Entry to the Heart of Holy Week

Back in the day, two friends and I started a business. The company was a good mix of skills, dispositions, and work ethic. One of the partners, Jack, was the best project manager I ever encountered. His staff loved him and the clients always wanted to know if Jack was managing their particular project. We had one client in the mid-west that made a very large contract contingent on Jack being the manager. That was fine. Jack had a demand of his own – and it was non-negotiable.  The client waivered, but Jack held firm. He was clear, convicted, and certain: no matter what, he would be attending the Summer Olympics and the World Track and field championships. That was his non-negotiable: his vacation. Continue reading

Opportunities given us

About five weeks ago, the liturgy planning committee gathered to review the details of Holy Week, the period from Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion thru Easter Sunday. The folks on the liturgy committee are talented and dedicated folks that include every aspect of the celebrations: environment/décor, lectors, altar servers, choir/music, ushers, greeters, communications, faith formation, and the celebrants – priests and our deacon. Holy Week is a wonderful week of diverse, holy and meaningful celebrations which take the community from the high of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the lows while hearing the reading of the Passion, to an exultant chorus – He is risen!! – on Easter Sunday. It is a rollercoaster of emotion, music, readings, and grandeur. Continue reading

A good and beautiful thing

I think we all need good news these days. News to help balance our perspectives. I know that all our local news broadcasts have to offer the hard-to-hear news about the corona virus but they also try to find moments of hope in stories of good and beautiful things. We need to be people who do that same thing: keep informed but also seek out the good and beautiful in stories and in new practices and habits. Continue reading

Called in the time of Coronavirus

One of the most frequent calls in all of Scripture is “Fear Not!” or one of its many parallel phrases. Perhaps were are not fearful per se in these, concerned for sure, but these are definitely confusing, stressful times. This pandemic affects numerous facets of life from the personal to the societal. It impacts each person in different ways. Whose life is not disrupted? Children from pre-K through college are at home as the educational institutions adapt to the digital classroom. Churches are closed. The local gathering spots offer take-out at best. Sports have disappeared from ESPN – well, live sports anyway. Cocktail hours, retreats and business meetings are now on Zoom. Your gym, YMCA, and the like are closed. Here in Tampa the bicycle shop business is booming, but only one person at a time. Not too often you see a line outside a bicycle shop. There is stress just managing the changes. There is stress wondering if the next person you meet is infected but asymptomatic, the next door handle tainted, and… well, you know your own stress risers and anxieties. Now imagine you are facing this uncertainty and have a mental illness. How much more challenging must it be to navigate this uncertainty? Continue reading

Understanding

In today’s readings, we have a repeat of what seems to be a recurring encounter between Jesus and the religious leadership of the day – a lack of understanding of Jesus’ words and meaning

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” (John 8:51-53)
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Different than Netflix

Not surprisingly, even though stock market prices and valuations are way down, Netflix stock price is about the same as it has been – so relatively speaking it is doing quite well. To be expected as we all shelter in place. Measurement firm Nielsen on Tuesday released a new analysis on consumers’ streaming behavior since millions of people have been told to shelter at home. It is estimated that consumers watched more than 156 billion minutes of streaming content during the week of March 16, a 36% increase from three weeks before, when viewers not yet stuck at home streamed some 116 billion minutes of content.  Yes, billions. Continue reading

What thoughts come…

…in the early morning when the house is still, the day has not yet begun, and for many in this time of pandemic, even when the day begins it will may only move a few steps from room to room. And that may trace out the whole of the day in quarantine, self-isolation, stay-at-home, and all the other phrases that have become part of the lexicon of our times. Continue reading

When the confessional is unavailable…

Here in Tampa, our city and county program is called “Safer at Home.” Kudos to the one(s) who came up with the name. That gave me an inspired thought. I think we should announce a “Forgiven at Home” ministry for Catholics and Catholic families.  To be fair, almost every diocese has published the guidelines from the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, confirmed by the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Continue reading

As Tears Fall

#AloneTogether. #SocialDistancing. #StayAtHome – these are just some of the many “hashtags” being used online in the various text messaging applications currently in vogue. It is the year 2020 and here on the 5th Sunday in Lent much of the world is “sheltering in place” in order to slow the spread of a coronavirus, Covid-19. On Thursday morning there were 471,802 cases worldwide – but then that is a count of test-confirmed cases. A day later the count surpassed 500,000.

The vast majority of people are not able to be tested, so no one really knows how many people are infected. And so, we keep apart from others in an attempt to hamper the mobility and spread of the disease; as they say, to “flatten the curve.” Non-essential businesses are closed with the lucky ones able to work from home. Schools are closed and teachers across the nation are scrambling to implement online classes. Unemployment claims are skyrocketing as people are furloughed or laid off without warning, savings are draining away as families helplessly watch, and countless numbers, without medical insurance, pray they don’t experience the worst of the disease. Families worry about their loved ones in assisted-care facilities or nursing homes – family elders in quarantine whom they are unable to visit. And people are dying while family and friends mourn their dead without the dignity of a funeral. The world weeps. Continue reading

After all these years…

Arising early on Sunday morning, I prayed the Divine Office, sat for a bit in the church before the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior (there are advantages of living in a friary attached to the church), shaved (hadn’t done that in a few days, although you’d barely notice), and sat down to read the Tampa Bay Times, our local newspaper (digital version). Continue reading