Our gospel highlights the three spiritual practices of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The readings all warn of not being gloomy about it all, not being ostentatious so that you’re sure to be noticed, and not to announce your generosity so that all might acknowledge your faithful giving. It calls into question not the tradition of the Lenten practices, but the meaning, intention, and purpose you assign to your practice. Continue reading
I love the way the first reading from Zephaniah speaks about God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness…he will sing joyfully because of you.” (Zep 3:17-18). Because of you. Because of me. This divine joy is the very nature of God – creative; like an overflowing fountain – a fountain fullness. A joy that wants to be shared in wider and wider circles. A joy that asks us to join in the OT reading and the Psalm too – both telling us to shout for joy. The words of the second reading are the hallmark of Guadette Sunday: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice.” From God to us, it is a call for a universal chorus of joy. Continue reading
I like words, their origin (or etymology if you prefer) and the ways in words affect people – and people affect words. Such as the word “peruse” which people understand to mean “glance over, skim,” etc. Yet originally the word means (and I would argue still does) to read completely and in exacting detail. Another interesting word whose meaning has done an about face is “egregious.” Today it means to be conspicuous or flagrant – and almost always in a negative sense. Yet the origin of the word from the Latin ex-“out of” and greg- “flock” to give us egregius “illustrious” or in a more modern sense, “outstanding.” Somewhere in the late 16th century the word was increasingly used in an ironic sense, until that usage became it every day meaning. Continue reading
During the holiday season with winter storms roaring about, one can be quite happy that the airplane finally got off the ground; yesterday in Chicago, 1000 flights were cancelled. So if you got airborne, you were indeed happy. A new round of happiness came when the pilot finally found smooth air. And even if it was 6 hours late, you are happy that you have arrived. When you finally get off the plane, pass thru security, and at last see your spouse, your kids, your parents or grandparents, your fiancé, or whomever you have longed to see…. that is not happy. That is Joy. You hear it in the tone and energy of the voices, the embraces, and the hugs. And even when the reunion is right in the middle of everyone else’s way, when the reunion is clogging up the entire flow of foot traffic trying to get somewhere, you can’t help but notice even the most curmudgeon-y of travelers, however reluctantly, is giving evidence of a smile. Joy is embedded in the warp and woof, in the very fabric of relationships. Just like Mary and Elizabeth. Continue reading
The prophets Zephaniah and John the Baptist are not the two most joyful characters in all of Scripture, yet we hear from them both today. They are paired with the great Advent refrain from the Letter to the Philippians: “Gaudete in Domino semper,” – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” This is Gaudete Sunday. Everything about today’s readings call to the people of God to get excited, be demonstrative, and above all be joyful, celebrate, and rejoice. Even the dour, prophet of doom, Zephaniah can’t restrain himself and tells us “Shout for joy…Sing joyfully… Be glad and exult with all your heart!” The book of Zephaniah is only three chapters long, filled with death, doom, fire, flood, pestilence and plague – yet even he tells us to shout for joy! Continue reading
“To the bath and the table,
To the prayers and the Word,
I call every seeking soul.” Continue reading
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:16) It is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Guadette Sunday. Rejoice always, I say again, rejoice, for the Lord is near. With all apologies to Pharrell Williams and his Grammy award song, “Happy,” we not told to be happy, but are to “rejoice,” to be joyful. There’s a difference. Continue reading
I like words, their origin (or etymology if you prefer) and the ways in words affect people – and people affect words. Such as the word “peruse” which people understand to mean “glance over, skim,” etc. Yet originally the word means (and I would argue still does) to read completely and in exacting detail. Recently Merriam-Webster’s (M-W) “Word of the Day” revealed another interesting word whose meaning has done an about face: egregious. Today it means to be conspicuous or flagrant – and almost always in a negative sense. Yet the origin of the word from the Latin ex-“out of” and greg- “flock” to give us egregius “illustrious” or in a more modern sense, “outstanding.” Somewhere in the late 16th century the word was increasingly used in an ironic sense, until that usage became it every day meaning. Continue reading
It is Gaudete Sunday. The name comes from wording in Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! While there is evident joy in the first readings and the Psalm, and a call for patience in the second reading, the gospel is not one that I would immediately connect with joy. It seems to me this is a Sunday whose very name asks us, “What gives you joy? What is the source of joy in your life?” A good question. Continue reading
This is the lesson that Pope Francis drew from the Acts of the Apostles at Friday morning Mass (May 10) as he described the disciples joy in the days between our Lord’s Ascension and Pentecost and what we can learn from them.
“A Christian is a man and a woman of joy. Jesus teaches us this, the Church teaches us this, in a special way in this [liturgical]time. What is this joy? Is it having fun? No: it is not the same. Fun is good, eh? Having fun is good. But joy is more, it is something else. It is something that does not come from short term economic reasons, from momentary reasons : it is something deeper. It is a gift. Fun, if we want to have fun all the time, in the end becomes shallow, superficial, and also leads us to that state where we lack Christian wisdom, it makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?, Everything is fun … no. Joy is another thing. Joy is a gift from God. It fills us from within. It is like an anointing of the Spirit. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father”.
“Can we ‘bottle up’ this joy in order to always have it with us? No, because if we keep this joy to ourselves it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy only nostalgia, melancholy which is not healthy. Sometimes these melancholy Christians faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life. Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path. It is a virtue of the Great, of those Great ones who rise above the little things in life, above human pettiness, of those who will not allow themselves to be dragged into those little things within the community, within the Church: they always look to the horizon”.