent of doubt. Are you shocked or scandalized to hear this?

Not too long ago, I wrote about our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, calling him a dangerous man. One of the images that I was holding at that point, was that of the certitude of some of the Pharisees who not only doubted Jesus, but who used that doubt to plot the death of Jesus.

This is one of the challenges of doubt, at least from where I am. Perhaps it is not doubt that comes first, but what comes first is a certain “knowing.” Doesn’t such certitude, such absolutism, say that there is little room for God? What does such certainty do, when God in fact, can never conform to our limited capacity for knowing God?

So what does this have to do with today’s Gospel? Thomas certainly knew Jesus, didn’t he? But did Thomas know Christ? No – not until that moment of encounter. Go ahead, says Jesus, stick your hand in there, this is for real.

Crooked Kisses and Other WoundsHere is something that I have no doubt of… If Jesus were standing before me, I might faint before I stuck my hand inside of his wound! And perhaps this is where this Gospel leads us to…

What are we so sure of? Do we really love Jesus as much as we say that we do? I mean really, think about it… are you ready to thrust your hand deep into the wound of anyone, even those you love most? Isn’t that what Jesus is asking us to do?

imagesLoving Jesus with such hard-core certitude and thinking about how that smarty pants Thomas should have thought twice before questioning God is one thing. It would seem that another way of seeing this is that Thomas offers us a gift… Jesus asks us to enter into the wounds of all. I’m sorry, but that makes me queasy when I think of physical wounds, and overwhelmed when I think of all the other wounds, the ones we can’t see, but that are present in all of us. Thomas, seemingly undaunted, leads the way.

Suddenly certainty has dispersed like fog in the midday sun. We can be so “certain” of so many things, but can we place ourselves inside of the bloody wound? And how can we live Christian lives of sacrifice and service unless we do precisely that – literally and figuratively?

This is where Thomas leads me, and I am grateful to him, and to God, for bringing me to this place where I shrink back, recoiling perhaps in utter horror. Listen, I am VERY squeamish, the thought of such things sends me reeling. Now I can castigate myself for this, or I can see it as an invitation to change.

And is that not what our faith really is, our belief in the Risen Lord? This faith centers around a Triune God, always inviting us, always challenging us, but always welcoming us, to a kind of transformation. That transformation also means moving from doubt to faith, and the constant criss-cross of that territory, for the whole of our lives.

Doubt is nothing to be feared; I believe that doubt is to be befriended. In fact, maybe what we are called to are not only “leaps of faith,” but also of the aforementioned, “leaps of doubt.” Doubt can act as our greatest guide, the very force that leads us into the wounds of Christ and the on-going transformation that follows. I never doubt that is the way of the Lord, and I never doubt how hard it is to follow and believe in God, living as a Christian. This is no one-time decision, made in certitude and lived in certitude; it is an invitation into the mystery of our faith, a life lived in Christ Jesus. To do that we must follow and follow and follow…

search_of_certainty1Every day, in one fashion or another, propelled by my doubts, I seek to live more deeply in my faith. Yes, a good leap of doubt, taken with a heart of faith, can bring us, like it brought Thomas, closer to the Lord, without a doubt.

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Easter – The Journey Continues, A Reflection by Doreen Salse

road-to-emmaus1Easter – the Journey Continues

By Doreen Salse

“Oops! Sorry, I guess I didn’t see you!. We probably have said this or a variation when we’ve looked up from the shopping cart at the grocery store or across the shelves at the library and saw someone insistently waving or smiling at us to get our attention.

The followers of Jesus seemed to be doing quite a bit of this during the Octave of Easter. These same people who had lived, eaten, traveled and prayed together with Christ didn’t recognize him until after He did something to get their attention. After all the years of listening to Him, the disciples still needed a sign. You might imagine them saying after He helped them pull in a net full of fish after a day of catching nothing and not knowing who He was until he invited them to breakfast -“Ah! Now recognize you”.

How different are we from the disciples? We have recently completed our Lenten journey, but where did that journey lead? Was it something to endure, a time to pack in a year’s worth of prayer, fasting and almsgiving? Did we cross off the days on a calendar thinking “only 20 days, 10 days, 5 days until Easter so that I can get back to enjoying the things I gave up?”

Perhaps after Easter we are a little like the travelers on the road to Emmaus. We’ve been through Holy Week hearing about the Passion of Christ. We may be contemplating what the empty tomb on Sunday morning really means, and wonder what changes it might bring for us.

Our focus should be on how the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving reshaped us during Lent. Were they instrumental in opening our eyes to see Christ among us in this Easter season and beyond? We had a forty-day opportunity to practice and improve our commitment to prayer and charity. Those forty days allowed us time to develop the desire to extend that commitment throughout our lives.

We have experienced the power of what we practiced during Lent. We have no excuse to say as we look around us and see Jesus in the form of people who need a word of comfort, prayers, money, or food and say, “Sorry. I didn’t see you standing there.”

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