Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter Flowers and Crashed Computers

Life is funny. Actually, I have a dear friend who says 'God's a funny guy..." That's sort of how I'm feeling today.

I'm a few days into my annual Easter recovery week...starting to feel a bit human again.

The holy days here at St Francis de Sales were amazing! The best word I can come up with for me was that they were breath-taking. I have to say, as one who works in the parish, I don't always expect to have a prayerful experience of the holy days...but boy was I taken by surprise this year! Every day there were mysteries revealed to me about the immensity of the love God shares with each of us. I am immensely proud of the priests and parish leaders that I share ministry with. I am humbled by the community of St Francis and how we welcome all through our doors.

I am grateful for my family, who jump in to help with the craziness of Easter dinner when help is desperately needed. I who hate to ask for help, learned that I needed to ask others to help me, that I couldn't possible do 'it' all...and everyone was happy to help. A most valuable lesson for me to take to heart.

I was given some lovely roses by one of my young parishioners...and it reminded me in a very real way of all my friends in heaven who are actively supporting me in ministry, and working hard, I believe to help me grow and be the best minister in an ever changing, ever challenging church.

So, when I heard the loud crash this morning at 5:30 a.m. I wasn't sure what it was...As I came into the living room I was not happy to see that is was that particular vase of flowers that the cat (who is lucky he got fed this morning!!) had knocked over onto my laptop. Which is now fried. Not working. Kaput.

How is it that the Easter joy can so quickly slide back into Good Friday sorrow?

How do I hold the serenity of Easter morning, the bliss of the celebrations, and walk into this valley of 'how the  heck am I going to live without my laptop, can they recover my data, and why does everything cost so much' Good Friday gloom?

Our Easter Season lasts 50 days. It would have been nice if I'd had a bit more time to celebrate Easter before the harsh realities of life intrude again. Yet that is our daily journey as Christians isn't hold onto and live out of some kind of Easter joy in the midst the every day 'stuff' we encounter. How we trust God and move through the every day makes all the difference doesn't it? Can I live out the faith I think I have and trust that God is there for me? Can I not panic at every set back? I'm learning.

And maybe finally, I'm learning it's OK, it's even good at times to ask for help. Because when I ask, it gives someone else a chance to step up and be the support, the angel I need just then. Much like the apostles in these early days after the resurrection...they needed to count on one another. They needed to rely on one another. So if I've learned anything this Holy Week and Easter week, it's that I don't have to do it alone. And trust me, for me, that's HUGE!!

Happy First Week of Easter!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Looking For Holy Quiet Moments

I honestly didn't think I'd even get here this blog thing...but I want to at least take a minute, one minute, to simply say, let us pray for each other during these most holy days in our Church. Let us pray, today, in a special way, for all those men and women who take on roles of leadership and service in our Church. May God's spirit bless them with patience and wisdom in our troubled world.

Let us pray, as we approach Good Friday, for all those places in the world where the crucifixion still happens over and over again...this week I am mindful like many of you for all who mourn in Brussels. There are so many places of suffering in our world, let us remember those souls when we come before the cross tomorrow.

At Easter Vigil my heart is always filled with prayers of hope and joy for all who choose to come into our zany little group we call Church...some days it is a mystery to me what they see in us, but I know it is a loving God who calls them, and it is our joy to accompany them as we all journey toward Easter Alleluias. Broken we may be, but love and laughter will lead us on and make the path unforgettable!

So, Happy Holy Days to each of you. Let us hold one another in prayer these next few days. God's peace and joy be yours.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


We know this Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and is called both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.

I'm thinking about Passion.

Mostly because I get so nuts that people are more excited over Palms then the Eucharist. I wish we had better explained to our folks that the Eucharist is something of a 'give away' or 'take home' EVERY week, EVERY day...and worth much more to our souls then...palm...

Maybe I need to look at the passion that surrounds folks and their desire to participate in this palm ritual and think about how to help them go deeper into the mystery of Holy Week...with their palm branches.

We retell the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with crowds chanting Hosanna and wanted to be a part of the glory of the moment.
We know those same folks are the ones a few days later shouting "Crucify him!" and rejecting any knowledge of Jesus or the good he had done.

Crowds can be crazy --passionate yes--but crazy too. It's easy to get swept along in the energy of the moment without perhaps paying close attention to  what's really happening around us.

Back in the day, when I was teaching high school, I used to do an exercise with my students to help them think about what values were the most important, the last thing they would willingly give up. After spirited conversation among them, where they said things like: family, friendship, and so on, I would chime in and add my two cents. I'd say that the last thing in the world I would give up would be--passion. And they'd look at me amazed that I would offer something so self revealing to them. I would explain simply by saying that I could't imagine getting up each morning if I didn't care so deeply for the world around me, and the people who were a part of my life. That passion, to me, meant caring deeply for others. That's what I wouldn't give up.

What kind of passion did Jesus hold in his heart for us that he willingly entered into all of Holy week, the excitement of Palm Sunday, the bittersweet moments of Holy Thursday, the absolute horror of Good Friday...the mystery of the tomb and the resurrection. What great love!

What do we need to hold close to our hearts this last week of Lent? What do we need to ask God to help us with?  How can these palm branches help us to remember to live our lives with a passion so deep that we can't help but love our sisters and brothers in the world around us more deeply? Maybe this year, let these palms symbolize a great love, a great passion within us to help make a change for the better in our part of the world. How we do that? I don't know...but I think that should be a part of our Holy Week and Easter prayer! Let us pray for one another during these most holy days.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Righteous or Self Righteous?

What's the difference between Righteous and Self Righteous? This is a question inspired by Sunday's cycle C Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. We know it has to do with how we see ourselves and others before our God. Over and over again we are reminded not to judge others and yet that is a sin so many of us fall into.

Who do you identify with in the Gospel this Sunday? Would it be the Pharisees who, with the law on their side speak against a woman caught in a terrible circumstance, a terrible sin? Would it be those men standing with stones in their hands and hidden in their robes ready to carry out the command of the law? Maybe you identify with the woman herself, and stand terrified before those who would accuse you? Perhaps you wonder about the absent adulterer, the man who was not standing there with the accused woman? Are you an observer to the scene? Are you ready to pick up your own stone and take the law literally into your own hands? Are you a peasant hidden behind the crowd trying to imagine how to change the end of story?

Do we understand what Jesus is really saying?

If I take the time to look at my own life and judge myself honestly…where would I ever find the nerve, the right, the desire to judge my brother or sister? And let's be honest, it's easier and a lot less scary to be looking at the sins of others, then to do the work needed to look at myself and judge myself. Jesus tells us in the Lord's Prayer to forgive others AS we forgive ourselves…how easy is that to do if we don't know how to forgive ourselves?

Judging. Forgiving. Accepting. Mercy…In this most incredible year of Mercy, that is the bottom line isn't it? Mercy!!

I used to wonder, like the chicken or the egg, which came first…God's mercy or God's justice. I do believe and am ever grateful that in the end, it is always God's mercy that triumphs. So, it is no surprise at all in this story that Jesus is merciful. Jesus is the face of God's mercy, and quite simply, calls us to be the same in our time and place.

Happy 5th Week of Lent. Are we ready for Holy Week? Much peace to you and yours.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Things are Coming!

At the midpoint of Lent we hear St Paul (cycle C readings) telling us that the old things are passing away and behold new things are coming! Is that ever hopeful!! That is exactly how I'm feeling as the daylight lasts a little bit longer every afternoon and the morning sun is up a few moments earlier during my commute. Darkness is fading, light is taking hold again in the world around me.

I need to get away from the darkness of sin too. We celebrate the scrutinies these last three weeks of Lent, and so I've been mindful of the many many things, the temptations, the evils, the sinfulness that gets in the way of my relationship with my God.

Too many to list for sure, but here's a short list...jealousy, judging others, pride, arrogance, impatience...these vices always seem to be on the top of my list when preparing for confession. I thank God for the days I am not all those dreadful things at the same time...and I am sorry for the times when it all gets the best of me.

Springtime, the end of Lent, the promised coming of Easter gives me hope that new things in me are coming too! I want to be better. I want to be more hopeful and optimistic. I am so grateful and blessed to be in a parish where almost every Sunday people leave church moving to the music, smiling or munching on a homemade cookie. We are happy when we come into Church, and filled with the hope and the challenge as we leave, to bring the good news to the folks we spend the Monday to Friday with. We are the ambassadors for Christ that Paul talks about!

So, as the days get longer, as we await Holy Week in all its solemnity and the Easter joy that follows, let us make the most of this second half of Lent. Let us be reconciled to God and to one another. Look for opportunities to mend fences and heal old hurts.  Let us continue to try harder, to be our better selves, to live in the light of God.