Understanding and Joy

FindingJoyBack in the day, the 1980s to be exact, there was a year in which my job required me to spend a lot of time as a road warrior in support of our clients. There are approximately 250 working days in a year. I spent about 200 of them in a hotel. At first it was kinda’ fun. There was someone who cleaned your room every day, you got to eat out at the restaurant of your choice, you could drop your laundry off at the front desk and it would show up in your room at the end of the day. What’s not to like, right? By the second week, the thrill was gone and now all that was left was HBO. Remember this was 40 years ago, a hotel that had HBO had a serious leg up on the competition. But here’s the thing. HBO did not have a lot of choices that interested me. And now we are at week three. Continue reading

Francis and the Eucharist

In our previous installment, speaking of Francis’ unique view of nature, we ended with the idea that Francis “held that the whole world is a sacrament, a sacred thing, a gift; and the sacramental character of the world reminds us of the central sacrament, the Incarnation, continued among us in the seven sacraments of the Church, especially in the Eucharist.” But did Francis have any thoughts specifically on the Eucharist itself?

I would wager that most people would guess that in Francis’ own writings he spoke at length about poverty, his love of nature and animals, and other topics for which Francis is so well known in the modern world. Yet, in his own writings, there is perhaps no other topic that he addresses more than the Eucharist.  In his Eucharistic writings, Francis expresses a deep view of the continuing Incarnation of Christ in the world, and in that vision is an entire way of life. These writings represent part of the movement of Francis’ mystical life from prayer and devotion in solitude before the cross, to a pattern of communal prayer and devotion in the Mass as well as a devotion to the Eucharist apart from Mass. Continue reading

Everything

Way back in the day, before this life as a Franciscan, I was helping out with a teen ministry program at my parish. I will always remember one comment a young woman made: “It’s not like I have a contract with God or anything.”

Contract: an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for some consideration, often an exchange of goods and services. A contract includes a) an offer; b) an acceptance of that offer; c) a promise to perform; d) a valuable consideration; f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises; g) and the execution of all the above.  I am sure the lawyers and first year law students can provide a more precise definition. But my point is that contracts are hardly personal. I have signed contracts for car loans without ever meeting the bank representatives. And I signed an apartment rental contracts and never met the actual property owners. Who cares? It’s business, right? Did everyone get what they agreed to? Contract with God? Continue reading

The penitential life

The small band of brothers living at Rivo Torto and later at the Porziuncula, were drawing others to their way of following Christ in the world.  And if they expected to find a uniform dress code, posted rules, a great deal of organization, a formation program, or even someone to sit them down and explain what was expected – they were in for a surprise. Francis assumed that his followers would learn by imitation. Giving them rules or structures to follow was not merely difficult for him, it went against the grain of the meaning of minority – to be the lesser brother. The new arrivals simply did what Francis did: daily prayer, work at a local leprosarium, go to local churches to participate in Eucharist, eat, pray again, witness to the local Umbrian people near Assisi, and live a life in community.  The brothers had to watch Francis closely and do their best to understand. Continue reading

Communion and Covid

In the course of celebrating Mass we come to the distribution of Communion – during these times of the coronavirus pandemic. At my parish many precautions are taken as part of the distribution of Holy Communion: sanitizing hands of the minister, wearing masks, standing behind a plexiglass shield with a hand pass through – and the Bishop has asked that all the faithful please receive in the hand and not on the tongue. Still we try to be accommodating as best we can. If someone want to receive on the tongue, I will ask them to receive in the hands, but if they insist, I simply ask them to wait until the end of the line so that they are the last to receive. They can then receive on the tongue, following which I am able to again sanitize my hands. Continue reading

The Body of Christ for Francis

During these last days as the topic of racial justice was omnipresent around us, someone emailed to ask if Francis of Assisi had ever written on race relationships. The short answer is “no.” Francis of Assisi lived in the 13th century growing up in the Umbria region of Italy. His world was provincial and focused on the world in which diversity meant which town you were from and the “other” referred to the “Saracens,” against whom the Crusades were aimed in order to free the Holy Land from Islamic control. Continue reading

Confessions of a Live-Streaming Catholic

This is a wonderful article by Ms. Jennifer Manning, mom, teacher, scholar and gifted writer. Jennifer’s mom works with me in the parish and passed her daughter’s “musings” along. And with Jennifer’s permission, I pass this along for your enjoyment.

About a week into the stay-at-home order in Massachusetts, one of my colleagues sent an email expressing how he missed life at the Jesuit, all boys school where we teach. He wrote something like, “I find myself struggling with missing the students, all of you, and the Eucharist.” Continue reading

Invited

Today’s gospel is the Lukan account of the post-Resurrection encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I am always reminded on this passage’s highly Eucharistic content: blessing, broke, gave. The word pattern of the miracle feeding of the crowds, the word pattern of the Last Supper – all echoed in the simple words of this gospel

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32) Continue reading

I am the living bread

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58) Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Passover Meal

Introduction to The Lucan Passion Narrative: The passion narratives provide the climax for each of the four gospels, catching up themes that weave their way through the evangelists’ entire portrayal of Jesus life and bringing them to a dramatic completion. In deft strokes the evangelists tell us of the final hours of Jesus’ life – his last meal with his disciples; his arrest in Gethsemane; his interrogation by the religious leaders; the trial before Pilate; and finally the heart clutching scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. Continue reading