The deep end

In Ordinary Time, the readings can seem a little random.  They don’t have the same flow as the whole Lent/Easter/Pentecost thing.  So it’s not as obvious where they’re going.

But they do have a purpose.  They’re about the whole Lent/Easter/Pentecost thing.  About making sure it doesn’t become one more thing that we box back up after a holiday.

The only way to do that?  Live it.  Every day. 

With this Sunday’s readings, the Church goes for it.  And throws us in at the deep end.

More on this tomorrow. 

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The Heart of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  And at Mass this morning, I was doing it wrong.  The readings were for the Sacred Heart.  But my mind was stuck on Sunday, especially the Gospel (Luke). 

Which maybe isn't so bad.  Because for a feast devoted to the Heart of Jesus, the Gospel on Sunday has something to add. 

It's so quick it's easy to miss.  But in just a few words, it says everything about the Heart of Jesus - "he was moved with pity." 

That's Jesus' reaction.  To our losses, our hurts, our tragedies, our failures.  Every time. 

Even when I'm doing it wrong. 

More on this tomorrow. 

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Any given Thursday

Easter Season is done, and this Sunday is…just Sunday.  Today is the feast of…nobody in particular.  It's Ordinary Time.  Everything’s back to green.

Because the Church is out of ideas and running on empty.

No.  Not even.  Ordinary Time is no afterthought.

Easter changes everything.  And Ordinary Time?  It’s about what that really means, in your life and mine.  On any given Thursday.

More on this tomorrow. 
 

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Without really trying

Today is the Feast of the Gospel That’s Somehow So Familiar You Catch Yourself Saying It Along With The Priest.  Without Really Trying.  Also known as the Visitation.

Seriously, the Catholic Church doesn’t just like today’s Gospel.  The Church like likes today’s Gospel. 

The first part of today’s Gospel?  It’s the middle of the Hail Mary (and the verses right before it start the Hail Mary).  The last part of today’s Gospel?  It gets said by religious, deacons, and priests everyday as part of Morning Prayer. 

So why is it such a big deal?  Because the Visitation shows Mary’s “yes” to God becoming part of her everyday life.  And to let us know that it gets real when we say “yes” to God. 

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A Moment before Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi makes sure we don’t miss the point of Holy Thursday.  That the Last Supper is the First Eucharist.  The epistle (1 Corinthians) is the key to Corpus Christi.  In plain language Jesus tells us what/Who it is.

That’s why the Catholic Church is so big on the Eucharist.  The Church wants each of us to have an intimate, personal relationship with the One who loves each one of us enough to do what it takes to save us.  And Who would have done the same thing, even if you or I were the only one who needed saving.

How does the Eucharist fit into that?  The Church is just following what Jesus said is the way to make that connection as close and real as it can be on this side of eternity.

So what’s with the procession?  Old school outreach.  Literally taking it to the streets.  This is the good stuff, and it’s too good to keep to ourselves. 

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Subtle

The Last Supper is the First Eucharist.  Which is why the Eucharist is such a big deal for Catholics. 

Not just because Jesus did it (after all, Jesus drove money changers out of the Temple with a whip, and we only do that once a year).  But because of what Jesus said about it.  The whole “this is my body, this is my blood” thing. 

When you hear something Jesus says at every Mass, it’s easy to miss the tone – the warmth, the wit, the edge, and even the snark.  The tone of the epistle (1 Corinthians) for Corpus Christi?  Subtle as a sledgehammer. 

No parables, no metaphors, no symbolism, no nuance.  Jesus tells us exactly what it is.  There's nothing to interpret. 

The connection?  It's exactly what happens at every Eucharist. 

More on this tomorrow.

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Something next month

Yesterday someone said “You’re getting ordained as a deacon next month, right?  Are you nervous?” 

And I thought to myself “I am now.  Thanks…” 

The surprising part?  Not the smart ass response.  But that I was able to keep my snark to myself.  For once. 

Instead, I found myself recognizing the genuine concern.  And receiving it as the kindness that it was meant to be. 

Which is soooo out of character for me. 

Almost like God’s been working on me.  To get me ready for…something next month. 

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Another look

What part of Holy Thursday is worth another look on Corpus Christi? 

Foot washing?  Close.  It’s part of the Last Supper.  And the Last Supper is what we’re going back for. 

So what is it about the Last Supper that’s worth another look?

It usually doesn’t get more than a passing mention (if at all) in the scramble of Holy Thursday (let alone Triduum).  But Corpus Christi is here to make sure we don’t miss it.  The Last Supper is the First Eucharist. 

Which is why the epistle (1 Corinthians) is the “this is my body, this is my blood” part of the Last Supper.  Where Jesus is anything but subtle.

More on this tomorrow. 

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On Thursday?

Lent has a bunch of extra stuff.  And Holy Week has even more.  At the time, it’s all kind of blur that rushes through Triduum on the way to Easter.

Triduum starts with Holy Thursday (Mass plus the washing of feet, the reservation of the Sacrament and Adoration), then moves to Good Friday (Communion Service plus the Passion Gospel and the veneration of the Cross), followed on Saturday by the longest Mass in the history of ever – the Easter Vigil (Mass plus fire, deacons with giant candles, more incense, more readings, more music, more candles, more people, more Sacraments, and even brand-new Catholics), leading up to Easter Sunday (Mass plus more music and some of the best-dressed people you will ever see in a Catholic Church). 

So it’s easy to lose sight of Holy Thursday.

But there’s something that happened on Holy Thursday that’s definitely worth going back for.  And that’s what this Sunday – Corpus Christi – is all about. 

More on this tomorrow. 

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Ordinary?

With Pentecost, we just finished the biggest of the Church’s seasons, Easter.  And now?  The calendar says we’re in Ordinary Time.  But it doesn’t feel ordinary. 

Trinity (last Sunday) and Corpus Christi (this Sunday) are their own special things.  Nothing is green.  There are specific readings.  And for Corpus Christi, there’s even a procession. 

So what’s the point?  With everything that happens during Easter, it’s easy to miss the deeper meanings.  And that’s what these two Sundays are for. 

It’s almost like a season, and it really should have a name.  Something like “Explanationtide,” or “So That’s What That Means,” or maybe “Stuff You Missed During Triduum.” 

More on this tomorrow. 

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A Moment before Trinity Sunday

One God, Three Persons. It’s how we describe the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It’s a complete unity of being - with nonetheless separate (but not separated) persons – grounded in Love.   

The persons of the Trinity show us the Love that made us.  And the Love that saves us.  And the Love that remains with us.  And that each is the same One who Loves us. 

Which is why the Trinity sometimes gets called a “mystery.”  Not because it’s made up or needlessly complicated.  But because there’s more to it than we can never fully unpack, and so much more that’s worth unpacking. 

And it’s in that unpacking – thinking about it, praying about it – that we can start to see the place for each of us in the Love of God.  The Love that looked at creation and said “I know what this needs, you.” 

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Are you there God?

The Trinity.  It’s how we describe the whole God, Jesus, Holy Spirit thing.  One God, Three Persons. 

It sounds so clear when you say it like that.  But once you get past “One God, Three Persons,” it can be hard to talk about the Trinity in a way that helps.  Let alone makes sense. 

So there are 3 people?

    Yes.

They’re all God?

    Right. 

And there’s only one God, right?

    Right again. 

But they’re still 3 people?

    Exactly. 

Which can start to sound like nonsense, if we’re not careful. 

But if it isn’t just something bizarre or silly, then what is the Trinity? 

More on this tomorrow. 

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When I was in RCIA,

When I was in RCIA, 

Yes, I’m an adult convert.  I can’t blame my Catholicism on anyone else.  The conversion of the hot mess that’s me and my family?  If nothing else, it’s proof that the Catholic Church is completely shameless and will take (literally) anybody.

Anyway, when I was in RCIA, we had a lot of noisy discussions with a bunch of people talking at once.  During one of them, somebody asked “What is the Holy Spirit?” 

It wasn’t her night to teach, but the Dominican nun who ran our program lit up at the question.  Her eyes were piercing, but there was a smile on her face when she gently replied, “I think you mean who is the Holy Spirit?”

And the room went silent.

More on this tomorrow. 

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Next!

When somebody leaves a show, you know what’s coming.  The convenient replacement character.  From out of nowhere, somebody random shows up who just happens to perfectly fit the hole.

When it happens, it’s usually pretty clunky.  You can almost hear the director yelling “Next!”  About the only show that does it well is Doctor Who. 

After the Ascension (last Sunday), it’s almost like the Holy Spirit is a convenient replacement character.  Jesus leaves.  And then somebody randomly shows up, who just happens to perfectly fit the hole. 

Except it’s not. 

Which is the point of the first reading (Proverbs).  It points back to Genesis.  To remind us that the Holy Spirit has been here from the very beginning.  Literally.

More on this tomorrow. 

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Interruption

Interruptions mean different things.  

Random channel change?  Your 4-year old niece found the remote.  An ad you can't click through?  Somebody paid to get eyes for a moment. 

Starting with Advent, there's been a flow to the readings.  Both one-offs and longer stories, all of them fit into a larger narrative.  With a kind of "and-here's-what-happened-next" rhythm. 

And then there's Trinity. 

Which seems random.  Like it was just kind of thrown in.  Like an interruption. 

But sometimes what seems like an interruption really isn’t. 

More on this tomorrow. 

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A Moment before Pentecost

Graduations are full of mixed signals.  You graduate, because you finished.  But you recognize finishing at "commencement," which means to start.  Somehow it's the end.  And the beginning. 

Pentecost ends the Easter season.  Part of the big picture that includes the Resurrection and the Ascension. 

The Resurrection and the Ascension finish part of what Easter started.  Everything that Jesus told the Apostles would happen with his death is happening.  But there’s something missing. 

Everything Jesus said about receiving the Holy Spirit?  That’s happening at Pentecost.  Easter is finished, but something else is starting.  Something never seen before. 

Pentecost is the end.  And the beginning. 

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Change

The Apostles are together a lot, before the Resurrection and after.  So what makes Pentecost different from all the other times?  You see it in first reading (Acts), and it really comes down to one thing.  Change. 

They’re not the same after Pentecost.  They’re filled with the Holy Spirit, and they have changed.  The uncertainty is gone.  And the fear.  They are on fire. 

If I’m honest, I’m way too much like the Pre-Pentecost Apostles.  I fall short.  I know I can do better.  But I’m still stuck in my rut.  Because I really can’t change, not on my own. 

God offers each of us the same gift He gave at Pentecost.  The question for each of us – are we willing to take the risk?  To receive that gift, and be changed?   

More on this tomorrow.  

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The "why"

The classic depictions of the Last Supper show John leaning on Jesus.  Usually asleep.  That's pretty amazing to think about, curling up next to Jesus. 

And the last thing you hear before drifting off to sleep?  The heartbeat of the One who looked at creation and said, “I know what this needs.  You.”

It’s a beautiful thing.  And it's part of the "why" of Pentecost.

Pre-Pentecost, that’s only happening for one person at a time.  Too bad it has to be that limited. 

Post-Pentecost, it doesn’t have to be.

More on this tomorrow.

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In Klingon

Physics.  You’re stuck on something that just doesn’t click.  So reach out to a friend who gets it. 

His response?  It’s a TED Talk, by Stephen Hawking.  It’s just what you need, and he’s already sent the link.

And it’s in Klingon. 

There’s only one TED Talk in Klingon, and it’s the one you need.  Too bad you (and Google Translate) don’t know Klingon.

Frustrating?  And then some. 

Like what the apostles are dealing with in the first reading (Acts).  Only they’ve got 15+ languages they (and Google) don’t know.

More on this tomorrow. 

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