As personal as it gets

Giotto_Lower_Church_Assisi_Crucifixion_01“The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their [ancestors]..for they broke my covenant, …this is the covenant that I will make…I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31)

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 women made – the topic is not relevant (and not so well remembered) – but her last words stuck with me: “It’s not like I have a contract with God or anything.” Continue reading

Differences and divisions

emaus02There is a fine line between differences and divisions. Think about our own families – the kids are different, unique and that what makes them remarkable and fascinating. In my family growing up, the middle child Patricia, very different from her older sister Kathy, and her favorite brother – that would be me – and the fact that I was the only brother is but a secondary detail. Patricia was always aware of the differences and, on occasion, would proclaim, “I am adopted.” On occasion we would agree, although she was a dead ringer for Grandma Kate at the same age. Those differences were part of what made us unique and what made us family. They never became divisions. Continue reading

Corpus Christi – other thoughts

emaus02Where the principal focus of the previous section is the bread of life as the divine revelation given to men by and in Jesus, John 6:51 adds a clearly Eucharistic theme – ‘I am the living bread come 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.’ While some argue the words are metaphor, the Jews clearly understand. Jesus is referring to eating of his flesh. He recounts this action verb several other times between vv. 51-58, while adding the drinking of his blood to the command. This is no metaphor for accepting his revelation, already adequately expressed. Continue reading

Corpus Christi – metaphor and Eucharist

Christ_with_the_HostThe Eucharist. This section is written at two levels. At one level it is an on-going commentary on the verb “to eat” (cf. v. 31) summoning up a rich tradition of Eucharistic language: “bread,” “food,” “flesh,” “blood,” “to eat,” “to drink,” “will give,” “for your sakes.” The discourse, from v. 25 down to v. 59, presents Jesus as the true bread from heaven, replacing the former bread from heaven, the manna of the Law. The believer must accept the revelation of God that will take place in broken flesh and spilled blood (vv. 53-54), a never-failing nourishment (v. 35) that the Son of Man will give (v. 27). Continue reading

Deep waters: some history and context

divorce1This is the second post in a very on-and-mostly-off-again series on the current topic of divorced and remarried Catholics and reception of the Eucharist. You can find the first post here: Pushing Out into Deep Waters

The Offices of the Bishop. The three classic roles of a bishop are teaching, sanctification and governance. As the church considers the idea of communion for the divorced and remarried, there will be a great deal of discussion of this topic which in one way or the other will actively touch upon each one of the three roles. And the discussion will come from folks far more qualified than I to offer an informed opinion. And the discussion will be laced with language particular to the Church: e.g., external forum and internal forum. Continue reading

Pushing out into deep waters…

PFrancis-on-loggiaHere on the anniversary of Pope Francis (happy anniversary, Holy Father!) there is growing speculation that there may be some change in the pastoral approach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. One only need glance at national newspapers and on-line sources here in the United States to know that it is a topic that is continually asked of Bishops.  And there is a context for the interviewer’s question. Last month the Cardinals of the Catholic Church met in Rome for a meeting on family life in our times. Pope Francis invited Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany to give the opening remarks for the gathering. The Pope’s choice of Cardinal Kasper was enough to begin the speculation. While the opening speech will be published later this March (in German and Italian), there have been many reports regarding the content of the talk. Continue reading

Becoming Grateful

francisbrnOn his way to Jerusalem, Jesus meets 10 lepers. They ask for mercy, they are cured, and told to show themselves to the priest who will verify their healing and ritually cleanse them so that they can re-enter society. Only one returns to thank Jesus.  There are lots of commentaries and folks who conclude that the other nine, in some way, lack gratitude.

Could be, but I don’t think so… who wouldn’t be grateful to be cured of this dread disease? Who wouldn’t be grateful for being restored to their family and community?  Grateful, that they are no longer banished from the towns, the market, and the usual ebb and flow of life; no longer consigned to beg day upon day without end. I suspect they were grateful. Continue reading

Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Mystery of a Kiss, and the Eucharist

Sheldon CopperIn seminary, one of my theology professors (not Dr. Sheldon Cooper – although that would have been interesting….) offered that the Johannine “And the Word became flesh” becomes the starting point of most Christological heresy if one attempts to explain “how.”  Eventually the limitations of language and human fumbling will eventually lead to the heterodox expression of faith. Continue reading

Lent 101

A Word from Fr. George…
Lent is a time to reflect upon our life with God, and as the Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann, notes all reflections should lead us to the Eucharist.  As you consider some of the “Lent 101” links provided below, take a moment and consider how your Lenten journey will lead you to a more full, complete, and holy encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist.

And if you would like – read some more musings on Lent, “So…what are you giving up for Lent?” here.

Need to Brush Up on Lenten Traditions?
There are many traditions and observances we as Catholics celebrate during the season of Lent. Over time, we may start to think of them as routine. But every one of them has developed into a tradition with the intent to deepen your reflection upon the Lenten journey. If you need to brush up on why we keep certain rituals or practices, please see the links below for more information.

History of Lent
What are the three pillars of Lent?
When does Lent begin, and when does it end?
When do I fast, and when do I abstain?
Is Lent really 40 days? Or is it longer?

Ash Wednesday
This Wednesday, February 13th, is Ash Wednesday. Why do we celebrate Ash Wednesday? Find out more.

What are the Stations of the Cross? And why do we pray them? Learn more.

Following Francis: The Exhortation to the Brothers

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