Saints, known and unknown

angelico-saints-martyrsToday we celebrate, remember, and honor all the saints, known and unknown.  The feast day has its own history of how it came to be. Back in the earliest days of the Church, we did not so much think of “saints” but rather martyrs were especially esteemed. It was very much a local event, as the local church celebrated the anniversary of a martyr’s death on the anniversary date and in the place of martyrdom. By the 4th century the list of martyrs had grown considerably with some martyrs being celebrated more universally. The Church was caught between its desire to remember and celebrate the martyr’s witness and death, an ever expanding geography, and the practical matter of finding days to set aside to celebrate. Very soon there was a movement to find a common day to celebrate martyrs that were important to the Church while leaving the local communities to set aside days for martyrs that loomed larger in local memory.

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It depends

This morning in the parish office, someone mentioned that “James Bond had passed away.” Given there were 26 movies over 58 years and more-than-one actor who played the character, there could well be some ambiguity about who had died. Depending on your generation and affinity for the Bond movies, one might come to a different initial assumption of the recently departed. Possible assumptions include Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Davide Niven, …but my mind went immediately to Sean Connery.  He was an actor that was simply memorable. For my part, other memorable roles included Indiana Jones’ father, in 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”; his Academy-Award-winning (best supporting actor) performance as Chicago cop Jim Malone in the 1987 film “The Untouchables,” and one of my favorites, William Forrester in the 2000 film “Finding Forrester.”

Who was the best James Bond? I suspect it depends. When the world comes to consensus of the best Dr. Who and the best Capt. Kirk, perhaps the world will have also resolved the best Bond.

Contagious Gratitude

GratitudeI don’t remember – it has been so long now – but somewhere, sometime ago, I began to start emails, letters, cards and the like with the same phrase: “May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.” It is an expression that begins many of St. Paul’s letters, in one form or another, e.g., Galatians 1:3. It is not a scripted beginning; there is a great deal of intention about it. There are times when I am in a hurry, responding to emails, that I am reminded at the end to return to the beginning and insert the greeting. It often leads to editing of the email if there is some part that does not have grace or peace about it. Continue reading

When will votes be counted?

As you no doubt know, election management and subsequent counting of votes is under the control and province of the States – and each State has a different process for voting and counting votes. The folks at (Nate Silver and crew) have put together a nice all-in-one-place summary that answers “when will votes be counted?” You can read the full article here: Just thought you might want to know.

Another article at the same website, Nate Silver suggests that despite all the different state’s reporting (e.g., Pennsylvania does not begin to count early votes until election day), there is a 70% chance that the overall results will be known by 3:00 am Wednesday morning. We’ll see.

Good News of the King

The word “gospel” has become commonplace in many Christian traditions, and for many of us, the word has lost its potency and power. So in this week’s Bible Study, we are looking at how the Bible uses this word and the nuance that can get lost in translation. The word comes from the Greek word euangelion, and it simply means “good announcement” or “good news.” But it’s not just any kind of news. Euangelion most often refers to a royal announcement about a new king. So when Jesus’ followers proclaim the Gospel, they are announcing that Jesus is King.

If you would like to read the Bible Project’s blog on this topic/video, you can access it here. The Bible Project is a non-for-profit organization that depends on our support. If you would like to support their efforts with a donation, you can reach them here.

At table

In the gospel of Luke, what is the most important city? If the number of times mentioned is the criteria, then Jerusalem is the answer, being mentioned more than 90 times in the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. I imagine there are all kinds of “what is Luke’s favorite…” questions, but an insightful one come from Fr. Bill McConville OFM. Fr. Bill has a daily podcast on Soundcloud that you can subscribe to and be very much enlightened by his insights.

As he asks in today’s installment, what is Luke’s favorite piece of furniture?

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How we meet the prophets

The gospel today is part of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. The revelation of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:27) marked the beginning and the arrival in Jerusalem will mark the end of the journey at the Cross. In between, the warnings and admonitions regarding the coming judgment that began with 12:1 reach their conclusion with a sobering call for repentance. Just as the debtor on the way to court (12:59) is warned to make every effort at reconciliation, so also Jesus uses the sayings about calamity in 13:1–5 and the parable of the unproductive fig tree in 13:6–9 to make the same point:

  • read the signs of the time and judge correctly;
  • repent now, the time is short; and
  • be assured of the full measure of judgment.

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Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Today marks the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, both apostles and early missionaries of the Church. Of the two, St. Jude, the patron of lost causes, the namesake of a notable children’s hospital, is the better known of the two. Jude, also known as Judas Thaddaeus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, the brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus prior to his crucifixion. Catholic writer Michal Hunt suggests that Judas Thaddaeus became known as Jude after early translators of the New Testament from Greek into English sought to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and subsequently abbreviated his forename. Most versions of the New Testament in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name. Continue reading

Becoming saints

Next Sunday is the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. 6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. (Matthew 5:1-12)

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What is possible

To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

There are days when the Kingdom of God, the Reign of God seems like a marvelous idea that we wish we could trade in our current “state of things.”  It just seems like an impossible idea.

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