Thursday, November 21, 2019

Who Shot JR?

Who Shot J.R.?

The title of this article may remind baby boomers of a time when a family’s mid-week activities were scheduled around their favorite t.v. drama. If you are gen-x or gen-y, allow me to explain:  (cue Star Wars thee and roll text)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away......
There was no Netflix
No binge-watching
No “Let’s watch one more episode and sleep  late tomorrow.”

Today, the one thing people of all ages have in common is that when the current season ends everyone must wait for the next one to be released.  

Producers and writers have come up with the perfect device to tease us during this time of waiting.  It is called the cliff-hanger.

So what does this have to do with the Solemnity of Christ the King?   

Consider that the producers of the lectionary have taken us through an entire church-year.  The writers of the Gospels have presented episodes including:

  •  Prepare ye the way of the Lord
  •  A child is born for us today
  •  If you love me, you will keep my commandments
  •  I am leaving but will send you the Advocate; the Holy Spirit
  •  The kingdom of heaven is like…..

On this last Sunday of the church year we arrive at what may be the greatest of all cliff-hangers.  

Jesus is literally hanging on the cross accompanied by two thieves who also on a cross and at a “cross-road.”  

The cliff-hanger is presented by the opposing alternatives presented by each thief.  One is fueled by failure and doubt, the other inspired by hope and faith.  

We sing the resolution to the cliff-hanger in today’s processional hymn “Crown Him With Many Crowns” (#732).  I hope you will follow and pray the text whether you choose to sing or not.

Blessed to have spent another year in ministry with you at St. Mary’s,


Friday, November 15, 2019

Previously on This is Us

One day this past summer my daughter called saying she had tickets to watch a taping of “Late Night” with Seth Meyers. The big guest of the evening would be Milo Vetimiglia, the star of “This is Us”. 

We arrived at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, tickets in hand before 3:30, While the taping did not begin for 2 hours, we were told that if we didn’t arrive by this time our spots would be given to someone with “standby tickets.”

Being on time wasn’t the only rule. We had to be dressed appropriately (we might get on camera). We were also told (multiple times) that once we got inside the studio, we could not leave until the taping was over. If we did, we could not re-enter.

Finally, we were taken as groups on elevators and assigned numbers to enter the theater in a prescribed order.  The rule was to file in and take the next seat at the direction of the NBC page standing at the end of the row. There would be no switching seats or sitting on the end and forcing people to climb over us.

At each stop we were entertained by professional comedians whose job it was to pump us up.  We were repeatedly reminded that “the success of the show would be directly related to our energy.”

I can tell you that Alessandra and I followed all the rules and were rewarded by hearing Milo Ventimiglia talk about his new movie and his experience on This Is Us.


Consider how you would feel if the previous “rules” were requirements for coming to mass today. 

Now take a few minutes to reread this article and see what you’d accept and what you would not if it was required for you to attend Mass. (Don’t worry, I’ll wait.)

Now I’m certainly not advocating adding rules for admission to or participation in mass.  But out of curiosity, did you follow my instructions in the last paragraph? If not, why? If so, were you put off by these rules?

I’m sure you would agree that hearing Milo Ventimiglia pitch a movie that lasted about two weeks in theaters is nowhere near as important as meeting Christ in the Eucharist. So why would people (including myself) follow multiple rules to view a taping of a talk show yet bristle if asked to come outside our comfort zone at Mass?  

I conclude with a quote from the church’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy.  (The emphasis is my own.)

The church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ faithful when present at this mystery of faith should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, for a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing with devotion and full collaboration.

Blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s,


Friday, November 8, 2019

This saying is trustworthy: 
If f we have died with him, we shall also live with him.
                               2 Timothy 2:11

It is Monday morning. The deadline for this “Liturgical note” sits at the top of my to-do list.  Sipping my coffee, I take a fresh glance at the readings which will be proclaimed this weekend.

The first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees seems like a dramatic moment in a Netflix miniseries. The torture of the seven brothers and their mother is vividly gruesome.   To make things worse, what we hear proclaimed today is an ABRIDGED VERSION.  

Feeling overwhelmed, I procrastinate by opening my yahoo news feed.   Before I write more about what Ii find this let me go back to today’s scripture reading.

The Maccabees were a group of Jewish people who preserved the faith during a time of intense  persecution. Their valor and success are integral to the Jewish celebration of Hanukah.

You may ask why this book is part of our (Catholic) bible? More importantly, you may wonder why the  crafters of the lectionary decided to include it on the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary time. I would suggest two reasons:

  1.  It is a story of fidelity (i.e faithfulness) to the law.
  2.  It tells of God’s promise that those who are faithful will have a future beyond death. *  
* hence the quote from Paul’s letter to Timothy at the top of this page.

This brings me to the headline on my yahoo feed that continues to be part of my prayer and reflection:

“At the age of 95, Jimmy Carter says he’s “completely at ease with death”.

Despite living what many would consider to be an extraordinary life, the former president continues to call himself “a simple peanut farmer”. He lives in the same modest home that he lived in before he became president. At 95 he finds the time to teach Sunday School and the energy to participate in building homes for Habitat for Humanity.

President Carter may not be a hero like the seven brothers and their mother who refused to renounce their faith when faced with torture and death. He is, however what gerontologists call a super-senior. More importantly he is an example of what it is to live a life of fidelity and trust in Christ’s promise of eternal life.

I have selected Stand By Me (#633) as our offertory hymn as it highlights God’s faithfulness during times of trial.  

We will also sing Tis A Gift to be Simple (#518) as a reminder that faithful living need not be dramatic or headline catching.  It can be as simple as reconsidering how we spend our time and moving service higher up our to-do lists.

Last, but not least; we will conclude our liturgies by honoring our veterans in the closing blessing and by singing Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory (#577)

Blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s


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