Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Humility" (a poem my mom wrote)

Humility—where has it gone
Has indifference taken its place?
Love—do we use the word so lightly
To fill an empty space?

Have our hearts become so hardened
And our eyes become so blurred,
That the cry of help around us
Is merely just a word?

Do we turn our backs to sorrow
Because we do not care,
Do we live first for tomorrow
Have we no time to spare
For the homeless and the hungry
For the child who weeps alone,
Have we become so worldly
That our hearts are made of stone?

Do the thoughts of war depress us?
Do we run away and hide?
Can we find a safer refuge
From the war we have inside?

Do we light a single candle
For the man who has much less,
Or are we far too much concerned
For our own happiness?

Do we turn our thoughts to Heaven
Only in times of need
Do we ask just for ourselves
Are we such a special breed?

Humility—where has it gone
Indifference has taken its place...
Love: we use the word so lightly,
To fill an empty space!

Marie Kelly

Sede Vacante

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jesus Ridiculed: The Crowning of Thorns

At the chapel I frequent during the week, the Rosary is prayed after every Mass. During Lent, we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries daily.

I find them difficult, frankly. I'd be lying if I didn't admit this. The most difficult to contemplate is, for me, the Third Sorrowful Mystery: Jesus is crown with thorns.

Why is this so difficult for me to dwell on?

Certainly the quick answer is the pain...thorns piercing his head, having been brutally scourged, to say nothing of betrayed...not an easy thing to think about.

But it's the humiliation that leaves me...sorrowful.

The Crowning with Thorns is, I often think, the most human thing Jesus submitted to. Why? Because, throughout his sojourn on earth, he repeatedly avoided any exaltation, any pomp, anything remotely resembling the homage due to to...well, to God. He fled those who would make him an earthly "king." Repeatedly. He went about doing good, yes, but so often asked his witnesses not to tell anything about him. Not about his works. He recoiled from praise. He couldn't help but do good, but he didn't want to be patted on the back for it, never mind made a "king."

But we didn't believe him.

Why, I wonder? Perhaps because we ourselves so often aspire to receive that award, this raise in pay, that nomination, this compliment...I don't know.

But I do know that, for Jesus, the Crowning with Thorns was more than an excruciating was the ultimate humiliation.

Image: Detail of a stained glass window courtesy of Stained Glass Inc: www.

It told him that we didn't get it. That we really thought he was seeking earthly glory. And we mocked him for it in a way that must have hurt so badly that I can't even begin to imagine it. Can you?

Perhaps Mary will help us here.

Imagine helplessly witnessing someone you love intimately and deeply—your child, your spouse, your best friend, someone—in unbelievable pain. Now see that person, wracked in agony, being...I don't know...fitted with a dunce cap, maybe. Mocked, certainly. Verbally tortured by the accusation of aspiring to become something he or she never wanted, all while slowly and painfully dying, naked, and without a friend in the world. Perhaps that will help us understand what the ignominious path Jesus not just chose, but embraced, meant to his us.

The fact that Jesus simply died and rose again should be enough for me and for you, I suppose. But this Lent, I cannot help but think that the ridicule he bore was maybe his ultimate gift.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ash Wednesday: Be kind, be welcoming, or at least be silent.

Okay, I understand that, God willing, churches and chapels will be mobbed on tomorrow with folks wanting—and we don't know their reasons—to receive the ashes that will, or should, remind them of their imminent mortality. Yes, I understand that, even above Easter in may churches, this is the most crowded church day of the year. Yes, I do understand that, aside from maybe Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas, that many of these people wouldn't recognize what a church looks like if it were the mirror they look into daily. But I'm asking you, begging you: be a Catholic. If just one of those folks looking for a dirty forehead leaves contemplating a genuine return to the Church...would that not be a glorious thing?

You can pray for that!

May God continue to bless you.