About Friar Musings

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

Our presence 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:  So… what is Luke’s favorite piece of furniture? 

The dining room table. Throughout the Gospel, Luke’s narrative features Jesus at table. At table with the high born and low, with the Pharisees and the sinners, with the socially connected and the socially outcast – all manner of people. Death and Resurrection does not discontinue meeting Jesus as the table setting – consider the account on the Road to EmmausAnd it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-31)

Perhaps pointedly so in this time of pandemic, we should consider the importance that we place on presence at the table. The pandemic makes us no less busy and in fact may have already increased the amount of time together as people work from home, children are virtually at school, and more. Does the family still gather at the table? Is there blessing, not just in the formal prayer of blessing, but is the conversation edifying, constructive, hopeful, help to build relationships, and continue the fellowship of the gathering.

The table was likely Jesus’ favorite piece of furniture. It was a place where people could encounter the person and fellowship of Jesus. Do our tables provide the same gateway?

Can’t live with ’em


In my experience when you ask folks about the Kings of Israel and Judah, you are likely to get an “Oh, yeah… like King David and King Solomon.” Some might know more of the names of kings, such as Saul or Hezekiah, but no one will be able to name them all (nor can I). But stop a moment and think about the whole ideas of Kings. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua -all great names in the history of the people of Israel – but none of them were kings. There were prophets and judges, heroes and heroines, but from where came the kings?

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Seeking understanding

Women-Tomb-RunningThis is the year in which we primarily read from the Gospel of Mark – at least on Sundays. But since it is the shortest of the gospels, we supplement it with a lot from the other three gospels. Like this morning, when read the traditional Johannine scene of Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for the gardener. We get to encounter the risen Jesus, the first witness, some next steps, and all quickly moving to proclamation “I have seen the Lord.”

Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8)

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Freedom’s Forge

Forge-CompanyWhile reading the morning news I noticed an article that talked about the role that industrial mobilization has played in combating the coronavirus pandemic. Industries from the pharmaceutical companies, logistic and delivery organizations, manufacturers of syringes/swabs/alcohol pads/etc., refrigeration companies… and the list is quite long. The article compared the response of US industry to that of the mobilization that was such a key role in the Allied victory of World War II. The article implied that US auto companies produced cars one day and tanks the next. Were it that easy.

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Telling the Story

There are lots of ways to tell a story. The one that comes most naturally is to start at the beginning and move ahead to the end. A to B, pillar to post, a straight a line as possible. There are other methods such as using flashbacks, telling the story in a non-linear fashion moving the reader/listener back and forth across the timeline, letting the story stitch itself together in the imagination of the audience. There are lots of ways to tell a story.

There are lots of places we tell the stories: around a campfire on the savanna of the Serengeti, around the family dinner table, leaning against a car in the school parking lot, the coffee machine at work, family reunions, as many places as there are people and memories.

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At the water cooler

“Gathered around the water cooler” was (maybe still is?) an expression to describe the gathering in the office of people to give greetings, exchange news, and tell stories. In Kenya it was the well, a river, or the public water tap. Every place and time has had a place where we gather to tell the stories that animate our lives. I suspect this morning, the conversation is the buzzer-beating ending of the NCAA semi-final game between UCLA and Gonzaga: overtime, 3 seconds left, Jalen Suggs goes the length of the court and drops a 40-footer to end the game. The twitter sphere exploded. Possibly one of the greatest college games ever as the two teams went back-and-forth. And now the water-cooler experts can debate if Suggs’ shot was the best ever or does Duke’s Christian Lattener 1992 bucket (with amazing inbound pass from Grant Hill) to defeat Kentucky in the “Elite Eight” contest. remain “best ever.”

I wonder what amazing shot was replaced by the Hill-Lattener game winner? I wonder if I will be around when that shot is forgotten and the next entry is compared to Gonzaga/Jalen Suggs thriller? Such are the stories we tell.

But in a few minutes I will be celebrating Easter Sunday 2021 and the greatest story ever told. Best ever. Now there’s a story to share when gathered at the water cooler.

St. Clare of Assisi

In the last several articles we have described the brothers who gathered around Francis and committed themselves to his way of following Christ. Two of the earliest arrivals were Leo and Rufino.  The first became Francis’ chaplain and confessor, as Leo was an ordained priest already. Rufino, a lifelong confidant and wisdom figure for Francis, was also the first cousin of an aristocratic woman of Assisi, the niece of Monaldo, lord of Coriano.  Clare di Favarone di Offredicio was a woman from the very class of landed aristocrats that the young Francis had imitated and longed to join socially. Continue reading

And we wait

easter_crossThe sun has risen on Holy Saturday. The Christian world has remembered and celebrated the events of the Last Supper, all that unfolded in Gethsemane, the trials, the scourging, the via dolorosa, crucifixion, death, burial, and now… we wait. This week someone remarked how lucky I was to be Franciscan friar and that I could take these days for solitude, reflection, and quiet. And indeed, some of my brothers not in parish ministry are able to do that. Many are on retreat. Not so here in the parish.

This morning there is a meeting to finalize the materials for tonight’s Vigil Mass, decorate the church from the solemnity of Good Friday into the joy of Easter morning, and a rehearsal for the events of the evening’s celebration. There are many moving parts in a Vigil celebration well done – some involved in the liturgy come with a veteran’s experience while others, the Elect and Confirmandi, are new to this stage. New to the liturgical choreography is the understanding and framing of the scenes and movements for live stream. The rehearsal will finish, the notes receive a last minute editing, and all put right until we again assemble hours later. Until then we will wait. Continue reading