Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe.Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading

Pope John XXIII

There was a 1964 paperback floating around the seminary library called “Wit and Wisdom of Good Pope John,” written by a man named Henri Fesquet. Inside was a compilation of humorous stories about John XXIII, who died the year before the book was published. I jotted several down and recently found them during my “purging of old files” episode.

The most famous one occurred when the pope was innocently asked by a journalist how many people worked in the Vatican, he deadpanned, “About half of them.”

An even better sample of his humor occurred while visiting a hospital in Rome called the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, run by a group of Catholic sisters. As Fesquet tells the story, “The mother superior, deeply stirred by the papal visit, went up to him in order to introduce herself”: “Most Holy Father,” she said, “I am the superior of the Holy Spirit.” “Well, I must say you’re very lucky,” replied the pope. “I’m only the Vicar of Christ.”

Documents from Rome

Several years ago I was putting together a series of posts that never went anywhere. It had more in common with an academic tome than blog post. Anyway… in cleaning up file on my hard drive, I ran across a document which might be of interest to folks…but then again, maybe not.  In any case, here it is: an abbreviated glossary of the most common types of documents issued by the Holy See, and terms associated with them. (I will be curious to see the “open” statistics on this one!) Continue reading

Called to repent

Next Sunday is the 3rd Sunday in Advent in Year A, Gaudete Sunday. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

2 When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:2-11) Continue reading

The Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception of the Venerable One...It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings. Continue reading

Good advice

We get lots of advice all through our lifetime. And it comes from many different venues. For example: advice on the best schools, places to live and vacation, and places to dine. If you buy a book on Amazon, watch a movie on Netflix, or do anything online, they are quick to advise you on other books to purchase, movies to watch, or what’s next in your life. Go to a brick-and-mortar book store and check out the self-help section for a universe of advice. Every aspect of our lives is a portal for advice; consider fashion advice. I have to admit I don’t pay too much attention these days. These days, my wardrobe consists of a basic brown Franciscan habit and minimal accessories – a knotted white cord to be precise. Still, it is all difficult to avoid in the course of a day. Continue reading

Gift of Mercy

In last week’s column I wrote about forgiveness. I started out the column as a reflection on the readings from Scripture for the first week of Advent, noting how the readings did not seem to fit the mood of Christmas coming. The column explained that they weren’t meant to be – it’s Advent, a time of waiting and reflecting despite what the commercial world of commerce would have you believe. But maybe the draw of Christmas is too powerful. The column sort of morphed itself into the idea of forgiveness as the gift you give. The end of the column said: “What ‘Christmas gift’ comes along with this life of forgiveness? Lower blood pressure, restful night, sweet dreams, peace, no longer being a victim, uninterrupted prayer, a new experience of God’s love… and so much more. Your gift is waiting right there under the tree, the cross of Christ. Go ahead, open your gift. `Tis always the season.’” Continue reading

Remembering

Every generation has events that shape the psyche and memory of their time. Consider the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? 27 percent of our current citizenry does not because they were born after or were too young to remember the events of that day. It is not that they are not familiar with the events of that day and all the consequences of it, but the day does not have the same resonance for them as it does for we watched in shock as the towers were struck and then fell. Continue reading

Remembering December 7th

From the blog, “FaithMatters: Reflections on Life and Faith“, by the now-retired pastor of Hyde Park Methodist Church, Rev. Jim Harnish

I remember a Movie. I was nine years old when “A Man Called Peter” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956.  Based on the book by that title that sat on my parents’ bookshelf, it was the story of a young Presbyterian preacher named Peter Marshall who emigrated from Scotland and became the nationally known Chaplain of the United States Senate.  It was one of the early childhood experiences that planted the seeds of my calling to be a preacher. Continue reading

Advent and John the Baptist

The Gospel readings for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent always focus on John the Baptist. Since we are again in Lectionary Year A, the two selections are from Matthew 3:1-12 and 11:2-11, respectively. Given that John the Baptist is mentioned in quite a few other passages of Matthew’s Gospel (3:13-15; 4:12; 9:14-17; 11:12-19; 14:1-12; 16:13-14; 17:10-13; 21:23-27, 32), one might ask: Why were these two passages from chapters 3 and 11 chosen?

The short answer: They both deal with John’s role in preparing for Jesus, making them particularly suited for Advent. Continue reading