December 10, 2018

It’s a dark, Monday morning in December, the days are getting damned short, and I’m feeling (to invoke a couple of classic Creedence Clearwater Revival deep tracks) gloomy and blue. It’s getting to the point where I despise having Yahoo! as my main page, because everything that appears there on a daily basis reminds me just how $%#@! up this country has become.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. I mean, I understand the lure of Vegas and casinos, but it seems to me there’s more than a tad of an inconsistency here between their self-interests and their vocation, isn’t there? I mean, not everyone is cut out for the religious life, and there’s no shame in realizing it’s not for you. But these two take the cake!

Our country’s schools are just cesspools of ignorance and insane political correctness. You read stories like this and this and can only wonder what else is going on out there flying under the radar. My “baby boomer” generation is the worst thing that ever happened to this country and its culture. Thanks to us we’re creating generations upon generations of snowflakey, girly-girl, self-absorbed morons.

…but, since this is what goes for classroom assignments these days, the answer is YES. Next question.

As you can tell, I’m feeling damned pessimistic. I’m just glad I’m not twenty years younger.

See, it’s reading stuff like this that makes me so pessimistic. It’s not because the most recent Heisman Trophy winner might have made some homophobic tweets when he was a teen, nor that what should have been a day of celebration and joy for him and his family has been forever tarnished by the fact he had to apologize for those tweets. It’s knowing that there are losers and seriously deranged get-a-lifers out there who took upon themselves the role of a self-appointed “truth squad” to look into all of Murray’s past tweets for something – anything – that might smack of what they consider to be homophobia.

Who does this shit? And, does someone actually pay them to do it?

…turns out the so-called “human being” is one Scott Gleeson from USA Today. He’s probably pretty proud of himself, and he should be: he’s obviously someone who hates himself and what he is so much that his sole purpose in life is to project that hatred onto others by snooping around the athletic world looking for stuff just like this:

Full disclosure, this editor did a search on Scott Gleeson’s handle and the word ‘gay’ on Twitter just for sh*ts and giggles and boy howdy, Gleeson spends a lot of time writing about gay athletes and of course, homophobia. So this and his resume beg the question, was Gleeson sitting on these tweets from Kyler waiting to ‘pounce’ with them if and when he won the Heisman?

Who DOES that?

You know what, don’t answer that.

Hey Scott – do yourself – and all of us – a favor: go back inside your hate-filed closet or under whatever rock you crawled out from under. You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being. I would love to see a group of your peers examine your life and everything you might have said, done, muttered, or tweeted over the years. My guess is they’ll find he’s nothing but a miserable, pathetic toadstool who ought to shamed into listening to Barbra Streisand records nonstop over servings of canned spinach until you cry uncle and promise to get yourself a real life.

You see, this is the problem with tightly-coupled social media like Facebook and Twitter (as opposed to, say, more loosely-coupled forms like blogs): however well-intentioned it might have been, its ultimate aim (and I’m talking to the egghead developers and dickhead executives at Facebook and Twitter here) has been turned into a weapon for enforcing politically-correct “groupthink” and someone’s idea of what proper speech is. There is a dark cloud of fascism hanging over this country, and Gleeson is just one of thousands of stormtroopers engaged to enforce that “groupthink” and destroy the lives of folks they find wanting.

…and I’ll say it right here and now: it all has to do with the very powerful gay and transgender lobbies whose mission is to destroy our freedom of speech, our religious institutions, and any other institution they can get their greasy, rainbow-colored paws on.

…let me be clear: I don’t care if you’re gay or LGBTQWXYZRBMSF etc. etc. etc., whatever. Your sexual orientation is your business. I might, or I might not, accept you based on the way you carry yourself and live your life. Last time I checked, that was my choice. But whatever you are or think you are, don’t try to impose it on me. keep it to yourself and out of my face, OK?

Seems to me the worst thing people can do is apologize for something they either tweeted or said years ago under pressure from the fascist mob. Comedian Kevin Hart learned this the hard way. He should have told all his critics to go screw.

…that being said, if you do feel the need to apologize for something you’ve said or done, do it completely and unequivocally. None of this, “I apologize if I offended anyone for something I said [did]” bullshit. If?? That’s nothing more than a conditional apology that actually demeans the feelings of others who you offended. Don’t do that. Just friggin’ apologize and leave it at that. Then move on.

Again, never apologize unless there’s a damned good reason to. We all make mistakes. But never give in to the mob. Never give in to the fascists.

Sigh. OK, maybe I’ll make myself a hot cup of mocha and go stare at some Christmas tree lights.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
September 9, 2018

“But if anyone abuses one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him to have a heavy boulder tied around his neck and be hurled into the deepest sea than to face the punishment he deserves!” — Mark 9:42

To me this is unfathomable.

At least 1,000 children were molested by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, as senior church officials took steps to cover it up, according to a landmark grand jury report released Tuesday.
The grand jury report, which states in excess of 300 clergy committed abuse over a period of decades from the mid-1950s, the “real number” of abused children could be “in the thousands,” since numerous records were either lost or victims were afraid to come forward. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the two-year investigation found a systematic cover-up by senior church officials in both the Keystone State and the Vatican.

“The cover-up was sophisticated. And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up,” said Shapiro at a press conference in Harrisburg. “These documents, from the dioceses’ own ‘Secret Archives,’ formed the backbone of this investigation.”

If this doesn’t disgust you nothing else will.

And if this doesn’t disgust you nothing else will. To even think anyone in the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy could be so tone deaf and so cold is hard to fathom. How such an ignorant, vile disgrace to the Church could have been ordained tells you as much about the morality and character of the Church’s leadership as anything else – after all, it is demons like this who choose who are choosing who is being ordained these days and who is not.

Eric Erickson nails it when he writes:

I am not Catholic but have many Catholic friends, for whom I grieve. The church is exposed now to the devil, and regardless of your politics or faith, this is a scandal about which you should care deeply. It is exposing not just the church hierarchy but also the American media that once prided themselves on uncovering abuse within the church. Now, instead, our social betters in the press have taken the position that molesting children is bad but homophobia is worse.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, has released an 11-page testimony assailing the church for turning a blind eye to the sexual depravity and abuse of Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington. He has named names, exposing a church hierarchy that allowed open homosexual conduct into its seminaries and offices. Some men of the church, having taken vows of chastity and celibacy, have been not only sleeping around but preying on young men with the knowledge of their superiors.

…Then, of course, there are the American media. The New York Times and other media outlets have pointed out that Vigano is a conservative theologian opposed to letting gays in the church. Therefore, according to our social elite, his charges are without merit, and the press will not investigate. The crisis of the Catholic Church has arrived, and we are learning what its leaders are made of. Too many, sadly, are made of pieces of silver. The priests of the church, the crisis upon them, will now reveal who they are by whether they stand up for the little ones and truth itself.

Methinks Pope Francis’s tweet about “communicating a lifestyle” (hastily deleted, of course) speaks volumes about how the Roman Catholic Church sees its modern-day mission and what it considers its priorities. But this is what happens when you have a Church that for decades has become a haven for homosexual predators and pedophiles who were allowed to move into the Church’s hierarchy and bring their own perversions along with their ordination vows. And as they did, it encouraged more of the same to be ordained as priests and to live out those perversions without any fear of reprimand, turning the Church into a sort of ecclesiastical Provincetown or Key West. Harsh words, perhaps, but 100% true. These people may be priests through ordination, but what they really are are monsters. And God damns the Roman Catholic Church for allowing this to happen.

As you can tell, my emotions run pretty hot when it comes to this kind of thing, seeing modern-day Christianity dissolving before our very eyes from the satanic onslaught of modern liberalism and political correctness. It isn’t accidental by any stretch of the imagination: they’re hell-bent (literally!) on destroying the orthodoxy of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and replacing it with the “New Trinity” of Acceptance, Tolerance, and Diversity. And it’s not just the Roman Catholic Church; you see it with the damned rainbow flags and banners that adorn seemingly every Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian church property. Because, as you know, modern-day Protestanism could care less about the God they worship; it’s far more important to make sure deviants find a “safe place” where they can test just how inclusive God can be when it comes to human sexuality. And to hell with everyone else.

It’s all bullshit – the Church, its leadership, and the ass-kissers who support it in the pews.

And Satan has to be pleased with what he sees.

Returning to the Roman Catholic Church, one would think that this would serve as a “teachable moment” when it comes to honesty, humility, repentance, and a commitment to weeding out any bad actor who even has a hint of trouble in his background. But no, instead, you have a radical leftist, social-justice warrior Pope who sees the issues of Climate Change, Open Borders, and Immigration as the true causes of the Church. The fact you have a Pope tweeting about the dangers of plastic when his church is awash in sexual abuse scandal ought to tell you far more about the man – and the Church – than anything else. Climate change? Open borders? Immigration?

If you’re a politician, that kind of thing might be well within your scope of interest. But the Roman Catholic Church? The Church upon which the rock of St. Peter was founded? How about simply communicating the following:
1. We preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. We worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
3. We hold up the lives of the Saints as something to strive for in our own daily lives
4. We live the Church’s faith
5. And when we fail in any of the above, we confess our sins and ask Our Lord for the grace to do better

Don’t get me wrong here: this is not about homosexuality – although to a certain extent it is. Personally, I could care less what, how, or who a person sees themselves and lives their lives out sexually. The problem is, the modern-day Church has placed sexuality about faithfulness and humility. We are all sinners. We all fall short of God’s wishes, plans, and hopes for us. Which is where the rubber hits the road, doesn’t it? The sad truth is, these Roman Catholic priests have put their perversions and sexual inclinations above their “supposed” sacred callings to the priesthood. Having a keen sense of just what a true calling is, I believe these demons entered into the Church to destroy it from within. And if there is a God, may they all be condemned to the farthest reaches of Hell.

I’m not going to preach here and tell Christians what they ought to do. Everyone’s salvation lies within their own reach; everyone needs to pursue their own relationship with God, whether inside or outside the Church, in the best way they know how. Seek good above all else and avoid evil above all else, I heard one priest say on one of our Caribbean cruises many years ago. Personally, I think it’s pretty damned good advice, no matter who you are or what you are. Just don’t lift up your local parish priest to be some paragon of virtue, because he’s not. In fact, when it comes to one’s own path to righteousness and salvation, you’re probably far more ahead of him than you could imagine.

Seek good and avoid evil. In any or every manner they manifest themselves in. Put not your faith and trust in the leadership of any Church. They are all corrupt. They are all political. Instead, put your faith in yourself and relating your life to God’s Word as it exists in the Gospels. In my view, you can’t do any better than the Gospel of Mark. His Jesus would have known what to do with the Church of today: the merchants and the moneychangers in the Temple come to mind.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:14 | Comments (0)
April 3, 2015

A few brief thoughts, but first this Thomas Merton quote:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

I love this quote because it so full of the Good Friday drama in which Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and death played out. Given all we know from Scripture, it’s pretty apparent Jesus felt his life’s work had failed as he hung beaten and bloody on the Cross. If he had a clue about the glory ahead of him he sure disguised it pretty well. But that didn’t stop him from being gracious and charitable to the end (Luke 23:43).

Over the last year or so I’ve found myself rebelling against the idea of boundaries in terms of how my life should be lived and to what end. I look at myself at the age of 59 and think, “what do I want out of the rest of my life?” And I think the same for Tracey. Fact is, we have no children, and, outside of the monstrous debt we’re working hard to eliminate once and for all, no obligations to anyone but ourselves and those we love. Jesus refused to be constrained by the social and religious orders of his day; he knew they had corrupted God’s teachings in return for wealth and position within the social order of the time. Jesus had a radical view of how the society he lived in needed to be turned upside down; why shouldn’t anyone of us seek the same thing?

Debt is a killer, both morally and psychologically. Not just because you’re tossing the dice and betting that you can live long enough and live healthy enough to see the day when you are beholden to no one, but because during that time of debt you are beholden to your job and the ability to make money to pay down that debt. It’s OK, I suppose, if you enjoy your job (as I do), but in this day and age nothing is carved in stone; all it takes is some bottom-line, bow-tied corporate bum-kisser to look at your name on a printout and put a check-mark next to it and you’re whacked. I’ve told Tracey that eliminating our debt is the moral imperative of our time, and I believe that. There are so many causes and institutions I would love to help support, but until we’ve eliminated our debt that is not possible. All the more reason to be debt-free.

More than anything else, Jesus taught his followers to see and seek the Glory of God in everything. I’d like to think that over the past year especially I’ve gotten better at trying to find time each day for contemplation in order to see and experience the beauty of God’s creation in everything around me. It’s not an easy thing to do: Jesus said you cannot follow two masters, but that’s what separates the saints from us mere mortals; that’s what (to quote George Harrison) “living in the material world” is all about. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to try living my life as a monastic, but I also love all those things the material world offers: hitting golf balls, Mexican food, cocktails on the patio, Vegas, baby. I’m no saint, for sure, but I’d like to think that more often than not my heart is in the right place. If you seek love amongst truth and truth amongst love I don’t see how you can go wrong.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:57 | Comments (0)
March 30, 2015

I’ll admit, Holy Week is tough for me. It’s the time of year I feel most the connection between God, my soul, and my Christian faith – even when that connection seems as tenuous as it feels this year. I’m more convinced now as ever before that I was meant to be a monastic. Not as a way to escape the world and to run away from the decisions I’ve made in my life, but because it’s part of (if not all of) the calling I feel in my soul, what God is or was or always has been calling me to do.

It ought to be said up front that I’m perfectly capable of being happy in my present situation. I’m happily married, have a job that I’m both good at and well compensated for, and have an enjoyable life here in the Valley of the Sun where you don’t have to shovel snow and on any given day of the year one can walk to the mailbox in lounge pants and bare feet. I never get tired of sunsets or late nights on the back patio with a glass of Pinot Grigio and contemplating life and my on-going to-do list amidst the quiet of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” subdivison life. And I’ve got a wonderful family and great friends who, while far away, are never far from my thoughts.

That being said, there’s “soul stuff” going on that Holy Week somehow brings to the fore each year. Twenty years ago I heard and felt God’s call to be a priest, and for the next ten years I pursued that calling from Massachusetts to Kentucky, and finally here to Arizona without any success. It was hard sledding at the time and for a time thereafter, but I came through it OK. Throught that time, between the Episcopal Church and a couple of semesters at a Presbyterian seminary I saw how the Church works internally. It’s a fascinating business, though not especially kind to those who sense they have a calling but are not able to articulate it in a way that speaks to ROI (return on investment) to the bishops and the powers-that-be who decide those who get in and those who don’t.

A religious calling is a funny thing, because at some point the rubber always hits the road and the Church has to make the tough decisions about the kind of people they allow into the process for the priesthood and those who don’t. I still remember a night back in Kentucky getting a call from a guy who had been turned down for the priesthood. I didn’t even know him that well, but he must have thought we were in some ways kindred spirits and I listened to him pour his heart out for the better part of two hours as his life-long dream had been dashed by way of a letter – the same letter I would receive a year later. On the surface, he seemed to have all the qualities the Diocese of Kentucky was looking for in priests. After I hung up the phone I knew that if he didn’t have “the right stuff” to be accepted I was in a world of hurt.

As the years have gone on I’ve had a chance to think about things and have come to realize that the bishops of Massachusetts and Kentucky were probably right in their deciding I wasn’t called to be a parish priest. Which is not to say I couldn’t have been a damned fine priest and better than 90% of the people that got in based on their connections, gender, and sexual orientation, because, in the end, the Church is a flawed business and that’s what (especially in the Episcopal Church) it all comes down to.

As I’ve grown older, it’s the monastic life I realize I’ve always been called to. The calling that everything you are is focused solely on Jesus Christ and the Cross, and the work of God to whatever purpose you were put on this earth for. And Holy Week is a reminder that the monastic calling is something that will have to wait until the next life. As hard as it might seem, to become a monastic is not the easiest thing in the world to do, nor, I guess, should it. For one thing, coming late to the game as I seem to have always been, no monastic order is going to take someone over 50 unless they come without any baggage and with plenty of do-re-mi to cover the inevitable health expenses that come with the territory. There’s the “God side” of being a monastic and there’s a practical side which is something you can’t avoid in this day and age.

Sure, I could “play monastic” by living my life around the monastic life at places like Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, but let’s be real: either you’re part of “the in” or you’re not. I could, I suppose, go through all kinds of calisthenics to work a spiritual life around my work life, but it’s not practical. So I choose to live my life as I do, seeing the spiritual amidst the material, living my life in the material world while recognizing that little calling inside that always seems to surface whenever Holy Week comes around.

This Holy Week I think I’ll try and read a little Thomas Merton, someone who has always been close to my soul-person. Merton was as much of a reality mystic as anyone, someone who always struggled with his monastic calling and ultimately found it too confining for his perceived calling. And maybe, had I chosen the monastic route earlier in life, I would have found the same sense of being boxed in, confined to some orthodoxy and rules of Order. But it’s something come every Holy Week I wish could have been different from the road I have traveled, and something I know I should have been given an opportunity to pursue in one fashion or another.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (2)
November 1, 2014

Halloween passed fairly uneventfully here at the Richard household. Sadly, the much-anticipated chili reception across the street never came to pass (we’ll do something about that next year!), and the trick or treaters came largely in two fell swoops upon our house. We didn’t have our light on, but that didn’t stop a young band of marauders from ringing our bell. I ignored the first one, but when they rang a second time I felt compelled to open the door:

Me: Sorry, I don’t have anything for you.

Angry Pumpkin: But it’s Halloween, and your light was on.

Me: No it wasn’t. You saw the plant lights in the dining room.

Angry Pumpkin: But it’s Halloween…

Me: Would you like some carrot sticks? That’s all I have.

Angry Pumpkin: It’s Halloween and you had a light on.

Me: Sorry… Hey, carrots are healthy, Michelle Obama says so!

So that’s how Halloween went here. On All Saints’ Day I think of those who have passed before me and inspired me and my life in so many ways: my godfather Milt, my grandmother and grandfather, and my brother Mark. I think of all the saints I immersed myself in a gazillion years ago when I was up for the ordination process in both the dioceses of Massachusetts and Kentucky, especially St. John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, and Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Neither Thomas Merton nor Henri Nouwen have, or will ever, achieve sainthood in the Catholic Church, but I’ll bet they’ve influenced more people than the Church would be willing to admit. Of course, both were deeply flawed – as am I – but that’s the way it goes.

I have little doubt that there is a saint – known or unknown – who has been a guiding force in your life. Reach out to them in thought and prayer, and know you are never alone.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:02 | Comments (0)
October 9, 2014

I remember seeing Fr. Benedict Groeschel for the first time on the Eternal Word Network for the first time back in the early ’90s when I was in the early stages of my spiritual renewal. A Fransciscan who took the Order’s original vows of poverty and charity so seriously that he began a new congregation, the Franciscans of the Renewal, smack dab in the middle of the Bronx to bring the light of Christ and service to the poor in the midst of the inner-city poor, he was brash, didn’t believe in bullshit of any kind, and didn’t hesitate to speak his mind in that marvelous New Jersey accent of his. He hosted numerous shows on EWTN, wrote a number of books (his Arise From Darkness is one of the few keepers in my once-extensive spiritual library), and helped kindle the interest in Roman Catholicism that brought me to where I am today. So it was sad to hear of his passing a week ago:

Fr Groeschel was a friend of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and helped her set up a convent in New York in the 1970s; he also established the St Francis House for homeless young men and the Good Counsel House for pregnant unsupported young women in the city. Later, with his long beard and distinctive grey habit, he became a familiar figure to viewers of the Eternal Word Television Network, the Alabama-based international Catholic station. As a spiritual writer he published more than 40 books; he gave retreats and spoke at conferences around the world, and contributed to a range of Catholic and secular magazines and newspapers.

He was deeply involved in ecumenical activities, numbering several Protestant ministers and rabbis among his close friends. The Friars of the Renewal – all bearded and sandalled, always apparently cheerful and invariably travelling in a small group with at least one guitar and perhaps a football – have become familiar at all major international Catholic events, notably World Youth Day. Fr Groeschel, stooped in his old age, quietly spoken and unpretentious, seemed in his later years to be an unlikely founder of this vigorous network of energetic young friars, but his forceful teaching and deep spiritual commitment were nevertheless the real heart of the community.

After all the hard work of his life and the joy and wisdom he brought to so many people over the years, and his health struggles over the past decade, I’m certain Fr. Groeschel was ready for some rest and peace in the bosom of Christ. May his soul flourish in the eternal light and joy of Christ’s kingdom in Heaven.

Well done, good and faithful servant of our Lord. You will be missed.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:54 | Comments (0)
April 20, 2014

…But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body.

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

—Gospel of Luke 24: 1-11

Today is what the Christian faith is all about. While Easter Sunday is also filled with wonderful and cherished memories of our family gathering every year at the now-closed Hilltop Steakhouse and other places for more than three decades, my heart today brims with the simply joy renewed at this time every year.

Christ the Lord is risen indeed. Halleujah!

A happy and blessed Easter from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comments (2)
April 19, 2014

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

“What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

‘See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Hat tip:

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)
April 18, 2014

A poem for this most solemn day of the Church Year:

Mother, why are people crowding now and staring?
Child, it is a malefactor goes to His doom,
To the high hill of Calvary He’s faring,
And the people pressing and pushing to make room
Lest they miss the sight to come.

Oh, the poor malefactor, heavy is His load!
Now He falls beneath it and they goad Him on.
Sure the road to Calvary’s a steep up-hill road —
Is there none to help Him with His Cross — not one?
Must He bear it all alone?

Here is a country boy with business in the city,
Smelling of the cattle’s breath and the sweet hay;
Now they bid him lift the Cross, so they have some pity:
Child, they fear the malefactor dies on the way
And robs them of their play.

Has He no friends then, no father nor mother,
None to wipe the sweat away nor pity His fate?
There’s a woman weeping and there’s none to soothe her:
Child, it is well the seducer expiate
His crimes that are so great.

Mother, did I dream He once bent above me,
This poor seducer with the thorn-crowned head,
His hands on my hair and His eyes seemed to love me?
Suffer little children to come to Me, He said —
His hair, his brows drip red.

Hurrying through Jerusalem on business or pleasure
People hardly pause to see Him go to His death
Whom they held five days ago more than a King’s treasure,
Shouting Hosannas, flinging many a wreath
For this Jesus of Nazareth.
—- Copyright by Herb o’ Grace

Hat tip:

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:08 | Comments (0)
April 15, 2014

We gaze on that cross this week. Enter into that love, be immersed in it, be overcome by God’s mercy — this is the life Christians are called to. So that we might be beacons of his merciful love, transformed by it. So that this is who we are — configured to Him.

And give thanks, too, for our common spiritual director, Pope Francis, and this walk to Christ — to live lives of real Christianity, in all its radically redemptive ways — he is urging.

…so writes Kathryn Jean Lopez as part of a great post on her blog. For me, Holy Week is such a cavalcade of memories and emotions from my youth to my flirtation with seeking ordination to the priesthood, to coming out the other side bruised and battered, yet still alive. Holy Week reminds me of Palm Sundays singing in the choir with family and friends, serving on the Altar Guild, and spending hours in an otherwise-deserted church during the annual “Night Watch with Jesus” at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the solemnity and breathless anticipation towards Easter Sunday during Holy Saturday services, attending the Great Vigil of Easter at the Church of the Advent in Boston (no one does it better!), and, most recently avoiding the Easter crowds by spending a quiet hour or two with my Monastic Breviary in my prayer grove.

As I get older I find myself withdrawing from the large crowds at St. Mary Magdalene parish during Christmas and Easter. I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve seen it all, but the large crowds and boistrous celebrations don’t move me much anymore. And besides, with everything I’ve gone through and been a part of between Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Arizona, I feel I have. Seeking God’s presence amidst the bougainvillea while enjoying coffee and the Breviary are enough for me these days, and I feel I get as much – if not more – out of it as I would attending Mass with the throngs.

What Holy Week does for me is to bring my relationship with God and the Church full circle – the memories of childhood and adulthood all rolled into a big emotional ball that makes it hard to focus on little else except the movement of God in time – my time, my family’s time, and all the memories that go along with it. And in doing so I find the Church and my current relationship with it to be less important than what it once was. Just like everything else, it’s a phase, and perhaps next year I’ll be spending Lent doing the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent and immersing myself in the Church’s commemoration of Holy Week with the best of them.

I remember a Good Friday several years back playing gold with a couple of my Goodboys buddies at Trull Brook and wondering if it were appropriate on such a solemn day. But there came a point just prior to our round starting where I found myself virtally alone on the bench by the first tee and being struck at how glorious the surroundings were – the quiet beauty of God’s Creation, the whisper of God’s presence in the breeze that rustled the dead oak leaves that had yet to be pushed to the ground by the new foliage just beginning to appear. At that moment, I felt I was surrounded by a holiness no sanctaury could ever match – immersed in Creation, surrounded by death and life emerging from the dead of winter. On that Good Friday, it all felt so right.

Holy Week serves as a poignant reminder of what our lives are at any point in time: death and life are always around us, behind us, and waiting just around the corner. Accept it for what it is and embrace the now and everything life both good and bad has to offer. It’s God’s plan for all of us. Just this week, one of my co-workers’ brothers passed away after a long battle with cancer only days after one of her fellow team members became a grandmother for the first time. Beginnings and endings, endings and beginnings.

At the close of Mark’s Gospel the angel instructs the frightened women to tell Jesus’ disciples to meet the risen Lord in Galilee, where everything began (Mark 16.7). The endless cycle of humanity and God’s creation which we are and have been since our conception a part of. Alpha and Omega. Death and Life. Holy Week illustrates both in ways never before seen or since in human history.

My prayer is that all who make Goodboys Nation weblog a regular stop find some time for yourself this Holy Week away from the assembled multitudues to find some quite time to drink in what this most holy week of the Church Year is all about.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:58 | Comments (0)


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