Saints Together

sts-peter-and-paul-1Most of the apostles and lots of saints have their own feast day, but how about the two most famous saints of the early church? There is February 22nd in which the Church celebrates the “Chair of Peter” the sign that Peter was the first among the apostles and the one designated to lead the early Church after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. But there is no “Feast of St. Peter.”

St. Paul, although not one of the Twelve, was an Apostle commissioned by Jesus. There is the January 25th celebration of “The Conversion of St. Paul” which commemorates the Damascus Road episode described in Acts of the Apostles: 9:1-31, 22:1-22, and 26:9-24. It is the scene made famous by the “Conversion on the Way to Damascus” painting by Caravaggio. But there is no “Feast of St. Paul.” Continue reading

Deaf to the Word of God

The refrain from the psalm response of today’s readings is well paired with the first reading from the Book of Amos: “Remember this, you who never think of God.” In the first reading the prophet Amos is addressing the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786–746 B.C.).

Amos’ prophetic book begins with a sweeping indictment of Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, and other pagan nations surrounding Israel. (Amos 1:3-2:16). The indictment begins with the expression, “For three crimes…and now four.”  This expression is frequent in poetry of the times (e.g., Prv 6:16–19; 30:18–19). The progression “three” followed by “four” suggests a climax. The fourth crime is one too many and exhausts the Lord’s forbearance. The prophecy of the utter destruction of “nations” does not mince words.

But he saves his climactic denunciation for Israel in which he denounces the hollow prosperity of the Northern Kingdom. He denounces their injustice and idolatry as sins but sin especially against the Light and Covenant granted to her. Just like the nations, Israel could indeed expect the day of the Lord. The coming destruction prophesied the overthrow of the northern sanctuary, the fall of the royal house of the North, and the captivity of the people by their enemies.

For three crimes…and now four.” And so begins the condemnation of Israel as they never really listened to God or his prophets.

Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth?”…“You sit speaking against your brother; against your mother’s son you spread rumors. When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?”… Remember this, you who never think of God.” (taken from Psalm 50 for today)

Take some time today and consider in what part of your life are you deaf to the Word of God?

There is no place like home

Wiz-of-OzYesterday I posted an article on Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie classic, The Wizard of Oz.”

Maybe seven  years ago, William J. O’Malley wrote about “taking the long way home.” It was a wonderful “musing” on the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” We were reminded about the archetypal scene when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch and then Glinda, the good witch, shows up and magically transfers the ruby slippers to Dorothy. As the ending of the movie makes clear, all Dorothy had to do was click her heels and proclaim, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Why didn’t Glinda tell Dorothy that at the very beginning? Continue reading

Like it was yesterday.

An interesting article popped up on my feed this day. It was about Margaret Hamilton, an actor on stage and in film. Not familiar with her name? She had one of the most iconic lines in all film history: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” That right, the Wicked Witch of the West, whose cackle this day, still sends shivers through me. In the entire movie she was on screen for only 12 minutes, including the memorable melting scene at the movie’s end.

In what I think is a twist of fate, laced with irony…can you guess what he chosen profession was before she began acting?  She was a kindergarten teacher and described by all as a gentle and loving teacher.  Which I am sure is true…but it is tough for me to get past the cackle. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Mystic of the Sacred Heart

Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque was a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form. Today is her feast day

In 1905, at the dedication of our current church, our parish was renamed “Sacred Heart” and consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotional with long and historic provenance within Christianity, and in modern times has been established as a Solemnity for the universal Church.

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a celebration that falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday. The liturgical feast was first celebrated in Rennes, France. The liturgy was approved by the local bishop at the behest of St. John Eudes, who celebrated the Mass at the major seminary in Rennes on August 31, 1670. You’ll notice that the first celebration was not situated in the days following Pentecost. St. John Eudes composed a Mass and a set of prayers for outside the Mass (referred to as an “Office”) that were quickly adopted in other places in France.  Continue reading

A call to action

In the first reading for today we encountered one of the passages that, the first time I read it, I had to blink, shake my head to remove possible cobwebs, and then re-read. Did they just find “the book of the law” (2 Kings 22:8)? Were the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, unknown to them? The books that are the most fundamental to letting Israel know who and whose they are; “the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD”; all were a revelation to the young King Josiah. Continue reading

Housecleaning

In one of yesterday’s post we looked at the “Last of the Kings of Judah.” In the telling of the story you may have noticed that Israel and Judah had enemies. The Kingdom of Israel (the 10 northern tribes who broke away  from the throne of King David) was conquered by Assyria (722 BCE) as neither the kings nor the people remembered or cared about the Covenant with God. And it wasn’t for lack of prophets being sent to let them know, repent or God will “clean house.” Continue reading

Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament

This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, a feast perhaps better known by the Latin Corpus Christi. At its core, the solemnity is a celebration of the Tradition and belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Many folks wonder why this celebration is not part of Holy Thursday, and it was, mixed in with other themes, e.g., institution of the priesthood. And, all this occurs in the shadow of Good Friday. The placement of the celebration was not one that necessarily lends itself to a joyful celebration. Continue reading

The Will of God

When you consider the “Our Father” (or “the Lord’s Prayer” if you prefer), is there a particular part that stands out for you? I have never asked the question of people and parishioners, but based on other conversations, I suspect that “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…” is a passage that particularly stands out. It reminds us of what grace and mercy we have received and the too-many-times we fail to be as merciful to others. Continue reading

Our heroes

Today’s first reading is from the Wisdom of Ben Sira also known as Ecclesiasticus, a book that is part of the canon of the Old Testament for Catholics and Orthodox, but not for Protestant or Reformed denominations. Why? That’s a topic for another post. The contents of the Wisdom of Ben Sira are of a discursive nature, not easily divided into separate parts, but most scholars agree that Chapters 1–43 deal largely with moral instruction; 44:1–50:24 contain a eulogy of the heroes of Israel – our reading is drawn from this section. There are two appendixes in which the author expresses his gratitude to God (51:1–12), and invites the unschooled to acquire true wisdom (51:13–30). Continue reading