Notre Dame

The experience of watching Notre Dame burn is at least a reminder that places matter. Physical places become sacred spaces because they are the places where we find God — or more accurately, places where God finds us.  Cathedrals like Notre Dame were built to be a visual teaching tool in a largely illiterate culture.  They proclaim the gospel without words.  Historian Jon Meacham described the cathedral as a “physical manifestation of an unseen reality.”  He said that one of the most important words in scripture is “remember” and that he shows up at mass whether he feels like it or not in order to remember and experience again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ.

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Perhaps the image of the Notre Dame cross glowing amid the smoke and ashes will draw us back to the sacred places where we remember and experience the presence of the One who said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:24-32) 


Jim Harnish, Why the Fire Matters

A short guide to Holy Week

Every year Christians commemorate the week before Easter Sunday with special traditions and devotions that help them enter into the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a special time of the year, culminating in the biggest feast of the Church’s calendar – Easter. Here are the basics of what Catholics look forward to during the week that precedes Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday. This day inaugurates Holy Week with the triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem. In the Gospels Jesus comes to the city riding upon a donkey with the people placing palm branches in front of him. At Mass on this day the congregation relives this event with a procession in the church and a solemn blessing of palm branches. The Passion narrative is also read on this day. Continue reading

Holy Week

When I was a child, I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, just to let them know that I was too sick to come to school that day.” So my father used to tell me. Hmmm…? Really – but hey, dad was really old, right? He probably grew up in the ice age and maybe the weather was very different back then. Such are the stories of our youth as parents try to teach us the lessons of life, sometimes wrapped in yarns, tall-tales, and memories of a different time and place. I still wonder how the to-and-from the store was uphill both ways. Continue reading

Judas

I find that Luke’s treatment of Judas offers an important message. There are some major differences between Luke’s account of Judas and what the other Gospels say about him — and in our day and age, it might be good to hear about Judas — at least Luke’s presentation of Judas.

First of all, there is some significant agreement about Judas in all the Gospels. All indicate that he was one of the select 12 of Jesus’ followers. All indicate that Judas betrayed Jesus. That’s about where the similarities end. Three gospels say that he received money for betraying Jesus. John says nothing about money. But John says that Judas was the disciples’ treasurer and a thief. None of the other gospels describe him in this way. Continue reading

A letter to my older brother

A week or so ago, at our Men’s Prayer Group meeting, at the very end of the meeting, I offered a spiritual exercise in the light of that weekend’s Sunday gospel – the Prodigal Son. The exercise was to write a letter to one of the characters in the parable. Here is one of the letters that was sent to me. It is an interesting Lenten reflection for all of us. My homily of that weekend was essentially my letter and reflection.There was a previous letter one of the men in the group wrote that I posted.  And here is another. If other’s share their thoughts, I will post them. Continue reading

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – DYK?

Every year on the Sunday before Easter – the sixth Sunday of Lent – the church celebrates “Palm Sunday.”  Most general calendars list the day as “Palm Sunday,” but if you look closely at a liturgical calendar you will see that it is actually called “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.” The name is appropriate as it celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem but also commemorates the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus’ final journey to the cross.

But that wasn’t always the name of the sixth Sunday of Lent. Continue reading

A season within a season

Word gets around. Visitors or parishioners will sometimes stop me on the sidewalk in front of church and remark, “I heard you were in the Navy…” This is, of course, a prelude to reminisce, tell sea stories, recount homeports and ports-of-call, and all manner of things true and…. well, sea stories. Back in the day I was conversant in all the acronyms of naval service of the day. If someone asked if I ever did a loop through AUTEC, I knew what they were talking about. If someone said, “Bravo Zulu,” I understood. “COMNAVSEASYSCOM” – got it… but this century has a whole lot of new acronyms that just evade my comprehension. Continue reading

Things Biblical, things Technical

This coming weekend the Gospel is John 8:1-11; the passage traditionally called “The Women Caught in Adultery.” Perhaps you have noticed that in many bibles the entire passage appear in [brackets]. The use of brackets is way to say, “what is between the brackets does not appear in all the ancient manuscripts.”  The brackets are not used to say that the passage is not inspired by God. Continue reading