How beautiful

Salvador Dali’s painting “Ascension” is certainly one of the most provocative paintings depicting the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus. The symbolic elements are many, the speculations even more, and the agreement on meaning is still up for grabs. But I sometimes tend to focus on some of the more realistic elements cast among the surrealistic things. While the art experts discuss the finer points of Dali, his life, faith, and his work – I am fascinated by perspective, as well as the hands and feet. The former as though clutching at something; the latter soiled and showing the wear and tear of life on earth. Continue reading

What else could happen?

2020 – what a year! When the year began all kinds of people made all kinds of prediction. It is almost like a cottage industry. One of my favorite was that there would be a meteor the size of Mt. Everest that would strike the earth on April 29th. I am pretty sure that did not happen. And besides we were ready. We already had a game plan, in fact… we made a movie out of it starring Bruce Willis. It has a wiki page! Spoiler alert:  we live, Bruce dies. Who could have predicted that? Continue reading

Grief and memory

It is a small part of today’s gospel: “grief has filled your hearts.” It is something we have all experienced and will again experience. Perhaps the grief will be from a new event or cause, but it is also possible that one will again experience the grief from a past loss that surges back into life and memory. In my experience as priest and pastor I often come across the idea that many people believe if you have fully mourned a loss, then you will then achieve closure. The idea say that the process is (a) one mourns a loss and (b) in time one reaches closure. The very word “closure” seems to offer the idea of a door that closes behind you as you set upon the journey of the rest of your life, leaving the past in the past. If one hopes or believes that closure means one “has gotten over it” such that emotions about the loss are no longer triggered, then I think one is holding onto a myth. Continue reading

Finding our way

Today our parish will offer our first public Mass in some 60 days. It is not as simple as opening the doors to the church and celebrating in the usual way. There are limitations on the number of people that can be admitted. We have roped off every other pew (actually we used ribbon) and limited access to only the main aisle. We are required to have ushers at the door equipped with a counter so that once we reach the prescribed number of people, no further entry will be allowed. Continue reading

Choosing an Abundant Life

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Most people know that verse and are drawn to the idea of an abundant life. What would that look like to you? If we don’t have an idea of what it looks like, how will we know when we have it?

Once upon a time in Kenya, an Englishman visiting the central highlands, and discovered a beautiful river. Not too far downstream he came upon the chief of the Kikuyu people enjoying a moment of fishing. The chief had a great spot in the shade, the fishing line was tied around his big toe, and the chief seemed like he was napping more than fishing. Continue reading

Chosen, appointed to bear fruit

The readings for today’s readings brought to mind the perpetual topic of leadership and the selection, appointment and installation of leaders.

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (John 15:16)

And while we easily think of the application of this verse with priestly vocations, religious life, the call to serve as bishop and in the election of the pope, we are not so quick to apply the same thought to those in the public square of civic leadership. Of course the demagogue is certain to point out that his election or candidacy is divinely appointed, certain destiny, and blessed by God. But apart from the demagogue, the verse challenges me to ask what am I looking for (hoping for) in civic leadership this time around. And hence the image of the “coming storm”. Continue reading

Mindfulness and Joy

One of the “silver linings” in the pandemic is that it has increased people’s mindfulness about thanking others. Reports have indicated that people are sending digital and postal service cards and letters to thank folks. That is now that things have settled out a bit. In the early days when the “sheltering in place” orders came out our fears and anxieties were too much in the forefront of our minds. My point is that we can look to our own recent experience to understand the transition from the early days of Covid-19 to days of sheltered in place and new normal. As we no longer “strain against the way things are” we find a certain degree of freedom, and then our minds wander to the essentials. And saying “thank you” is right there at the top of the list. Continue reading

Our Hope

Gardens are a necessity. Vineyards are a sign of abundance beyond the necessary. As terrible a gardener as I am, I can get a crop of vegetables in several weeks’ time. Not so with a vineyard. Vineyards take a long time and hard work to develop.  Try googling “starting a vineyard;” the results might surprise you.  After you buy the land (and not just any location will do), it costs $20,000 a year per acre to cultivate a vineyard, and there is no cash flow for 3 to 5 years while you wait for the grapes to be good enough for the harvest.  There is a lot of patient, intensive work and commitment.  Vegetable gardens are near-term cash crop; you can change it up every year. Vineyards are a long-term investment with one fruit produced for one’s lifetime. Continue reading

Exile

Exile comes in many forms and manners. To be in exile means to be away from one’s home (city, state or even country), while either being explicitly refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return. It can happen to individuals, e.g. Napoleon’s exile on Saint Helena. It can happen to nations, e.g. after the partitioning of Poland in the 1800s, many Polish people moved to France and the United States. Here is the United States, many Native American peoples were exiled from their land to reservations. In Biblical narrative, exile plays a huge role in the life of the people of Israel. Continue reading

Discovering Essential

Guest column from Sacred Heart’s Chairman of the Parish Advisory Counsel, Mr. James Rossman.

In this space last week, Fr. George discussed the stunning changes that have impacted us during the last few months. Those changes certainly include a litany of hardships, sacrifice and disruptions of the norm, but they also created an opportunity for reflection, for examination of the emptiness of some parts of our pre-pandemic lives and for imagining a new and better world on the other side of “Safer at Home.” He ended his column with: “What will we do with the time given us?” Continue reading