Aloha FarmVille

For those of you that were players committed to the Facebook app “Farmville” back in 2010 or 2011 (…or so), we are sad to report that FarmVille shut down last week. Daniel Victor (NYT, 12/31) commented that many technique FarmVille popularized – nagging notifications to friends and encouragements to check back daily to tend to your crops – are now being imitated by everything from Instagram to QAnon. Where FarmVille was the time-eating destination of friends and family – there are many social media apps that are as demanding, nagging, and lead one down the “rabbit hole” of lost time. Where FarmVille feared not to tread, everyone else followed. Alas and aloha.

My Beloved Son

Next Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Originally, this was celebrated as part of The Epiphany. But over time, the visit of the magi became the dominate theme and focus. In 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted a distinct celebration that focuses solely on the baptism of Jesus. In the West, Roman Catholic celebrate the Baptism of the Lord on the Sunday following Epiphany… although in a year when the Epiphany falls on Sunday January 7th or 8th, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the next day, Monday.

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:7-11)

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A Light in the Darkness

“…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

Today the Church in the United States celebrates St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be named a saint. Born in 1774 she was born into privilege among the prominent people of New York City. She was not born into a Catholic family, but was raised in a dedicated Episcopal family. The practice of the faith was sustaining for her family and Elizabeth. Which was good, as her story is one of a slow unraveling of privilege, security, and family. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three years old. Her father remarried and her new stepmother introduced Elizabeth into social outreach to the poor and sick as a ministry of the church. But that marriage eventually failed. The stepmother left with her own children as Elizabeth’s father moved to London for further medical studies. Elizabeth entered a time of great darkness in her life, grieving the loss of father and a second mother.

“…the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

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