Today I offer you something that I put on my personal blog, There Will Be Bread, a few years ago, with some new questions about what this day might mean to us as God’s people. What seemingly impossible things are we called to say yes to today? What is in the space between God and our yes that makes for miracles? How will we each bring Christ into the world without reservation?
Category Archives: Lent
I love Christmas and Easter. They’re my two favorite times of year. However, I will admit Christmas edges out Easter in certain regards. This is in part because Christmas gets a more pronounced lead up. Now don’t get me wrong, the lead up Christmas gets in the world is usually more about shopping than Advent. Nevertheless, you always know when Christmas time is upon us.
Easter on the other hand, well, it’s not the same show dog. I’d like to think (correct me if I’m wrong) that the extent of Easter in the stores is seeing Easter baskets, eggs, and peeps on the shelves. There aren’t the same elaborate decorations, displays, or sale campaigns, save for the occasional pictures with the Easter bunny. Even in the religious realm, I have never heard anyone say “Yes, Lent is here! I’m so excited!” There are many who take Lent as a time for spiritual renewal. Yet, I more often encounter alpha/omega people: we like Ash Wednesday at the beginning and Holy Week at the end. Call me when Palm Sunday gets here (if that). I include myself in this category. I’m reminded its Lent in the busyness of life usually when I remember it’s a meatless Friday or I forgot to keep up with my Lenten penance/addition. Continue reading
Wow. We have had a bumper crop of excellent reflections on the Parish Blog this Lent haven’t we? I’ve been inspired by much of what I have read and am grateful to those who have shared their thoughts and insights.
I’d been thinking about focusing my reflection on the sadness in today’s Psalm: (34)
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him”
It was a natural place for me to go. After all, life is hard, right?
On Tuesday, like I do most mornings, I reached for my phone on my bedside table to read the Lenten reflections of the day on the parish blog. It was Charles Burre talking right at me about Psalm 20 about how weeping Continue reading
Don’t you wish we knew more about St. Joseph? I do, especially on his feast day. We will talk about what the Scriptures have to say about him below. But first, the Church teaches us that he was the spouse of Mary mother of Jesus, but the foster father or adoptive father of Jesus. Through church tradition and declaration he is patron of the universal church, of a happy death (since tradition says he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary), of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers (remember to bury his statue upside down in the lawn), craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general ( with a special feast of St. Joseph the worker on May 1, perhaps to set off the communist May Day). The Roman Martyrology is a book that contains lists of saints (not only martyrs) whose “birthday,” i.e. The day they died and entered eternal life, is listed on that particular day. This is often read aloud in religious communities. The page for March 19 begins, “In Judea, the birthday of St. Joseph, spouse of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.” I do not know why they think that he died on this day.
In Scripture, Joseph is not referred to at all in St. Mark’s gospel, and is mentioned only twice in St. John’s gospel where the evangelist quotes two different people referring to Jesus as “the son of Joseph.” [Jn 1:45, and 6:42] The first two chapters of St. Matthew’s gospel tell the story of the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt all from the point of view of Joseph, including the genealogy of Joseph descending from King David. Matthew also includes Joseph’s dreams and calls him a “righteous man.” The first two Continue reading
Meditation on the readings for March 16, 2015
Isaiah 65: 17-21; Psalms 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12a, 13b; John 4: 43-54
In today’s reading Isaiah writes of the new heaven and new earth, which those who seek to know and honor the Lord will experience. Certainly the world free of all pain and suffering that is described is not yet a reality, but I believe that if we accept the good news that Jesus proclaimed, we can experience so much of this joy right now. We can, and should be, a delightful and joyful people who do not remember the painful things of the past. Yes, even in Lent!
I think that we Christians too often speak of the necessity of suffering in our lives. In fact, I cringe and think “Here we go again.” everytime I hear this message, or come across it in my spiritual readings. Although Jesus did ask us to take up our cross and follow Him, He also said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Why can’t we emphasize this?
The psalm for today says, “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing…You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”
Of course, “Life is difficult.” as Father Pat likes to say. Mature Christians need to see their difficulties, trials, and suffering as things that will strengthen their character and cause them to turn to God for help. There is a time and place for counsel and guidance to help a brother or sister through a difficult period. I am not saying that such times of trial should be made light of or even denied. The last thing the person who is suffering needs to hear is “This is nothing. Cheer up!” What I am trying to say here is that, to the outsider, it appears that our faith journey consists solely in the way of the cross. We as Christians can get too hung up on our weeping at nightfall and miss the opportunity to share the rejoicing at dawn.
I also do not want to say that during Lent and the Easter Triduum, we should not let our beings become fully immersed in the passion of Christ. This is after all the core of our faith. But let’s not forget, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”
One of the songs we sing at our Residents Encounter Christ (REC) retreats in NY prisons is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” I first learned this song many years ago at our Hosanna prayer meetings. In those days our meetings felt like large revival meetings, as we sang enthusiastically: “I have decided to follow Jesus…, no turning back, no turning back.”
Recently, while rehearsing this song for an upcoming REC retreat, I noticed the second and third verses on our homemade song sheets: “2. It’s persecution to follow Jesus… 3. It’s tribulation to follow Jesus…” I did not remember these verses from the songbooks we used in Hosanna and suggested to the retreat team that these verses were not what the prison inmates needed to hear. We hold these retreats to make the love of Jesus become real to the inmates and these words detract, even if there is some truth to them at some point in our lives as Christians. The team agreed and our new song sheets omit these verses.
Although we will indeed face difficulties in our lives, because we know that our God will always help us through them, the song we should be singing is the last verse: “Sing glory glory and alleluia…No turning back, no turning back.”
Today we celebrate Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent – a day meant for rejoicing. Not unlike King Cyrus declaring the return to Jerusalem to our beleaguered Jewish ancestors during the Babylonian exile, Pope Francis brings us news to make Laetare Sunday especially joyful this year!
From America Magazine:
“In a surprising and far-reaching decision, Pope Francis has announced an extraordinary “Jubilee of Mercy” that will extend from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, and will involve the Catholic Church throughout the world.”
As we pass the midpoint of Lent we are encouraged to Continue reading
The reading begins with Peter’s question about how frequently he should forgive his brother. Jesus’ answer is essentially that there is no limit to the times that we should forgive others. Then Jesus says, “that is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.” And he goes on to tell us the parable. Some scholars think that this parable does not belong here since it really does not deal with peter’s question about how many times we should forgive. Actually, it shows god not forgiving as many as two times. But whether it belongs here or not, jesus tells us that it reflects the kingdom of heaven and at the end he says, “so will my heavenly father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” And for that reason it is important for us to understand what Jesus was telling us.
This parable appears only in Matthew, although there are Continue reading