April 16, 2014

Spy Wednesday

Today it was my turn to preside at the community Mass. It was my turn on Wednesday of Holy Week last year as well, and I think this was the first time I presided the second time on a liturgical day in Italian.

In thinking about what to say--for I thought it only right to preach, it being Holy Week--I took the brief and simple approach that the brothers seem to appreciate, noting the parallel between the words of Judas in Matthew 26:15 and that of the disciples in general in verse 17. The disciple-traitor asks how much he can get from men, while the faithful disciple asks the Lord what he can do for him.

That was the best I could do in Italian, challenging myself to preach in Italian without notes for the first time. Four phrases. Perhaps I ought to be more advanced than that as I start to approach two years in Italy.

But here in my own language, I confess that there's more to it. Judas intrigues to hand Jesus over to his trial, condemnation, and Passion. The disciples ask where they can prepare for him to "eat the Passover." But what does it mean for Jesus to "eat the Passover" but to enter into the mystery he will reveal in parallel at the Last Supper and on the Cross, becoming himself the Passover Sacrifice such that, as John Chrysostom will remind us in the Office of Readings on Friday, his blood on our lips saves us from death just as the blood of the Passover sacrifice on the doorposts of the Hebrews' homes saved them from the Tenth Plague, the death of the first-born?

It all enters into the mystery of how God means to save us: the betrayal of Judas, without whose treason the Spirit is not handed over to us from the Cross, and the solicitude of the disciples, without whose devout preparation of the Passover we do not have the living memorial of the Passion that is the Eucharist.

March 30, 2014


Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
(John 9:40-41)

Lord, I am blind.

I am blind to the gravity of my sins, for if I could see them in their ugliness before your goodness, how could I persist in them?

I am blind to the goodness of your grace working in me, for if I could see how blessed I am, how could I do anything but follow you unreservedly from this moment forward?

I am blind to your presence in the poor and suffering around me, for if I could see you in such hunger and need, how could I go in living for my own comfort?

Most High,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
truth faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

March 29, 2014

Back From Retreat Ramble

I'm back in Rome after the week in Assisi. The 'spiritual exercises' were good, just not what I would call a retreat. It's a nice time to be with the brothers, to hang out, to have some time away from work and the usual routine. And of course it's always a privilege to be able to visit Assisi, to pray at the tomb of Francis and before the relics of St. Clare.

March 23, 2014

Spiritual Exercises in Assisi

Today the brethren of the Capuchin General Curia are off to Assisi for a week of 'spiritual exercises,' which, as best as I can tell, is Italian for what we would call 'guided retreat.' I'm looking forward to it.

So thanks in advance for your prayers, as I will pray for you.

Cat, via San Francesco, Assisi

March 16, 2014


This old blog continues to slow down. Maybe it's over after eight (!) years. It's never really had a plan; I just wrote things as they occurred to me and since the Holy Spirit let me know that he was using it for my salvation and occasionally for the salvation of others, I was happy to continue.

But since it has been a while since I last wrote, I thought I would post some updates.

It's also the Second Sunday of Lent, a day dear to me on a couple of levels. The readings today are so rich; there's a sense of the first light before the dawn of a glorious blessing. Divine blessing promised for all the families of the earth through God's call to one man, Abram. The brilliance of the glorified Body of the incarnate Son revealed to the inner circle within the inner circle of Jesus' disciples. It's all what Paul calls the "grace bestowed...before time began."

There's your homily for today, the short version I suspect.

Prayer is good. There is something new in it, but I'm not sure how to name it. Some new level or call or surrender to the action of grace, I'm not sure how to describe it. There's also a new sense of what my priesthood means for prayer now that I'm living a more hidden life, as I pray for people especially in their suffering.

Spiritual reading is good too. I have the good fortune at the current moment to live under the same roof as the Capuchin Central Library. I've been reading volumes of the Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality series that I've always wanted to get to but never have. So far I've read Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, and Richard Rolle. I was especially grateful for Tauler; one of those books for spiritual reading that Providence sends just at the right time. There's something eerily modern about him in the way he speaks about prayer as a descent, a going deeper, a sinking into one's 'ground,' rather than solely as an ascent.

For Lent I'm doing a couple of simple things in the hopes that they will help me surrender to the grace of renewing my baptismal promises come Easter. One is a funny kind of non-standard fast that I have thought of before but never tried. It's going well so far. The other is a little adjustment in how I use the evening meditation period, something to keep me focused on the basics.

So that's what I'm up to and that's it for now. Thanks for your prayers, as I pray for you.

March 2, 2014

Communion of Saints

I received a note the other day from someone who said that this blog had helped him in his own discernment of a vocation to consecrated life. So I gave glory to God for having used this blog not only for various purposes for me over the years, but now and then to work some good in someone else as well.

February 28, 2014

Franciscan Obedience

Twice a week I take a little walk with one of the brothers so that he can practice his English. He wants to be able to teach and preach in English, and so he teaches me a little something on a Franciscan theme or document while I supply words and offer corrections.