Our readings for Sunday are here.
These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Mass of
- October 6, 2019
- October 2, 2016 10AM
- October 6, 2013 Sat 5PM & Sun 8:30AM
The poem Fr Dennis references this year is:
- The More Loving One by W.H. Auden
- Sonnet 19 (On His Blindness) by John Milton
- We Who Are Your Closest Friends by Phillip Lopate
In 2019, we reflected on —
- I do not have any notes. I think by 2019 I had returned to more still listening (particularly since I already had two sets of notes from 2016 and 2013 for these readings from D2!).
- He chose the poem The More Loving One by W.H. Auden. “If equal affection cannot be, / Let the more loving one be me.” He found this an apt and succinct a summary of Christianity offered by Christians. 🙂 God is always the more Loving One to us! 🙂
In 2016, we reflected on —
- From seminary to now, he went to the Jesuit vacation house near Omena for breaks. Back in the hey-day of Jesuit numbers, they would go 150 at a time! D2 entered the Jesuits in 1956 around 18 years old, as he had just been part of his novice group’s 60th reunion.
- So, when he was reading today’s gospel, it reminded him that “we waited table for each other” – bringing out food, etc. Family style, rather than the cafeteria style many larger Jesuit residences might have now. During lunch and dinner, they were read to, e.g., Life of a Saint, the Constitution of the Society. The readings were sometimes a source of humor, e.g., when a Jesuit pronounced “manor” as “manure.” Breakfast was silent — which was okay!
- But, “when we served as waiters … we waited a lot because it was family style serving,” not the restaurant style serving of today with much more running around by the servers. (rl — notes that maybe a Downtown Abbey visual of the servants waiting near the table is closer to Jesuits waiting to serve those at table than our late 20th or early 21st century visuals are!)
- So. It was a remarkable experience to serve … and wait.
- Sunday Mass is a bit of the waiting upon the Lord … maybe we encounter God, maybe not. But we need to be available to God in our heart, waiting attentively with a desire to hear God’s voice (like our Psalm 95:8 refrain today!)
- We are wait-ers. In Habbakuk, our first reading: For the vision still has its time, / presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; / if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. /
- Where might that vision be coming into focus for each of us?
- John Milton (1608-1674) was a poet and civil servant. He was a Puritan and political activist, who advocated for Republican government in Great Britain. He became blind relatively early in life, around 50 years old, and the experience engendered this poem.
- On His Blindness is a sonnet, 8 lines / 6 lines with regular rhyme, in which the problem itself is a form of its resolution. The sonnet takes on, what is a very personal question to the poet, what’s going to happen to me and my talent(s) [gifts] now that I’m blind?
RL remembers this difficulty of growing into waiting as serving from being Server at one of our parish’ Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper masses, in which the Jesuits and Dominican Sistahs, served the foot basins as each congregant who wished came up to have their foot washed by the person in line in front of them. It was still a lot of up and down, crouching, and what-not for the footbasin attendants. As Server to Fr Dennis as celebrant among concelebrators, I found my desire to help rather than “just wait” pushed me to the insight of how God waits for us to return (just as at the same time God is right with us wherever we are exercising our free will!). Ever since, when offering the Server ministry, I wait in Mass — attending in hopeful tenderness of the congregation and what I felt for, particularly, our aging Jesuits and religious.
One of the kindest things said to me when I was in graduate pastoral studies and “waiting” to graduate, still equating “waiting” with “wasting” unfortunately. I was having major FOMO and guilt about “not contributing.” Fr Tom Florek, SJ offered reminder that we serve our communities by learning and engaging with our education. Thanks, Padre Tom! Remember that, younglings! We serve God and community by learning our ABCs and more. 🙂
In 2013, we reflected that —
- In “Increase our faith,” the “increase” is the first aorist imperative in Greek (Πρόσθες (Prosthes)), almost a command, a one-time command, — so this is the apostles “commanding” Jesus to increase their faith!
- One of Fr Dennis’ summer internships while he was completing his PhD in Film History and Criticism at NYU was at Catholic Film Reviews, in which he would screen new films — empty of any expectation or slight skewed to “I hope it’s good.” Literally, no audience had seen the film, outside the studio!, so a very different film viewing experience than ones we have in theaters after release.
- This internship experience helped him experience that positive expectation was a part of faith.
- A positive sense about God being in charge
Hoping to see God
and sometimes faking it until you make it.
- A positive sense about God being in charge
- The latter reminds him of GALAXY QUEST, a goofy spoof on sci-fi films, but particularly STAR TREK (the original series in the 1960s). If you aren’t familiar with this (hilarious) film — a group of actors from a televised series are recruited (and unintentionally abducted) by a galactic species, the Thermians, who are being subject to genocide. The Thermians mistook the intercepted signal of the Galaxy Quest tv show for a documentary, rather than fiction. The gallant command crew of the tv show grows into believing they can aid the Thermians, and so they become able to, amidst much uproarious laughter as both parody and homage to STAR TREK. And where else will you see Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Missy Pyle, and Darryl Mitchell together? 🙂
- Faith is something that the more we have the more it grows, so no problem starting with a mustard seed
- In the poem, We Who Are Your Closest Friends by Phillip Lopate, is a humorous capture of how the vulnerable (and insecure) among us may be the center of social community — for reasons uplifting and not so. Yet, still, the grace of community grows and flows.