The only line we have

the_born_blind_manQuotidian. Fancy word. It means belonging to the everyday, the ordinary, the normal, the commonplace, the regular, or the familiar. It includes everyday tasks such as laundry. Laundry does not require much thought. I often “sleepwalk” through it. Swimming is like that for me. I have done it for so much of my life, I don’t have to pay too much attention. Sometimes our attention ebbs and flows in other areas to which we should be paying attention. The usual conversation with a friend during which you suddenly realize you’re not listening. The moment you realize that the TV is watching you instead of the other way around. A liturgy in which you are momentarily lost. A homily that sounds like all the rest. Continue reading

Francis of Assis and Prayer

When people think of St. Francis of Assisi and prayer, what most likely comes to mind is “The Peace Prayer of St. Francis,” with the memorable line: “Make me an instrument of peace…” It is a moving and noteworthy prayer, certainly in the Franciscan tradition, perhaps inspired by St. Francis, but it dates to 1912 and was first published as a poem in the French spiritual magazine, La Clochette. Later, during World War I, it appeared on the back of a holy card bearing an image of St. Francis and the association of the two became cemented in our minds. Continue reading

Oh my gosh, did you hear….?

gossipIn Sunday’s gospel Jesus encounters the man born blind. Miraculously Jesus gives him the gift of sight and then the poor guy goes through the wringer of one interrogation after another about it all. The Pharisees have a miracle laid right in their laps, and if you are like me, I am wondering, “Wow, how did they miss that one? How could they be so blind!” Which is of course the question we should ask about them. But what about us? Continue reading

Francis of Assisi and almsgiving

prayer fasting almsgiving2There are many ideas that people hold about what it means to be Franciscan.  I was once asked, “Where do you friars keep the animals?”  I was living in the Soundview area of the Bronx at the time.  The person assumed that our way of life would always be surrounded by furry friends.  Later, another person wondered why we were not living out our vow of poverty by spending our day begging for alms? Continue reading

The history we write – the lives we lead

MM-DonatelloMost people still think of Mary Magdalene as the unnamed sinner (possibly a prostitute) in Luke 7:36-50.  Of course we think of her as “the repentant prostitute” because she turns her life around because of the encounter with Jesus.  The problem is that for the first 300+ years of the Church, she was only seen as the first witness to the Resurrection.  Did you know that Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in the gospels, more than most of the Apostles?  She was present at the crucifixion and was the first witness to the Resurrection (John 20 and Mark 16:9).  She was the “Apostle to the Apostles,” an honorific that St. Augustine bestowed upon her in the fourth century, and possibly he was but repeating a moniker already in use. Continue reading

Starring roles

When asked “What was the first movie that Kevin Costner appeared in?” The average fan of things “celluloid” often responds “No Way Out.” Certainly that was a movie that brought him into the limelight, established his leading man status, and led to his career in many other memorable films. The actual answer is the 1982 Ron Howard film “Night Shift.” He is listed in the credits as ‘Frat Boy No. 1’ and appears at the climax of a frat-style, over-the-top party playing out in a New York City morgue. When the music is suddenly stopped by a frantic Henry Winkler, Costner can be seen holding a beer and looking surprised at the sudden halt of celebration. He has no speaking role, but he appears. (and one might argue “Sizzle Beach, USA” is the real answers, but it was released in 1986 and thus Costner did not “appear” until then) Continue reading

Paying attention: the mission

TransfigThis weekend, my Franciscan brother, Fr. Bill McConville, OFM is preaching at all the Masses as part of the Lenten Parish Mission (which I hope you are planning to attend if you are in the Tampa area).  Having a guest homilist is a secret pleasure for a priest – even if you like the whole process of preparation and presentation (which I do).  Still, it is a like a holiday that shows up at your door step.  Woohoo!!  It is a double blessing because I know Fr. Bill well.  I know his homily will be great and I will get to listen to it.  At least I hope I listen, pay attention, and even more, consider all that Fr. Bill has to say about this wonderful gospel describing the Transfiguration. Continue reading

Pay attention: a reflection

TransfigAnnemarie Reiner (of Adelaide, Australia) posted this reflection on the Transfiguration on her blog “Who Do You Say That I Am.” (August 2006)  It is a very nice reflection for this Lenten Season.

When we look at our Gospel today we can understand why daily reflection is so important. These three disciples (and the rest of them) didn’t get who Jesus was until well after his death. They didn’t understand what had happened at the transfiguration. They didn’t understand what was happening as they witnessed Jesus’ life. They didn’t understand what was happening at the crucifixion. But they kept pondering their experiences over and over – if they didn’t we simply wouldn’t have the New Testament.

So what do we learn from this? Continue reading

Pay attention: here and not yet

TransfigPeter’s Response. As in 16:13-20, Peter again responds, again without a full understanding.  Consider Peter’s proposal to make three tents (skēnḗ; also “booth” or “tabernacle”). What did he intend? It has been variously understood as traveler’s hut, the “tent of meeting” where God spoke with Moses outside the camp (Exod 33:7), a more formal tent used in the Festival of Booths (cf. Lev 23:42–43; Zech 14:16ff), and even as the Jerusalem Temple tabernacle.  It is this last image that Matthew may have in mind as background – notwithstanding Peter’s intention.  It is the Temple tabernacle where the Shekinah, the fiery cloud that symbolized the continuing presence of God among the people, dwelt over the ark of the covenant.  The response to Peter’s proposal is three-fold (Boring, 364) Continue reading

Paying Attention: a glimpse into destiny

TransfigCommentary. Matthew 17:1-13 is an instructional session for all the disciples – note that in v.10, Peter, James and John have been joined the remainder of the group. Just as the preceding scene (16:13-28) juxtapositions the divine transcendence of Peter’s confession of Jesus as Son of God based on a revelation from heaven (16:17) with Jesus’ own teaching about the suffering Son of Man, so also in this scene the confession of the heavenly voice is juxtaposed with Jesus’ self-confession as suffering Son of Man.

The description of the Transfiguration is brief—just the first three verses of Matthew 17. But the incident becomes the context for two significant incidents for the disciples. Continue reading