Thursday, January 3, 2013

Being chosen...

I got a pleasant surprise at one of the Christmas parties we attended over the last few weeks. My wife's godson asked me to be his sponsor for his Confirmation this spring!

It felt something like when my sister asked me to be godfather to my nephew some 15 years ago. It felt similar; but at the same time it felt better. When my sister asked, she was asking on behalf of someone else for spiritual support. When L's godson asked me to sponsor him, it was his initiative and his choice. I'm humbled and honored he would choose me to be be with him and support him through this last Sacrament of Initiation.

Uncle Tommy is proud of you, kid!

Christmas Weekday
Daily Mass Readings
1 John 2:29-3:6
Psalm 98 1:3-6
John 1:29-34

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thoughts on the Connecticut school shooting

The horrific elementary school shooting in Newton Connecticut this morning (the death count standing at 20 children and 27 overall at the time of this writing) inevitably brings the debate on gun control back to the forefront. I am saddened. I am angry, angrier than I've ever been about something like this, God help me. It is tragic and terrifying when something like this happens at a university and even moreso when it happens at a high school. This latest evil was committed at an elementary school. These were babies, who had their lives ripped away from them in a senseless act of mass murder.

I've been a 2nd amendment advocate for many, many years. I'm also a father for 15 years. Whenever something like this would happen in the past, I’d wince and mourn, but would be comforted by the idea that it was the “gun-free” school zones that were to blame. If only a good law-abiding citizen had been armed nearby, the violence could have been lessened or done away with altogether.

No. Just...NO. Not today. Not anymore. Someone in the state of mind this sick man had to have been in to commit such an unspeakable act of violence wasn’t spurred on by a “gun-free school zone” sign. He would not have been deterred by the idea someone might fire back...he took his own life afterwards. Besides, an armed teacher or janitor would likely have produced a crossfire that would have killed even more people, likely more children. Answering violence with the same produces more pain, more corpses, more sorrow, more memorial vigils, and more child-sized coffins being carried out of churches, temples, and synagogues.

I have no solution to this. I have nothing to say that isn’t already being said in thousands upon thousands of places on and off the internet right now. But there has to be some kind of meeting of the minds in this debate; there just HAS to be. Our founding fathers could not have foreseen this kind of senseless violence when they penned the 2nd Amendment; there is simply no way. How do we keep firearms out of the hands of people who would cause such horrific suffering? How do we preserve our right to self-defense without losing our precious loved ones to a slaughter like we saw today? Brother Francis pray for us...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life


Saturday of the Second Week of Advent
Daily Mass Readings
Sirach 48:1-4,9-11
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19
Matthew 17:9a,10-13

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reviewing Testament of Mary

I mentioned being interested in reading The Testament of Mary in the orevious entry. After downloading it and reading the novella, I composed a quick review in America Magazine today (look down to comment # 34)

I wasn't all that impressed:

What I was looking for in Testament was an emphasis on the humanity of Mary, the anger she must have felt at the death of Jesus, the annoyance and exasperation she may have felt toward the fawning disciples trying to understand what being His mother must have been like, lingering doubts of the enormity of who her Son was and what He was in her post- Ascension years; aspects of Mary that could possibly bring me closer to her in prayer.

What I found in Testament was a contemptuous, nasty woman bearing the name of Mary, who ran at the crucifixion of Jesus (whose name is never once mentioned in the novella), who never believed in the mission of her Son while He was alive, and who dies believing the world was never worth redeeming. Jesus is pictured as a blowhard whose fame and self-importance get the better of Him. John (who is also never mentioned by name, referred only to as the 'guardian') is imagined as one who contorts and manipulates every word that comes out of Mary's mouth to invent his Gospel and writings. A dream Mary relates to her cousin after the crucifixion; that they and John stayed with Jesus until he died, and that Jesus rose zombie-like from the dead is what John turns into the Easter story. In other words, not only doesn't Mary believe the Resurrection ever happened, Testament's Mary KNOWS it was a figment of her imagination.

AND it what seemed like a cheap stunt (or the cheapest stunt, given the context) is that Mary and her neighbor Farina no longer attend synagogue, but now worship Artemis at a pagan Temple (the author was careful to capitalize it). I would think modern Pagans would think this a cheap stunt as well.

What struck me more than anything was that Testament's Mary is a complete stranger to me. Even when recounting the death of her Son, there is no sense of sorrow, no sense of love, no sense of motherhood. I saw no one I could relate to, and no one to whom I would WANT to relate, were I able to. There was no Love represented, either from Mary, the disciples, or her un-named Son in Testament. I am grateful it was as short as it was, or I'd have had to put it down. I was looking, straining to find some kind of faith, something that approached redemption. Nowhere to be found, unfortunately.

Perhaps it was an interesting idea...but I was disappointed.

Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra
Daily Mass Readngs
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:1,8-9,19-21,25-27
Matthew 7:21,24-27

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Testament of Mary

I was reading through America magazine and happened upon this review of Colm Toibin's new book.…

Titled The Testament of Mary, it is an imagining of Mother Mary's life following the Ascension until her death/Dormition. From the comments on the review I've read so far (a comment of mine is in there somewhere), it seems like it is stirring up some controversy much in the same way The Last Temptation of Christ did; the former by imagining the thoughts of Mary, the latter by daring to imagine the thoughts of an all-too human Christ on the cross. In Testament, Mary is apparently depicted as sad, bitter, and annoyed with her Son's disciples.

Honestly, I've not given too much thought (in prayer or otherwise) to the life of Mary after the Ascension. Was she instrumental in the formation the infant Church? Did she miss her Son? The horrible wounds on her heart from her Son's execution; were they healed by the Resurrection or did they still burn in His earthly absence? Did she fully understand her role in salvation history?

I think I'm going to give this book a read.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier
Daily Mass Readings
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-9
Matthew 8:5-11

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holy Darkness...waiting

Holy darkness, blessed night
Heaven's answers, hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
We embrace your holy night

It's usually diffuicult to stay OUT of the Christmas spirit at this time of year, and practice the time of longing and waiting that Advent is supposed to signify. I'm having an easier time this year in some respects; I don't feel Christmas-y. I feel off. I feel angry. I'm awaiting answers and directions from a "God of silence" at this time.

And that is why I was so happy to remember this hymn this evening. It demonstrates right where I am. Embracing the darkness feels impossible. I want to shout the darkness away from me. But to recognize the Light...we must dwell in the dark from time to time I guess.

We await you with longing. Come, Christ Child!

First Sunday of Advent
Daily Mass Readings
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:4-5,8-10,14
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Luke 21:25-28,34-36

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Back in the saddle again...

It's been far too long since I've written, here or anywhere. The easy lure of tweeting and Facebook browsing has proven too tempting(no, tweeting is NOT writing). So, hopefully I can get back into the habit of writing and documenting the journey.

So much has happened in the last 7 months; hurricanes, several ill family members, blessings, challenges, and sorrows. I won't try to squeeze all that stuff; suffice to say the latter half of 2012 has been like a rollercoaster.

I may be a little sadder, a little more tired...but profoundly more grateful than I was in May. My family, my Franciscan brothers and sisters, my brother Knights, and a small but incredibly amazing circle of friends have been the major source of said gratitude. I truly see the face of God in all of you.

So it looks like I'm back...again. Let's see for how long!

Daily Mass Readings
Revelation 18:1-2,21-23;19:1-3,9a
Psalm 100:1-5
Luke 21:20-28

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Impact of a Council

It has been said, although I don’t know where the original quote comes from, that it takes a century for the changes of a Church Council to be full accepted by the Church. A good number of folks believe that this formula doesn’t apply to the Second Vatican Council because of today’s instant availability of the documents and the 24-hour news cycle. Clergy, religious and layperson alike are drenched in this information, with literally thousands of commentaries on it, scholarly, not-so-scholarly (like this one), Vatican watchers reporting whether the Holy Father is upstairs or downstairs in the papal residence, etc. Traditionalists calling for a return to a pre-Vatican II era church a “smaller, more pure” church, and progressives calling for a Third Vatican Council to expand on the Second, and a sea change in the governance of a billion plus member global community. Based on all of this, 50 years out, I would say that we are precisely on schedule when it comes to general Church acceptance of the Second Vatican Council. Although we are constantly bombarded by all of this information, there still needs to be reflection, discussion, compromise, and concession on all parts, because we are a Church of all peoples. When the Council first concluded there was a great deal of confusion. The greater church swung wildly to the left for the first couple of decades after the council, along with the rest of society. The sisters traded in their habits for street clothes, Humanae Vitae was penned by Paul VI and largely ignored, men stopped heading to seminary in droves, women stopped heading to convents in droves, the first predominantly married group of Latin rite clergy in centuries were ordained as the permanent diaconate flourished, guitars and folk groups replaced organs and choirs at many Masses, and the laity was up in arms when the abuse scandals hit. Afterward there was a pendulum swing to the right; the Latin Mass took on new life, traditional contemplative religious orders and seminaries began flourishing while the apostolic orders continued to gray, and proud emphasis on “traditional values” became the watchword of the majority of Catholic press. Now with the crackdown on the American sisters, the pendulum may be swinging back yet again, but perhaps with not as much force. What does this mean for us as Church? In my eyes, it means we still have a ways to go. We are all still talking past each other to get our voices heard…and all the voices still need to be heard. The Vatican/hierarchy of bishops need to realize that this is far more educated Body of Christ than decades and centuries past; the old formula of “pay-pray-obey” simply is not going to work any longer. They need to give ear to the priests, sisters, brothers, and laypeople in the trenches who deal daily with the poorest of the poor, the marginalized, the needy, the forgotten, and the vast majority of the Body of Christ. At the same time, the critics of the hierarchy need to give ear to and respect the bishops as the holders of apostolic succession and not dissent simply for the sake of dissension. There is wisdom and knowledge to harvest from these men of God…and many ARE true men of God. Come Holy Spirit as we near Pentecost. Give us eyes to see and ears to listen. Help us all leave our pride at the door. We…the Pope and his bishops, the priests, the deacons, the religious, and the laypeople in and out of the pews…WE are Church, Your Body of Christ. Help us welcome each other was we welcome Your fire into our hearts. Daily Mass Readings Acts 14:19-28 Psalm 145:10-13,21 John 14:27-31