In the Confieitor, we hold up the things we have done and what we have failed to do. The first reading for today’s Mass is certainly a list of what St. Paul has done for the sake of the Gospel. He has traveled, worked, suffered, been prosecuted, imprisoned, witnessed, held nothing back, did not back down, and took every opportunity to proclaim the Good News. I have no doubt, if asked, that St. Paul could have easily listed what, in his mind, he had failed to do. Continue reading
On Pentecost Sunday, the gospel from John recounts the events of the evening of the Resurrection. It is the first post-resurrection appearance to the disciples huddled in the Upper Room. As the startling and disturbing events of the previous three days had unfolded, the community’s overriding response was fear. They had gathered, but had locked themselves away out of fear of what persecutions the religious authorities might bring against them. It is into this complex of uncertainty, perhaps doubt and hesitation, that Jesus appears.
This past week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would immediately implement the just announced CDC guidelines which stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in outdoor or most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Throughout the pandemic at national, state and local levels that last phrase “congregate settings” have included churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Following on the heels of the Commonwealth’s announcement, our local diocese announced that because of some ambiguity in the announcement, that we were to not inhibit or challenge people who wanted to not wear masks during the celebration of Mass. While we did not agree that there was ambiguity, we complied. As folks and families approached the doors of the church they were not asked if they were vaccinated, but were simply informed that “fully vaccinated people were not required to wear masks but were also free to wear them if they desired.”
Who were these 12 people that Paul encounters in today’s first reading? They were generically referred to as “disciples” in Acts 19:1. Many people assume, based on the following verses, that they were not followers of Jesus, but rather a remnant of the followers of John the Baptist. Not so. Luke is always quite specific in unmistakably identifying John the Baptist’s disciples. These folks are disciples of Jesus, but with a not-yet-complete understanding of the faith.
With our celebration of the Ascension complete, as a Church we look forward to the celebration of Pentecost, that great event in which the promise of Jesus begins its fulfillment in the coming of the Advocate, the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth who will lead the disciples in all things (John 16).
There are moments in this life when I wished I processed more insight about what was happening in the moment that is now. They are often moments caught up in the midst and whirl of things; moments when I look back and wished I had paused and considered what was stirring within. Attentive to the now.
Lent is a season when we are called to take time and pray for the wisdom to be attentive to the moments leading up to the celebration on Easter. But what about the Easter season? Those 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost have come and are almost gone. There is a lot whirling around our lives that make the quiet of Lent seem long ago and far away. Continue reading
Mask, no mask. Social distancing: 3 feet, 6 feet, more? Outdoors, indoors, ventilated, air exchange, airborne transmission… and a whole range of factors to which we have become accustomed. If you are curious about the what, when, where and other interesting factors about the medical and scientific response to Covid-19, take a moment to read what I found to be a fascinating article about the evolving science behind covid-19 transmission.
In our previous installment, speaking of Francis’ unique view of nature, we ended with the idea that Francis “held that the whole world is a sacrament, a sacred thing, a gift; and the sacramental character of the world reminds us of the central sacrament, the Incarnation, continued among us in the seven sacraments of the Church, especially in the Eucharist.” But did Francis have any thoughts specifically on the Eucharist itself?
I would wager that most people would guess that in Francis’ own writings he spoke at length about poverty, his love of nature and animals, and other topics for which Francis is so well known in the modern world. Yet, in his own writings, there is perhaps no other topic that he addresses more than the Eucharist. In his Eucharistic writings, Francis expresses a deep view of the continuing Incarnation of Christ in the world, and in that vision is an entire way of life. These writings represent part of the movement of Francis’ mystical life from prayer and devotion in solitude before the cross, to a pattern of communal prayer and devotion in the Mass as well as a devotion to the Eucharist apart from Mass. Continue reading
Salvador Dali’s painting “Ascension” is certainly one of the most provocative paintings depicting the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus. The symbolic elements are many, the speculations even more, and the agreement on meaning is still up for grabs. But I sometimes tend to focus on some of the more realistic elements cast among the surrealistic things. While the art experts discuss the finer points of Dali — his life, faith, and his work, I am fascinated by perspective, as well as the hands and feet. The former as though clutching at something; the latter soiled and showing the wear and tear of life on earth. Continue reading
Earlier this year I posted a series of 14 or so blogs, a kind of mini-commentary on the Book of Jonah. You can see the groups of posts here, with the beginning post at the bottom of the stack. But if you would rather see an overview of the Book of Jonah, our good friends at The Bible Project have this great video on Jonah. As always, I encourage you to support the not-for-profit work of The Bible Project.