Saturday, December 09, 2017

The New Exodus: Some thoughts on the Second Sunday of Advent B

What is the "New Exodus?" Let Dr. Brant Pitre (this is a link to his homepage) explain:

"The new Exodus is the expectation of many Jews in the first century A.D. that when God would save his people in thefuture, as the prophets had foretold, he would do it in ways that were similar to how he had saved his people in the past at the time of Moses, at the time of the Exodus from Egypt — which took place around 1450 B.C."

Okay, so this might help us to understand this Sunday's Gospel…and more than that? Help us to bring together, as God surely wants, Jews and Christians together.

Think about this:

Why did John hang out in the desert? No need, on the surface. He could've done his job in the city, with all the comforts of home. And why did he baptize in the Jordan River,  of all places? Water was the only thing needed for baptism in those days. He could've just hung out in the city — where, by the way, most people hung out..who wants to "relax" in a desert? -- and used the water available to baptize.


Because he heralded the "New Exodus!" In the old exodus, our fathers in faith were stuck in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land — where? Across the River Jordan! Isn't that a Really Cool Thing to meditate on???

In our Wednesday Bible Study Session, we learned a bit of Greek from Mark's Gospel.

No doubt the deacon or priest will introduce this Sunday's Gospel as "A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark." (At least, I hope he does!) But check out Verse 1 of Sunday's Gospel: 

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

No other evangelist titles his book a "gospel." Mark means that his words — and those of the Holy Spirit — aren't more than just an account of Jesus' life. No! They're also a proclamation of the Risen Christ in which He — Jesus, I mean — is again made present! It's the Good News everybody's been waiting for! (I say this with all respect to Matthew, Luke, and John, by the way.)

Again, from Dr. Pitre — here's where our Greek comes in. :-)

"Other translations will say the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Greek word there is euangelion. Eu in Greek is a prefix that just means good. Angelion — you can actually hear the English word angel in that — so euangelion means good message or good news. We get the word evangelize from that Greek root. To evangelize is to share the good news. So when we use the word gospel, we frequently use it to either refer to one of the four books that are about the life of Christ, or to refer to something that's undeniably true — like gospel truth. But in this context, the book literally begins by saying “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God.”

"He must increase…I must decrease…"

Once again, Dr. Pitre helps us out here by quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year…By celebrating the precursor's [The Baptist's] birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, I must decrease."

He (Dr. Pitre) goes on to say:

"So in other words, during the Advent season we are not just putting ourselves back in the shoes of first century Jews, who were waiting for God to come and save them, we are in a particular way uniting ourselves to the desire of St. John the Baptist, who was longing for Christ to come and whose posture towards Jesus was always “he must increase, I must decrease.” This is the basic law of our own spiritual lives, to let Christ increase and for us to decrease so that he might shine brighter and brighter with the light of Advent through us."

To paraphrase one Bible Study participant:

"To prepare the way of the Lord's coming, let's level our own paths and fill our own valleys by repentance, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

God has blessed me. May He continue to bless you!

Many thanks to Dr. Brant Pitre...his work and other riches can be found at Catholic Productions.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mary McHale...Probably a Saint, But Please Pray for Her Anyway!

My friend -- and the friend of so many people -- Mary McHale died yesterday.

And understandably? She's being proclaimed as a saint!

The last thing, I think, she would've wanted...she wants prayers!

Yep, Mary lived her life as someone who has given her life to the Lord. Yep, she lived her life as a saint.

And yep! She'd agree with me, I know...don't ASSUME she doesn't need prayers!

I'm grieving for the loss of Mary right now. I'm praying as hard as I can that she's laughing and rejoicing in Heaven.

But I'm not presuming it.

And so I beg you, please. Pray for her soul. She, during her life, never assumed Heaven for any of her dear friends. And that makes her a great saint. She leaves judgement to God, not to her.

So do Mary -- and me -- a favor?

Pray for her soul. If you knew her? Thank God for the privilege! If you didn't? Here's a taste of my good friend...enjoy!

“To me, the greatest virtues a Christian should cultivate are humility and a desire to help others.”

~~ Mary McHale

For seven years in the 1960s and early 1970s, Mary McHale, as an Our Lady of the Wayside Legion of Mary member, walked the streets and visited the bars of Boston’s South End, Combat Zone, and Kenmore Square areas, trying to get women to leave a destructive way of life. While often successful, far too often Mary’s efforts and those of her colleagues were thwarted. Why? Because many of the women they were trying to help were homeless and saw no alternative to their lifestyles.

That all changed in 1972 when the place she co-founded, Sancta Maria House, [link, new window,] opened its doors. The first overnight shelter for women in Massachusetts, the warm and welcoming place on Waltham Street provides a safe haven for 3,000 women each year. Staffed entirely by volunteers and funded solely through private donations, the ten-bed shelter provides a home-like atmosphere that sets it apart from more institutional establishments. Although she recently “retired” as house mother, Mary can, more often than not, be found there, serving her guests by her very presence.

Born in Boston, Mary and her family moved to New Brunswick, Canada, where she grew up on a small farm. The nearest Catholic church was 14 miles away.

She returned to Boston in 1948 and joined the Cathedral parish. Obtaining a job as a clerical worker at the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, she, at the time of her retirement in 1995, supervised twenty two terminal input operators.

She became a Legion of Mary member in February, 1968. “The Legion is a real way of life for me,” she says.

Mary has served the parish as a lector, a religious education teacher, a visitor to the elderly, and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Among her favorite memories are Father Walter Waldron’s Christian Education and Experience Program, Sister Madeline Gallagher’s Instruction classes, and Father Bill Roche’s Scripture Study classes.

“People should consider joining our parish,” she says, “for many reasons: especially for the excellence of the liturgies. Too, the very diversity of our parish family is so representative of the Mystical Body of Christ.”

Mary’s favorite Scripture passage is from John 2—Our Lady’s words to the servers at the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.”

It is evident to anyone who knows Mary—from her fellow parishioners to the myriad of people she serves—that she, indeed, takes this advice to heart.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The End Times: It's a Luxury Not to Know When it is!

Whenever we're expecting guests on a certain date, my sweet husband Alden (jocularly, I hope) always says the same thing: "Thank God! Our house will be clean!" [Sheesh.] And he's right! It's time to dust, to vacuum, to change the sheets…all that stuff.

It's a luxury NOT to know the Day of the Lord!

Why? Because if we don't know, we'll always keep our houses — our souls — clean, in anticipation! And it's a joy, or should be, to do so!

What a cool bunch of readings this Sunday!

The parable of the talents is wonderful. Reminds me of the verse of "To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King":

"Thy reign extend, O King benign,
"To every land and nation!
"For in Thy Kingdom, Lord Divine,
"Alone we find salvation!"

How are we helping to extend the Kingdom of God? Through our Talents!

And we all have them. Okay, maybe you're not created to run off to Calcutta and teach and feed and live with the poor. So what?

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."

Both these quotes are from Saint Teresa of Calcutta. We all have the capacities — the talents — to love. To extend the Kingdom of God.

Enjoy the luxury of not knowing when the end is near...and keep up the cleaning! :-)

Friday, June 23, 2017

"My Brother's Keeper" by Bill Kassel (hint: read the book!)

I could say that Bill Kassel’s novel is a “can’t-put-down” opus. I mean, it’s got everything a good read should have. Suspense. Humor (and I’m talking about laugh-out-loud humor!). Tragedy. Sorrow. Joy. Education (you really learn stuff you didn’t know before). Even a bit of romance. And more. It’s got everything a can’t-put-it-down can offer. And yet…

I put it down. Reluctantly, but often. Why?

To pray.

Because “My Brother’s Keeper” – a novel told from the point of view of Saint James the Just – is more than just a novel to revel in. It’s a work to pray over.

I found myself laughing, crying, and praying with this book. I stopped in my reading and gazed on – oh well, many things. A crèche I keep in my reading room. A crucifix, of course. But also some wonderful mind-images of a laughing Mary with her Son. A painting of Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus. That wonderful picture of Elizabeth greeting Mary by Carl Heinrich Bloch (you know the one I mean).

Unapologetically Catholic, the novel nevertheless is equally unapologetically Jewish.

How can this be, you ask? Kassel so sensitively and deftly weaves the similarities between the two groups — there is no question that Jesus lived His life on earth as a devout Jew, as did his family members and followers — that this reader, anyway, was left deeply pondering the pointlessness of the separation between Judaism and Christianity.

And echoing the prayer of Jesus…

“Father, that we may be one.”

Thank you, Bill Kassel, for your amazingly beautiful perspective. I’m greatly anticipating a sequel from you!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Learning a lesson in simple kindness. (I coulda stayed on the damn bus!)

So anyway, it was raining so I hopped on a bus on the way home — from Mass, no less!

An elderly man — and when I say "elderly," I mean someone older than I am — struggled on. I hopped up and gave him my seat, and he thanked me, saying something about how "kind" I was.

I blushed (I hope) a bit and brushed it off. He asked me my name, and whether I was married. I told him I was, and went into a long spiel about how my second husband and I ended up together as man and wife. He seemed to enjoy it.

Did I mention that his name is Larry? No, of course I didn't. His name is Larry.

Larry gets around with a walker. He's a very nice man, very courteous, and  very funny. We had some fun trading jokes on the bus.

Then Larry told me about his wife, Anita.

Anita. That's her name. Dear God, please at least remember that I remember her name!

Larry began to tell me about how he became a widower. How he went into their bedroom one day and found Anita looking as if she were asleep. He shook her, trying to wake her up. Only he couldn't, because Anita had died.

And I looked up and saw...yep, my stop.

Had to get off the bus, I told myself. It's my stop I told myself. I kissed Larry on the forehead, promised prayers for him and for Anita...and got off the bus.

Dammit! I could've stayed on the damned bus!

That Larry needed — not wanted, but needed — to talk about finding Anita, to talk about Anita herself, to just talk to someone who'd listen? It was as obvious as the rain falling down.

Only I "had" to get off the bus.

On my short walk home, I prayed for Anita. I prayed for her husband Larry — a guy who deserved a much better fellow rider than me.

I could've easily stayed on the bus and listened to Larry...listened to his memories, his — who knows, tales about his children? Grandchildren?

I could've been a Christian.

Instead? I got off the bus.

May God have mercy on me. And, not that I deserve it, but Larry and Anita do. May You shower Your love on them. And teach me how to emulate Your Love. Amen.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

No, Pope Francis did NOT "urge less children to make the world more `sustainable'" sheesh

And again, under the "fake news" department:

The lie:
Pope Francis has urged families to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable, it has been reported.

Peter Raven, a panelist at a Vatican-run workshop on “how to save the natural world”, was speaking at a press conference when he revealed the comments made by the Pope.
The workshop included a range of experts and the solution was presented by Mr Raven, a botanist and environmentalist.

“Pope Francis has urged us to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable,” Mr Raven said, according to LifeSiteNews.

"We need a more limited number of people in the world."

The truth? 

Actually, the truth is important, but even more so is what my friend Chris Muldoon did...he asked the source. (Duh...what a concept! Asking the source! How weird when it's so much easier and. to the weird, more fun, to find the devil in places where he doesn't hide, rather than looking, perhaps, in the mirror, where he might.)

Anyway, Chris wrote to the reporter asking:

"A couple questions based on published reports. Were you accurately quoted? What is your source for Pope Francis's thoughts here?"

The reporter, Peter Raven, answered Chris immediately:

"No, not an accurate quote. He and his predecessors have called repeatedly to have only the children they could raise properly which is a very different thing."

To it's credit, LifeSiteNews (nope...not going to link 'em) "corrected" their article.)

Um...I'm not here to teach you how not to conceive or give birth. You already know that, right? (Here's some hints: Artificial conception? Wrong. Abortion? Wrong. Have you got it yet?)

May God continue to bless you,


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Blessed Sacrament is NOT a liturgical hors d'oeuvre

For the umpteenth time today, I sadly watched a priest chase down a guy with the Sacred Host in his hands...a guy with evidently no intention of consuming the Sacrament at the altar. (Or, as he said to me later: "Why should I? I wanted to wait until I was in my pew! What difference does it make?")

It makes a LOT of difference.

Priests and other ministers of the Blessed Sacrament are...well, they're blessed. But these days? They're also -- and I suspect unwillingly -- given the job of being Guardians of the Blessed Sacrament from Those Who Are Really, Really, Stupid.

"Kelly! You just called me `stupid'! How dare you!"

I dare because you're stupid, and I love you, only you're stupid. You -- and if you're the one whose offended by this post -- I'm talking to you.

Here's the thing: we're talking about Jesus. Jesus! He' not a canapé. You got that?

How to receive the Most Holy Sacrament. (For my friends who don't get this? Here's how to receive GOD!)

I'm not going into the stuff about being in the state of grace, about being Catholic, and all that stuff the bishops have gone into over and over again.

I'm talking about bleeping common sense!

And courtesy. And faith. And knowing Whom you are exactly receiving at Communion!

Okay. Here we go. In 1969, Catholics were given the indult to receive Jesus in the hand. (Don't ask my it yourself.)

If you take advantage of this indult (and interestingly enough, autocorrect keeps making it "insult" but pay no mind to that), terrific. Just do it right. Which means:

DON'T grab the Host and saunter down into wherever you're going. Accept JESUS with both hands -- one behind the other (like a throne as Saint John Chrysostom wrote) and consume the Host right then and there, facing the Holy Altar of Sacrifice. Do this so that you are SEEN doing it. Cross yourself, if you like, and return to your pew, glorifying the fact that you just received JESUS!

If you're receiving on the tongue (and good for you if you are) then for Heaven's sake, OPEN YOUR MOUTH! WELCOME Him! Don't slit your silly lips and expect the priest to play a slot machine game with you. COOPERATE!

If you know someone who doesn't know how to receive Holy Communion? Please share this. Because I'm so very tired of the abuse -- whether intentional or not -- of my Dearest Love.

One thing? He loves you far more than I do, and I love you a lot, so that means something.

Receive Jesus with all the respect and love you can muster up. I promise you. You'll be rewarded.

May God continue to bless you.