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

Coronavirus, flu, wars and terrorism

I hope that we are all taking the pandemic seriously. I remain appalled at the local pastor who held services in his church despite warning about large crowd gatherings. Before he was arrested, the sheriff noted that the church was already equipped to broadcast its services online and had been doing so. Our parish is closed out of love and concern for the parishioners – even as we figure out ways to continue our works of charity. 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

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)
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After all these years…

Arising early on Sunday morning, I prayed the Divine Office, sat for a bit in the church before the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior (there are advantages of living in a friary attached to the church), shaved (hadn’t done that in a few days, although you’d barely notice), and sat down to read the Tampa Bay Times, our local newspaper (digital version). Continue reading

Formed by the Word

TheAnnunciationIt is ironic and odd that the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord follows on the heels of the announcement of Tampa’s stay-at-home order. But wonderfully graced that we have the opportunity to let “Announcement” inform the other.

Today we celebrate the scene in which the Angel Gabriele comes to Mary to announce she will be the mother of Emmanuel, “God with us.”  Words we need to hold close to our heart and memory in the looming shadow of the pandemic.

My friend, Fr. Bill McConville OFM, notes that part of the church’s art tradition is that the scene of the Annunciation often portrays Mary, not empty-handed, but holding a book or a scroll, her reading and reflecting on Scripture being interrupted by the angel’s pronouncement. The tradition is that she is meditating on Isaiah 7 (today’s first reading) in which there is the promise that a virgin will bear a child. Continue reading

An Exile of Sorts

This afternoon in the city of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor plans to issue a “stay-at-home” order in response to the growing incidences of virus cases locally and statewide. We were not the first to issue such an order nor will we be the last.

In its own way, it is as though each family is being sent into exile away from so much of they know as familiar: work, recreation, grandkids, grandparents, gathering places where community is formed, church, and more. Consider a week during the “old normal” and list out all the places you went but now can no longer go. Perhaps that is a glimpse into a limited exile. Continue reading