The Next Steps

USNA-graduationWe are firmly in the midst of high school and college graduation season. And sadly, this year, the rites of passage and mark of accomplishment is required to find new ways to celebrate. Ways that honor the women and men and salute their efforts…but in 2020 these events are not the joyful celebration that we had hoped for. So, all graduates, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you celebrate and consider your next steps. Because pageantry aside, the next steps are key, defining, and part of the sea change you will experience in the next few years…. it has me thinking about my college graduation and my “next steps.”

Every institution has their own traditions and ways to celebrate – including my alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. Every May, the seniors march on to the field at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium for graduation. The women and men are dressed in their “choker” whites (future Naval Officers) and blues (future Marine Corp officers). Theses graduating midshipmen take their places, listen to the speakers of the day, walk across the stage to receive their diploma, take the oath of office, and then it happens… Continue reading

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

Ite, missa est

Next Sunday is the celebration of Ascension Sunday in most dioceses of the United States. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20) Continue reading

The promise of my Father

This coming Sunday marks the Pentecost Sunday (Year C);  You can read a commentary on the Gospel here. The commentary covers more than the gospel reading, including John 20:19-31.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20:19-23) Continue reading

Save the Date Sunday

When I was in seminary, our homiletics professor had lots of advice and pointers for the Sunday homily – I am about to ignore one of the pieces of advice. The professor was pretty adamant about not explaining theology. And I mostly agree with his point – it can make a homily really dry and fill it with language that needs its own explanation. The professor’s final point was that you are likely to give an inaccurate or heretical version of the theology in any case.

The professor in Systematic Theology would also agree. He made the point that almost every early heresy in the early Church came from people trying to explain the Incarnation, trying to explain how it is that Jesus is vere Deus, vere homo – truly God, truly human. The words in the Gospel of John seem so simple: the Word became flesh. And indeed, the heresies of the first four centuries of the Church are filled with controversies, serious in fighting, involvement of the Roman Emperors, and sometimes armies were formed, and battles fought. Explaining theology can be very dangerous stuff. Continue reading

Ascension and Mystery

The Ascension of the Lord is a great celebration of the Church. It commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to St. Luke it occurred 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3). It is a feast of great antiquity with liturgies and art of the 4th century already addressing it as a norm of the Church. In the Eastern Church this feast is known in Greek as Analepsis, the “taking up,” and also as the Episozomene, the “salvation from on high,” indicating that by ascending into his glory Christ completed the work of our redemption.

Especially in Western Europe, the Feast of the Ascension, falling on Thursday, traditionally has been a public holiday, allowing the faithful to participate in the holy day of obligation. In modern times, there are no mid-week public holidays in most places, and so, celebration of the feast diminished. There are many Christian traditions that do not celebrate the Ascension. In the early 1990s the Vatican gave permission for the local bishop to move the observance of the Feast of the Ascension from the traditional Thursday to the following Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost. The permission to move was given so that the faithful might maintain contact with the importance of the feast. Continue reading

The promise of my Father

This coming Sunday marks the 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C); however, most dioceses will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord.

46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50  Then he led them (out) as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. 51 As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. 52 They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple praising God. Continue reading

Witness to these things

This coming Sunday marks the 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C); however, most dioceses will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. You can read a complete Ascension commentary on the first reading from Acts here.

The scene of the Ascension is the first account in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts tells how Jesus’ disciples received his Holy Spirit and continued his work after he ascended into heaven. From the opening linchpin of the Ascension, much of Acts is carried along a travelogue, following the Christian missionaries, especially Paul, as they spread God’s word  outward from Jerusalem. Similarly, Luke’s Gospel had put a unique stress on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to the end of the book.).  Acts carries the journey to the “ends of the earth.” Continue reading

A moment of time

There are moments in this life when I wished I processed more insight about what was happening in the moment that is now. They are often moments caught up in the midst and whirl of things; moments when I look back and wished I had paused and considered what was stirring within. Attentive to the now.

Lent is a season when we are called to take time and pray for the wisdom to be attentive to the moments leading up to the celebration on Easter. But what about the Easter season? Those 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost have come and are almost gone. There is a lot whirling around our lives that make the quiet of Lent seem long ago and far away. Continue reading

Those bringing good news

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