Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • July 28, 2019 Mass

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The poem Fr Dennis references in these years are:

In 2019, we reflected simply on —

  • God’s goodness
  • God’s gifts
  • and God’s good gifts

which D2 thought expressed particularly well in Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ’s poem, Pied Beauty on this the 175th birthday of GMH!

For those who may be unfamiliar with GMH, he was a Jesuit priest, a convert to Catholicism.  In this case, wiki pegs our attraction to his poetry:

His prosody – notably his concept of sprung rhythm – established him as an innovator, as did his praise of God through vivid use of imagery and nature.

The Poetry Foundation‘s description is really thorough.

And Natalie Merchant captures the mystery and enchantment of his Spring and Fall poem by setting it to music, in her album of children’s music.

This blog is brief, as I’m dashing out to my eight-day silent retreat (prayers appreciated!), but the readings and the poem capture it all. 

In today’s (Monday’s) excerpt from Psalm 50, “[You who] offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; …”  Indeed, how absolutely wonderful, isn’t it?!? —

we can serve God with praise; praise of all that God gives, all that makes us alive, keeps us alive, and resurrects.  Whatta God!  🙂

Playing fox kits seems ample praise today!

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here.  Sorry for the delay and rapid release of several weeks … the long trip to Montana followed by 8-day silent retreat whooshed July away!

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • July 21, 2013

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The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

This must have been one of my early or lighter notetaking Sundays, perhaps one of my first.

In 2013, we reflected on such wonderful readings and good insights.  Thanks, D2!  —

  • In the first reading,
    • Abraham and Sarah are hosting a trio of Angels, some think the Trinity.  (A quick biblical note, “the Trinity” is not mentioned in the Christian or Hebrew Scriptures; the Trinity is a theological understanding of God that developed over time and from the scriptures — including this one and the multiple “Trinitarian formulations” in Christian scripture, e.g., invocations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
    • In Gen 18:1, “the Lord appeared to Abraham” and in Gen 18:2, “… Abraham saw three men standing nearby” and then addresses them as “Sir” in 18:3.
    • But the emphasis of the first reading (and the other two) is hospitality and invitation.  Abraham portrays the urgency of presence and welcome, in accordance with custom of the time and with later Christian scripture proclaiming “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb 13:2).
  • In the gospel of Luke,
    • the story also emphasizes hospitality and prayer, with presence being the key to either ministry or engagement.  The acts of hospitality and the motions of prayer do not fulfill hospitality and prayer without our heartfelt or mindful presence in these efforts.
    • Martha is “anxious and worried about many things” (Lk 10:41), while Mary is present with Jesus in breaking open scripture.
    • Mary could have been worried about violating social norms of women and religion, but she remained present to Love.  Martha could have been present to hospitality as Abraham was, who served his guests, and then “waited on them under the tree while they ate” (Gen 18:8).
  • In Martha Manning’s Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface
    • Fr Dennis thought that Martha Manning’s book captured the sense of balance for each of us in our Martha and Mary.
    • This is the memoir of an ordinary woman—a mother, a daughter, a psychologist, a wife—who tells the tale of her spiraling descent into a severe, debilitating depression. Undercurrents pioneers a new literature about women and depression that offers a vision of action instead of victimhood, hope instead of despair.
    • We need faith that nothing is “taken away” when we rest, that is part of the contemplative nature of the Kin-dom.

For myself, I found the enthusiasm of Abraham in hospitality — in light of he and Sarah’s challenges in Jewish culture of the day from wandering, being landless for so long, and childless — captured in Mary Oliver’s poem Why I Wake Early, when she writes a poem of gratitude and ends, “Watch now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”  These choices not only bless and uphold wandering angels, they bless and uphold us.

Similarly, for the gospel, the invitation to and teaching of presence by Jesus, was captured in Mary Oliver’s Freshen the Flowers, She Said, in which she ends a poem about being present to fluffing cut flowers in a vase with “… Fifteen minutes of music // with nothing playing.”  

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity (not the tennis player or the film) or dinner at Mamre is the lead picture, but how could I not include daisies after going on such a run with Mary Oliver?!  🙂

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • July 10, 2016 5PM Mass
  • July 14, 2013

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The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

  • 2016 homily — Still, I Give Thanks by Marie Reynolds
  • 2013 homily — an uncaptured Dorothy Day quote

In 2016, we reflected on such wonderful readings and good insights.  Thanks, D2!  🙂 —

  • In the first reading,
    • Moses is letting the people know that these are not obscure sets of law; they are close and within in us and in our hearts.  The early lines (Dt 30:10) state the law as the Will of God, and the remainder (Dt 30:11-14) capture the mystical, personal relationship with God.
    • rl is reminded of Jeremiah’s prophecy from God in J 31:33, that the Love of God will be written in our hearts and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus’ Oration 14 Love of the Poor (~370 C.E., in which he exhorts that we are made in the image of God (Imago Dei) when we love human beings, preferentially the poor.
    • All this returns to D2’s point:  We know what to do, God has placed it there inside us.  It’s the doing that is before us.
  • In the second reading of Colossians
    • It reads almost like a hymn to Jesus.  He is both the inspiration for the Creation, and he sums it all up.
    • But the apostles and disciples know him as a human being — the humanity behind the divinity of which this “hymn” sings.
    • So few words are used compared to the impact of them.
  • In the gospel of Luke,
    • How we interpret the parable of the Good Samaritan now has grown from its early interpretations, instead
      • Jesus = Good Samaritan
      • Adam = wounded/sick man, victim of the devil himself
    • In this understanding, then, the priest (law) and the Levite (prophets) pass by because only Jesus is compassion AND human’s death and resurrection.
    • In the parable, wine and oil are used to heal the wounded traveler, like Jesus comes to us in the wine and oil of the sacraments.
    • It all hinges on Mercy, “neighbor” is the one who shows Mercy.  We receive it and give it because we have been saved.  We do so (we mercify, or however you make “mercy” a verb!) out of gratitude, but also only because of having received the grace of Mercy from God.
    • In the text, the scholar of the law correctly captures that we need both love of God one-on-one and love in community (that’s why we pray the “Our Father,” not the “my Father”).
    • The parable makes one thing clear about God’s Mercy, the mercy that we are to live and are graced with:  exclude no one.
  • The poem by Marie Reynolds is
    • set in the context of her cancer treatments,
    • focuses on joy as the insatiable appetite for life and gratitude (“Thanks for my feet, my fingers, …”), hopes (“I want to see my mother again,” “I want my doctor to use the word ‘cure’ just once”), for others (“for the hands that position me, their measurements and marking pens”)
    • Early in the poem she gives “thanks for the scrub jay’s audacious cries …” and at the end she “close[s] my eyes and think[s] of the jay.”
  • Fr Dennis found
    • Jesus (“J” “jay”) in the lines “We wear the same raiment: blood, bone, muscle.”  This is akin to how Jesus shares our blood, bone, and muscle.
    • And this invisible bird — “invisible feathers, invisible wings” that give “a quickening, felt deep within the body, vigorous and fleeting” offer how in our soul, the sense of hope, wanting to live is the Spirit abiding in us.
  • Fr Eric Sundrup, SJ in the 10AM Mass gets a cameo with one of his insights from the parable that walking to help is (often) walking into danger, and we are to “go and do likewise.” <gulp>  However, when we do so out of the gratitude for the gifts we’ve received and the grace of mercy, we are made “safe” from the inside by the Eucharist.  In other words, we can be in consolation that we are in the right place at the right time, regardless of earthly outcome.

In 2013, we reflected on —

  • The readings offer the wonderful tension between God’s Will, as manifested in the law, and the mystical personal relationship, as manifested in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • Fr Dennis offered a Dorothy Day poem/note/quote indicating how grateful she was to know Jesus in prayer and in the poor.  Please take it as the art of Fr Dennis’ homilies that this was seamless in oration, and now clunky being resurrected in my deficient notes!  But Dorothy Day attended daily mass and had her own repeated presences in prayer with Jesus throughout the day.  The point being the same as made in the first reading — God and God’s Will, Love, and Mercy are not “out there,” they are in “here” (she wrote gesturing to her heart).
  • He then suggested Ignatian contemplation of the Good Samaritan parable, becoming alive in the scene and invoking your senses to see what God might have stand out for you at this time and place in your life.  (rl thinks that’s one of the great beauties of Ignatian contemplation:  God can reach you through scripture and connect it with your daily life, but do so uniquely across the experiences and days of your life without changing the words of the scripture passage you read.)

I chose a simple image of the Good Samaritan parable by James Tissot.  Most of his originals are tiny!  But the detail and sense of richness is large. He only used settings and human models of the region of scripture.

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • July 4, 2016 8:30 Mass
  • July 7, 2013

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The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

In 2016, we reflected on —

  • In the first reading,
    • Rejoice!  Rejoice! The first reading and the gospel are of joy.
    • They are nice readings to have during summer with its green and verdancy, vivid reminders to rejoice because our names are written in heaven
  • In the Gospel of Luke, the author is the only one to mention the 72 disciples.  This number doesn’t come up often, and we don’t know who they are.  It’s possible they represent a literary parallel to Moses’ 72, to create the sense of Jesus as the new Moses, to assure the Jews that Jesus is in the line of prophets.  See 2013 note on same topic, below.
  • In the poem, Margrave captures how to live love, a Christian love that always falls short, is always active, and always growing.  How love is lived rather than romanticized.
  • A brief Fr Eric Sundrup, SJ cameo — a reminder that the circumcision / no circumcision was a hot topic in its day, and the “no circumcision” point of view would have been received like bashing the United States on the Fourth of July, but the point of the readings is don’t settle, keep reaching for the glory of the cross —
  • maybe in the stumblings Margrave captures, but keep reaching for the crazy love of Christ with and to each other.  Anything less?  We’re settling.
  • This poem was shared shortly after I had finally submitted my application for Pastoral Studies at Loyola Chicago — and that’s what it felt like.  How could I ever explain to myself, let alone to admissions, why I wanted to continue.  Words never describe how God touches, creates, and recreates our lives.  But we can try, and live in the gratitude of the experience of being Beloved and trying to Love.

In 2013, we reflected on —

  • In last week’s reading, Jesus seemingly set the bar pretty high — leave everything and everyone, etc… but even so …
  • This week, with that standard 70 disciples went out!  (It’s unclear in the original text whether it is 70 or 72 disciples), but in the Hebrew Scriptures Moses receives 70 helpers (Genesis 10), and there were 70 nations in the world at that time
  • Wendell Berry writes so pointedly about the strange search for rest and faith and peace in his poem The Lilies.  D2 offered
    • Isaiah and the Psalms are treasures of the heart, like lilies.
    • Letting the peace of Christ control our hearts in the seeking and not seeking; in the finding and not finding, particularly Isaiah, Psalms, Galatians, and Gospel of Luke.

No special message with the Van Gogh, other than that it is summer. We have much to be grateful for, even amidst all the work of the Kin-dom before us. 🙂

Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • June 30, 2013

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The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

In 2013, we reflected on —

  • In the first reading,
    • the mantle is a sign of a successor — in this case, Elisha being the successor of Elijah the prophet.
    • Elijah is being kind of cranky with God in the context of this vignette.
    • Elisha is responding in an all out “Yes!” and making sure he can’t turn back by breaking the plow and burning it.
  • In the Gospel, when Jesus refers to the looking back while using one of the light plows of the time, he is likely alluding that looking back while using the plows of his day would likely create a crooked furrow.
  • In D2’s and our youth, his mom (and likely our parents) often rolled out platitudes such as “anything worth doing is worth doing well.”  In his case, because often he was lazy and could do reasonably well without much effort, and now being older, and for whatever reason for each of us — we simply cannot do everything well … but there are still some things worth doing, even if we must do so poorly.
  • Another maxim, fitting to Elisha, is nothing succeeds like success (or excess)!  There is the success and excess of this world; and the excess that is the just right response to the overflowingness of Christ’s call and God’s Love that fits in our freedom of choice; i.e., it is no slavery on part. 
  • But our response is often mixed, tinged with regret and constraint in letting go, like the varied examples in today’s gospel reading.
  • “At North Farm” evokes the “and yet” quality that captures our desire to
    • to match God’s excess toward us and “do well.”  This something, this relationship with God is very much worth doing well.
    • and yet not letting that desire interfere with the reality of our limitations and still do this meaningful something, even when we must do so “poorly.”  Because, through Christ’s unrestrained and obedient offering of excess, we are “all in” by way of the Eucharist.

So … I’m not sure I have a good fox image handy for the “Foxes have dens” quote. But I found one with a fox outside its den! I hadn’t thought about this with the passage of foxes having dens and birds having nests; but, both have dens and nests only when they are incubating or raising their young. The kits are inside the den for one or two months while the dog and vixen hunt for food and protect them, and then foxes sleep outside. The same goes for birds. I’m not sure where reflection will lead with the idea that Jesus has nowhere to rest his head, in this context.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle C

Our readings for Corpus Christi Sunday are here.  Happy Father’s Day 2022!

Following are the poem, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the

  • June 2, 2013, 10AM Mass

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The poem Fr Dennis referenced was:

In 2013, D2 shared —

  • In the reading from Genesis, Melchizadek prefigures Jesus and this is his only mention in Hebrew Scripture.  The prefigurement arises in three notable ways:
    • Both offer bread and wine
    • Melchisadek blesses Abram in doing so; Jesus offers his blessing in doing so
    • Melchisadek is a king and priest of the Most High; Jesus is son/descendant of David, king and priest
  • Our Corinthians reading of today is the (historically) oldest written reference of the Eucharist, as the Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (53 – 54 C.E.) predates any of the written Gospel accounts (~70 C.E. –> 120 C.E.).
  • In our gospel reading (Luke 9:11b-17, the Feeding o’ the 5,000), it shares how we have the Sacraments, and they comprise sacred moments of our lives … but, also, how they also reverberate through them.  E.g., Baptism denotes new life in Christ, yet every birth is thought to be a blessing of new life as a result of the Sacrament consecrating some births.
  • And so, Jesus is God all the time through all the events of a human life, and by his becoming human, he made all these everyday events sacred.
  • Alden Nowlan’s poem captures this sense of everyday events sacred for three friends in Great Things Have Happened

This blog week feels full, so here we go!

I don’t have many memories, if any, of Corpus Christi Sunday from when I was a wee lassie.  Having left the Church in spirit by the time I was 13, that’s not surprising.  However, on my trip to Rome in 2017, as part of an intensive field trip for my Church and Mission course in pastoral studies with Loyola Chicago, a bunch of our class went to the Corpus Christi Mass and Procession (which also happened to be my birthday) with Pope Francis presiding (what a gift!!).

We arrived about one hour early at St John Lateran Church for the papal Corpus Christi Mass.  We were in the second row standing on the grass with a clear view of the outdoor altar, albeit across the road and steps, etc.  It was amazing to have such a large Mass feel so personal spiritually, though being with my Loyola peeps helped lots!  A wonderful liturgy guide was provided and a beautiful choir, shared through an incredible sound system.  There seemed like a bazillion communion ministers (and even then not everyone could receive), but being so close, we did receive.  In my notes, I had written how I can still go to that communion space. 

But, interestingly, what I remember even more now was the procession of all of us, filling the street like blood fills an artery — purposed and full of life, and following the Eucharist to the plaza of Maria Maggiore on the Via Merulana. 

I still have my candle wrapped in wax paper and wax catcher. Almost all of us had one and had it lit, as we walked the street with music from speakers along the way.  It felt like there were more people in the procession than there were at the Mass!  Christ literally walking the streets with us and in us, all in so much Love.  We all end up squishing together in the plaza of Maria Maggiore where Papá met us again.

 “We are one body, one body in Christ, and we do not stand alone.”  🙂

And that’s what it felt like, and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross made more sense for receiving that every day and mystical experience of the Body in motion.

This Friday night our parish is offering prayer in the Stations of the Cross: Through the Lens of Racism as part of the greater community’s (A2 and UM) observance of Juneteenth.  The observance of Juneteenth, the Stations, and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ feel all the more resonant in such proximity with each other.

Also, Dad’s birthday would have been last weekend, and this weekend, of course, Father’s Day.  The following had been a stanza in a poem I wrote in the early 2010s.  Now … this excerpt is a tighter and better-fitting poem and match to my Dad’s dadditude and an “everyday sacred” moment. A joyful Father’s Day to you and yours.

Evening Mass, When All the Others Were Asleep

by Lorraine Lamey

In tribute to Seamus Heaney’s When All the Others Were Away at Mass and my Dad

My bedroom door was closest to the kitchen.

He rarely woke me in his late night sojourns —

            the shufflings of a legal brief or scrapings of sandwich-making.

But, oh! the milk jug sliding off the refrigerator shelf and

            the tink-ings of the extra-large cookie tin

            filled to the brim with Mom’s holiday sables —

            Jackie Kennedy’s recipe, you know! —

            woke me in overeager joy.

Feigning sleepiness, I fake shuffled to the kitchen table.

Why do I always remember a place already set for me?  I know there wasn’t.

We ate, crunched, dunked, and slurped cookies with cold milk

            in a companionable duet for a half-century or better.

I have not one memory of what we said or didn’t say,

            except that once we downed a half gallon of milk

            and a half gallon of cookies to match,

consuming and consumed by the sugary host and milky cup.

Solemnity of Most Holy Trinity, Cycle C

Our readings for Trinity Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • June 16, 2019 10AM Mass / Father’s Day, and
  • May 22, 2016, 8:30AM Mass, and

_______

The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

Across all years … and many celebrants, the constant acknowledgment is that the Trinity is a wondrous ministry but doesn’t package up into a homily very well!

One of the reasons for this homiletic challenge is that we have the Mass which celebrates the Trinity, but “the Trinity” is not mentioned directly in the Bible.  There are a couple “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” references in the Christian Scriptures and the Jewish ruadh occasionally referenced in the Hebrew Scriptures, but no author of any of the books writes “the Trinity.”  So the Trinity, our Triune God, is a derived theological understanding derived from personal and general revelation about and through God, that became captured in tradition of the Church.  It is one of our few conversations with God that isn’t centered in the Bible.

In 2019, we reflected on —

Alas, I do not have my notes but I recall the poem was offered for Father’s Day, unsurprisingly, but in keeping with the mystery of Love present in the Trinity.

In 2016, we reflected on —

  • In Psalm 8,
    • the focus is on God at the beginning (8:2-4) but then the rest is about us humans (8:5-9) and returns to praise of God (8:10).
    • Fr Dennis used it as a gentle reminder that glorifying God in our daily lives (praise) is one way into the Trinity; the Glory of God is a human being fully alive.
    • Also, too, owning that our extraordinariness is somehow an expression of God is a path into the mystery of the Trinity.
  • The second, the Shakespeare excerpt, is a poem that’s not a poem.  From Hamlet, like most of Shakespeare’s plays is written in meter.  BUT, this passage is text/prose and sounds like Psalm 8 — starts with praise of creation (including humans) and then focuses on human misery (Hamlet’s to be exact).
  • We can rejoice to be one of God’s creations, and because of God’s Love we can also rejoice in the world and Glory of God.

With this, I’ll offer a brief homily cameo from Fr Michael Rozier, SJ, PhD, who was then completing his PhD from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.  He spoke that relationship is fundamental to understanding God, beyond knowing or believing.  The heart of the Trinity is relational, being Three in One, One in Three.  He also offered the reminder, taken from the Proverbs reading, that part of our relationship is “taking delight” in one another.

This idea of being a community of unity, a dynamic relationship … a dance, if you will captures the sense of the Trinity, of Love Loving.  And, as I enrich my relationship, the love of the mystery and abiding in it is more and more attractive than the study or the explanation of it.  Taking delight in the Trinity as much as the Trinity takes delight in us seems a most marvelous way to pass an eternity together.

Solemnity of Pentecost, Cycle C

Come, Holy Spirit!  Allelujah!! Allelujah!!

Our readings for this Pentecost Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • June 9, 2019 Noon Mass
  • May 15, 2016, 10AM Mass, and
  • May 19, 2013, 10AM Mass

_______

The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

In 2019 and 2016, I didn’t collect any notes, mistakenly thinking since 2013 was a “complete” capture of homily and poem the latter years notes wouldn’t be missed or topped.  I’ve included a few snippets that I recall regarding the poems, or are at the least consistent with what Fr Dennis offered.

In 2019, we reflected on —

Fr Dennis re-used Laura Grace Weldon’s How to Soothe poem from Divine Mercy Sunday as an example of the Spirit as comforter.  The second poem, Portrait in Nightshade and Delayed Translation by C. Dale Young, shared a more complex aspect of the Spirit and Jesus of moving us in and beyond our own understandings — often without knowing the path, just our humanity.  And, as we are wont to forget our humanity and the humanity of others in a blur of accomplishments, goal-settings, and self-focus, this unbidden reminder of our humanity is a precious gift of the Spirit.

In 2013, we reflected on —

  • How Wilbur Rees’ poem captures that feeling of when Spirit asks too much, or when we have fallen asleep. 
  • Fr Dennis had altered the poem, originally written in ~1971 and using solidarity with people of color and immigrants as signs of our “not-so-challenging-or-close-to-you-o-God” limits and conditions on God’s Love, and switched it to “homeless.”  In a brief reading of a poem during the homily it would be difficult to explain the original language and context.  Our parish hosts a Daytime Warming Center for a month in January and supports a variety of local ministries of homelessness, so the example of a “homeless” person as God stretching us was a better fit for the brief moment of a homily.  Also, our parish has a strong accompanying and advocacy with immigrants, particularly those of Latinx identity.
  • As usual to his kindness mode, Fr Dennis did not make any mention of this.  After the fact, when I found the original version of the poem, I noted the original text and the spoken change he had made.  I did not ask him about it.  D2 pastored for a time in a predominantly African-American parish in Columbus, was known for his kindness and easy goingness, and had clearly and seamlessly incorporated Black theology and culture within his practice of Catholicism.  I didn’t ask him because all my experience of him already told me he had found the word change to be the appropriate edit to walk closely with his best friend, Jesus, and call us to reflect on how to do the same in our relationship with Christ. Too many words for how he handles Christ’s Love simply.
  • The second poem, String Quartet, captures the sense of tongues and how the Spirit made a unity of them, in contrast to the babble of the Tower of Babel.  We know we are in concert with the Holy Spirit when we are called and act in One Love, One Voice, and One Listening.  This is a Spirit in community of body and hearts, and on our lips and tongues.

On a popular culture note, in the current Obi-Wan Kenobi series, young Leia asks “Old Ben” “What does the Force feel like?” 

He replies with an analogy — “Have you ever been afraid of the dark?”  This was no small question as Leia had just been abducted across the galaxy as a 10-year-old and placed in a dark room and/or had her head covered. 

“How does it feel when you turn on the lights?” 

She says, “Safe.” 

“Yes, it feels like that,” Obi-Wan replies.

In Ignatian spirituality, the sense he describes is called consolation.  That in abiding in the Love of God, even in challenge, we have the peace … the “safety” if you will, of knowing we are in and with Christ, in Spirit.  Consolation has been thought to explain the stories of Christian martyrs whose countenance was filled with radiance and peace at their deaths (St. Stephen, Acts 6:15, Ste. Jeanne d’Arc).  I also think of US Rep. John Lewis (RIP), when asked why he was smiling in one of his civil rights arrests booking photos: Because I knew I was on the right side of history.

Unlike the STAR WARS universe, Christian Spirit is not a body measurement (no midi-Chlorian counts, sorry), nor is it a light switch, nor a wizardly incantation (no matter how much I like the consolation-type explanation of the Expecto Patronum charm that Lupin offers). 

It is the silent deep joy of being in Communion with Love Loving, a communion which may bubble out of us humans in all kinds of wonderful and unique ways.  Come, Holy Spirit!

The images for this weekend are one wondrous peony from my garden and the Peony Garden at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Nichols Arboretum.  It is celebrating 100 years with ~200 plants and 10,000 blooms at peak season.  Watching the peony and the people blooms intermingle with the buzzy flying things, four-footed friends, and each other — peacefully (albeit some of us need masks) was one of the most Spirit-filled and treasured “normal” moments in quite a while.  Beauty rang out in all directions, filling us all.  And, in that, not unlike the wonder of Pentecost for all those present.

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, Cycle C

Our readings for this Sunday, the Ascension of the Lord are here

Ascension on Thursday, May 26, would mark forty days from Easter.  However, many dioceses in the United States (and elsewhere) moved the observance to the following Sunday (this year, May 29) to increase participation in its observance. In the 1990s, the dioceses of Australia, Canada, and the United States moved their observances to Sunday, as did England and Wales later.  However, England and Wales have since reverted to a Thursday observance.

These are my notes from Fr Dennis’ homily from the

  • May 12, 2013 Mass

_______

Fr Dennis did not reference a poem in 2013!  However …

in 2013, we reflected that —

  • The Ascension is all about Jesus.  Easter is our resurrection.  Pentecost is the Spirit in us.  But the Ascension?  Jesus!  Be happy for Jesus — He made it!  His work is over.
  • His power & Spirit now convert all things in this world to His Kindom.
  • St Ignatius has one meditation, bridging the First Week and the Second Week called The Two Standards in which one presented two kings and their standards and the choice of whom you would follow.  He ends the Spiritual Exercises with a meditation on the Ascension of Jesus in Week 4. (Spoiler Alert: Jesus is represented in the Two Standards by the king in the muck with us, whose love calls out our very best giving and being selves.)
  • RL confession — somehow and definitely NOT captured in my notes, Fr Dennis lucidly took us to the following story and insight, which I assure you made perfect heart and soul sense.  In fact I can remember the feeling of God’s Love and consolation, but not the homiletic transition.  Sorry!
  • St Ignatius’ conversion and his sharing of his story (eventually, after a long time and much prompting by his fellow Jesuits) has much charming quirkiness.  For example, when he finally succeeded in making his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Franciscans who held authority position in Christendom there, for the Church, essentially booted St Ignatius out.  However, St. Ignatius then bribed his way back in, first with a penknife and then with a pair of scissors(!),  to the place on the Mount Olivet near Bethphage that was marked as the place from where Jesus ascended.  Apparently, even back then (in 1523) there was some plaque marking the “footprints” of Jesus Christ. Ignatius wanted to return a second time to see “the direction in which the right foot was pointing and which way the left” (Tylenda transl., 2001, A Pilgrim’s Journey
  • Dennis thought that these kinds of unique quirkinesses in us are just the sort of thing our parents and our Loving God love in us, tenderly.

In that spirit … or Spirit, I found a replica of the Ascension footprints and used it as the blog image. 🙂

Sunday’s gospel passage has one of my all time favorite phrases: μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης with great joy (in some translations — “exceeding great joy”). While, of course, it made sense on one level — “Jesus Ascended and we saw it!,” there are some additional layers.

With apologies to the variety of uncited theologians and historians who have helped me form this understanding: 40 days after utterly and completing abandoning Jesus in Jerusalem and running for their lives, all of the apostles and disciples went back into Jerusalem to praise Him and share the Word of Love.

At that time, there had been all kinds of “messiahs” running around. The disappearance or death of one more was not a big deal. But one historian, perhaps Josephus, noted that it was this act — the return of the disciples to the scene of the crime if you will, joyfully, filled with presence and consolation, and a scenario in which they could reasonably believe THEY would also be put to death — this is the act that convinced many of the Resurrection and Jesus as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. It is a humble reminder and compass setting across the millennia.

A Merry Ascension to you, Jesus!

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Allelujah!! He is Risen!!

Our readings for this Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • May 1, 2016, 10AM Mass, and
  • May 5, 2013, 10AM Mass

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The poems Fr Dennis references in 2016 and 2013 are:

In 2016, we reflected on —

  • The readings are meant to encourage the participation in Christian life of the new members of our community.
  • The gospel and second reading offer a sense of fullness; we should be delighted that Jesus is gone because this is the restoration of Jesus, to where he came from.
  • In the second reading from the Book of Revelation, Jerusalem is coming from the heavens because God’s very self is the fullness of the city, the very light of which is never extinguished.
  • In the first reading from Acts, “because there arose no little dissension and debate among them,” as to whether Gentiles can be in the church — Yes, they can!  However, if the Gentiles are no longer separate from the Jewish-Christians, are the Jewish-Christians still a segment of Jewish religion? What is the common ground, particularly with regard to the many Jewish rules?  This is all about the nascent community and its members trying to find their place in their world as it is and also as Christ calls us to live.
  • The NY Times obituary for Fr Daniel Berrigan, SJ included the basis for his persistent radicalism, paraphrased If I don’t have faith, then I couldn’t give myself knowing that probably nothing is going to change.
  • Ultimately, these readings are about what does it means to be “our family” in this world of the Resurrected Christ?
  • In Thomas Lynch’s poem, West Highland, he includes his sense of envy of people who seem to have it all together, but it is also a good reminder that Jesus offers Peace, not a solution.  Our focus on outcome can be a distraction from a focus on being, being in Christ — however that may manifest.  Thomas Lynch is a Michigan poet and part of a family providing undertaker and funeral services for generations now.

In 2013, we reflected on —

  • D2 used the Gospel reading from Cycle B (John 15:9-17).  That we remain in God’s Love so that our joy and God’s joy in us may be complete.
  • In the poem Transportation by Kristen Lindquist, Fr Dennis found that it captures the shining from within of the Gospel Cycle B and Book of Revelation readings, how the Love of Christ will illuminate the shining from within —
    • Everyone in O’Hare is happy today / The sun shines benevolently …

With different relationship but same enthusiasm at Lindquist’s verse: I like the way [he] moves! What immediately leapt into my mind (so to speak) at the thought of illumination and transportation from within was North American hoop dance (history within link).  I had seen one particular video captured at a school, but instead, I’ve used a video link of the same young man, Nakotah LaRance, dancing at the 2016 World Championships.  In the link I share, he uses five hoops in a more rapid and creative fashion than during his dance at the elementary school, in which he used eighteen hoops (and, yes, at one point, is engaged with all at once.)  At the 2016 World Championship, he dances sage grouse, alligator, eagle, and even some moon-stepping.  🙂  The life and joy shine out of him and his dance, it resurrects and is kept alive at the same time.

And I suppose this theme of dancing — of all kinds, captures the dynamic peace in the Resurrection for me, the one created by the Lord of the Dance.

Interestingly, very early on (more detail in the history link above), the Hoop Dance Championships decided on age divisions but no gender divisions.  In 2000, Lisa Odgig (Seneca) became the first female dancer to earn the World Championship; she repeated in 2003.  She continues to dance in the open and senior divisions, but I couldn’t find a video from those early years.

The Salvador Dali image featured in this week’s entry is one of two in his New Jerusalem suite; this is image 1, entitled The Messiah; The Harbinger. You can see Golgotha and Jerusalem in the background. I chose a human community representation this time, though I am one of those who steps into nature and meets God immediately. However, Brian Matz in his book on St Gregory of Nazianzus (2016) had an insight that profoundly impacted me:

Nature is excellent for meditating on God’s invisible attributes but engagement with other people reveals God’s visible image.  Church communities help us witness the power of God’s grace to bring order out of the chaos of our lives; the church of nature cannot do that (Matz, 113).

St Gregory the Theologian taught that humans are most made in the image of God when we love other humans, especially the poor (Oration 14, Love of the Poor, c. 370 C.E./A.D.).