How we think of her

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation when the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. It is but one piece of the mosaic of this woman. Today’s gospel passage, the Magnificat is a mosaic of Old Testament quotations and allusions interpreting the coming of Jesus. As a whole the canticle sees these actions of God as part of a longstanding process of overthrowing proud human expectations and exalting the lowly. It is part of the mosaic we have built over the millennia that speaks of how we consider Mary in the role of salvation history – a mosaic that richly, perhaps extravagantly, places Mary above us, on a pedestal, beyond our reach. We think of her as the Queen of Heaven, robed in the royal drapings of the Queen Mother – and so she is. We think of her as the Pieta at the foot of the cross, the Mother of Sorrows – and so she is. Think of all the titles and honorifics that we bestow upon her. Continue reading

Courage and Fear

In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – such are the closing words of today’s gospel. Now I have the odd problem, but if people asked me if I had troubles, my response would be “No.” I recognize that such fortune has been a gift from God. And yet…it makes me wonder if I have ever really been tested – and if I was, would I have courage. Would I really believe Jesus has conquered the world? Continue reading

How we came to celebrate

Quantico-National-CemeteryToday our nation celebrates Memorial Day. Lots of people confuse it or conflate it with Veteran’s Day. It is the latter which honors all the men and women who have served our nation in the military. It is the former that remembers and honors all those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a difference of which I receive weekly reminders as I am honored to serve veteran families during the internment of their loved ones at Quantico National Cemetery. Continue reading

Pentecost Sunday

This coming Sunday is Pentecost. The gospel used is the same as we proclaimed on the 2nd Sunday of Easter this year. Rather than re-post them in full, I thought I would simply provide a link to the already-posted segments one day at a time. If you would like to keep reading “click ahead” one blog and you will mostly find the next post in the series. In any case, here is Part 1 of Pentecost: Easter Sunday in the Evening.

On the borderline

When I was in seminary, our homiletics professor had lots of advice and pointers for the Sunday homily. The professor was pretty adamant about not explaining theology. And I mostly agree with his point – it can make a homily really dry and fill it with language that needs its own explanation. The professor’s final point was that your explanation was likely to cross the borderline of orthodoxy and give an inaccurate or heretical version of the underlying theology.  Best to just keep it simple and well clear of the border. Continue reading

A Short History of Indulgences

In the early church, especially from the third century on, ecclesiastic authorities allowed a confessor, that is a Christian awaiting martyrdom because they confessed their faith in Christ during one of the Roman persecutions, to intercede for another Christian in order to shorten the other’s canonical penance. The thinking was not “let this be a favor to the one who is about to be martyred” but rather a recognition of the holiness of the would-be martyr and the thought that at their death there would be this unused “merit”, when combined with the “merit” of other saints and most especially with the life and death of Christ, could form a “Treasury of Merit.” It is from this “storehouse” that the Church draw upon to shorten the canonical penance. Continue reading

Luther, Indulgences, and their legacy

One of the tipping points for Martin Luther was the “sale of indulgence” by the papal-appointed Dominican Friar, Johann Tetzel, In his 95 Theses Luther strongly disputed the claim that Indulgences could provide freedom from God’s punishment for sin much less be purchased. The last seven days of posts have not addressed the theological issues presented in the German Reformation – not that they are not important – but more such information is easily obtained on the internet from any variety of sources. The previous posts were intended to focus on the milieu of factors already present in Germany, a variety of interests and passions outside Luther’s control or influence, and why Luther succeeded where other Reformers had not. But I thought I should at least give some perspective on indulgences. They were abused then as well as misunderstood then and still misunderstood today. Far too many Catholics need to know their faith better lest they become Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians as regards Indulgences. (Be curious …. go ahead click the links!) Continue reading

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Today there is an optional memorial for St. Augustin of Centerbury. I think it good that we know a little more about our ancestors in the Faith – especially the missionary one. It seems especially appropriate here in the Easter Season when so many of our Gospels are Jesus preparing the disciples for mission and the first readings are about the Church in its early missions. It seem to also speak to the Church in our time. Continue reading

The Ascension Gospel

This coming Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension. The readings are taken from St. Luke’s Gospel and his Acts of the Apostles. Both the first reading and the gospel are accounts of the Ascension, making this event the linchpin between the two works of St. Luke. Yesterday we considered the account in the Acts of the Apostles in detail. Today we turn our attention to the Gospel account. Continue reading