Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Your screaming kids (M. Hunter-Kilmer)

   Summer vacation is over, school is back in session, and lots of families are back at church.  We may be hearing a lot more young voices all around us during the celebration of the Mass, loud voices, piercing voices, screaming voices, sometimes crying, sometimes yelling in frustration.  And what effect does all that have on our faith life?  Selections from Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s perceptive article, Your Screaming Kids Are Distracting Me, offer food for thought:

   More often than not, [parents] don't notice the smiles.  You notice the rolled eyes and raised eyebrows and dirty looks and you think that at best you're not making anyone angry.  But that's not true -- at best, you're making the people around you saints.  You're pulling them out of their self-obsession and reminding them that being at Church is about emptying ourselves for God and for each other.

   Prayer is so often just a veil for narcissism.  We talk and talk and talk about ourselves and then slap an Amen on the end and consider ourselves holy.  When your kids start screaming, it distracts us from ourselves.  We start praying for you.  Or for them.  We pray for single parents.  We pray in thanksgiving for our grown children or we beg for screaming children of our own.

   Yes, your kids are distracting me.  They’re distracting me from my narcissism. They’re distracting me from the idol I’ve made of worship, making me encounter God as he really is, not as I want him to be.  They’re distracting me from the endless series of irrelevant thoughts that occupy my 'praying' mind.

   Your screaming kids are distracting me.  Thank you for that.

To read more of Ms. Hunter-Kilmer’s thoughtful article, click here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Heavenly Jerusalem (Jonathan Helser)

  We have come to Mount Zion   
By His blood we have come 
By His blood we have come 
Thousands of angels dance around his throne 
And thousands more sing out new songs 
Elders throw their crowns down 
As all of Heaven sings out 
Worthy is the One, the Lamb who has overcome 
Resurrection Love has raised us up again 
Worthy is the One, the Lamb who has overcome 
He has conquered death, and I will follow Him! 

To hear this song (inspired by our reading from Hebrews yesterday)
 as performed live by Jonathan Helser & company, 
click on the video below: 

Image source:  Alexander Creswell, New Horizons.
To read more about this painting, click here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Humility perfects us (St. Francis de Sales)

   Humility perfects us in regard to God,  
 and gentleness in regard to our neighbor. 

  --St. Francis de Sales, 
 Introduction to the Devout Life

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, August 28, 2016: Blessed indeed will you be...

 Blessed indeed will you be…  
Have you embraced the identity God has given you?

   In our reading from the Book of Sirach, we are encouraged to seek humility, knowing that it is not the judgment of the world that ultimately matters so much as the approbation of God in our lives, and the generosity of heart God’s love engenders:  Humble yourself the more, Sirach says, and you will find favor with God.  We are to act humbly as God acts, on God’s behalf, in all that we do, comfortable where we are and ready to live out God’s truth.

   Likewise, when, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the invited guests and hosts, he reminds his disciples that it is God’s prerogative to decide where we rank in the grand scheme of things; we human beings don’t decide our own greatness, we simply need to embrace the path God set for us:  Go and take the lowest place,  Jesus admonishes his disciples, so that any elevation they experience is not a product of their actions, but a revelation of the judgment of God: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted… It is in this way that we can attain the spiritual Zion of which the Letter to the Hebrews speaks, the city of the living God, wherein God cares for all, where God’s mercy reaches out to all people, the bountiful rain referenced in Psalm 68.

   We are defined, in sum, by God’s love that perfects us; we hope to be counted among the spirits of the just made perfect, an identity offered to us all by a God who saves, who judges all, yet who repays the righteous, recognizing the humility of those who understand that theirs is the lowest place.  Our identity in Christ is one of humble acceptance, a place wherein we acknowledge that God has made a home for us, the poor, that we might know Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and rejoice in the identity that God represents for us, among the humble and forsaken. Such is the identity God has given each of us; such is the identity we are called to embrace in all humility, a gift of the goodness of God, a blessing.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, August 22, 2016

Essential unity (Wendell Berry)

   What is the burden of the Bible if not a sense of the mutuality of influence, rising out of an essential unity, among soul and body and community and world?  These are all the works of God, and it is therefore the work of virtue to make or restore harmony among them.  The world is certainly thought of as a place of spiritual trial, but it is also the confluence of soul and body, word and flesh, where thoughts must become deeds, where goodness must be enacted.  This is the great meeting place, the narrow passage where spirit and flesh, word and world, pass into each other. 
   The Bible’s aim, as I read it, is not the freeing of the spirit from the world.  It is the handbook of their interaction.  It says that they cannot be divided; that their mutuality, their unity, is inescapable; that they are not reconciled in division, but in harmony.  What else can be meant by the resurrection of the body?  The body should be filled with light,  perfected in understanding.  And so everywhere there is a sense of consequence, fear and desire, grief and joy.  What is desirable is repeatedly defined in the tensions of the sense of consequence.

--Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace:  The Agrarian Essays

Image source:  Edith London, Tension & Harmony

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saved together! (Charles Péguy)

   We must all be saved together!  Reach God together!  Appear before Him together!  We must return to our Father’s house together… What would He think if we arrived without the others, without the others returning, too? 

--Charles Péguy 

 Quotation source:  Word on Fire 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, August 21, 2016: Lord, open the door for us...

  Lord, open the door for us…  
What are the parameters of salvation?  

   At the end of the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we hear God’s universal call to worship:  I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.  In a turn that may well have been shocking to the people of Israel, all brothers and sisters from all the nations are invited into covenant relationship with God.  But true worship is necessary.  It’s not enough to follow a set of rules; we have to enter into a real life with God, a lived relationship, and, as Psalm 117 instructs us,  praise the Lord for his covenant with us, recognizing God’s kindness and fidelity.

   In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus similarly reminds those he teaches that salvation is for all:  people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  Yet we Christians can’t take our covenant relationship with God for granted; we have to live it, to focus on the direction God gives us, with an eye to that all important relationship, the most important one we have.  And, as the Letter to the Hebrews indicates, we have to live with the expectation that our spiritual life will involve change and transformation, enduring our trials and not losing heart when God sees fit to discipline us, as a father disciplines his child.  But the promise is real:  all must strive to enter through the narrow gate, Jesus says, constantly attentive to relationship with the Lord, ever aware that some who are last will be first, and will enjoy the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
It's also post number 1000 for the OLMC blog -- thanks for reading!
Image source:  Wordle

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bingo is back ~ August 26th!

     All are welcome to join the parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church for another night of old-fashioned fun:  BINGO!

Friday, August 26, 2016
   Mount Carmel Gym
   17 Buena Vista Drive
   $10 per card  ~ Prizes!

 Beverages, pizza, hot dogs, snacks...
Call the parish office, 

We look forward to seeing you there! 
Images courtesy of Jan Hiti (2013).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I will sing a new song (U2)

   I waited patiently for the Lord 
He inclined and heard my cry 
He lifted me up out of the pit 
Out of the miry clay 
I will sing, sing a new song 
I will sing, sing a new song 
How long to sing this song 
How long… how long… how long… 
How long… to sing this song 
You set my feet upon a rock 
And made my footsteps firm 
Many will see 
Many will see and hear 


This song is based on Psalm 40, which we heard at Mass on Sunday.
To hear Bono & U2 perform it, click on the video below:

Image source
Video source