Last year, on a Delta airlines flight from Phoenix, a tragedy occurred. During the flight, one of the passengers suffered a heart attack. His wife called out for help. The trained flight crew responded as did a passenger who was a doctor. Another passenger attended to the passenger’s wife. He offered to pray with her, to pray for her husband, and he stayed with her as the tragedy unfolded. He stayed with her as life hung in the balance. He left the plane with her and collected her luggage. He carried their luggage to the car that was waiting for him and took the woman to the hospital. He stayed with her as a doctor broke the news that her husband had died. Continue reading
In last week’s column, I was suggesting that we humans under appreciate the impact and power of habits – good and bad. The previous column, paralleling Stephen’ Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” began to explore the habits of the heart for committed Christians. The premise was that we humans are not fundamentally thinking creatures, or believing creatures, but desiring creatures. Thinking and believing are key and essential parts of who we are, but what pushes and pulls us has more to do with what captures our desires, our affections — our hearts. Our identity as persons is shaped by what we ultimately love or what we love as ultimate. It is the heart that needs formation in the Christian life. I then began to list some habits for forming a loving heart.
11 I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.While vv. 8–10 may be understood at least in part as continuing the address to the Pharisees and Sadducees, now John’s address is specifically to those whom he is actually baptizing.
The superiority of the “stronger one” is explained in terms of two baptisms. John’s water-baptism is a preliminary ritual with a view to repentance, clearing the way for the real thing, the “stronger one’s” baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire. Water is an outward sign, but the work of the Holy Spirit will be inward. Since fire occurs in both v. 10 and v. 12 (and probably also by implication in v. 7 in the imagery of the snakes escaping the fire) as a metaphor for God’s judgment, it should probably be taken in the same sense here. The coming of the Holy Spirit will burn away what is bad and so purify the repentant people of God. (France, 113) Continue reading
Some time you just have an itch you can’t scratch. It happens. We have gone along in life and accomplished some goals and objectives. Maybe we are the “chief” of this or that, and like Zacchaeus are wealthy. But there is something missing, something slightly off – we thought it would different after we accomplished goals. It is the thought we just can’t put our finger on. It is the itch we can’t scratch.
I suspect that is where Zacchaeus is in life. He is chief tax collector, a wealthy man – and clearly scorned by the people. Which makes sense. A tax collector had to buy the position from the Romans – so you have your investment to recover. The Romans then expect the year taxes to be collected and paid. And you course you need to make a living and some profit for a rainy day. How much profit? The Romans didn’t care. All we know is that Zacchaeus is a wealthy man, but as become so at the cost of his relationships, his people, friends, and his heritage of faith. Continue reading
Happy Feast Day to all Franciscans and those Franciscan at heart!
Over time I have posted a number of articles about the life of St. Francis – one day I even got ambitious and created a page on this blog where all the posts can be found. I thought perhaps the Feast Day would be a good time to let people know. You can find all the posts collected here.
One day I will also be as motivated and collect all the posts on the Admonitions. Until then please use the WordPress search function to find them among all the other musings. They start on Oct 2, 2012
pax et bonum
A Prayer Inspired by the Our Father
(Expositio in Pater Noster)
O Our Father most holy
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler and Savior:
Who are in heaven:
In the angels and the saints,
enlightening them to know, for You, Lord are light;
inflaming them to love, for You, Lord, are love;
dwelling in them and filling them with happiness,
for You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the Eternal Good,
from Whom all good comes
without Whom there is no good.
Holy be Your Name
May knowledge of You become clearer in us
that we may know
the breadth of Your blessings
the length of Your promises
the height of Your majesty
the depth of Your judgments.
Your kingdom come:
That You may rule in us through Your grace
and enable us to come to Your kingdom
where there is clear vision of You,
the perfect love of You,
blessed companionship with You,
eternal enjoyment of You.
Your will be done on earth as in heaven:
That we may love You
with our whole heart by always thinking of You,
with our whole soul by always desiring You,
with our whole mind by always directing all our intention to You,
and by seeking Your glory in everything,
with all our whole strength by exerting
all our energies and affections of body and soul
in the service of Your love and of noting else;
and we may love our neighbor as ourselves
by drawing them all to Your love with our whole strength,
by rejoicing in the good of others as in our own,
by suffering with others at their misfortunes,
and by giving offense to no one.
Give us this day:
in remembrance, understanding, and reverence
of that love which our Lord Jesus Christ had for us
and of those things that He said and did and suffered for us.
our daily Bread:
Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ
Forgive us our trespasses:
through Your ineffable mercy
through the power of the passion of Your beloved Son
and through the merits and the intercessions
of the every blessed Virgin and all Your elect.
As we forgive those who trespass against us:
And what we do not completely forgive,
make us Lord, forgive completely
that we may truly love our enemies because of You
and we may fervently intercede for them before You,
returning no one evil for evil
and we may strive to help everyone in You.
And lead us not into temptation:
hidden or obvious,
sudden or persistent.
But deliver us from evil:
and to come.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen. 
 St. Francis of Assisi, “A Prayer Inspired by the Our Father” in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, eds. Regis Armstrong, JA Wayne Hellman, and William J Short (New York: New City Press, 1999) pp. 158-60
Today, July 15th is the Feast Day of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. He was a Franciscan theologian and philosopher, held a Master’s Chair at the University of Paris, was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order in one of its most contentious times, wrote many spiritual texts, compiled a biography (legenda) of St. Francis at the request of the friars, and many more things. His work Itinerarium mentis in Deum (Journey of the Soul to God) is considered a masterpiece of medieval spiritual practice. You can read more about the saint here. Happy Feast Day to all Franciscans.
There was a barber in a small town. One day he’s sitting in his barbershop and a man walks in wearing a pair of sandals, and a long brown robe with a hood. The man sits down in the barber’s chair. “Excuse me,” says the barber. “I was wondering: why are you dressed like that?”
“Well,” says the man. “I’m a Franciscan friar. I’m here to help my brother Franciscans start a soup kitchen in town.”
And the barber says, “The Franciscans? Oh, I love the Franciscans! I love the story of St. Francis of Assisi, and I so love all the work you do for the poor, and for peace, and for the environment. And it’s just great that the Franciscans live so simply! You guys are wonderful! This haircut is free!” Continue reading
On Monday, we as a nation will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I thought it would be good that we, again, listen to the words of Dr. King from his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” This excerpt, found in the later part of that marvelous and challenging letter, asks a simple but profound question: “What kind of people worship here?” Are we a people of the Gospel that comforts the afflicted? Are we a Gospel people who stand with those on the margins? Are we a full Gospel people? Continue reading