About Friar Musings

Franciscan friar and Catholic priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa, FL.

Remembering Thanksgivings Past

I am grateful for a day in which we, as a people, pause to give thanks. And who do we have to thank for this holiday? Your answer is likely “The Pilgrims.” You would not be wrong, but then not completely correct, either. Certainly, Thanksgiving and the religious response of giving thanks to God is as old as time. When one considers enduring cultures, one always finds men and women working out their relationship to God. There is almost always a fourfold purpose to our acts of worship: adoration, petition, atonement, thanksgiving. Such worship is part and parcel of life. And yet, there is still a very human need to specially celebrate and offer thanksgiving on key occasions and anniversaries. Since medieval times, we have very detailed records of celebrations marking the end of an epidemic, liberation from sure and certain doom, the signing of a peace treaty, and more. Continue reading

Bucket lists

The readings for today are ominous and foreboding to say the least. It is the time in the liturgical cycle when such are the nature of the readings. For women and men of a certain age, we think about our lives, our faith, and our bucket lists. I remember about 4 or 5 years ago I was watching Coach Lou Holtz talk about his bucket list because he was so excited having recently accomplished #2 on his list – taking a ride on a nuclear submarine.  Check – been there, done that.

Lots of our bucket list are lists of want we want to do, see or enjoy.

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Genesis 1

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2)

What seems familiar is just the start of an amazing plan or ordering God’s vision for us.

The opening verses of Genesis do far more than describe God’s creative actions. It it a masterpiece of writing that leads us to know God’s loving intention to form a holy place where He and all creation dwell in Rest, a continuing Rest that does not end.

D.B. Cooper

Did you recognize the name? On this date in history in 1971, a hijacker who became popularly known as “D.B. Cooper” parachuted from a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 over the Pacific Northwest after receiving $200,000 in ransom ($1.3 million in 2020 dollars). He parachuted from the plane between Portland and Seattle to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, “D.B. Cooper” has never been located or identified. It remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.

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Witnessing the Temple

Today is the Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs.

In Jesus’ day there was one thing that dominated the skyline of Jerusalem – the Temple – easily seen from across the way on the Mount of Olives, hovering over the Old City, and visible from every balcony in the upper city. It wasn’t the original Temple, but the second temple completed by King Herod the Great who make it a “wonder of the world.” While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Luke 21:5).

And so, there are the disciples taking in the view – the Temple and all its glory. They looked at the Temple and saw one thing. Jesus looked at the Temple and saw another.

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Seeking Justice

In recent posts I have referenced the work of sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning. Their work points to shifts in our culture. Specifically they not we have shifted from a “dignity culture” (where aggrieved parties tended to let more minor slights go because it was assumed that all people have a central dignity that they don’t need to earn) back to an “honor culture” that we last experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries – where slights had to be avenged; when we had duels. These pistols and swords have been replaced by tweets, posts, and vitriolic. Wounding and death still occurs, only under another guise.

I think about this is the light of the readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King. The gospel, Matthew 25, in its command to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned and more – this gospel points out we are called by Christ to ever live in a “dignity culture” because all people have a God-given core dignity that don’t need to earn back.

I read an article this morning by Dr. Alex Piquero from the University of Miami. His focus was on restorative justice. But I think it again raises the culture divide raised by Campbell and Manning.

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Advent Watching

Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday of Advent in Year B. You can read a full commentary on the gospel reading here.

32 “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

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The Power of Love

I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” (Rev 14:1) And so begins today’s readings.

In her story “Revelation,” Flannery O’Connor tells a tale of a vision of salvation being encountered by the smug Mrs. Turpin. Her idea was that heaven was an exclusive banquet with just a few guests. The story had told of her unpleasant encounters with the “unsaved” (aka “not like me”) during the day. Later while sitting on her front porch at sunset, Mrs. Turpin is granted a vision from God. Despite all her self-assurances and beliefs, she was about to discover that God’s invitation is for more than just her and those she deems of sufficient moral character and behavior.

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Voting Irregularities

I know what you’re thinking…”Is he really going to step into the milieu of this election? He’s a priest and should stay out of politics and stick to matters of the Faith.” Despite these imagined misgivings, I am indeed jumping into voting fraud and suspicious voting patterns…But then the US presidential elections are not the only elections underway in the world.

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Reading Scripture

I hope you are someone who regularly engages Sacred Scripture, the Bible. And I mean someone who reads, ponders, muses, meditates and wonders about God’s Word. And more than just on Sunday at church. Maybe you are part of a parish Bible study, a small faith group that gets together at someone’s home, or are taking time to know and immerse yourself in the Bible. And don’t worry this post is not recrimination about why you are not doing those things, but just a thought or two about how lucky we are that the Bible is available to us in books, online, audio, and in software that can interconnect Scripture to exegetical and theological dictionaries, books that can help us with Greek and Hebrew, commentaries, and a whole host of other tools. We are lucky that literacy is common in our day. It hasn’t always been that way.

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