Water

There has always been ocean lore that proclaims rogue, monster waves rising 80, 90, or 100 feet high or more. Of course, these are not eye-witness accounts. Men in wooden ships don’t survive such an encounter. There was the story of the Alaskan Tlingit Indian woman who returned from berry picking to find her entire village disappeared. The debris field evidence on the shoreline indicated that the ocean had risen up and fell upon the village. The wave would have been more than 100 feet high to cause the damage. Experts of the day dismissed stories about such waves because they seemingly violated basic principles of ocean physics. Continue reading

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

In 1905, at the dedication of our current church, our parish was renamed “Sacred Heart” and consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotional with long and historic provenance within Christianity, and in modern times has been established as a Solemnity for the universal Church.

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a celebration that falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday. The liturgical feast was first celebrated in Rennes, France. The liturgy was approved by the local bishop at the behest of St. John Eudes, who celebrated the Mass at the major seminary in Rennes on August 31, 1670. You’ll notice that the first celebration was not situated in the days following Pentecost. St. John Eudes composed a Mass and a set of prayers for outside the Mass (referred to as an “Office”) that were quickly adopted in other places in France.  Continue reading

Eastertide

eastermorningAs a liturgical season, Lent is rather straightforward. It is kinda’ easy to write about. There is Ash Wednesday to dramatically mark its beginning, and we all know we are moving relentlessly towards Easter. We count the days even as we mark Lent’s beginning. The Ashes make a visible mark upon us, reminding us that we are dust and to dust we shall return – but that is not the end of the story. We are reminded to repent and believe in the Gospel – but that is not the end goal. We are encouraged to pray, fast, and give alms – but those practices are meant to make room in our lives for God that we too may rise to the newness of life at Eastertide. Continue reading

Habits of a Loving Heart

Back in the day when I was working in the world and spending way too much time on airplanes accumulating way too many frequent-flyer miles, it seemed to me business travelers did three things on longer flights: sleep, work, or read Stephen’ Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book argues that one should align universal and timeless principles with one’s values. Covey sees principles as external natural laws, while values remain internal and subjective. Covey asserts that values govern people’s behavior, but principles ultimately determine the consequences. If sales volume is measure of the usefulness of this self-help book, then 25 million copies sold says something. Maybe there are some possibilities for a parallel book about the best practices and habits for Catholics. Might be a Lenten best seller! Continue reading

Jonah: a story in art

From today’s readings: Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. (Mt 12:38-41) Continue reading

Ash Wednesday and Sundays in Lent

lent-2-heartlargeAsh Wednesday, the first day of the penitential season of Lent in the Catholic Church, is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a “movable” feast that is assigned a date in the calendar only after the date of Easter Sunday is calculated. How is it calculated? I’m glad you asked.

According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and later adopted for Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby, Easter Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox falls on Monday, March 20, 2017 and the first full moon after that occurs on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Therefore, Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 16. If you want Ash Wednesday, just count backwards 46 days and you get March 1, 2017. Continue reading

Your Lenten Plan

giving_up_4_LentSo… “What are you giving up for Lent?” Isn’t that always the question?  As if that is the reason for the season.  Growing up, everything I remember about Lent circled around the acts of self-denial – what food, entertainment, or habit one would give up and how hard it was to deny oneself of that thing.  It was not always made clear that the denial was meant to help one think about God and Christ’s sacrifice. Continue reading

Sanctuary

emeralda_and_quasimodoIf you’ve read Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame – or seen the classic 1939 film adaptation starring Charles Laughton, or the very faithful 1996 Disney animated musical version – you’ll recognize this dramatic cry. Quasimodo, the misshapen and monstrous bell-ringer of the Paris cathedral, has just swooped down from the belfry to seize the unjustly condemned Gypsy, Esmeralda, from the fiery stake. Quasimodo stands on the cathedral balcony, crying “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” He is invoking an age-old protection offered by churches – refuge from the law for criminals. Continue reading

Timeless Advice

CONFESSIONOne of the all-time best sellers in the spiritual life is St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life.” Here are some of tips the Saint offers to help make a good confession:

The saint recommends regular and frequent confession. He encourages confession, “although your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults.” Continue reading