Inviting and Beautiful?

If you have been following the last several pastor’s columns, you might have thought “this seems to be a series!”  And you would not be wrong. The series is not headed where I first thought, but such is the nature of creative writing. Two weeks ago, I wrote about “change.” There is perhaps nothing more intrinsic to Christian life than change. In spiritual circles we use the term metanoia, a Greek work taken directly into English: a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion (Merriam-Webster). If you think about the full Sermon on the Mount, there is a basic theme of change evident when Jesus says, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” This is repeated several times as He explains that what you thought you knew about the 10 Commandments and the Law, is not what God intended. And then Jesus explains how God intended it to be. In that moment, Jesus offers a moment of metanoia, of change. Change can be challenging. But the Christian life is meant to be one of change, ever drawing closer to God in holiness, in wholeness, in teleois. Continue reading

On Pilgrimage

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you. I will be off-line for two weeks as I am on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I have daily posts queued up and ready to go – but will not be around to respond to queries and questions. Know that I will keep you all in prayer.

Change

I have no problem with change — if I have initiated it and get to control it. I think most people are that way. Such change can be exciting and energizing. And then… there is most change: we probably have not initiated it, can’t control it, do not prefer the uncertainty of it all, and have a tendency to resist it. It can be uncomfortable or anxiety-provoking as it interrupts our patterns and habits. The expression that humans are “creatures of habit” is a true representation of how our brains work. Our basal ganglia in the primitive brain are responsible for “wiring” our habits. This cluster of nerve cell bodies is involved in functions such as automatic or routine behaviors that we are familiar with or that make us feel good. So, when we need to do something new (or even harder — to do something old in a new way), it takes conscious effort. Continue reading

When the kingdom becomes clear

Last Sunday’s gospel was St. Mark’s version of the sower who scatters seed, a metaphor for the manner in which the Kingdom of God comes to be in this world. This was followed up by the story of the mustard seed. Both are meant to hold up the idea of the Kingdom of God and get us to think about what we hope for. In the first story, a sower scatters seed on the ground, and then goes off to sleep. The seeds fend for themselves and when the grain is ripe, the gardener harvests it. In the second story, someone sows a tiny mustard seed in the ground, and it grows into a gigantic bush, large enough to offer birds shelter in its branches. As is the case with all of Jesus’s parables, these are intended not to keep us comfortable and complacent, but to prod and provoke us into wholly different ways of perceiving and relating to what is sacred. Continue reading

Incredible Family Life

I think I have officially become a curmudgeon – at least when it comes to the way families are portrayed on television and in movies. Seems like the poor parents of this world are clueless, morally ambiguous, technically challenged, and more – thanks be to God for the teenagers who “get it.”  (One of my least favorite expressions – see…. I told you I was becoming a curmudgeon!).

Ani Bundel has a nice piece on the portrayal of the family as seen in the newly released “Incredibles 2”  Here is a part of the article: Continue reading

Belonging and the Parish

Several years ago, I wrote a series of pastor columns on aspects of what it means to belong to a parish. If you would like to read the whole series, it can be found here: friarmusings.com/belonging

Where to begin? At the beginning is always a good place – and for Catholics the beginning is Baptism. Each time we enter church it is our tradition to mark ourselves with the Sign of the Cross using water from the holy water fonts. It is a moment to recall the words the priest proclaimed at your Baptism: “I claim you for Christ.” From that moment you belong to Christ and are a member of His people. You belong, not in some abstract way, but in a time and place and with a community of people. Continue reading

God’s Kingdom Come

Sower“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” (Mark 4:26-28)

Sometimes I think we are too quick to be comforted by the Scriptures we hear in church and consider in Bible Study, like the parable above. Maybe it is about the wonder of faith or the need to be ready to bring in the harvest. Or it might be about our complete inability to control the coming kingdom as though our believing (or not) affects its coming. This second possibility is uncomfortable because it leaves us vulnerable. God’s kingdom comes apart from our efforts, cannot be controlled or influenced, and can only be received as a gift. In this sense, faith is apparently a lot more like falling in love than making a decision. Because faith, like love, is something that comes from the outside and grabs hold of you, whether you want it to or not. Continue reading