December 29, 2007
December 28, 2007
It was a quiet day after this morning's funerals, so I decided to take a good long walk around the neighborhood before the work week begins again in the morning.
I saw a lot of little Bethlehems set up on lawns, in front of churches, and even one up in a tree house. I love the concept of making the Christmas mystery concrete; the Word of life that we have seen and heard and touched with our hands as the first letter of John says. When I see them I try to pray in thanksgiving to God for the devotion of those who took the time to set them up and witness to their faith.
I also like how all these different nativity scenes range from the tasteful and beautiful to the tacky and corny. When I see the good ones I try to thank God that despite all of the violence and darkness of this world, people still insist on making beauty. When I see the ugly ones I try to remember how the Lord was born away from anything considered important or beautiful in his time, and I also pray for the people in China or wherever who made the animals and people, perhaps without even knowing what they were supposed to mean.
December 27, 2007
It reminds me of when I was still living in Boston there was a controversy over whether the state should be able to display a Christmas tree, i.e. did it violate the "separation of church and state."
A reporter stopped me on the street in Harvard Square and asked my opinion. I said that no one could reasonably accuse a state that was mean to foreigners and supported "gay marriage" as endorsing Christianity, and so Christians ought to be the first ones trying to prevent it from displaying a Christmas Tree.
December 24, 2007
The mystery of Christmas is upon us, the mystery of God's re-creation of our humanity through the Incarnation of the Word.
I have our midnight Mass tonight, for which I'm giving the homily I posted last year. I've never had a chance to offer it live, and I like it a lot.
For Mass during the day tomorrow, my homily is posted here.
December 22, 2007
December 20, 2007
1. Someone could be born from neither a man nor a woman, as was the case with Adam, who came directly from God.
2. Someone could be born from a man, but not from a woman, as was the case with Eve, who came from Adam's side but had no human mother.
3. As it is with just about everybody else, one can be born from the union of a human mother and father.
4. This leaves just one more possibility, for someone to be born only of a woman, with no human father. This is, of course, the virgin birth of Jesus.
Thus completing the possibilities for how one can come into the world, Jesus provides creation with a certain completeness and universality.
I pointed out this argument to one of my teachers once, and he said, "It's like, see how cute and clever God is." Nevertheless, it is Bonaventure's way of getting at the completion of creation in the Incarnation and at a sense of fullness of purpose for God and the world that it brings.
For the real text, see Breviloquium IV:5.
December 19, 2007
And there it was: "Season's Greetings."
Now I expect this from the capitalists and the lovers of this world who celebrate not Christmas, but Yule. But from a Catholic school of theology?
Many martyrs and missionaries gave up their efforts and lives to convert our ancestors from the worship of seasons to the worship of the living God. Should we thus mock them?
To riff on St. Paul, preaching Christ crucified is indeed a stumbling block and foolishness to the secular holiday of "Christmas."
December 18, 2007
O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root, O Key, O Dawn, O King, O Emmanuel.
These antiphons, these names for our Lord, almost overwhelm with the breadth of the mystery of the Incarnation, with the richness of possibility in the titles of Christ. The titles of Christ go on and on even in the Scriptures themselves, showing us that the mystery of Christ is an inexhaustible richness for us.
December 17, 2007
So I was glad for the class notes that reminded me that the three sets of fourteen generations that begin the New Testament are more than a catalog of funny names.
Against all who complain that the Abrahamic traditions are nothing but patriarchy, Jesus' genealogy reminds us of four special women among the Lord's ancestors: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and finally, Mary.
Against those who want a god who is only interested in the pure or the holy, we are reminded that Jesus' was descended from a line of kings who were both good and bad.
December 15, 2007
December 14, 2007
I feel for this person, because acedia is the real danger we face in our struggle against the secular holiday the world insists on calling "Christmas."
All of the noise, the lights, the outrageous consumerism and continuous pushes toward conspicuous consumption, it can easily drive from us our taste for prayer and spiritual things, leaving us in the dangerous state of acedia. And there we can easily fail to notice the God who decided to be born in secret, away from home and in a place that nobody in that world considered to be of any consequence. And that's something we should keep in mind when the constant din of commercials try to play on nostalgia for a sense of home.
December 13, 2007
I've been aware of this in a special way this week. In a space of 48 hours I led three funeral Masses, three final committals, and two wake services. That's about four homilies, and it's a lot of Christian reflection on death.
It challenges me to believe what I say. It challenges me to believe that bodily death can do us no harm because we have already died in our burial in the waters of baptism. It challenges me to rejoice in the free availability of the Resurrection for all who will accept it. It challenges me to know that just as dead grain of wheat becomes our true food in the Eucharist, so God harvests all the love and goodness we allow him to express through us in this life, gathering it all to himself and making it permanent and indestructible in his eternity.
December 11, 2007
The Father does not judge anyone but he has given all judgment to his Son [. . .] because he is the Son of Man. It is today, in the present, that our future destiny is decided. It is through our actual behavior in this life that we decide our eternal fate. In the twilight of our days on earth, when we are about to die, we shall be judged on the basis of our similarity to the child whose birth shall occur in the plain grotto in Bethlehem since it is He who is the God-given standard by which humanity shall live. The Father who is Heaven, who through the birth of His one and only Begotten Son has shown us His merciful love, calls upon us to follow His steps and turn our lives, as He did, into a gift of love.What more could we say about the good news of Christmas, apart from the revelation of God's perspective on what it means to be a human being?
December 10, 2007
The theological problems with this whole thing are many. First of all, heaven is not something to be desired for itself. We are called in this life to love God and to accept his love for us and our fellow creatures. If we soften our hearts and daily dispositions in this way, we hope that our birth into eternal life will be the same in kind. That's what we call our new life in the eternity of God. If we spend our lives turning against God's love and closing ourselves to compassion for each other, we run the risk of making ourselves so indisposed to Love that we will reject God in finality. And that's what we call hell.
Second, the whole gag is based on the idea of a scarcity of grace, as if there was only so much "room" in heaven and we had better reserve our own spot now. With apologies to those who read Revelation 17 to suggest that only the 144,000 will be saved in the final end, grace and salvation are never scarce but rather super-abundant. As one of my teachers from theology likes to say, "grace is free, but it's not cheap."
There are no reservations for heaven. But there are tastes and glimpses that will make us desire it. And the desire for the presence of God and the Presence itself are nearly the same thing, because God is a consuming fire and a burning passion.
December 8, 2007
December 6, 2007
But even among us who claim to observe Advent faithfully, fighting the influence of the empty promises of advertising and the importunity of Christmas lights and giant inflatable Santa Clauses, I think even we often fail.
This is because, as I hear over and over, Advent is "the time to prepare for Christmas." Well, yes and no. It's very clear from the readings and prayers for the first week of Advent that we aren't about preparing for the Nativity just yet. We're about looking forward to the return of the Lord in glory. But since, in a lot of ways, we have ceased to desire or believe in the return of the Lord, this doesn't mean much.
Even when we get to the second Sunday of Advent, we are aware of the judgment announced by John the Baptist. Indeed, the Incarnation we celebrate at the Nativity is a judgment; it marks the beginning of the judgment we bring upon ourselves by accepting the Gospel or not. But it's also about the final judgment.
Yes, the season of Advent is about preparing for Christmas, but this only becomes a specific and discrete spiritual theme along the way. In the end we really just trying to remind ourselves of a God who is adventitious by nature, appearing as the Other in the life of Abraham, in his Nativity, as our Bread, and as the glorious Lord of all at the end of time.
December 3, 2007
I guess it's the manifold senses of the arrival of the Lord that we remember especially at this time:
We recall our faith that he was begotten of the Father before all time, a perfect Word spoken forth as a complete expression of the Eternal Source. We remember his birth as one of us, taking our human nature, yours and mine, to himself. We look forward to his coming again in glory in the final fulfillment of his Kingdom.
Finally, we go back into the darkness and quiet of our own selves, seeking the Lord who is struggling to be born in our prayer, in our discernment, in our knowledge, and in our consciousness. Here we find our own Marian vocation, to be those who conceive and bear the Word, that our souls might become Virgines ecclesia factae, Virgins made church, to use St. Francis's language.
To me the mysticism of Advent is the near-overwhelming realization that these are not discrete manifestations of the Son. Though not identical, they are all one.
December 1, 2007
November 29, 2007
Having been crucified to the world by the three values of obedience, poverty, and chastity, we may then conform ourselves to God through these counsels of Francis:
1. having [and desiring!] the spirit of the Lord and his holy operation.
2. prayer and patience.
3. love of those who persecute, reprehend, and blame us.
This time of year everyone needs a new Ordo. It's a little book that helps you to find your way through the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist each day. In our case, it also details the interaction of the general Roman calendar with our special Franciscan one, which has its own saints. For priests, it also offers suggestions for the prayers to choose for Mass, when there are options, of course.
Well, it turned out we needed two more than we had received. So our guardian was wondering how to ask for them. What is the plural? Is it Ordos, as we usually say in our sloppy speech? Or is it Ordoes, as our guardian opined, by analogy with potato?
Well, I said, it's obviously the Latin word ordo, ordinis that's at issue here, and since this is not a word that has "arrived" in English, we should form the plural in Latin.
But what is the use of ordo, ordinis in this case? Why is the book called the Ordo? The brothers assured me that it is short for Ordo Missae, "the order of Mass," but I don't buy this because the subtitle of the book is "The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and Celebration of the Eucharist."
My conclusion is that Ordo is short for Ordo Recitandi, "the order of reciting." Ok, that's all I need to know: Ordo is a simple noun.
Therefore, if we need more than one Ordo, we should ask for n Ordines. The full plural would be Ordines Recitandorum, wouldn't it? (someone with better Latin feel free to correct me.)
November 27, 2007
November 26, 2007
Today's newspapers hadn't made it to the breakfast table by the time I got there, so I started to look through yesterday's New York Times Sunday magazine. There I ran into a short interview with Umberto Eco. I was intrigued because he was asked about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which I found to be a kind of dumb version of Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. And that's just what he said, more or less, alleging (and what an insult!) that Brown was one the characters he created for Foucault's Pendulum.
"So you created Dan Brown?" asked the interviewer. "Yes," was the answer.
November 24, 2007
But how to package it in a way that is accessible and not overwhelming when we come to consider our own call as anointed Christians to do the very same thing?
And then in Luke's account, which we read this year, we have the famous "good" and "bad" criminals. The former recognizes the irony of the cross: it is Jesus who suffers the condemnation that we have earned for ourselves. And yet he recognizes that this crucified God has the dominion and power to save: "remember me when you come into your kingdom."
So I'm not sure if it will end up being what I offer tomorrow, but the homily I came up with so far is posted here.
November 22, 2007
I don't know if this is normal for a new priest, but sometimes a doubt creeps into my mind when I myself administer the sacraments. Yes, I have always believed in the transubstantiation of the sacrificed bread and wine over which the Great Thanksgiving has been pronounced, but does it "work" when plain old me does it?
This is a good example of how spiritual doubt can help us to notice inadequate theological thinking. For it is not "my" priesthood that makes the sacraments happen, but the priesthood, first of all, of Jesus Christ himself. It is the priesthood of the Church as his Body extended through history. It is the priesthood of the whole people of God, baptized into Christ's eternal identity as Priest, Prophet, and King. It is the priesthood of all the priests who laid hands on me, and of those who did the same for them, all the way back to the Lord's own apostles.
It's only in the smallest sense that it is my priesthood that effects the sacraments at which I preside with God's people. Again, it's like my formation director told me on my ordination day, "it's about the communion of saints. That's the only way this makes sense."
November 19, 2007
When I saw the little sugar host, complete with an IHS on it, I thought it was the funniest thing, and I made sure nobody ate it. I had it wrapped up and I took it home.
November 17, 2007
November 15, 2007
Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity:
The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.
The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues. Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved in each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.
This is, of course, something very different than simply recommending flexibility. It is an exhortation to all of us to see the issues of life and our battle against the "culture of death" in the broadest possible scope, and not as an excuse to create factions among ourselves which are ultimately a countersign of the "seamless ethic" of which we are meant to be witnesses.
Read the whole document for yourself here.
My idea is to model the celebration of marriage on the celebration of funerals. This is because funerals run like a well-oiled machine, while wedding planning and execution is full of pitfalls and potential tears and disaster.
Here's how it goes: When a couple decides to get married, they are immediately taken to the "wedding home," modeled on the classic funeral home. There they are sat down in the front of a parlor where everyone can come and congratulate them. Their family and close friends also sit close by where they can be greeted and congratulated. This part is modeled on the wake, of course.
At some point the priest shows up and offers them a special blessing. He then asks them if there are any particular readings or music they would like for their wedding, to which they respond, "Oh Father, we just decided to get married this morning, we can't think about that right now...we're sure you will pick out something appropriate." This step alone will reduce the annual professional wear and tear on clergy and organists by approximately three hundred percent, and will free up enough time, in the words of Charles Merrill Smith, "to learn several Biblical languages and write a two-volume commentary on the book of Habbakuk."*
"Ok," says the priest, "I'll see you guys in the morning."
The next day--this all happens fast, so as to avoid any time to think up any problems--the happy bride and groom are strapped into a kind of float that can be driven to church and rolled up the aisle to the altar. This device, which I haven't exactly been able to envision yet, is analogous to the casket, of course. Being strapped in ensures that the bride will show up on time, for one thing, and also reduces the ability to make outrageous last minute demands. It also obviates the need for a rehearsal.
Then the nuptial service or Mass can proceed according to the current ritual. At then end, the newly married couple is wheeled out of church, where they can be released for pictures, cocktail hour, and dinner.
*This silly post is actually an imitation of this hilarious book by Smith.
God, who made blessed bishop Albert combine human wisdom with divine faith, grant us who receive his doctrine, that we might, by the progress of science, come to a more profound knowledge and love of You.
It's a good prayer for a world in which reason and science seem to be in competition with faith and religion. It asks to instead seek the divine wisdom which makes these complementary modes of human knowing.
We must avoid the two cheap roads the world offers us in this quandary. On the one hand we must not become fundamentalists who ignore that the world was created through the Word of God, thus forgetting that the empirical knowledge of creation can yield divine wisdom. On the other hand, we must not embrace "intelligent design," which is a subtle way to sell out our faith and embrace empirical categories as the normative means of human knowing.
November 14, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 9, 2007
These apostles are huge, strong, burly men. Their hands look like they would crush the skull of anyone they tried to ordain to follow them in the apostolic ministry. But for people who were less hampered by our modern denial of the spiritual, I suppose it was less dissonant to express the spiritual strength of the apostles by showing them as physically strong.
The more I think about it, I believe that the problem isn't that people don't believe in God. The problem is that the notion of God they think they are supposed to assent to is unbelievable. And when you tell them that if they have some experience of love or truth, then they have a glimpse of what is meant by the utterance, "God."
But those are "just ideas," they protest, by which they mean that they aren't real. Nevertheless, people routinely make life decisions based on their experience of love or truth, and that seems pretty real to me. This is what I mean by our hampering of our spiritual imagination.
November 8, 2007
I don't think anyone can deny that there is something the matter with the culture of the Catholic clergy. The question is (and with which I struggle) is how to make a balanced and fair diagnosis so that we might find a strategy for reforming ourselves.
There might be a good side, though. We should have a real parish website coming out soon, and that will probably become my homily posting place.
November 7, 2007
Our tabernacle here is quite grand. It has both an inner and outer door. On the inner door, quite appropriately, is an image of a lamb holding the banner of the Risen Lord. It's sitting on what I thought was a missal or sacramentary.
Whenever I opened the tabernacle and saw this Risen Lamb sitting on top of a Roman Missal, I would be amused by the thought of the apotheosis of a liturgical book.
But then I looked again. I noticed that this particular missal had seven ribbons. That's when I knew that it wasn't a missal at all, but the scroll of the seven seals from the book of Revelation--the scroll that only the Lamb can open.
So now I find in this image a rich interplay of metaphor and symbol and catholic imagination, picturing the scroll of the seven seals so that it looks like a Roman Missal.
November 6, 2007
November 5, 2007
One example for me is the time I told my formation director that I was struggling with the anxieties of ministry and community life. So he said:
The poor man is perpetually anxious.
That really stuck with me, and it reminds me that a true vow of poverty commits me to a life that will be anxious at times. And it also reminds me to be humble, because my anxiety is as nothing next to the struggles of those who are the real poor of this world.
November 2, 2007
From there it's only one step to say that the revealed divine Love that we know in Jesus Christ is so pervasive and passionate that it makes one community out of both the living and the dead.
In celebration I have put my favorite contemporary song about All Souls Day on my MySpace page, Dia de los Muertos by Rezurex. For those who are more classically minded, and because the friars didn't really respond to my suggestion that we sing it at Morning Prayer, here's a sing-a-long version of the Dies Irae:
October 31, 2007
First, he knows that the Great Pumpkin will not appear if he is dismissed or disbelieved. He requires sincerity and faith, just like the God for Whom believing is seeing. And one only has to peruse the gospel according to John lightly to see that this is indeed the case; to believe and to see God are ultimately the same thing. Meister Eckhart knew this when he famously said, "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
Second, Linus knows that the Great Pumpkin is not just a fulfiller of selfish human wishes. Unlike Santa Claus, he does not take requests. He brings you something, yes, but you can't choose it and are only called to be grateful.
Third, Linus knows that, despite the failure of the Great Pumpkin to appear, or better, our failure to allow him to appear, Linus must remain faithful.
October 29, 2007
I wasn't mad though; in fact it made me think about the unstoppable energy of life and love that God overflows over our world, despite all our efforts to make life gloomy, bitter, and sad.
I really appreciated the four movements of the ritual. We start in the back of the church because the children are beginning their Christian life. Then, as always, we pause to listen to the Word. Having heard the Word, we move to the font for the anointings and baptism. Finally, we arrive at the altar. The altar is the tomb of Christ, in which the newly baptized are now buried. It is also the cross of Christ, on which water and blood flowed from Jesus' side for them who are now washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Right after my own baptism I remember hearing the deacon whisper to himself, "beautiful." Now I know how he felt.
October 28, 2007
October 26, 2007
So here goes, seven weird or random facts about me:
1. I believe that I had mystical experiences as a little kid.
2. The first time I ever knew of any connection between classical philosophy and Christianity was in the Iron Maiden song, Alexander the Great.
3. Since I left home seventeen years ago to go to college, I have lived at 17 different addresses.
4. I celebrate my baptismal name day on the feast of Charles Lwanga. In odd ways, I have come to appreciate him more and more over the years.
5. The first place I ever read the Scriptures at Mass was inside the Lord's tomb at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the first place I was ever an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion was in the Capuchin church in Cartago, Costa Rica.
6. Here on my desk I have a sliver of wood from St. Bonaventure's cell at the Franciscan hermitage of Monte Casale.
7. When I noticed that I was tagged for this meme, I was listening to Rammstein's Rosenrot.
October 25, 2007
But in everything there are moments of such gratitude that I'm not discouraged. One of these was one night this week when I felt as if I was concelebrating a Mass for the first time. Of course I have concelebrated on several occasions, including at my own ordination and at a Mass of Thanksgiving of one of my classmates. But this was the first time I was in a group of priests concelebrating around their own bishop, in our case Cardinal Egan.
As the General Instruction of the Roman Missal puts it, concelebration "appropriately expresses the unity of the priesthood, of the Sacrifice, and also of the whole people of God" (199) and "To be held in high regard is that concelebration in which the priests of each diocese concelebrate with their own bishop" (203).
I appreciate what the GIRM says about unity. There is one Eucharist, and there is one Risen Lord, risen as Body of Christ that is both blessed Sacrament and assembly.
October 23, 2007
It's times like these when, in contrast to the contemporary teachers of warm and fuzzy religious life, I find a lot of wisdom in someone like John of the Cross:
Trials will never be lacking in religious life, nor does God want them to be. Since he brings souls there to be proved and purified, like gold, with hammer and the fire, it is fitting that they encounter trials and temptations from human beings and from devils, and the fire of anguish and affliction.His insight into the inability to get along is priceless. This is the translation of Kavanaugh and Rodriguez, which is really a treasure. Check out their edition here.
The religious must undergo these trials and should endeavor to bear them patiently and in conformity to God's will, and not so sustain them that instead of being approved by God in this affliction he be reproved for not having wanted to carry the cross of Christ in patience.
Since many religious do not understand that they have entered religious life to carry Christ's cross, they do not get along well with others. At the time of reckoning they will find themselves greatly confused and frustrated. Cuatro Avisos a un Religioso, 4.
October 22, 2007
Peter is one my favorites because he was part of the great movement of discalced reforms that was going on in the Iberian peninsula (and elsewhere) in the 16th century. We know this movement mostly from the Carmelites Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD) that came out of it.
Brother Peter's feast day reminds me that the reforms of our religious life were movements larger than particular orders or traditions, and it gives me hope that religious life is reformable for our time.
October 19, 2007
You got to learn first hand how inaccessible to wheelchairs many places still remain, and you had to deal emotionally with the folks who stared at the clients or who looked at you the way people look at you when you have a cute dog.
Sometimes I see similar folks on an "outing" with their staff and helpers. And I'm reminded to pray for all of them, in thanksgiving for those having a good time, and for the patience of those who are working.
And then I think about the infinity of life and work situations of which I am ignorant and thus am not led immediately to an automatic compassion, and I pray to be patient and compassionate even when the struggles and sufferings of others are hidden from me.
October 18, 2007
And he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, `What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others."
The parable is itself a riff on Isaiah's "Song of the Vineyard," in which God sings a lament over how poorly his people have cared for the vineyard of the world he entrusted to them. In the synoptic parable, of course, the landlord finally sends his own son to take care of the situation, but the tenants kill him.
Of course we are meant to see the mission of the Incarnate Son in our hearing of the parable, but Benedict takes it to another level, interpreting the parable for our own time:
If we open our eyes, isn't what is said in the parable actually a description of our present world?Isn't it precisely the logic of the modern age, or our age? Let us declare that God is dead, then we ourselves will be God. At last we no longer belong to anyone else; rather, we are simply the owners of ourselves and of the world. At last we can do as we please. We get rid of God; there is no measuring rod above us; we ourselves are our only measure. The "vineyard" belongs to us. What happens to man and the world next? We are already beginning to see it... (p. 257)
October 16, 2007
The parish I work in is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, so it's a joy to celebrate the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who gave us this devotion. Her image is it at the very top of our sanctuary, above the marble baldochino that reads Cor Iesu Sacratissimum, Miserere Nobis.
It's really something to imagine God as a Heart. It might save us from images of God that are more like a boss or landlord. To me the Sacred Heart suggests that God is a loving drive, a desire, a passion, sometimes broken, but always a com-passion.
October 15, 2007
Mas parécenos que lo damos todo, y es que ofrecemos a Dios la renta o los frutos y quedámonos con la raíz y posesión. (11:2)
"It seems to us that we are giving all, but it's more like we offer God rent or the fruits while we hold on to the root and the ownership." With cutting insight like that, it's no wonder she got to be the first woman declared a doctor of the Church.
October 9, 2007
What I've been thinking is that they need one piece of updating, because part of vesting in our time is putting on the wireless microphone. In fact, many albs are made nowadays with pockets for them and openings for their wires. I put the microphone on after the alb and before the cincture, and I think this needs a prayer too.
So, you liturgists and Latinists, get to work.
It happens especially when I pronounce the Lord's words over the bread and the cup. I'm never bothered by the standard question, 'how can this host be the body of Christ?'
What goes through my mind is more like the question, 'what kind of God is it that decides to hide himself in bread?' It turns all of our expectations and human expectations of deity upside-down.
October 4, 2007
In whatever way it seems better to you to please the Lord God and to follow [in his] footstep and his poverty, do it with the blessing of the Lord God and my obedience.Franciscans love to puzzle over the odd singular, "footstep." For me, I think of it as the Cross. For when the almighty, eternal, spiritual God passes over and makes an impression on time and space and human life, that impression is the crucified Christ. That is, a burning love that is literally dying to save each and every one of us from the misery we have brought upon ourselves and each other because of our selfishness and sin.
I imagine the Franciscan vocation as a resolution to put our feet into the footstep of the Cross, trying to walk within and according to the burning love of the Crucified.
October 3, 2007
October 2, 2007
One thing they don't tell you in theological studies is what it is that will become your principle tool as a priest. What might you think it is? A chalice and paten? A confessional? A preaching style and voice? It's none of these things.
I've learned that the principle tool of the presbyteral ministry is the telephone. It's used to consult with upcoming brides, to counsel and give reminders to the parents of those to be baptized, to check in on the sick, and to arrange the blessings of new homes, cars, and pets. The telephone is certainly a critical piece of ministerial equipment.
September 28, 2007
Well, yesterday I went to confession for the first time as a priest myself, and now that has changed too! I found myself not only listening to the priest as a penitent, but also as a priest who was interested in how my confessor approached the "sacramental dialogue."
I guess it's good confirmation, as my textbook on how to hear confessions says that the best way to become a good confessor is to be a good penitent.
September 24, 2007
It's really a remarkable theological proclamation, if you think about, to have these small, shy, vulnerable, and often bewildered looking people come before you and to proclaim them "the Body of Christ."
This humility of God, it's not just beautiful and edifying; it's pretty subversive too.
September 20, 2007
So I've tried. It comes to me especially when I am speaking the Lord's words over the chalice:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is the cup of my blood.
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
I think of Jesus himself, knowing he was to die so horribly the next day, and how he wanted to help his disciples understand what it meant, his death, "according to the Scriptures."
Then I think of all the martyrs who shed their blood for the truth, consecrating it into the blood of the body of Christ. And I don't just think of the martyrs we remember in the calendar, but of everyone who gives themselves for others.
Finally I think of the priests in the line of the laying on of hands that ended with me, especially Cardinal O'Malley, Pius X, Clement XIII, and Benedicts XIV and XIII.
September 17, 2007
Through God's identification with this one life, the Cross becomes God's response to all human suffering and com-passion. And for all of the violence and hurt heaped upon God through Christ crucified, nothing comes back but the forgiveness and new life of the Resurrection.
To identify with Christ crucified is not just for stigmatics like Francis. It is for all of us to look through our limitation and pain, to see God suffering in our humanity, and to get a glimpse of Resurrected destiny.
September 14, 2007
So now, of course, I want to use it, but I will need at least one person to make the responses. To this end I've made a "worship aid" that has all the Latin responses.
If anyone else could use it, I can send it to you.
September 11, 2007
It is quite an experience beginning to preside at the Eucharist. My only idea of what it would be like to celebrate my first Masses was from reading Thomas Merton's experiences in The Sign of Jonas. Needless to say, my experience was a little different.
My first Mass felt like some kind of surreal dream. Not that I wasn't very grateful, but it had a kind of feast of fools feel to it: there I was, the most junior priest of all, presiding in front of my provincial, my formation director, and many senior friars, one of whom just celebrated 70 years of priesthood. I felt like the little child that Jesus put in the midst of his disciples.
Today, at my third Mass, I was finally able to really pray the prayers. Thanks be to God!
September 9, 2007
One of my classmates in the Order calls me a "church nerd." So I guess it was in that spirit that this morning, when I woke up as a priest for the first time, I looked up the episcopal lineage of my ordination.
And I was pleased to discover that, from my ordination, it was only seven steps back to Pope St. Pius X.
September 6, 2007
In all seriousness, it will be a testament to divine Providence if it all comes together!
September 4, 2007
And I thought about how every time I wake up I need to figure out where I left my shoes. But this man, having left this world, never has to do that again. His shoes just sit there under the bed, now as superfluous and unnecessary as could be.
Though the body is dead, the person lives on, but in a new way that reminds us who remain that all the little things we worry about each day will be left behind.
The Body of Christ is risen from the dead; this is the core of our faith. And if we are the body of Christ in our communion with him, death is only an ushering into a greater clarity of identity.
September 3, 2007
August 31, 2007
Well today, like every week, the Sunday bulletins arrived in the parish office. And there on the front I saw the change: "Rev." had been added to my name. I've been looking forward to this for a long time, but now, when it's only a week away, it's real: I'm going to be a priest.
August 29, 2007
It's a funny thing. In some ways time gives me more clarity about my conversion to Christianity. In other ways, whatever it was that happened to me becomes more cloudy and obscure. The more time that goes by, the further back I have to start the conversion story. When I was first baptized, the story I told myself (and others) only went back a couple of years. Later I was able to see how God was working going back five or six years. Now I can trace it back almost to pre-school.
On the other hand, when people ask me how it was I came to be a Catholic Christian, I'm often at a loss to give a satisfying or simple answer. It's somewhat mysterious to me, and has become increasingly so over time.
I guess all of this is the sometimes wonderful and sometimes searingly confusing dynamic of trying to be a prayerful person. We grow more confident in our faith in the faithfulness of God, but at the same time place ourselves in a kind of vertigo of mystery that is sometimes quite disorienting and even frightening.
August 28, 2007
This place is a madhouse. At Pio’s tomb you can hardly pray because of the racket of people firing coins at the sarcophagus.
Just walking around I think I’ve blessed more stuff in this afternoon than in the rest of my whole previous clerical career. Rosaries, pictures, bracelets, and even an infant of Prague big enough to be a toddler—in French, as best I could—for a couple from Lille.
The new church is very “modern.” The lower level is like a circular maze in which everyone is lost looking for the confessionals or the Blessed Sacrament. I’m as lost as they are, so I’m more than useless when everyone asks me for directions. Just put on a Capuchin habit, and not only will everyone think you know your way around, but that you speak their own proper language, whether it be Italian, French, German, or Polish.
But, with all of the noise and confusion of this place, I remember how Jesus told us that a tree is known by its fruits. And what fruits can be seen here? Everywhere there are people praying and streaming to confession, all in shadow of the hospitals that carry on Pio’s works of mercy.
August 27, 2007
Afterwards, having heard from some the brothers that there is a friendly, English speaking confessor, I try to go to confession. Of course, I don’t get him. I get the impatient Italian who insists that I don’t wait for someone else. He doesn’t speak Spanish or English, and I don’t speak Italian. Nevertheless, he prods me to get going. Not knowing what do to, I confess in a combination of Latin and Spanish. The priest gets a little annoyed. Nevertheless, I’m grateful. It’s a chance to believe in the presence of grace in even the most awkward human moments, given our right hope and good intention.
August 24, 2007
We arrived here late this afternoon for a one-day, two-night moment of recollection. Sitting here after supper it feels like the first moment of peace and quiet since the beginning of the trip.
August 23, 2007
To write, “here lies nothing.” It’s so ironic—to say that something you are looking at is nothing. But this is one of central ironies of the Christian life: to be alive, but baptized into the death of Christ, and to be dead in sin, but alive in Christ.
St. Justin Martyr’s relics are here. Pray for us St. Justin, especially for Capuchin students.
We have Mass here on the altar of St. Felix of Cantalice. What a grace to make the connection between the body of Christ offered in the Mass—and which we receive and become—and the resting body of our own St. Felix. The body of Christ, past, present, and to come. At the same time, buses full of the curious come to see our famous bone yard, remarking on one expression of our belief in the Resurrection that has now become quaint and macabre by the world’s standards.
Update: This post gets a lot of search engine traffic, so I'm adding this link to the friars' own site about the crypt chapels.
August 22, 2007
Pelagius lived at Kardanoel
And he taught a doctrine there
How whether you went to heaven or hell
It was your own affair.
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy
But was your own affair.
--Hilaire Belloc, The Pelagian Drinking Song
But to really believe this, individualists that we are, that God teaches and saves and sanctifies through community, fraternity, through a people of God—that’s the challenge.
I’ve been on pilgrimage before, and I’ve even been a pilgrim in a group. But to go on pilgrimage as a group, as brothers—that’s the grace of this opportunity.
The brothers are all here. Some I know well, others only a little. Two of them I have never met before.
August 20, 2007
August 16, 2007
One of my special finds was the religious articles wholesaler in Assisi, where I bought (among other things) a bunch of Francis and Clare medals. They're small, round medals, about 3/4 inch in diameter, with Francis on one side and Clare on the other. I blessed them in prayer before the San Damiano crucifix, which famously spoke to Francis and which remained in Clare's monastery throughout her life.
If you would like one, send me an email.
July 26, 2007
I have been very grateful to God on this pilgrimage. Yesterday we had Mass at the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, right in front of the tomb of the apostle. It had been fifteen years since I had been in that spot, and I was just thinking over and over about how much God had done for me during that time--Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, an invitation to a life of prayer--not that I really accepted it!--and a religious vocation through which I have received so much grace and opportunity.
So thanks to the prayers of many things are going well, and you can be assured of mine too.
July 20, 2007
I'm going to Assisi, Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, and some other places of Capuchin significance.
Pray for me and my brother pilgrims!
July 19, 2007
For example, in a couple of days I'm leaving for a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, and a few other sites of Franciscan and Capuchin interest. This morning I was thinking about what I might still need for the trip, and I thought of four things:
1. A small, new notebook to write a travelogue for our communications office
2. A portable Italian dictionary
3. Travel-size laundry detergent
4. A copy of the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos volume of St. Francis. It's several times smaller and lighter than its English language counterparts and thus better for travel.
I found all of them without even leaving the house. So thank God for big, old, institutional religious houses.
July 18, 2007
And I was thinking about how its always out of water that God brings new life. Creation itself was called forth by the Word out of the waters, and then, later, the dry land was called forth from the sea.
Later on, a new beginning of humanity emerged out of the Flood. Moses too, in his little ark, began his vocation by being taken out of the water by Pharoah's daughter.
The Israelites made their way to the Promised Land after passing safely through the Red Sea, and in the same way Christ was baptized in the Jordan to open for us a way to the Father through his own humanity.
Each one of us are born into this world as we leave the waters of the womb. We enter a world whose expansiveness and possibility we could have hardly have imagined before we were born. And I expect it's the same when we are one day born out of this life.
Laudato si, mi signore, per sor aqua,
la quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
Who is so useful and humble and precious and chaste.
--Francis of Assisi
July 17, 2007
But what I really worry about is whether a deeper conversion will happen within our leadership. Certainly we now have better safeguards and systems of certification, but it's my belief that clerical sexual abuse is only the violent, criminal and tragic tip of the larger iceberg of spiritual malaise and other troubles in the clerical culture and men's religious life. (I can't speak for the women.)
Money settlements for the sake of damages and better institutional systems for protecting children are one thing. And I believe they will help prevent the abuse that is so damaging to the lives of victims. But what we really need is a conversion of heart. And I mean we the clerics of the Church.
July 13, 2007
"Father, I have to go to the cemetery, but our sacristan, he'll take care of you."
"Oh no," the priest replied, "I'm not taking any money!"
July 12, 2007
When Mass is celebrated according to the Missal of John XXIII (and of Pius V), the whole assembly faces in one direction. Thus they are able to fulfill the ancient Christian practice of facing east for prayer, orienting themselves. Since the most recent reform of the liturgy, Mass is usually celebrated with ministers facing the rest of the assembly, gathered around the altar either in a binary, cruciform, or in-the-round fashion.
Most people seem to have strong feelings about which set of postures is better. I don't. I see deep symbolic resonances in both, and ways in which either one can be done so as to ruin them.
To have the whole assembly facing in the same direction is a profound symbol of unity. It also suggests that the whole ritual is directed somewhere, rather than in on itself. However, if the clergy, not looking at the people, begin to see what they are doing as a semi-private ritual to which the rest of the assembly are only spectators, then this is truly what critics always call "having your back to the people."
To have the ministers face the rest of the assembly is also profound. It suggests that a community, however diverse, gathers around the unity that is Christ--in the altar that is his table and his tomb. But if the priest uses this arrangement to turn the Mass into a theatrical or histrionic cult of personality or a cooking show--in short, if he makes it focus on himself rather than on Jesus Christ--then this too fails.
July 11, 2007
There is now a (more generalized) choice between the ordinary form of the Roman rite found in the missal of Paul VI and the extraordinary form, found in the missal of Blessed John XXIII. And who gets to choose? Not the bishop or the pastor, but the lay faithful.
Consider the beginning of article 5:
In those parishes, where a group of the faithful attached to the traditional liturgy exists continuously, the pastor shall accept their petitions to celebrate the holy mass according the Roman Missal of 1962.
And again, the beginning of article 7:
Where there is such a group of the lay faithful, as in article 5, paragraph 1, not having obtained their wish from the pastor, they should make the issue known to the diocesan bishop.
Thus what seems like a conserving and "conservative" document puts the power of choice in the hands of the laity, who have recourse even against the opinions of their pastors!
July 10, 2007
For me, I have no problem with liturgy in Latin. What doesn't make sense is what you always hear about "going back to Latin." Vatican II affirmed Latin as the ordinary language of the Roman rite, while at the same time opening up the possibility of translating the liturgy into local languages. Therefore, to celebrate the Latin rite in Latin (shocking!) is not to "go back" to anything.
Even more, I have some hermeneutic suspicion about Vatican II and the vernacular liturgy. The more I read Vatican II, especially Gaudium et spes, the more I see, as a basic framework, an admission of the ideas of the European Enlightenment. It's like (just when it was getting to be too late), the fathers of the Council are going to admit that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries happened. So therefore you end up with a theology that incorporates all of these good Enlightenment ideas like historical optimism and confidence in the human role in historical progress. And one of the most powerful ideas of the Enlightenment was the nation-state.
Therefore, my interpretation of Vatican II and the vernacular liturgy is that it was about "full, conscious and active participation" for sure, but I think it's also about the affirmation of the particularity of peoples and of national character.
Now this makes sense when you have Italians in Italy praying in Italian and Germans in Germany praying in German. But in our time the nation-state is breaking down, especially in the sense of a certain people, an ethnos, making up a homogeneous country. On the contrary, ours is a time of migration and ethnic diversity. Only once in my life as a friar have I been part of a parish with only one language, and often there have been three or even five.
It seems to me that Latin might be part of the answer to the multi-lingual parish question. Not that it would be a full solution, but it might be part of a plan. With many languages in a congregation you can either have separate services, which tends to produce parallel congregations, or you can try to do multi-lingual liturgies.
Now the latter celebrate diversity for sure, and are a beautiful sign of the many peoples processing to the Lord, as Isaiah prophesied. But they are also awkward by nature and difficult to plan and execute. Might there also be a place of the ordinary language of our liturgy, Latin, as a sign of unity?
Of course, Summorum pontificum is not about the supposed "restoration" of Latin at all, but about liberalizing the use of the Roman rite as it was before 1970, which used to require special permission.
July 9, 2007
At one level I appreciate the thought. On another I don't. I like it because it suggests the superabundance of grace. According to this model, the grace or "credit" of having prayed a rosary increases geometrically. That is to say, when one person prays the rosary, one portion of grace is received. If two people, then four, as each would receive two. If five people prayed the rosary together, then there would be 25 portions of grace. If 100, then 10,000, and so on.
Grace is always given utterly out of proportion with our desire, effort or willingness to receive it, so in this sense I like my friend's idea.
On the other hand, God does not dispense credit to those who do the things that God allegedly wants. As Jesus himself said, God lets the sun shine and the rain fall for both the just and unjust, because God loves his enemies just as much as his friends. Thus there is no sense in which one person has more "credit" than another before God. As Paul says over and over, all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.
Even more, grace is not a quantifiable commodity like money, or a credit rating, the respect of a community, or human trust. Good or bad, saint or sinner (or miserable and unglamorous mix of both, as most of us are), we all move and have our being in the grace of God. It's like living and working in the light of day. Most of the time we are just looking at stuff and tasks, without reflecting on the Light that illuminates our vision and understanding in the first place.
July 6, 2007
In other words, is there only one possible correct outcome as we try to discern a vocation? Is God's will so specific that the divine will means for one to become a religious is this community, or to marry this particular person, or to become a hermit, or to stay single in the world?
Some say yes. Others say it's a more complex process of cooperation without a predetermined outcome. I have heard wise people come down on both sides of the question.
For whatever reason I was thinking about it yesterday on the bus, and I thought of a simple problem I hadn't noticed before.
Let's say the divine will has A. entering religious life, but A. marries B. instead. This means that both are in the wrong vocation, because B. has also missed the mark. Or let's say C. was supposed to marry D., but D. becomes a hermit, and now C. goes and marries E., whom God meant to marry someone else entirely.
Thus the whole idea of God demanding a certain and particular vocation from each, though it seems encouraging in the individual interior life, breaks down when it comes to an inter-personal system. But is this a reductio ad absurdum for the whole idea? Well, it would seem so, because why would God let someone suffer the loss of his or her proper vocation because of the negligence of another?
On the other hand, the world is full of those who suffer unfulfilled lives of poverty, sickness and despair because of the selfish choices of others.
July 3, 2007
Some said our faith was the same, some said different. One of my favorite answers came from the classmate who said that our faith was better because of the blessing that Thomas had earned for those who have not seen but have believed nonetheless:
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." (John 21:29)
July 2, 2007
It's true that the Latin victima is not exactly as generic a term as the English victim, but it's a defensible translation.
As I look at it each morning, the phrase has been on my mind. It's like two words that don't seem to go together, at least by the world's standards. Love is something good. Being a victim or victimizing someone else is something bad. Real love doesn't make victims, only distorted love.
And yet, if we risk love, and especially if we risk letting someone love us, we become vulnerable. Love leaves us open to injury. If we accept this, practicing patience with whatever injuries to come from our efforts at openness to love, this is the vocation of the Body of Christ in this world. This is willingness to take up the Cross.
Via non est nisi per ardentissimum amorem crucifixi, said St. Bonaventure. There is no other way but through the burning love of the Crucified.
June 27, 2007
When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my home from which I came.' But upon return it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. (Mt 13:43-45)
This bit of teaching has always fascinated me, and I guess I've always given it a psychological interpretation. If we begin (or begin again!) to pursue the interior life seriously, there is often a little euphoria as we try to let go of sins and negative patterns. But if we keep at it, we will soon uncover the more awful demons that we were previously medicating ourselves against.
June 26, 2007
On the other hand, if I need to get a fresh start with prayer, it always helps to clean my room first.
June 25, 2007
In other words, if something is someone else's problem, let them worry about it.
June 22, 2007
For me it's a good examination of conscience for mindfulness to ask myself where my heart is at some point in the day. What are my preoccupations that day? Where do my thoughts seem to drift automatically? How charged are the feelings that follow upon the thoughts? By doing this, I can figure out where my treasure is, and whether it's with the Lord and his work, or with something else.
June 21, 2007
Father of love,
giver of all good things,
in St. Aloysius you combined remarkable innocence
with the spirit of penance.
By the help of his prayers
may we who have not followed his innocence
follow his example of penance.
The prayer admits that we are not yet saints, but that we hope for it.
June 19, 2007
Rightly or wrongly, they see before them nothing but empty time and freedom from care and toil. They long to be freed from all the constraints of the classroom.
I know it's a little morbid, perhaps, but when I left I was thinking about how the children's anticipation of the last day of school would be a beautiful model for how to make the final journey to death. To see nothing before you but peace and freedom and the eternal Silence in which God speaks his one Word.
June 14, 2007
And I chose to have her rather than the light
This line came up twice in the liturgy yesterday, for the feast of St. Anthony.
Insight is certainly important in the spiritual life, but we can't count on it. The Light of God is so brilliant that we often experience it only as darkness. In prayer we are purified even of our ideas of God, sometimes coming out feeling as if we understand less than before.
This is all against those folks who say that religion is something we use to feel better, at best an exercise in unjustified optimism and at worst, an "opiate of the masses." Anyone who has given themselves to prayer and the obscurity of faith in a real way knows that it leads to its own anguish and struggles.
June 13, 2007
Anthony was the first of the brothers to teach theology to the friars. The letter Francis wrote to him about this is one of my favorites:
Fratri Antonio episcopo meo frater Franciscus salutem. Placet mihi quod sacram theologiam legas fratribus, dummodo inter huius studium orationis et devotionis spiritum non exstinguas, sicut in regula continetur.
Greetings from brother Francis to brother Anthony, my bishop. It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, so long as, amidst this study, you do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion, as contained in the rule.
For a couple of nice feast of St. Anthony posts, check our Chiara and Frater.
June 12, 2007
Aware of the thrust towards renewal permeating the whole Church, as children of their time and according to the sensibilities of that epoch, the first Capuchins made Saint Francis alive. They did this in conformity with their vocation. They had no fear or dread in living and proposing what Francis himself had lived. We should pay particular attention to the fact that those Capuchin friars were animated by a strong desire for reform: they wanted to make something striking and decisive of their lives. They had a clear objective and chose the means of reaching it, wishing to live in conformity with the ideal Saint Francis had lived and bequeathed.
There is so much in this paragraph that speaks to what hooked me into this vocation. To react against those who look at radical choices with "fear or dread." To desire to make something "striking or decisive" out of life, for the sake of the reformation of the world.
Perhaps a lot of these desires were worldly or vain for me at the beginning, but grace builds on nature, thank God.
June 11, 2007
It makes me reflect on what I "see" in the people around me. Do I see their faults and the ways that they make things difficult? Do I see what they can get done or how they can be useful to my purposes?
Or do I notice the grace of God in them? Do I see what God has worked in them, perhaps in their faith, their faithfulness, or the love and gentleness that God has put in their hearts?
And so I try to remember that I am free, with the help of the Spirit, to choose a perspective: to pay attention to the negative, or, like Barnabas, to "see the grace of God."
June 10, 2007
Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.
So many times it's easy to feel like our prayer life or our efforts to follow the Lord are a "deserted place," but as soon as we allow the Lord to take, bless, break and give the little we do have, we allow ourselves to be transformed by grace.
June 7, 2007
Today was my day off, so I decided to take a long walk and explore the town. I found two things that made me happy: White Castle, and a neighboring Catholic church that was open during the day.
I love to sit for a few minutes in a downtown church when nothing is going on. I think it's because it speaks to me as an image of God: dark, quiet, peaceful, and cavernous. And yet somehow these are synthesized and served up as an obscure sense of welcome that is both striking and mystical.
Our brother recently wrote to us here at home. He told one story about trying to help a frail, 96 year old friar. Our North American brother described how he was feeling bad about the imperfection of his Swahili and ability to communicate. But the old friar gestured toward the courtyard of the friary, at the sky and sun, as if that was all that needed to be said.
I can only think of the words of Francis himself:
Praised be you my Lord, through all your creatures,
Especially Sir Brother Sun,
Through whom we have the day
And you bring the light by him.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor.
Of you Most High, he bears a likeness.
June 5, 2007
Just for fun I went on their website and looked at the career opportunities, which are introduced like this:
Ever worked in a Castle?
Thought about wearing a costume to work?
Or are you looking for an exciting employment opportunity in a unique and fun environment?
Must be available evenings and weekends.
No thanks, that sounds just like the job I have already.
"How do you do your job?" I asked.
"I just don't look down. It's worked so far!" he said.
Later on I was thinking about how it's good advice for the spiritual life. The first step in avoiding our sins and little selfishnesses and our bad "tapes" and poor patterns of thinking is to concentrate our intention--our spiritual gaze--on the grace of God. If we "don't look down" into our occasions of sin or into our habitual spiritual pitfalls in the first place, then we will be less likely to be intimidated by them.