A Popes request (a couple days after Easter)


A day or so ago the pontifical tweet was that the faithful should spend the week pondering the resurrection gospels. Today’s readings do just that. In Luke’s account Lk 24:13-35, the disciples are walking along and encounter the risen Christ. The reading emphasizes that “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.”

The Lord was cautious in how He was revealed go the disciples. It was not by sight. Is there not a bible quote that says blessed are those that do not see and believe? In that walk amongst themselves they are discussing the events of His resurrection, and Jesus asks what they are discussing. Subtly the Lord tells them to proclaim His passion and resurrection.

They do, they tell the story of Holy Week. They tell of the woman’s encounter with angels at the tomb. They tell that angels had announced to the women that Jesus was alive. The pope had asked that we read the gospel accounts of the resurrection. The risen Christ asked that the disciples tell their story. The gospel accounts were an oral tradition long before they were written. Small point but worth mentioning. The other point is that the Lord was not revealed through the eyes. Go the woman it was through angels, and my mind drifts towards the Annunciation at Christmas. It is repeated at the tomb.

The Lord revealed himself to the women through an angel, how did He reveal himself to the men? What does the story say? It says first he walked with them. It says Jesus asked them to give account of what happened. Jesus then challenged them, they had said they did not see the Lord at the tomb. Jesus revealed himself through the scriptures, just as He did prior to Holy Week. How important that they came to a fork in the road, and they ask Jesus to stay with them. It is by choice. Finally those men’s eyes are opened with the breaking of bread. Now they see the Lord with their eyes.

What’s the point? The women trust the Lord through an angel. The men take a different journey, they reach the Lord through scripture and scholarship, and dialogue, testament, and finally in the breaking of bread. They are two separate journeys. I cannot help but notice that the women’s journey follows the Nativity gospel so closely and that the men’s follows the journey of the Mass. The Mass of the Lords Supper.

Finally, to go to the first reading. A crippled beggar asks the disciples for Alms outside the Temple and Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”

The flicker of light


Today I wonder how it is that I know that Easter has arrived. Is it by a day on the calendar? Is it through a liturgy, or by decorations? Is it communicated through a newscast? Is it by a meal, did someone tell me? What is the hint that proclaims Jesus Christ has risen? Is it through scholarship, or theology, or catechism? How do I know?

I know I can read a paper, I have seen Christians in the news. Most recently it was about Christian churches bombed in Egypt. Was that a sign? Are these questions any different from those the first disciples asked after Good Friday? Where is the proof of the risen Lord? There was no advantage for those gospel writers to include the resurrection, and there is no good reason for me to write the same. It gets me nothing. So why believe in a risen Christ?

Today especially it depends on how this Easter is approached, and that is a bit of philosophy. Each person examines this event from a different angle. For some its the science of the day. For others it is religion, others counter-culture. Some want to believe and others simply don’t. People often take sides, to them its personal preference. It’s an answer to a question, often it’s an argument. Religion is a polarizing topic, and this holds true for Easter. Easter isn’t an argument, its an observation. It’s not what one thinks, but what one sees.

Is it acceptable to see Easter as a flicker? A flicker of light in darkness, and then a flicker of darkness illuminated by light. The contrast. A glimmer of good surrounded by evil, and then evil that comes to view through its contrast with good. Light and dark, angel and devil. The gospel accounts talk of seeing angels, and often accompanied by dazzling light. They talk of seeing the risen Lord in flickers, only visible to the disciples. Their eyes were on the lookout and they knew what they were searching for. They were observant, shouldn’t we be the same? They kept their eyes open, and their hearts; even though they did not have a clear expectation. In their darkness (the same darkness that plagues the same region today) they witnessed the flickers of light that made them proclaim Jesus has risen. As they wrote they felt the earth shaken, and their world changed. I wonder if today we can experience the same? A flicker of light in the darkness.

Silent night


Silent night, Holy night,

All is calm, All is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

That song has been running through my head since 3:00 pm  yesterday. I know it’s the wrong season, but is that really true? Silent Night comes from the Nativity, and last night was the night after the crucifixion. In the hymn Jesus lies in a manger, the LORD has descended to our realm. God becomes man. Yesterday Jesus dies on the cross, and is placed in a tomb. In that tomb the LORD descends into the deepest and darkest depths of our existence. Jesus descends into the depths of Hell to liberate all who helplessly lie there. Jesus brings the dead back to the living and sets humanity free. Death is destroyed, it looses its grip. The promise of Christmas is fulfilled. It is done. Silent night, Holy night.

Good Friday to Holy Saturday

Mass on a weekday of a very important week.. .



Here it is. Holy Thursday. It’s Holy Thursday and that is the day of the Mass of the Lords Supper. The Last Supper, the day painted by Leonardo Di Vinci. It is the day often referred to as the day which Jesus instituted His Mass; the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Liturgy, the Liturgy of Word and Eucharist. It is the day of the Mass, and so it is a good time to discuss a most fundamental part of Christianity. This is the day that begins the tradition of the Mass, and a day itself that has its traditions.

Mass is discussed often. For many the discussion revolves against the debate between pre and post Vatican-two practices. Those discussions involve language, and music, and tradition. Might this be a good day to survey some of these topics? For a start what about the debate of language?

The debate of language, for those within the jurisdiction of Vatican-two, revolves around two languages. They are Latin and “the vernacular.” The vernacular is simply the language spoken by a regional congregation, French in France and English in England. That list goes on, but why the debate and why Latin? Let’s start with Latin.

It is the language of the Latin Rite Church, commonly called Roman Catholics. (Rumor has it that Roman Catholics was a term that came into use after the protestant rebellion.) The Latin Rite comes under the authority of the bishop of Rome, and he is the one that sits in the chair of Saint Peter. It is the language of the ancient Roman Empire. It is one of the languages the Bible was first translated into. It is the language of tradition and history. It is the original language the Latin Rite Mass was written in, and the language its priests were taught in. That common universal language allowed those priests to bring that Mass to the multitude of varying tongues. Often those people were illiterate, and it was the priests that gained the education. That education with regards to liturgy took its form in one language. It had a practicality, and that practicality is often argued today. Today many gain an education in every language. Why in this modern day cling to an ancient language that no one speaks?

For one good reason. It is one of the languages of the Church. It is not the only language of the Church, it is one of the fundamental languages of the Church. The others are Greek and Hebrew. Might one good reason for keeping Latin in the Latin Rite be that it is the language which that lung off the Church is in charge of? For certain the Greek Orthodox Christians can curate their tongue, and the Eastern Orthodox can take charge of Hebrew. To the Roman Catholics is the responsibility of their ancient language. To translate from that language requires a knowledge of that language. It is part of that liturgies origins, shouldn’t it be included? Should the entire Mass of the Latin Rite take place in that language? Debatable. Should Latin be ignored in a Latin Rite Mass? But why, it make no sense! It’s the Mass of the Lords Supper, it’s a good day for this discussion.

Now to the supper, the Last supper. Some argue that is the day from which the Mass takes its form. Their term is the “table of the Lord.” They see that artists (Di Vinci) table. A dinner table, the Feast of the Lord. There is something else, it occurs the next day. It is the event that gives that table its meaning. It is not the food that is consumed from the table, but the sacrifice that takes place at it. That table is an altar of sacrifice. An altar, and not a table. Language is one part of a debate, table versus altar is the second. To some the emphasis is on the table, and the sacrifice should be forgotten. Yes, the food is important! It is the body and blood of our LORD Jesus the Christ! They turn the table around, and disregard the Crucifix. Catholics use a Crucifix, not just the cross. It is a sacrifice. The liturgy of the word describes it, proclaims it, and the Mass repeats it. The Crucifix is not ignored, neither is the Priests. The Priests, in persona Christi. In the person of Christ. They are the ones that sit about that table with the LORD. They, the Apostles,  know the Temple altar, and will learn of Jesus’s sacrifice on it. Priests are the successors’ of the Apostles. This day the priesthood is formed.Back to table versus altar, is it either one or the other? Wrong! It is both! Both. Eucharist is important, it it the summit of the Mass, a pinnacle. It is true food and drink, nourishment. The Body and Blood of our Lord. The Cross too should not be slighted, for on that Cross is our redemption and salvation. It is the supreme sacrifice. Altar and Table.

The initiation of the Priesthood, something celebrated today. This Last Supper gives instruction “do this in memory of Me”. The bread and wine, the Body and Blood. Finally. The washing of the feet.

The washing of the feet is something that has become the focal point of the modern tradition of this particular days Mass. Originally it was something (me thinks)  between Priests, Bishops, and Seminarians? Or perhaps between the clergy and their flock. Who sits around the table at the Last Supper? The twelve apostles. Twelve men learning to be disciples and priests and bishops and popes. An institutional hierarchy. Then a more modern Pope (1955) declared; pick twelve “upstanding men” from the community to have their feet washed during Mass. That Pope said this at the start of the 1960-70 age of women’s liberation and the feminist movement. Protests start, and continue. But what does the ancient Latin documents tell of the purpose of this event, more importantly what does the gospel say? The history books, do they mention this ordeal? Might it be wise for someone read them? Is the modern tradition wrong? Should it take place in another time and place? Is the modern version of the washing of feet scripturally and liturgically correct? The tradition is truly varied throughout the branches of Christianity. What do the documents say, including Vatican-two? This is the Mass of the Lords Supper, shouldn’t it be done properly? Scholarship is required. Oh, the washing of feet is an option and an opinion. It has morphed into an argument about who is entitled to have their feet washed, a social statement. Pope Francis emphasizes the poor and marginalized, and often does so outside the context of the Mass. Applauses!

This Mass of Jesus Christ is something that differentiates Catholics. It is something Byzantines put an extraordinary effort into preserving. It is something that the Protestant denominations have tried to deconstruct and demolish. Today the Latin Rite struggles with it in a battle between traditionalists and progressives. I don’t even touch on some of the minor rites of the Mass. The LORDS Mass is described in scripture, and is the heart of the Church. That might be why it is so often debated. Each has their own opinions, but what did Christ say? Something to think about. That’s what the day commemorates. The Mass, Eucharist and the Priesthood. The Mass of the LORDS Supper.

Let’s enter into Holy week


Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and some people pave His way with palm fronds. Palm Sunday, and Holy Week begins.

This is the opening scene. People gather into Jerusalem for the Passover, and it becomes a bustling city. People come from all around, imagine New York City on New Year’s (or Saint Patrick’s Day). People come from all over. Some are the followers of Jesus, and some are unaware of the activity that surrounds Christ. Others are administrators of the city, and still others are administrators of the religious celebration. People in society come from all backgrounds. Sometimes we think we are the center of attention. We think of those placing palm fronds in front of Christ.

The gospel reminds us of those that opposed Christ, The Sanhedrin, and the Temple officials. Then there are the Romans who are on the lookout for conflict. Finally there are the disciples. There is Judas, the one who betrays Christ. There is Thomas and his doubts. There is Peter, fearful and indecisive. There are those curious, and those committed to His message. They are disciples of varying degree. Like the disciples, there are those unbaptized into His preaching. Curious perhaps? Of course the ones that reject the Lord outright, the opponents. Crowds are variable and Jesus does not ride into a uniform opinion.

Committed, curious, unsure, fearful, and hatred. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, he embraces them all. But what is the point? This is simply a description of the event. The point is this, everyone is in that crowd. The point is that every opinion and emotion that stood in that spot that day, walks on the earth today. Every opinion and emotion that was on the roadside then, is present now.

The question becomes where do we stand, where do I stand? Who am I in the crowd? Jesus, he made himself known. He preached His gospel without duplicity. The question is who am I, where do I stand, who do I take after? Its Holy week. Palm Sunday. Now I wonder who should be my guide. To that I answer Mary, she never left his side. This is a long week, and the most important week of the year. I should be present, and a willing participant. I should place myself in that crowd, I should examine at where I stand. That’s why the palm branches were handed out, so I can take my place in the crowd and witness what’s being done for me. It’s important.

(PS: lets not forget the donkey, that creature has been mentioned by many.)