Do you want to live?

the-crucifixion-1311.jpg!BlogA vaccine is made up of something that might harm us, but is used in such a way to give us a dose of it so that we might remain well. Homeopathic medicine has the “law of the similars” which says that substances that might cause ill, when used in particular doses, heal. I’m sure you see a theme emerging.

Once I met a woman who was deadly allergic to cats, but she fell in love with a man who was a cat person. She realized that if they were to ever find happiness, she would need a solution. She told me that she would go up to the cats and hold them to her face, breathing them in, causing congestion and asthma. Eventually she said the symptoms lessened, and her allergy was gone. Love and happiness ensued.

We were at a party when she told this story. A few people, despite seeing a young woman of robust good health before them asked why she would risk her life by going head first – literally – into what might have killed her. Her reply was simple – because of love.

Today we are faced with the Cross. The conundrum of death leading to new life hits is before us. Will we take some of the poison in order that we might be healed?
With that thought in mind I find myself going to John 5:6 when Jesus asks a man, “Do you want to be well?” Today I ask myself – do I want to live?

If the answer to either question is yes, I have to do something. No, not the rugged independence of healing or saving myself, but rather the taking of the medicine that might kill me, so that I might live. In this case the medicine is the cross, a sure and certain death, so that I might live. In this context, the question of whether I want to live or not takes on a new meaning.

Of course I want to live. Don’t you? But are we willing to die in order to do so? Today we commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion. Many non-Catholics recoil at our crucifixes with dead, sometimes bloody Jesus on them. Someone recently wrote to me in an email, “The first thing you Catholics have to do is get rid of those awful crosses!”

But no. We are the Body of Christ. The incarnation, which is at the heart of all of this, God made flesh, demands that we, like the woman at the party, inhale deeply the scent of death. The only reason to do such a thing is love, the love of Christ.

What will you choose today? Good Friday after Good Friday, frankly – day after day – I want to be healed, I want to live, but I employ stupendously complicated mechanisms to avoid the cross. That’s why I need to see the whole picture, not seeing just a dead and bloodied man, but seeing open arms and the invitation to love and to life.

The question comes before us today in a special way. What will we choose? Do we want to be healed? Do we want to live? The only response for me is to open my arms, inhale deeply, and go to the cross. Christ is there. Will you be there too?

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Holy Thursday – ¡Presente!

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday and we remember the martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero. ¡Presente! – this is a term is meant to say that they who once were are with us now. So it is with Christ our Savior and with all those who have gone before us.

a-young-romero-celebrating-mass

A young Romero celebrating mass.

Let us look at the words found in one of the Eucharistic Prayers that are used at mass in the Catholic church. They speak to what we do on Holy Thursday, and what we do every time we celebrate liturgy.

He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love.

While they were at supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Take this,” Jesus said, “all of you, and eat it.” These words are powerful, a reminder of the real presence we know today. Christ made real and present, as Flannery O’Connor once famously said, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” That’s why on Holy Thursday, punctuated this year by the anniversary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s death, the real should be very clear to us. Things were very real for Romero as he was martyred while offering mass in El Salvador on this day in 1984. Make no mistake, we do not need martyrs for any
“real” to happen.

Today let us live deeply the meaning of eucharist, which is rooted in eucharistia, or thanksgiving. Let us live deeply that thanksgiving for the life of Christ, the lives of the saints and martyrs, meaning those known to us, and those unknown. Many an unnamed saint is an anonymous person to the world, but a treasure to God. Everything we do is very real, may the real presence of Jesus nourish us all, and give us strength.

(If you are in the Albany, NY area please join us for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Roman Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park at 7:30pm. All are truly welcome.)

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Holy Week by Joanne DeNovio

Today’s Lenten reflection is based on John 13:21-33,36-38, and comes to us from parishioner Joanne DeNovio.

HolyWeek_2014_BannerSo here we are at the end of this Lenten season. In a few days we can bring back the chocolate, the sweets, the alcohol and anything else we choose as our fast this Lenten season.

Holy Week was always a special time for me when I was child and I still look forward to this week each year. Not only because I am able to end my fast…and it typically is from something sweet …but because Holy Week and the season of Lent was always a memorable time growing up in my Italian Catholic family. This time of the year was filled with so many traditions and customs that I treasure to this day.

When I was a child, preparation for Easter usually started with the hunt for the prettiest spring dress, Easter hat and patent letter shoes. My sister and I looked forward to wearing our matching dresses and were always thrilled on Easter Saturday to receive a small corsage of flowers from my dad to wear to church the next day.

I recall the delight of visiting my grandmother house during Holy week to witness and taste test the many Italian recipes she made that were reserved just for Easter.

italian-easter-bread4The Ricotta pie, Easter bread, and trays of Italian cookies that filled her kitchen would definitely compete with what see today at Bella Napoli bakery.Easter time also included coloring easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny and so many more great traditions. But as I look back years later, I am so grateful that in our family it wasn’t all about the food, the clothes and the easter bunny. My parents made sure that my sister and I learned the real meaning of this season by passing on the Easter traditions of their Catholic faith.

In our house, every Friday during Lent meant that we fasted from meat and went to stations of the cross after school. I attended a Catholic elementary school and our parish church was right across the street from Continue reading

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Abundant Light by Margaret Felice

(Guest blogger Margaret Felice, a gifted soprano, a choral conductor, writer, and religious educator who resides in Boston returns with her second Lenten blog offering today.)

Rays of sunshine breaks through the cloudsToday’s readings begin by drenching us in light. In the reading from Isaiah we hear “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement., and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” Even if we know intellectually that those words are understood as prophesying Jesus, it’s hard not to hear in them the promise that we, too, can be a light.

As we recite the psalm we cry out “the Lord is my light and my salvation”, though we are never quite told what we mean when Continue reading

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I am the crowd by Shannon O’Donnell

 

Today’s reflection has been offered by Shannon O’Donnell, who has generously contributed to our blog before. Shannon is a jail chaplain and lives in Tacoma, Washington. Today’s reflection was not written with a particular day in mind, but it seems most fitting for Palm Sunday.

We’re sitting at a table in a hallway at the jail. It is mid-morning and there is a flurry of activity. One group of offenders is heads to the multi-purpose room for class while another lines up to cross the skybridge for court. Officers push carts filled with lunch sacks. Somehow laundry exchange happens. Ed is wearing the red pants and shirt he was issued when he was booked into jail three months ago. His orange plastic flipflops have seen many other feet over the years.

Ed ignores the noise and movement. He hunches over the table. He’s 40. “I’m looking at prison. Again.” He sighs. “I’m getting tired of this.” No wonder. It will be his fifth time. He has struggled with drugs, homelessness, mental health issues. His life is an epic case of Whack-a-Mole. He gets one thing under control only to lose something else. Coming to jail seems the only stable piece of his life.

“I started reading the bible Continue reading

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Friday of Sorrows by Doreen Salse

Today’s reflection comes to us from longtime contributor and parishioner, Doreen Salse.

-1ONE OF US

Today is a beautiful balmy day in Southern California. I am sitting on the deck at my mother’s house, writing and listening to the birds sing and watching the trees sway in the warm breeze – hardly a day to think sad thoughts.

Minutes ago my cousin Sylvia sat here with me and with my mother, reminiscing about her daughter who would have celebrated her 40th birthday today.

“I can tell you this,” she said to my mother, “Because you will understand”. “You can lose your parents, your grandparents, your husband, but when you lose something, someone, that you made and was once inside of you – it’s the worst thing in the world. There are no words to describe it, it’s beyond anything you can say.”

My mother, who lost her daughter, my sister, our “center”, 2 years ago, could only nod her head.

As I write, “lost my sister”, I remember Continue reading

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Truth and freedom by Kathleen Sacks

Today’s reflection has been offered by parishioner Kathleen Sacks, based on today’s Gospel from John.

Truth-quote-400x400.pngThe truth will set you free” How many times have I heard that? Jesus is speaking to the “Jews who believed” yet from this excerpt, it sounds like they don’t believe…….oh John, how ironic!  Let’s get to the truth!  Were the Pharisees caught up in the narrow, literal meaning of the Law of Moses?  Were they missing the Spirit of the Law: love and mercy? As a teacher, I am often caught up in the rules of the school…….a rule is a rule, right? If you don’t follow the rule, then you break the rule!  I forget that the rules were made to provide an environment where learning can take place for everyone.  Sometimes, I get so caught up in enforcing the rule, I forget to see the person in front of me.  I forget that the person is more important than the rule…….but I’m learning.  It’s not easy! I am learning to say, “I was wrong, I’m sorry.”  No phones during class sounds like a good rule, right? Not for the student whose mother had surgery that morning.

If you remain in my Word”……… (John 8:32) During my senior year in High School, we studied the Gospel of John under the guidance of Sr. Dorothy Tighe.  We read from the Gospel of John every day and I thought that it was the most difficult to understand of all the gospels.  It wasn’t real to me and very cryptic and confusing.  Over the years, I would go through spurts of John again and the fog would lift for certain passages……..I did have some “ah-ha” moments.  This Living Word seems to change Continue reading

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