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

Your choice

The Pharisees are having a rough time in the daily gospels this week. Jesus makes no bones about who he is: “I AM”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him (John 8:58)

The Pharisees got the message. They made a choice. A friend of mine describes the basic encounter of faith this way: 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)
Continue reading

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

Can you see it?

Today is March 31st Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent. This is Fr George with some simple words on the Word of God.  In today’s gospel we see Jesus in an encounter with the Pharisees as time rapidly approaches the events we know as Holy Week. [Note: not my normal start, but this is the draft of a daily reflection video made for our parishioners. I thought: “why not post it?”]

This morning I want to direct your attention to the life of goodness that surrounds you in family, friends, and fellowship – still there even in these days of loss and isolation. Can you see it?

When Jesus says to Pharisees, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM”, he is not only pointing to the divine nature displayed in all his works, his miracles, his teaching, but he is pointing ahead to the Cross when their choice for life will be through the death of one man. But the Pharisees just can’t see it. And if they can’t see it now, what will they believe when they see the contradiction of the cross. It is and will be a “fish or cut bait” moment for the Pharisees. 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

Generosity

Perhaps you’ve heard one of Jesus’ well-known teachings about trusting in God’s generosity: “Look at the ravens, they don’t sow seed… or have barns, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable you are to God than birds”! Some people hear these words and feel comfort in God’s love. Others think immediately of the dead bird they saw the other day on the side of the road and wonder how that fits into Jesus’ picture of divine generosity! 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