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

How Will You Belong? The Stranger at Our Doors

Welcome-StrangersI have often mused about the connections of being a welcoming community and hospitality. As part of that musing, I wondered about the distinction between entertaining and hospitality, surmising that it perhaps depends on your role model and the source of your ideas about hospitality. If the model is from Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, and Southern Living Magazine – then perhaps “entertaining” is a better description. As a church of believing Christians, it would be best to look to Jesus for models of hospitality. Continue reading

Franciscan Statement and Recent Executive Orders

syrian-refugees-us-borderIn flurry of activity, President Trump issued an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” (you can read the full text here). The key points of the Executive Order are:

  • 90-day ban on entry into the US from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan
  • 120-day suspension of the refugee resettlement program
  • Indefinite suspension of the arrival of Syrian refugees
  • 64% decrease for refugees admitted into the US in 2017
  • Prioritization of refugees who are religious minorities suffering religious persecution
  • Mandated review of stricter vetting procedures for refugees and immigrants.

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The Vatican Secret Archives

vatican-secret-archivesThe Vatican archives are far from being an amusement park for conspiracy theorists. In fact, they might be quite boring for the general audience: nothing too scandalous, noting too secret. Actually, the aura that covers the Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum — that’s its official full name — might only be due to a mistranslation from the original Latin: “secretum,” far from being translated as “secret,” simply means “personal.” Whomever has ever had a secretaire (a secretary desk, an escritoire, hopefully a Chippendale) might probably get a hint of what’s at stake here: the Vatican “Secret Archive” is a collection of personal documents, mainly private letters, chronicles and historical records of past popes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Dan Brown & Co. Continue reading

Silence

silence-movieMartin Scorsese’s “Silence” tells the story of Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real.

Francis Xavier, SJ and other Jesuits landed in Japan in 1549. From then, a steady stream of Jesuits, mainly Portuguese, continued to arrive through the 1570s.  It is estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 Japanese were baptized as Christians. According to Fr.Antoni Ucerler, SJ, an expert in Japanese Christian history, “Perhaps a certain number of these Christians were not really believers. Some did abandon the faith when commanded to do so, but many others held fast to their faith,” he explains. “That is comprehensible, because those were the days when, just as in Europe, if your feudal lord told you to do something, you did it.” Continue reading

A View of Life

lemonysnickettLemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is a series of 13 children’s novels noted for their modern gothic tone, dark humor, and quirky story telling. Probably an acquired taste for lots of folks, but then the books have sold more than 65 million copies. Somebody’s reading them. Partly drawn from the series, Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler) has compiled a post-modern book of wisdom and wit – a post-modern Benjamin Franklin of a sort. Continue reading

What kind of people…?

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_4On 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