Assumption

dormition4largeToday is the feast of the Assumption. May our Mother Mary guide us all; God knows we need her. Blessings to all on this feast, I pray for more peace in the world today, beginning in me, as peace has felt difficult to come by.

When I came across this link (from America Magazine, 2008) I was struck by these words in particular:

sometimes, Mary is presented as meek and mild, passive and subservient. The problem with this view is that it is impossible to reconcile it with the ten stories we have of Mary in the New Testament: the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, flight into Egypt, loosing Jesus in the Temple, going to bring Jesus home from his public ministry, the wedding feast at Cana, being at the foot of the Cross and Pentecost. The strength and power of Mary’s witness is most especially captured in the Magnificat from which we just heard. Here Mary extols how God is saving us by turning the world on its head, doing the very opposite of what was expected. 

May we all be aware of the unexpected grace of God, and may we all be willing participants in the revolution of redemption. It is hard work and we will surely need our Mother’s help. While this feast is about her “falling asleep in the Lord” she may be the most woke woman I know.

Blisters of privilege, prayers of choice

san-bol-feet

My blistered feet entering an allegedly healing pool.

They were sometimes like a hot knife plunged into my lower extremities, at other times, simply walking on broken glass. My blisters during the first two weeks of my Camino were horrible. One day, Sue and I entered the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and I simply had to stop walking. It was too much, I could not take the pain. What happened next is a long story for another day, just let it suffice to say, my feet were wrecked. Would I be able to continue my Camino? (Spoiler alert for new readers, thanks be to God, I did.)

With nearly every blistered step I took, I was aware of how privileged I was to even be in this situation. All I could think about when my feet, my knees, or general tiredness bothered me was that I chose to be where I was. Not so far away from me, migrants were to be found all over Europe. The vast majority of them fled their homes, not by choice, not due to any luxury, but due to violence, hunger, the threat of war, and the ever-present reality of death. I tried to pray with and for them with every painful footfall, even after my blisters were overall healed.

Today is Continue reading

I was a stranger…

5f18a2168c3daec4004ab176b2cd4132I’m grateful to see and hear this powerful Catholic Christian message from Fr. James Martin, SJ. Fr. Jim is a prolific author, speaker, and so much more. He is also an editor at America Magazine. This video was uploaded to America’s Facebook page today.

The message is very simple… If we can’t welcome the stranger, we can’t welcome Christ. Like I asked earlier today in my post about Saint Paul, what would any of us do when confronted with God? What will we do when confronted with the stranger? The answer to both is the same.

Feeling challenged by this? If we don’t feel challenged by God on a regular basis, we are doing something very wrong.

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Rejoice in God’s mercy

JUBILEE-YEAR-OF-MERCYToday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent – a day meant for rejoicing. Not unlike King Cyrus declaring the return to Jerusalem to our beleaguered Jewish ancestors during the Babylonian exile, Pope Francis brings us news to make Laetare Sunday especially joyful this year!

From America Magazine:

“In a surprising and far-reaching decision, Pope Francis has announced an extraordinary “Jubilee of Mercy” that will extend from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, and will involve the Catholic Church throughout the world.”

As we pass the midpoint of Lent we are encouraged to Continue reading

#takeupLENT

This is a great video from America magazine. Short, to the point, lots of America staffers, plus one famous special guest star, you get to hear what they are giving up for Lent.

As Fr. James Martin SJ points out, we also need to remember to be kind… it is not just what we are giving up. No matter you do, his advice is important. Be kind and love one another.

God’s Field Hospital

There is nothing like a papal interview to rouse your humble blogger from her slumber. I’m sorry that I have not been around for over two weeks. And this is WAY long for any blog post, but what can I tell you. Get some coffee, have a seat, put your feet up, and see what you think.

ap_Francis_ac_130314_wgWith so much already said, parsed, analyzed, and dissected about the papal interview that was published on the website of America Magazine yesterday? I tried to write something last night, but too many thoughts were still swirling in my head. Were? Still are.

Upon awakening I recalled fragments of my strange dream from last night. Dream analyzers, don’t tell me that this means something horrible please.

hardlandingIn the dream, I was on a huge plane, a plane about the size of several city blocks. And it looked like blocks, not like the interior of a plane! We had a hard, hard landing, which I particularly felt, because I was at the back of plane. Upon exiting the plane, I could see that it was not just a hard landing, but that we had had a crash landing, and while no one was hurt, everyone seemed a bit stunned and disoriented.

ch10fig50-1Then I looked up across the tarmac. There was a field hospital off to one side, treating wounded people, although they did not seem to come from our plane. I could see all of this in the dream because one wall of the building was non-existent, and it was all on display. Here’s the thing… the field hospital was in an enormous old church. So many people inside of this church were being tended to. I walked closer to the church/field hospital and saw that there were some terribly ill and injured people there. Each person appeared to have several people, doctors and nurses I guess. It was hard to tell, because no one was dressed in a particular way, just lots of people caring for others.

Today many of us are roused from our slumber in a world that feels a bit different. No -we as church have not crashed, but we have landed in a hard way. In a good hard way, if you ask me. Today we may feel a bit disoriented, rubbing the sleep from our eyes,  wondering “did that really happen?”

awakeupcallfromgod_lgUm yes – it did. It really did. And yes, it is time to truly wake up.

Yesterday, in a New York Times article about the papal interview, the papal interviewer, Antonio Spadaro, SJ, said this about Pope Francis, “His big vision is to see the church in the middle of the persons who need to be healed.” Hello dream analysis!

Spadaro was of course referring to the Bishop of Rome’s own words in the interview:

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds….”

Of course he said many other things in the interview, things that out of context can sound like a high pitched and dangerous sound to some, shattering eardrums and probably breaking hearts. He said things that may sound to others as if he is “on their side.” I use that phrase because I received an email from someone saying that I must feel satisfied now because, “Pope Francis is clearly on your side!” The person sounded hurt, angry, disoriented – and I can understand that.

keep-calm-and-hire-a-jesuit.jpgLet’s all keep calm if we can, please. And we already have a Jesuit at hand. TBTG, AMDG! (Thanks be to God, Ad Majorem Gloria Dei.)

What else can the church be other than a field hospital? As I ponder the imagery of Pope Francis’ language alongside the images from my dream, I keep thinking what I always think… Jesus did not ask people for their credentials, first he welcomed them. He welcomed them, he healed them, and while I’m pretty certain he meant to transform them, we don’t always hear that part of the story. People were healed, and off they went.

Look at the Apostles, that ragtag wacky crew of couldn’t-quite-get-it-right bumblers. Jesus was often terse with them, but he kept them at his side. Look at numero uno, the main man Peter, we all know too much about how it was him who deserted Jesus at the darkest hour. The true transformation of the Apostles came after the Resurrection.

If all that Jesus did was ask a lot of questions meant to let a few people in and keep most people out, I don’t know what to make of what we call church.

messyJesus came to heal, save, and transform. He came to sort out the disorder – to free us from chaos. And that is what I think that Pope Francis is doing, too. Using the name of a favorite blog of mine, he is going on about that “messy Jesus business.”

No rules have been changed, so no –  it is not a nightmare for those of you who feel like it was. No doctrine has been eliminated or discarded, so no – it is not a big party for those of you who think that you have been vindicated. By the way, I get that, because I do in fact feel that way. But unlike what my anonymous emailer said to me, Pope Francis and Jesus are not on “my side” any more than they are on any one side. They are on our collective side, which in fact means – there is no side.

Like my field hospital in the dream, the one missing a side that is, the church is an open hospital, with people streaming in. Some stream out to be certain, many will never enter, but there it is. Healing awaits, no insurance ID required, no group number or employer number is asked for.

I’ve quoted Anne Lamott so many times on this  more times than I can say, but I will say it again…

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott

It is a big, big church. I think that Pope Francis has said that over and over and over again for these six months that he has been pope.  Think about that Gospel that you heard last Sunday, the one with the prodigal son story in it. Let’s remember that most of us are the wayward brother come home, we just like acting like the indignant other brother.

The hospital church is open, fully open. Come on in, have a look around, be healed. Then and only then, we’ll see what happens.