Monday, November 24, 2014

Jesus in His Most Distressing Disguise

If we recognize Jesus under the appearance of bread, 
we will have no difficulty recognizing him in the disguise of the suffering poor.  
--Blessed Teresa of Calcutta 

How did Mother Teresa find the strength to work day in and day out for the well-being of the poor and destitute?  She was inspired in part by Matthew 25, which we heard at Mass this weekend:  Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.  As important was her daily participation in Eucharist.  To read about the connection she made here, check out Brandon Vogt's article on the Word on Fire blog by clicking here

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ode for St. Cecilia's Day (Händel)

On November 22, we celebrate the Feast of St. Cecilia.
For a treat, enjoy Händel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, 
based on a poem by John Dryden, by clicking here.

The last section is particularly striking, and might offer food for thought this weekend. 
(For the complete text, click on "Libretto," below.)

Orpheus could lead the savage race,
And trees, unrooted, left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre.

But bright Cecilia raised the wonder high’r:
When to her organ, vocal breath was giv’n,
An angel heard, and straight appear’d,
Mistaking earth for Heav’n.

As from the pow’r of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
To all the bless’d above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And music shall untune the sky.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, November 23, 2014: For he must reign...

Who rules your heart?

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, a title often telescoped into Christ the King.  But what defines this King, exactly?

In our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this week, Jesus describes the end times when, seated on his throne, the Son of Man will come in his glory, promising the kingdom of heaven to those whose hearts are open, who long to be with God.  What kind of king is he?  Well, the King we hear about in our reading from Ezekiel -- one who prefigures Jesus himself -- is shepherd first of all, a loving caregiver who tends his flock, rescuing them, pasturing them, and giving them rest.  With such a Lord as our shepherd, we shall not want (Psalm 23). This king does not simply sit, detached, on his throne:  he expects our participation with him in the covenant, active engagement with the work around us, spreading God’s loving kindness to all.

The sheep in Matthew are thus those blessed by the Father, those who have accepted Jesus as King of the Universe.  How?  By meeting the needs of those around them:  feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the ill – not just in a superficial, perfunctory way, but out of a profound understanding of the nature of their relationship to God and other.  If Ezekiel’s God as Shepherd healed the sick and sought out the lost, that mantle passes, too, to the sheep-become-shepherds of this world:  whatever you did for the least of the brothers, you did for me.

True sheep respond to their relationship with God by accepting the transformation God calls them to daily, embracing the cross as well as Jesus’s death and resurrection as signs of the deep compassion of God for those God loves, and sharing that compassion with the world – the sick, the hungry, the lost.  We are all called to constant and ongoing metanoia, a spiritual conversion in the very depths of our being, subjecting ourselves to Jesus, as Paul tells the Corinthians, so that we might participate fully in the kingdom of heaven, so that God may be all in all, ruling the hearts of all so that all might one day be in perfect union with him.  We are sheep; we are shepherd.

Who rules your heart?  
So much depends on your answer to that question!

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

We are God's Handiwork

God's Handiwork

On Sunday, our visiting pastor Anni, who looks like she is about 14" and weighs about 8 pounds, gave another one of her sermons that blew us out of the water.  She talked about how, when people are called God’s handiwork in Scripture, the ancient Greeks would have translated that at God’s poems.  This may have changed my life – that we are creativity, depth, condensed truth and light, made to throw off light and truth for others, as poems do.

--Anne Lamott, Facebook, posted August 14, 2012

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ballad of the Harp Weaver (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

The Ballad of the Harp Weaver

Son, said my mother,
   When I was knee-high,
You’ve need of clothes to cover you,
   And not a rag have I.

There’s nothing in the house
   To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with
   Nor thread to take stitches.

There’s nothing in the house
   But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
   Nobody will buy.  And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.
   When came the late fall,
Son, she said, the sight of you
   Makes your mother’s blood crawl,--

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, November 16, 2014: You shall eat the fruit of your handiwork...

Do you trust in God’s gifts?

In our first reading from Wisdom this Sunday, the relationship described between wife and husband is extraordinary.  In spite of all of the limitations placed on women in biblical times, the woman depicted here is called worthy, meaning that her deeds have been heroic, beyond the norm.  Her husband therefore entrusts his own thoughts and indeed, his very self, to her, because she knows him deeply, knows how he will act.  Where does her wisdom come from?  The author suggests that it is her fear of the Lord – her awe born of the recognition that all that she has and is is a gift from God, from Love – that is the source of her empowerment.  This good wife can lose herself in all that God is doing in her; she is the epitome of all that is the best in humanity, as she has learned from Love how to be love for other.  And hence, as Psalm 128 suggests, she is blessed, as is the family she nurtures and nourishes.

A similar appreciation (or lack thereof) of the gifts with which God endows us percolates through the Parable of the Talents in Matthew’s gospel as well.  Of the three servants entrusted with the master’s money, only two invest it properly and reap the rewards of their investment; the last buries his share out of fear of displeasing his master.  But indeed, it is precisely the last servant’s inaction that displeases the master:  rather than trust the gift, and the giver, this servant prefers safety and security to risk.  Now apply this logic to love:  love is, by its very nature, risky.  If we ever hope to live fruitful Christian lives, we need to be able to take the risk, open our hearts, give witness to our faith, be transformed by that faith, and live our relationship with God from a stance that includes fear of the Lord, awe in all that God does for us.  When we are fully possessed by God, nothing stands in our way.  Our hope is grounded in something we have yet to encounter (our future beyond death), but we can share in the kingdom – share in the master’s joy – here and now, acting, as Paul tells the Thessalonians, as children of the light, living in fear of the Lord and therefore with no reason to fear death, or anything else.  Then we will truly share in God’s joy, enjoying the fruit of our handiwork, assured of the bliss that will be ours, in this life, and, hopefully, in the life to come.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
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Monday, November 10, 2014

San Giovanni in Laterano

Take a virtual tour of the mother of all churches:
St. John Lateran / San Giovanni in Laterano!

Visit the church whose founding we celebrated at Mass this weekend -- check out the Vatican's tour of San Giovanni in Laterano by clicking here.

Virtual tour
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