Strangers here?

During the last several months, there have been lots of visitors celebrating Eucharist with us. They come from points north where winter has been unrelenting and particularly harsh this year. They are easy to spot. While we have all donned our sweaters and jackets, they are in shorts, polos, and flip-flops. Many of them introduce themselves to me after Mass and comment on what a beautiful church and how welcoming we are as a parish. They tell me of the great experience of parishioners greeting them, chatting with them, and making them feel welcomed. One couple remarked “There are just no strangers in your parish!” As pastor, it affirms that we are what we profess in a tangible way. We live in a way that impacts the visitors among us. Thank you! Continue reading

Making room…

Lately, during weekday Mass celebrations, I have been asking people, “So…how’s your Lent going? Are you getting there?” It is just under three weeks until we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. So…. how’s your Lent going?

A lot of the time people tell me that they have given up such and such for Lent and they are still good, sticking to the plan. That is a good thing. But I wonder, and often ask, “does that make room in your life for God?” Continue reading

Temptation and Technology

The playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I can resist anything except temptation.” The humor of the remark is mixed with a sad recognition that we fail so often to resist the temptations that come our way each day and from every direction. Of course, there are temptations and then there are temptations writ large. What are people’s greatest temptations? Why? What are their “favorite” sins — indicated by frequency and repetition? Why do we so often find ourselves in the same position as St. Paul?  “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15). During this Lenten season, each of us is called to name our temptations as part of a moral and ethical struggle in trying to live a holy and righteous life. Then once we name that temptation, we begin to unfold and inspect, to then start to answer what it is about this temptation that becomes especially alluring. Such are the first steps to healing. Continue reading

About just anger…

And well do you know, my excellent brother, how, in the midst of such offenses, we must watch lest hatred of any one gain a hold upon the heart, and so not only hinder us from praying to God with the door of our chamber closed, but also shut the door against God Himself; for hatred of another insidiously creeps upon us, while no one who is angry considers his anger to be unjust. For anger habitually cherished against any one becomes hatred, since the sweetness which is mingled with what appears to be righteous anger makes us detain it longer than we ought in the vessel, until the whole is soured, and the vessel itself is spoiled. Wherefore it is much better for us to forbear from anger, even when one has given us just occasion for it, than, beginning with what seems just anger against any one, to fall, through this occult tendency of passion, into hating him. (St. Augustine’s “Letter to Profuturus” (Letter 38))

Learning to live better

From time to time, I am asked “if the parish could use…” and what follows is a litany of things old and beloved, unusual and familiar, new and used, useful and whimsical, and the occasional, “I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it is holy.” The conversation is hardly ever (perhaps never?) with a person from the millennial demographic. At this point in their lives, they live minimally and do not have the same emotional connection to things as did the generations before. They are a mobile group and thus don’t want a lot of stuff when moving house or moving to a new city. IKEA will do just fine until things settle. Continue reading

Lenten Advice

Every year, as Lent approaches, parishioners ask for advice: What should I do for Lent? I am always happy to help a sister or brother in Christ to make Lent a time of spiritual growth. Maybe this year you might want to “upgrade” your source of Lenten advice. Well, who better to pick for as your Lenten spiritual director than Pope Francis? Here is his advice for a Lenten period of deepening your spiritual life. Continue reading

Our Traditions

Traditions can be big or small, important and not. Not all traditions are created equal. If each one of us are to be a person faithful to Gods’ eternal covenant in Christ; if we are to be a church faithful to that covenant, then we must be a people who remember rightly and hold onto the Traditions that go to the heart of faith, the heart of the covenant. Continue reading

Short Shrift

Shrove TuesdayShrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. The day is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who are called to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with – and then carry those reflections into the season of Lent.

The archaic verb shrive means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday derives from that linguistic root. The idiom “short shrift” shares that same heritage. In its original form short shrift referred to a brief period of penance granted to a person condemned to death so he or she could be cured of immorality before execution. This original meaning has little relation to the modern sense of short shrift, which usually bears negative connotations – brief and unsympathetic treatment. One usually does not want to be given short shrift.

This Shrove Tuesday, may we priests not give “short shrift” to penitents seeking to draw closer to God. May all of God’s faithful not give “short shrift” to their reflections and on-going conversion in this Lenten season.  May we all find the time and place to “shrive” during Lent.

Valentine’s Day – Ash Wednesday

Thinking about making Valentine’s Day reservations soon? If you are Catholic and under the age of 60 you might want to look for seafood or vegetarian fare. This year, Valentine’s Day shares the calendar with Ash Wednesday. This hasn’t happened since 1945 (…but it will happen again in 2024 and 2029). That means it is an obligatory day of fasting (one full meal plus two smaller meals that together are not larger than the full meal) and abstinence (no meat). Also, expect some non-Catholics in the restaurant to think you and your date have dirt on your heads. Continue reading